The ‘Whisky War’, a distillery with a Michelin star, and a TV wine personality answers questions on Withnail and I on Mastermind. What a week on The Nightcap!

Writing The Nightcap today we took a moment to realise we’re almost already two months through this year. Horrifying. We need to just sit back and appreciate what’s right in front of us. Which, if you’re in the UK right now, is probably a wheelie bin flying past your window.  So this seems like the opportune Friday to take a step back, find a comfy seat inside, and enjoy some light reading. Good thing we have a blog thingy full of stories to read.

Let’s recap this week. We delivered the news that, not one, but two new distilleries are coming to Campbeltown! We then asked you to explore the whisky flavour map with us, take a tasty trip to Tennessee, and enjoy a cocktail inspired by Groundhog Day. Lauren then dropped by to explain what the deal is with NFTs and whisky, Dr. Nick wrote a love letter to Dukes Bar, and the dynamic duo behind Spearhead proved that Pliny the Elder was right when he said ‘Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre’. Look it up! He knew what he was on about.

Anyway, we’re not done yet. It’s The Nightcap: 18 February edition!

The Nightcap: 18 February

Head chef Mark Donald is behind that coveted Michelin star. We’ve tasted his food. It earned it.

Glenturret the world’s first distillery to win Michelin star

Within just seven months of opening its doors, The Glenturret’s Lalique Restaurant has done something remarkable: become the world’s first distillery to win a Michelin star. Scotland’s oldest working distillery recently became home to the first in-distillery fine dining restaurants thanks to its owner Lalique, which has a history of supporting exceptional fine dining establishments. The portfolio also includes two Michelin-starred Villa René Lalique in Alsace, and one Michelin-starred Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in the region of Bordeaux. Head chef Mark Donald, a Scot who previously held a star at Number One at The Balmoral in Edinburgh before joining, leads the show with a focus on exceptional Scottish produce, working with managing director John Laurie and the rest of the distillery team to take inspiration from the surrounding area. So, if you want to tour a Scotch whisky distillery and taste the likes of baerii platinum caviar; scallop kedgeree; Dover sole with white asparagus; sika deer, hay smoked celeriac, sour quince; and Maracaibo millefeuille – then you know where to go. Full disclosure: we’ve been and it’s every bit as good as it sounds.

Glengoyne 50 Year Old - Hildesheim (1)

Would you share a 50-year-old Glengoyne? Be honest…

German whisky club wins Glengoyne 50 Year Old

A group of German whisky fans will be celebrating after receiving a bottle of 50-year-old Glengoyne. It’s the oldest ever release from the distillery, with only 150 bottles filled and each one would set you back £22,500. At the launch in 2020, however, Glengoyne promised to give away one bottle to a family or friend group. Entry to this prize draw was via an online ballot and now, at last, the winner can be revealed – the delay was due to Covid restrictions. The winner was Christian Schüßler who, it appears from the pictures, opened the bottle and shared it with the lucky people at his whisky club in Hildesheim at their first meeting since the pandemic started. What a generous fellow. So nice to see people drinking an old whisky rather than squirrelling it away for investment. To make sure the whisky arrived safely, Glengoyne brand ambassador Gordon Dundas accompanied the bottle to the lucky German wine club. Let’s hope they offered him a dram when he turned up with the precious cargo.

The Nightcap: 18 February

Stauning just wants the fighting to stop

Stauning whisky wades in historical Whisky War

Did you know there’s a whisky war going on? An ongoing dispute that began in 1930 between the Canadian and Danish governments over an uninhabited island in the Arctic Sea, Hans Island, has been deemed ‘The Whisky War’ after an escalation in 1984. Canada decided the best way to mark its territory was to plant a flag with a bottle of Canadian whisky. Denmark responded with its own claim to the island, retaliation in the form of a bottle of schnapps, along with a Danish flag on the Island. The friendly yet provocative act started a historical exchange of alcohol that’s lasted nearly a century, with the Danish government even appointing a committee responsible for coming up with different solutions to solve the conflict over Hans Island in 2018. Now Stauning, the largest whisky producer in Denmark, has upped the ante by threatening to halt its production in an attempt to solve the ‘Whisky War’ by drawing the world’s attention to the dispute. The brand says it wants to resolve the matter once and for all and is encouraging fellow whisky distillers around the world to join them in halting the production of their whiskies and join them in the #whiskypeace initiative. The Canadian embassy in Denmark has been told. We await Canada’s response. 

Jose Cuervo creates washing machine cocktail mixer

We all know how to mix a cocktail, right? Get your ingredients and ice together and give it a good shake or stir. Simple. But have you ever asked yourself what would happen if you made your drink in a washing machine? Of course you haven’t, but Jose Cuervo did. Introducing the ‘Launderita’: the world’s first ‘washing machine’ designed specifically to mix, not clean. It took a team of engineers hundreds of hours to create the one-of-a-kind colourful contraption so it could take Tequila, lemon, lime, and agave nectar and turn into a Margarita. Just load your ingredients into the washing machine’s drawers, hit the start button and witness the magic. Launched to celebrate National Margarita Day (22 February), the madcap washer-cocktail hybrid is actually going on tour, hitting Leeds, Manchester and London. A limited-number of pre-mixed washing machine Margaritas (including a collectable Jose Cuervo margarita glass are also available online if you can’t make the dates, and if you want to see the machine in action then luckily Jose Cuervo made a video of all the fun that you can watch above.

Jameson launches ‘Widen the Circle’ campaign

Jameson was never likely to be quiet for St. Patrick’s Day and this year the Irish whiskey giants are celebrating the occasion with a major new international brand campaign starring Aisling Bea. The creator and star of the outstanding BAFTA award-winning show This Way Up features in a TV ad called ‘That Spark’. The campaign is all about “inviting people to reach out and invite others in for those moments of authentic human connection.” Emmy and Grammy-nominated director Jake Scott was tasked with creating a storyline of witty awkward social situations where people just click. “It’s a joy being part of Jameson’s new ‘Widen the Circle’ campaign. As not just an Irish person, but as a comic and in my writing, I’ve always been about searching for human connections, how people come together” says Aisling. “It’s the surprising thing we have so dearly missed the last two years. And the job comes with the added bonus of getting a visit to the Jameson distillery which is not a bad day at the office at all.” Agreed. After the ad, a series of St. Patrick’s Day events will follow around the world, culminating in a live-streamed performance by Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C. on 17th March. You can check it all out on the Jameson Connects platform by signing up for tickets via the Jameson website.

The Nightcap: 18 February

Junipalooza is back, baby!

Junipalooza and La Piñata back for 2022

One of the finest signs that life is returning to normality is getting news about big events that can finally take place again, and this week we’ve been spoiled by the news that, not one, but two events will return to the capital this year. Junipalooza and La Piñata are coming to London for 2022. The former is happening on 11 and 12 June, in celebration of World Gin Day at Tobacco Dock, London, while the only specialist Tequila and mezcal show in the UK will take place in celebration of Cinco de Mayo on 7 May. Both offer opportunities to taste a diverse range of booze, meet producers, attend masterclasses, drink cocktails, enjoy street food markets and witness live entertainment. Tickets for Junipalooza are available at EventBrite or Time Out, while La Piñata tickets can be found here or here. The booze industry could use all the support and celebration in the world right now, so we heartily encourage you to get those bookings in now.

The Nightcap: 18 February

Best of luck, Olly. We want the finest answers available to humanity!

And finally… The Drinks Trust to appear on Mastermind

This Saturday, Ollie Smith is going to be the envy of every man (and some women) of a certain age as he’s going to be answering questions on probably the most quotable film in history, Withnail and I. Yes, the wine man off the telly has picked the 1987 cult film as his chosen specialised subject on Celebrity Mastermind. We’re hoping for questions on Geoff Woade, Desmond Wolf, and how many times the word ‘sherry’ is uttered when the boys go to Uncle Monty’s house in Chelsea for a drink. Such is the devotion, some might say obsession of Withnail fans, that if Smith gets any wrong, his name will be mud in the drinks business. Still, it’s all for a good cause, The Drinks Trust. Tune in on BBC 1 on Saturday 19 February at 6:25pm with your Withnail and I-relevant drink of choice. Not the lighter fuel though, please.