Chris O’Dowd speaks up for the common bird, The Macallan makes a movie, and a pop-up pub offers 66p pints for the World Cup. It’s all in the Nightcap: 18 November edition!
The season to be jolly™ is here. Get your halls decked, your cards posted, and your trees out for the lads. It’s Christmas time. You can argue against it all you want, but the festivities are here and will carry on around you all the same. Might as well embrace it. Have a mulled wine, get all snug at home, and enjoy the latest from the world of booze. Oh, and don’t forget to get wishing. #WhiskySanta is giving gifts away this year like you’ve all been nice.
Speaking of which, this week’s SuperWish was a magnificent bottle of Bunnahabhain 40 Year Old, while we also had a fresh batch of our own independent bottlings and shiny new Courvoisier XO Royal to get acquainted with. Elsewhere, we picked out some bargains using the latest edition of Ian Buxton’s 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die as a guide, while reporting on the news that Diageo invested in The Oxford Artisan Distillery. There was also one last tale to tell from the Barbados Rum Experience (St. Nicholas Abbey Distillery trip, no less) and one of botanicals, bar trees, and Bill Lumsden as we tasted Glenmorangie A Tale of the Forest. We washed it all down with a tasty little shot of Baby
Now to round things off it’s The Nightcap: 18 November!
Macallan celebrates creator of most valuable whisky
Given that this blog is frequented by whisky nerds (which we can’t underline more we always mean as a compliment, you are our people), you probably already know that the most valuable bottle of wine or spirit ever sold at auction was The Macallan 1926 60-year-old single malt from cask number 263, which fetched £1.5m. But you may not be familiar with who was responsible for its creation. That would be managing director, Janet ‘Nettie’ Harbinson, who took control of the distillery after her husband Alexander died just months before the end of the First World War in 1918 in order to secure The Macallan for its employees. Now the Speyside whisky makers are honouring her legacy with a film. And they’ve put together quite the team: The Newsroom actor Emily Mortimer will be playing Nettie, with Four Weddings and a Funeral director Mike Newell helming it and a screenplay from The Queen’s Gambit co-creator Allan Scott. The latter was amazingly chairman and chief executive of Macallan from 1979 until the company was sold in 1997, and he’s a great nephew of Nettie. The music is being handled by an up-and-coming band called Simple Minds. You may have heard of them. “We uncovered Janet Harbinson’s story when researching the background to The Macallan Fine & Rare 1926 and we knew we had to share it as soon as we learned of her role in its distillation and maturation, as well as the deep influence she had on the future development of the brand,” says Jaume Ferras, global creative director for The Macallan and a producer of the film. You can watch the film by clicking on the video above.
Dictador creates $1bn rum collection
Dictador has embraced its inner Dr. Evil by unveiling a new collection of rum worth (raises little finger to mouth) $1 billion. You can only buy from The Dictador M-City Golden Cities series via invitation and you’re only getting one of those if you’re proven to be ‘among the elite connoisseurs of fine art, masters of style and culture’, and ‘belonging to the few tastemakers of extraordinary vision and inspiration’. Sounds promising. Our invitation is in the mail, we’re sure. When you’re selected, you get to visit Dictador’s art-masters distillery in Cartagena, Colombia, where you will create own one-of-a-kind blended rum from a choice of 110 private casks for their extraordinary character and range of vintages available under the supervision of the brand’s master blender, Hernan Parra. The rum comes in a handmade 24-carat gold one-litre bottle created by contemporary artist M-City that depicts a map of the city that is closest to the owner’s heart, with cities being portrayed only once, underlining the ‘once-in-a-lifetime character’ of each blend. The price for each bottle starts at $1.5 million, although the buyer’s choices of customisable features can bring the cost up and once the whole collection of Dictador M-City bottlings reaches a combined value of US$1bn it will be concluded and no further bottles will be sold.
Tidal distills ‘first’ rum at sea
Speaking of rum, P&O Cruises and Tidal Rum have teamed up to create what is thought to be the world’s first rum distilled at sea. The rum brand has opened a rum distillery in Anderson’s Bar, complete with a 50-litre still called Aurelia, on board P&O’s new ship Arvia, which arrives in December 2022. While it sails the Caribbean guests will be able to enjoy Golden Tide Rum exclusively neat or in cocktails across all the ship’s bars, while also being able to watch the entire distilling process through the ceiling-to-floor windows. Bottles are available to buy in the ship’s shops too, while onboard rum experiences including a rum tasting class and a rum blending class are offered as well. The recipe will be recreated back on dry land by Tidal Rum eventually, but we do know that it blends flavours from the Caribbean with marine botanicals from the British Isles. “Our partnership with Tidal Rum is based on a shared affinity with the sea, a commitment to sustainability, and a passion for exclusively-crafted drinks,” says P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow. “We’re delighted to offer guests Golden Tide Rum onboard Arvia as the perfect accompaniment to a memorable holiday in the Caribbean.”
Common birds get support from Redbreast and Chris O’Dowd
Back once again to help our feathered friends is Redbreast Irish whiskey and A-list actor Chris O’Dowd. The duo are celebrating the second year of Robin Redbreast Day, an annual global date designed to raise awareness and donations for charity partner BirdLife International, and its joint mission to protect common birds. In the avian sense, not the way an old bloke down the pub might describe women. Also returning is Robin, the animated mascot to star in another birdwatching video to let them know that every share and like the video receives, 25 cents (€) will be donated to support vital work in species and habitat protection, advocacy, and conservation. While the video itself is funny, BirdLife’s recent State of the World Birds 2022 report revealed that nearly half of all bird species are in trouble and one in eight are sadly heading towards extinction. Redbreast is doing its bit, raising €100,000 on Robin Redbreast Day, adding to a running total of €130,000 raised through its ongoing partnership with BirdLife International by the end of 2021. “It has been a pleasure to team up with Redbreast Irish Whiskey and Robin to speak up for the birds and celebrate Robin Redbreast Day. I feel this year we’ve raised the bar, or more so the branch, in how we draw more people into the cause,” says Chris O’Dowd. “I’m proud of how it all turned out, but even more proud that I did all my own stunt work; I wish I could say the same for Robin.” You can buy a bottle of Redbreast 12 Year Old with Project Wingman Bird Feeder now with £13 off, with the whiskey brand giving €3 from each sale to Birdlife International.
Cardrona celebrates seven years with special release
One of the great things about being a whisky company is if you have a birthday coming up, there’s a very obvious way of celebrating, release a whisky. It must be much harder if you run a photocopier repair shop or a mobile dog grooming business. So, it’s no surprise that New Zealand whisky pioneer Cardrona is releasing a limited edition, only 1,217 bottles, of whisky to celebrate seven years of distilling. Called The Cardrona Day Special Release: 2022 Otago Pinot Cask, it’s a single malt whisky aged in New Zealand pinot noir casks. A spokesman for the distillery went into some detail about the casks: “Cardrona Distillery uses a revolutionary method to preserve the casks’ rich pinot noir seasoning, bringing them to the distillery within hours of the wine leaving the barrel and immediately charging them with new make spirit. The casks are then matured in the extreme environment of the Cardrona Valley, which itself plays a vital part in the maturation process. Temperatures can vary from -10°C in winter to a soaring 40°C in summer, and at 600m above sea level with zero humidity – there really is nowhere on earth quite like the Cardrona Valley. The elements have all played a part in this expression, melding the spirit into a simply extraordinary whisky. We can’t wait for the UK’s discerning whisky aficionados to sample a dram.” The release comes in a 70cl bottle, a first for Cardrona and it will be with Master of Malt soon. Happy birthday New Zealand whisky people!
Ian Macleod collaborates with Heriot-Watt students on a blend
Coursework you can drink, isn’t that every student’s dream? Well, the dream came true for a group from Heriot-Watt University. Four brewing and distilling MSc students, Euan Martin, Matt Priaulx, Kellan Cowan, and Jake Adcook, worked with Ian Macleod’s Blending Room to find the ideal method for finishing a blended Scotch whisky in a virgin American oak cask. They looked at four variables: fill strength, blend formulation, time in cask and the level of toast and char on the barrel in order to find the perfect blend (to coin a phrase). Rather than just publish a paper that nobody is going to read, the team has released a whisky, 250 bottles are available for a very reasonable £35 each. One of the students Matt Priaulx said: “A massive thank you to Ian Macleod’s Blending Room for the opportunity to learn and gain the expertise from the best in the business. To be part of such a special bottling has been such an enriching experience. I look forward to sharing a dram with my fellow course members and our supervisor, Prof Annie Hill, who has been on the journey with us.”
And finally… get 66p pints at a pop-up pub for the World Cup
In a time as fraught with financial peril as this, any bargain is welcome, but thrifty pints are a particular bonus. For the upcoming World Cup, one pop-up in Shoreditch will be selling beer to football fans at just 66p a pint. It’s a reference to something football-related that occurred in England in 1966. Not sure what. The Zyn Arms certainly knows and will be running for the opening fixtures from Monday 21 November to Wednesday 23 November between 12.30pm and 10pm. That’s three matches streamed a day, with customers able to reserve a table for one of those matches each day, say England vs Iran at 1pm on the Monday. If you think 66p is cheap for a pint in London, you’re obviously correct, but compare that to the average price of a pint in Doha, Qatar at £11.21 (according to Betting.com) and you’re getting a stonking good deal. Wait! We’ve just remembered what happened in 1966. The Batman TV series starring Adam West came out. “Holy bargains, Batman!”