Nick Offerman’s own whisky, pricey Macallans, new distilleries, rums, cocktail menus and more – there’s only place you’ll find all of this boozy news: The Nightcap!
If you think about it, our round-up of the booze news from the week that was (which was so cleverly named The Nightcap, many moons ago) is kind of like a gin. The botanicals for most gins are different from each other, but the core of juniper remains the same. Just like the stories within each edition of The Nightcap are different, but the core of “All these tales are about the world of drinks” remains constant. We are the distillers. Our computers are our stills. The words are… I guess maybe the heat that distils the spirit? Is your computer or phone screen the glass from which you enjoy the gin? The somewhat off-the-wall story we usually include right at the end of The Nightcap each week is that botanical you look at and wonder “Does that really count as a botanical? How can ‘a book that Mary Shelley once looked at’ count as a botanical? Am I going to have to phone up the producers of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus Gin and question their integrity?” This simile/metaphor has gone on far too long.
It’s been quite the week on the MoM Blog once again. We announced the details of Diageo Special Releases 2019 and Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year 2020, before Henry talked to gin legend Christopher Hayman, and then united two of Italy’s great aperitifs in one glass for our Cocktail of the Week, the Americano. Annie was busy exploring spirits both innovative and unusual, but managed to find time to make Teeling Single Pot Still our New Arrival of the Week. Adam, meanwhile, rounded-up some of the best new booze around and then ventured to Penderyn, where we got some incredible (and exclusive!) video footage.
Now, on to The Nightcap!
Gordon & MacPhail’s new Speyside distillery moves one step closer
Attempts to build another new distillery in Speyside have made a major breakthrough! Scotch whisky bottler Gordon & MacPhail has secured planning approval to build a distillery and visitor centre in Craggan, near Grantown-on-Spey in Cairngorms National Park. Gordon & MacPhail first announced its plans back, in May 2018, but it wasn’t until 11 October that the site was given the green light by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). The new distillery will be the company’s second following the purchase and refurbishment of Benromach Distillery. It’s been designed to take advantage of its views across the River Spey, and has a circular shape to disguise much of the day-to-day workings of the distillery. The multi-million-pound facility will have an annual maximum capacity of two million litres of spirits, equivalent to 100,000 cases of whisky. “This is a major development for the area and this will be the first malt whisky distillery to be approved by the Cairngorms National Park Authority since it was established in 2003,” said Eleanor Mackintosh, CNPA planning committee convener. “The food and drink sector and the tourism industry are both extremely important to the National Park economy – often going hand in hand as is the case here”. It caps a great week for Gordon & MacPhail, as the brand’s director of prestige and fourth-generation member of the owning family, Stephen Rankin, was announced as a Master of the Quaich at the biannual Keepers of the Quaich ceremony at Blair Castle.
Nick Offerman gets his own Lagavulin Scotch whisky
You might be familiar with the fact that actor Nick Offerman likes Lagavulin whisky. A lot. Maybe it’s because you’ve watched him as Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation, where his character extols the many virtues of the Islay distillery. Or perhaps it’s the five years of work he’s done with Lagavulin, which includes the My Tales of Whiskey YouTube channel, complete with videos such as ‘Nick Offerman’s ‘Yule Log’ a 45 minute epic where he simply sits in front of a fire drinking Scotch (which now has over 3.6 million views. Not bad). Now he has a new connection, surely his finest yet: his own limited-edition Lagavulin whisky. Lagavulin Offerman Edition Aged 11 Years is a single malt created by the man himself in collaboration with distillery manager Colin Gordon. The brand says that the expression, which was bottled at 46% ABV bottling, “carries the signature Lagavulin peatiness but with extra spices and notes of dried fruit to carry the smoke”. Offerman’s involvement also extends to the design the packing, which features a rather glorious portrait of himself with typically sublime facial hair, as well as his signature and a quote: “I have travelled the world and sampled many attempts at pleasing nectars, but it is solely this distillation of Islay, a tiny, charismatic Scottish isle, that has claimed my palate. Yea, and my heart into the bargain”. To help promote Lagavulin Offerman Edition Aged 11 Year, new Offerman Edition content will be added to the My Tales of Whiskey channel later this month. We could end on a typical Ron Swanson quote here, but he was a man of very few words. So we won’t. Cheers to you, Nick.
Two rare Macallan Lalique 50-year-olds fetch over £100,000 each
A Macallan whisky has made an awful lot of money at auction. Which probably doesn’t shock you. It tends to happen a lot. However, the two bottles of The Macallan Lalique 50-year-old Scotch whisky that were sold recently did actually raise a few eyebrows as the price paid exceeded the estimated value. At Bonhams Fine Whisky sale in Edinburgh last week, the impressive expressions fetched a whopping £100,062 (US$126,515) each, when they were expected to set some lucky wealthy whisky lover back somewhere around £67,000-£93,000 (US$84,712 – US$117,586). The Macallan Lalique 50-year-old is the first release from The Lalique Six Pillars collection, which was launched between 2006 and 2016, and is said to have aromas of cumin, cardamom and maraschino, and flavours of dark prunes and plain chocolate. But none of us will ever know for sure. Because life is unfair. At the same auction, a bottle of 50-year-old Karuizawa 1965 sold for £27,562 (US$34,848), also breaking its estimated sale price of between £23,000-£25,000 (US$29,080-US$31,609), and the bottle was part of a collection of Japanese whisky that eventually sold for a total of £200,000 (US$252,874). It would appear the appetite for rare and expensive whisky is relentless.
New eau-de-vie made from a thousand different apple varieties
Tiny Cotswolds distillery Capreolus has made quite a name for itself with its superb eaux-de-vie and innovative Garden Swift Gin, but the latest release might just take the biscuit. It’s called 1,000 Trees Apple EDV and it’s made from fruit from 1,000 different varieties of apples. Did you know there were a thousand different varieties of apple? This treasure trove is on Prince Charles’ estate – don’t worry Capreolus’ founder and distiller Barney Wilczak actually bought the apples. What’s more, £5 from every bottle sold goes to The Prince’s Countryside Fund to help develop sustainable farming. Wilczak told us more about this very special orchard and spirit: “It’s an incredible resource, textures, aromas, and flavours [of apple], that would never be available in the shops and, of course, important for future breeding and the preservation of historic varieties. We are doing an annual field blend, and with the varying performance of each variety, this will always be unique. Totally organic, zero additions and wild fermented, we are very happy with the outcome.”
Blend your own gin while you shop
We all know that some people (hi Dad!) really don’t enjoy shopping, especially at Christmas. But we think even the grumpiest of grandpas will want to visit Bluewater this autumn because from October until the end of December, you can blend your own gin. How good is that? The team at Anno Distillers are the people behind this brilliant idea. They have also just released a Honey & Orange Gin as well as earlier this year Kent’s first single malt whisky. Back at Bluewater, weary shoppers can select different flavours and meld them together to create their own unique gin or vodka. Then while their creations are bottled and labelled, they can enjoy a Gin and Tonic made using their own gin. The experience costs £75 and takes two hours. Then there’s just enough time to glide into Oliver Bonas, grab the nearest thing to hand. Job done. Shopping will never be the same again.
Coral room launches England-inspired cocktail menu
The Coral Room manages to transport drinkers within into a chic, coral-coloured country house in the midst of all the London madness. Now, whereabouts in the country that house is up to you, as with its new cocktail menu you can take your taste buds on a journey around England! From Newquay to Ascot to Windermere, the 14 different serves are inspired by 14 different spots. In the ornate menu, each serve is accompanied by a bespoke Art Deco-style drawing. ‘London Calling’ (we bet you can’t guess where inspired that one), a Tequila-based tipple, depicts a couple of punks wandering around Camden Lock, an obvious nod The Clash. Pop over to Glastonbury and try ‘Play the Pyramid’, a Roe & Co. Irish whiskey-based serve with ginger, honey and, of course, pear cider. Well, it is Somerset! If you venture to Sussex, there’s the ‘Garden Party’, and general manager Giovanni Spezziga tells us they wanted to pay homage to the invention of banoffee pie (which was indeed in Sussex!) with this cocktail. There’s Diplomático rum, vodka, crème de banana, cream caramel and tonka bean bitters, so it’s totally reminiscent of an indulgent dessert. Then, there’s ‘The Full Bloomer’ from Kent, with strawberries and rose from the Garden of England, topped with an awesome smoke-filled bubble, which is way more fun to burst than it should be. The whole menu is an experience, from flicking through to brightly-coloured book, discussing the beautiful illustrations and then picking which location to venture to through the art of the cocktail. And if your home town is on there, then, of course, you’ve got to try it!
Three Spirit to launch two new no-ABV expressions
Three Spirit has announced the release of two new no-ABV bottlings to join its first release, Social Elixir, which the brand described as ‘the world’s first plant-powered social spirit’. The two new additions are Livener and Nightcap, which were created to serve different functions that mirror the ways in which we enjoy alcohol. The first is a “pick-me-up and party starter” and the latter is a blend to “help you relax and unwind”. Livener was made with ingredients including Guayusa, Schisandra berries and energising plants and is best enjoyed in Margaritas, Daiquiris and Bellinis, while Nightcap features ingredients such as Valerian, turmeric, ashwagandha, lemon balm and hops that’s delicious in Old Fashioneds and Penicillins (the latter we can say from experience). ‘For this new breed of Conscious Hedonists – people who love to go out, let their hair down and have fun but who still want to be on form the next day – we offer the dream,’ said co-founder Tatiana Mercer. ‘Great flavour, new function and unique drinking experience.’ Three Spirit was launched in January 2019 and its expressions are created from a collaboration between Mercer and co-founders Dash Lilley and Meeta Gournay, as well as ex-Dandelyan bartender Robin Honhold, Tristan Stephenson and Thomas Aske, of Fluid Movement, Black Rock and Worship Street fame, and Professor Michael Heinrich, head of the Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy at UCL School of Pharmacy. Livener and Nightcap will arrive at MoM Towers soon.
100 Wardour Street debuts satirical cocktail menu ‘The Politicians’
Of late, it may feel like the state of the current political climate can get a bit too much. Perhaps you’d like to go for a drink or two, to take your mind off it. Or, conversely, pop down to 100 Wardour Street to try out their new satirical cocktail menu, ‘The Politicians’! We popped down for a taste and certainly weren’t disappointed. Caricature sketches of each politician accompany their cocktail in the book-like menu, and the vodka-based ‘Pride’ sees Vladimir Putin vandalised with a full face of makeup. Perhaps one of the most tongue-in-cheek is ‘The Wall’, a mezcal-based cocktail accompanied by a sketch of Donald Trump with Day of the Dead face paint on, served in a terracotta vessel to top it all off. Even Pope Francis gets his own serve titled ‘Amen’, an aptly alcohol-free kombucha-based serve. It’s not all surface, and the cocktails are genuinely tasty. Alongside the smoky-sweet ‘The Wall’, one of our favourites was ‘Le Roi’, inspired by Emmanuel Macron, a floral serve with Tanqueray Gin, chamomile, elderflower and bergamot, topped with fizz. Of the new menu, head bartender Federico Pasian noted that, “Being able to tease out the humour and satire surrounding the reputations of these political individuals has resulted in a daring and experimental cocktail menu which I hope makes people laugh, especially in the current climate of uncertainty”. It’s a menu that’s set to divide opinion, but also provide a lot of laughs. So go on and raise a glass to your favourite (or, perhaps least favourite) politician.
Mount Gay launches first single pot still rum since the 19th century
Mount Gay’s newest master blender Trudiann Branker, she took over in April of this year, was in town this week with a very special rum. It’s a single pot still spirit, probably the first such rum released since the 19th century when column distillation came to Barbados. Mount Gay dates back to 1703 and Branker described this new release as: “a celebration of how we made rum.” It’s the second in the distillery’s Master Blender range, product of a single distillation run from 2009 filled into American whiskey barrels. 10 years in the heat of Barbados is a long time. Branker said, “our angel’s share is ridiculous, we have very happy angels.” Only 4920 bottles have been filled at 48% ABV. The UK allocation will be tiny and should be arriving with us in early November with an RRP of around £140. We tried it next to the always wonderful XO, and though both shared a ripe banana note, the pot still was very different, winey and fruity on the nose, and intensely aromatic, almost menthol, in the mouth with dark chocolate and vanilla on the finish. It’s a very special taste of history.
And Finally… Stay in Jim Beam’s distillery cottage for just $23!
Whiskey-loving AirBnB users, listen up. You can now add the stay of dreams to your US itinerary! This week, Jim Beam’s 1919 three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom (what does a half-bathroom look like?) distillery cottage popped up in eagle-eyed AirBnB users’ searches. It comes with a fully-stocked bar, a fireplace, a back garden with cowboy cauldrons (basically a fancy fire pit) and there’s even a fishing dock. And Jim Beam will even throw in a distillery tour and bourbon tasting. The best part? Each one-night stay costs at just $23! “We like to say that anyone who visits us comes as friends and leaves as family, so we’re thrilled to welcome our extended family for some bourbon and Kentucky hospitality,” said Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s seventh-generation master distiller and now AirBnB property host. The only snag? Availability is SUPER limited (we gather just 23-24 November and 7-8 December) with bookings opening on 21 October. Laptops at the ready – this could prove trickier than nabbing Glastonbury tickets…