Mega-old Macallan, virtual pipelines and g-g-g-ghosts! The Nightcap this week really is all over the shop…
It’s Friday. But it’s also not just any Friday. It’s the first Friday of August. But it’s also not just any first Friday of August. It’s International Beer Day. I mean, yeah, technically any first Friday of August is International Beer Day, because that’s when it is, but the point still remains. Kinda. Look, what we’re trying to say is that maybe today, instead of enjoying your regular scheduled edition of The Nightcap with a dram, you enjoy it with a tasty drink of the beer variety.
So what were the haps with our very own blog this week? Annie was ahead of the curve and clued us in on five beer trends to keep an eye on, and then caught up with Ervin Trykowski from The Singleton to talk about chucking out the whisky ritual rulebook. Jess headed to the Highlands to celebrate Caorunn Gin’s 10th birthday, then set her sights even further afield with a rundown of flavours from far-off lands. Guest columnists galore: Ian Buxton took a swing at genealogy by looking at the illustrious families of the drinks industry, while Victoria Sayers spotted a fantastic New Arrival of the Week –– Clouded Leopard Gin. Henry helped us cool off in the heatwave with a refreshing Moscow Mule for Cocktail of the Week.
And so, on to the news!
Single malt returns to Edinburgh after almost 100 years
Previously, if you wanted to visit a malt whisky distillery from Edinburgh, you had to travel 15 miles to Glenkinchie. But no longer, because this week single malt returned to the capital for the first time since 1925! The Holyrood Distillery, located within walking distance of Edinburgh Castle, is housed in an elegant 19th century railway shed. It cost £6.7m with £1.5m worth of investment coming from the taxpayer-funded Scottish Investment Bank. The team headed up by distillery manager Jack Mayo will be doing some interesting stuff with different yeasts, varieties of barley and levels of malting to produce initially four types of whisky: smoky, sweet, spicy and fruity/floral. At seven metres, the stills are some of the tallest in Scotland. “After all the hard work of the team, it’s a really special moment to now see Holyrood Distillery open, and we’re looking forward to creating a range of delicious whiskies, gins, liqueurs and other spirits,” said co-founder Rob Carpenter. “I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this project throughout its evolution for their hard work and passion – and especially all our local neighbours for bearing with us during the construction process.” The distillery is now open for tours. We can’t wait to visit.
Ardross Distillery kicks off whisky production!
More distillery news, this time from the Scottish Highlands – Ardross Distillery, which already make Theodore Pictish Gin in a dedicated on-site gin house, has started whisky production! Details are pretty scarce, but we have had it confirmed that the first batch flowed from the stills last week. And we’re excited! The £18 million distillery had planning permission granted in February 2017, and construction started shortly after. Located just north of Inverness, the former farm now boasts two large copper pot stills, and once finished, there will be a small whisky experience centre, too. There’s no word yet on the intended character of the future Scotch, but as soon as we know more, we’ll let you know!
British Bourbon Society marks third anniversary
Last weekend we hightailed it up to Leeds to join the British Bourbon Society (BBS) for some pretty lively birthday celebrations. The largest American whiskey group outside North America was in a collectively rambunctious mood when 100 or so members arrived at the Northern Monk brewery to mark its third anniversary. On-hand to help with the festivities were a bunch of delicious brands, from Maker’s Mark and Whistlepig to Uncle Nearest and the likes of Few Spirits, Smooth Ambler, New York Distilling Company and Balcones. And on Balcones… one of our tasks of the day was selecting the liquid for a British Bourbon Society/Master of Malt bottle pick. It was deliciously hard work, but someone’s gotta do it. Keep your eyes peeled for the results over the next few weeks. And an enormous thank you to BBS members for making the whole afternoon so fun!
The Macallan releases 68 year old whisky
Last year it was the £38,000 52 year old release. This week The Macallan has gone that little bit further with the release of the £44,000 Exceptional Single Cask 1950 expression, that was bottled in 2018. That’s a 68 year old whisky. Blimey! The cask in question is a sherry butt found in the Macallan warehouse, and only 336 bottles have been filled at a healthy 53.4% ABV. The tasting notes tantalisingly refer to “subtle hints of peat in the background”, so it sounds like this is that rarest thing, an old peated Macallan. The press release goes on to say: “The single malt is the centrepiece of the 2018 release from the unprecedented range which invites consumers to explore the world’s most valuable whisky through a rare insight from the legendary whisky makers’ bench at The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience on Speyside.” Nope, doesn’t mean anything to us, either. Anyhow, it’s no doubt an exceptional whisky, and seeing as last year’s release is already selling for double its release price, likely to be a good investment, too.
Gordon & MacPhail releases whiskies from ghost distilleries
There’s nothing like a silent or ghost distillery for getting whisky fans hot under the collar, so we expect Gordon & MacPhail will be installing a new phone line to deal with enquiries about its latest ‘Private Collection’. The first release comes from the Dallas Dhu Distillery, which closed in 1983. This particular one was distilled in 1969 and matured in a sherry hogshead. The second is from the St. Magdalene Distillery. It was distilled in 1982, a year before the distillery closed its doors, and has been sitting in a refill American hogshead ever since. The final whisky in the collection isn’t actually a ghostie, but it is pretty bloody special: a 1966 from Longmorn matured in a first-fill sherry butt. All collars at Master of Malt are getting a bit warm just thinking about it. Stephen Rankin, director of prestige at Gordon & MacPhail, commented: “My grandfather, George Urquhart, recognised an opportunity to match new make spirit with carefully selected casks at a time when the vast majority of production went into blends. Over the decades he was able to master this art which has become his legacy. He could never be persuaded to bottle a whisky before he believed it had reached its ultimate peak in terms of quality – a tradition we’re proud to continue today.” The RRP for the Longmorn and the Dallas Dhu is £6950 each with the St. Magdalene at £1000. We probably don’t need to tell you that packaging will be lavish, numbers extremely limited and demand high. That’s rare whisky for you.
Glenmorangie to cut emissions by 30% using a ‘virtual pipeline’
Glenmorangie will be switching its (famously-tall) stills over to natural gas from oil, a move set to cut carbon emissions by 30%. The Highland distillery is too remote to be on the pipeline, so a ‘virtual pipeline’, consisting of a tanker and storage facility, is being used to provide gas. We’ve written before about the Highland distillery’s admirable environmental initiatives, such as the anaerobic digester to purify water emitted into the Dornoch Firth (which handily also produces biogas, so the distillery has been able to cut fossil fuel use by 15%), and initiatives to restore oyster reefs in the Firth. “We are committed to preserving and improving the world around us, as we meet rising demand for our exceptional single malt whisky around the globe,” said Thomas Moradpour, president and CEO of The Glenmorangie Company. “Cutting our CO2 emissions by 30% is another important step in our quest to become a fully sustainable business.”
Satan’s Whiskers’ Eric Tinca nabs Fentimans title
Congratulations to Eric Tinca from Bethnal Green’s Satan’s Whiskers cocktail bar in East London, who was this week crowned winner of Fentimans’ Summer of Rose competition! Eric’s winning cocktail, a combination of Fentimans Rose Lemonade, fresh raspberries, Campari and Koko Kanu coconut rum, sounds like just the thing to get you in the holiday spirit. Over 100 bartenders from around the country took part in the challenge. The brief was to create a cocktail that could be replicated swiftly in bars that included, naturally, Fentimans Rose Lemonade. This year is looking like the pinkest since records began; you can’t move for rosé wine, pink gin, and Fentimans Rose Lemonade, in shops, bars and all over Instagram. If you’re not holding a pink drink this summer, what are you doing? Hurrah again for Tinca!
Isle of Raasay Distillery releases first gin
With International Scottish Gin Day officially a thing on 3 August (keep your eyes peeled on the blog and our social channels for more!), it seems fitting that this week’s Nightcap features just that: a new Scottish gin! Step forward Isle of Raasay Distillery, which last weekend unveiled its very first gin expression. The Isle of Raasay Gin is made using a Frilli copper pot still, ten botanicals (including rhubarb root, cubeb pepper and lemon peel; some from the island itself), water from a local well, and triple-distilled spirit. Its development was supported by local botanist Dr Stephen Bungard, along with MSc scholar at Heriot Watt Fiona Williamson, who actually worked at the distillery in 2018. “Raasay’s remarkable geology and our modern island distillery inspired both the creation and presentation of our exciting new Scottish gin that we look forward to sharing with the growing number of visitors to Raasay and gin lovers alike,” said distillery co-founder, Alasdair Day. With tasting notes including aromatic juniper, zesty citrus and hints of rhubarb, we’re looking forward to having a sample.
Oban releases new distillery exclusive single malt!
North west Scotland’s Oban distillery has a shiny new release – and it’s a distillery-exclusive called Old Teddy! Named in honour of the Maclean family, the expression celebrates three generations of whisky-making, dating back to 1953 with master distiller Old Teddy. His son Young Teddy (natch) joined the firm in 1985, followed in 2017 by, sadly not Even Younger Teddy, but Derek. Oh well! The youngest Maclean still works at the distillery today and he commented: “This unique bottling is a celebration of our heritage and pays homage to my grandfather, whose fine craftsmanship has been preserved in the heart and soul of the distillery at Oban. This bottling is inspired by Old Teddy’s warm and gentle nature, physical strength and pride as dedicated maltster. It is a dram he would be proud of.” This special family single malt was released this month, less than 4,000 bottles will be available, and it can only be purchased from the distillery for £150. If you’re lucky enough to try it, make sure you raise a glass to the two Teddies, and Derek.
And finally… King’s Cross comes up smelling of roses thanks to Hendrick’s
It’s a mark of how King’s Cross in London has been regenerated in recent years that, from this week, one of the tunnels in the Underground station smells not of effluence, vandal-strength lager and broken dreams, but roses and cucumber. Yes, Hendrick’s Gin has taken over the tunnel that links the Piccadilly and Victoria lines to the Northern line ticket hall and bedecked it with rose-and-cucumber-scented posters from floor-to-ceiling. It’s all the work of ad agency Space. Not only does it look spectacular but it smells delicious too. In fact, just the thought of it is making us thirsty for a G&T. Damn clever advertising.
That’s all, folks!