It’s December, and Christmas is coming. To get any more Christmassy, you’d need Noddy Holder to pop up and shout “it’s Christmaaasssss!” We’ve been counting down the days in some style with our Advent coverage this week with folks opening windows #1 and #2 to find treats like Michter’s US *1 Straight Rye and Plantation XO 20th Anniversary.
Until Christmas Eve you can enjoy our 24 drams of Christmas coverage, but if you want a full bottle of something Christmassy this week we recommend our new arrival, Roasting Chestnuts & Peat Fire Embers & Mince Pies & Hygge, or if you get lucky, #WhiskySanta’s Super Wish: Glenfiddich 40 Year Old. Our Christmas gift guide for wine cask-finished whisky also gave you some tasty options, as did this week’s selection of our own independent bottlings, as well as a chance to win big with Aberfeldy. Elsewhere, we whipped up a classic Mulled Wine then gathered around the festive fire to hear Dr. Nick Morgan conclude his two-part series on reformulations by telling the cautionary tale of Cardhu.
Now, onto The Nightcap: 2 December!
Jack Daniel’s the nation’s favourite whisky
A fascinating new report from The Morning Advertiser (with data provided by CGA for the 12 months to 8 October 2022) has revealed which whisky the UK wants the most. The answer, unsurprisingly, is Jack Daniel’s. In fact, the top five selling whiskies have remained unchanged since last year. There was lots of lovely growth to report, however. The Morning Advertiser published the results for The Drinks List, its collection of top brands to stock for 2023 and it made for positive reading. All whisky brands listed saw sales hikes of more than 100% over the past 12 months, with JD topping the list thanks to a 145.6% rise in volume sales up from 93,537 nine-litre cases (9lc). Famous Grouse and Bell’s retained their spots at number two and three respectively, with a volume sales increase of 122% and 134.9%. Jameson took fourth with value sales rising by 156.6% and Johnnie Walk Black Label 12 Year Old rose up a place to round out the top five with the biggest sales across the top 10 brands as its volume increased by 191%. Last year Maker’s Mark Kentucky Bourbon made a new entry and it’s kept that momentum going, going up one place to eighth with significant increases in both volume sales of 141.1%. Is there a brand you think deserved to make the top ten? We’re just glad to see people buying lots of whisky, to be honest!
Meanwhile, Captain Morgan and Gordon’s continue to dominate
The Morning Advertiser didn’t stop with whisky, however, also recording results for rum and gin. Starting with rum, the top five from last year’s Drinks List kept their positions, while every brand in the top 10 has seen volume and value sales boosts from close to 100% to an eye-watering 550% and more. At the top is Captain Morgan Spiced followed by Bacardi Carta Blanca, with the former clocking up more than triple the number of sales of the latter (a 167.5% hike up from last year’s total). In gin, meanwhile, Gordon’s Pink Gin was the most sold with a 63% increase in sales, while the brand’s classic original also retained the same spot as last year, taking second place with a 135.4% increase in sales. Tanqueray moved up to third achieving a 149.1% growth in value, with Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater gin rounding out the top five.
Fine and rare whisky value surges 21%
That’s not the only report that caught our eye this week. We also learned that fine and rare single malt Scotch whisky is in more demand than a decent alternative to Twitter these days, thanks to research by Noble & Co. The investment bank reveals that investors, spooked by turmoil in financial markets, have been turning to tangible assets and safe haven investments and that fine and rare whisky represent one of the best-performing alternative investments available. Much of the growth in auction sales in 2022 was driven by demand for whisky costing between £100 and £1,000, with volumes in this category already up by 30% to the end of September, and by 40% compared to the same timescale last year – with the Christmas period still to come. The Noble & Co analysis also found the volume of bottles of Scotch sold for between £10,000 and £100,000 is up 28% compared to 2021. Working with data science business Brainnwave to collect and analyse 5.2 million data points from more than 580,000 transactions in the whisky auction market during the last decade, the results reveal a 21% increase in the value of fine and rare single malts this year, with the volume of bottles sold increasing by 23%. The Macallan has maintained its number one position for both volume and value in the secondary market, the report said, but other fastest-growing whisky brands by volume in the secondary market include GlenAllachie, Springbank, Balvenie, Daftmill, Bowmore, Arran, and Ardbeg. Noble & Co head of food and drink Duncan McFadzean did offer a cautionary note, saying that “economic headwinds are increasing” and that they will be watching to see if a tighter fiscal environment leads to a slowdown in collectibles as it has for many financial assets. As ever, our advice is to proceed with caution, and to advocate that you drink the stuff, not stockpile it. It’s what whisky was made for.
The Dalmore Vintage Collection 2022 coming soon
There are some seriously swanky Dalmores incoming. The 2022 offering from the Vintage Collection consists of a single malt distilled in 2003 and one in 2007. The former was aged in bourbon barrels before a finishing in some “hand-selected casks”, no robot selectors at Dalmore, including Rivesaltes from France, and matusalem and amoroso sherry. It was bottled at 46.9% ABV. Meanwhile, the 2007 was finished in various sherry casks as well as some Marsala, the fortified wine from Sicily, and bottled at 46.5% ABV. Master whisky maker Gregg Glass said: “The time we take each November at The Dalmore is a true highlight of my year. At The Dalmore every cask is special, but when it comes to a Dalmore Vintage, we assess rare casks by hand, reacquainting ourselves with the character of each whisky. For a whisky to become a Dalmore Vintage we are looking for a distinctive characteristic that distinguishes that single malt above all else that year, a whisky with true potential to shine.” We should be getting stock in soon with the ’03 costing around £350 and the ’07 a very reasonable, by current standards, £150.
BrewDog launches first-ever whisky cask sale
BrewDog’s first-ever whisky cask sale starts next week, offering fans the chance to own a cask of the brand’s inaugural single malt and single grain whisky. In partnership with distinguished whisky auction house Whisky Hammer, the 50 casks will go live on auction on Wednesday 7 December at 7pm and run until Sunday 11 December. There will be a choice of three different 200L casks types, including 30 oloroso sherry, 15 first-fill bourbon, and five exclusive bourbon, with prices starting at £5,000. Winning bidders can either have their casks held in BrewDog Distilling Co’s bonded warehouse in Ellon or keep them in their own private bonded storage. If you have one of those. Is that common? How the other half live. Anyway, in addition, each investor will be granted complimentary access to BrewDog Distilling Co’s Whisky Founder’s Club, launching in May 2023. If that’s not excitingly enough, the whisky you’re bidding on is produced in BrewDog Distilling Co’s brand-new standalone distillery, which opened this year and allowed the drinks makers to increase whisky production by 300% and house it in a climate-controlled warehouse capable with 1,000 cask capacity. The BrewDog Whisky Casks will be the first casks filled at the new distillery.
Dominic Roskrow’s family raising money for Mind UK
We reported last week on the sad death of whisky-writing legend Dominic Roskrow. For those wanting to pay their respects, the funeral takes place on Monday 12 December. Please contact Dominic’s brother Ben for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org. The family has asked for no flowers but instead for people to donate to mental health charity Mind UK via a Go Fund Me page. Dominic’s son Louie wrote: “My dad was an amazing man who spent the majority of his time caring for others. One of the things he was particularly passionate about was pioneering men’s mental health and he would always help people from across the world with their mental health. One of the charities he especially associated with was Mind UK, and he would donate himself at least once a year.”
Rare £2 million Irish whiskey mecca opens in Belfast
The largest collection of Irish whiskey in the world can now be found at a shop in Belfast. The Friend at Hand has invested £2 million into its Hill Street venue in the Cathedral Quarter, which has been transformed and behind its bespoke mahogany cabinetry sits a new collection of rare whiskeys, artefacts, and collectibles that have been brought together over 40 years. The shop, which has been described as being more like a museum than a whiskey shop, has maintained its strict position to sell only Irish whiskey, resisting commercial pressure to diversify and offer Scotch, Japanese whiskeys, gin etc., and has tried to create a space that makes people want to come to Belfast. It’s working. Who wants to chip in for a hotel with us?
Beefeater’s most premium gin returns
Beefeater Crown Jewel is back. Inspired by the original Crown Jewel, which was launched in the early ’90s, this beautiful gin bottle honours the jewels housed within the Tower of London. The deep red colour is a nod to rubies, one of the most prominent gems on The Crown Jewels and a favourite of the late Queen, while the shape pays tribute to the brand’s London heritage with its brick design. The recipe itself is described as an “elevated version” of Beefeater’s London Dry Gin recipe, with classic gin botanicals like juniper, coriander, and angelica seeds bolstered by a big, citrussy hit of crisp grapefruit peel and an equally bold strength of 50% ABV. “Beefeater Crown Jewel is one of my favourite expressions within the portfolio due to its full, rounded, and encompassing aroma and long, complex flavours that work so well both mixed and neat,” says master distiller for Beefeater, Demond Payne MBE. “Don’t just take my word for it either; bartenders have been banging our door down to bring back this award-winning gem.” Anyone got a hankering for a Negroni?
Funkidory announces a second larger venue
The team behind the wonderful Peckham-based Funkidory bar has announced that they will be opening a second site in Camberwell in early 2023. The bar’s co-owners, Sergio Leanza and Anna Fairhead-Benitez, will launch their biggest venue so far, with space to to host DJs with live gigs styled much like Funkidory’s regular monthly Sunday Tipple sessions, where the bar hosts up-and-coming musicians from around the UK. There’s also full lab space, with Leanza bringing his background in the hospitality industry to lead the team in the new menu development. While the sister bar is yet to be announced the name, we do know it will be located beneath the newly reopened Forza Win at the boutique Church Street Hotel as an independent venue.
And finally… Deacon Blue release limited edition whisky
To celebrate the 35th anniversary of their debut album Raintown, Deacon Blue has released a limited-edition whisky. The single malt, named after the Scottish group’s hit record ‘Born in a Storm’, was released this week by independent bottler Caskade. There are just 853 bottles of the Scotch whisky, which is a single cask expression distilled on Orkney and matured for 13 years. It’s said to be a “bold mix of classic Orkney character and oloroso sherry notes”. Deacon Blue commented on the news saying: “We are delighted to celebrate 35 years of Raintown with this special limited edition whisky, bottled by Glasgow’s own Caskade. ‘Born in a Storm’ is a bold and enduring spirit which serves as an apt reflection of the people and places it was inspired by and a perfect accompaniment to the record.”