On the Nightcap this week there’s a CGI robin, the “most awaited whisky launch in a generation” and a gin housed in a genuine snowglobe. The brilliant and bonkers world of booze never fails to disappoint.
Apparently, there was all sorts going on in US politics this week, but to be honest something even more troubling caught our attention. It’s October. Ten whole months have somehow passed and the year that will be forever known as that year is almost over. We’re not really sure how to feel about all this, so when the working day draws to a close today we’re going to settle in with some home comforts. A tasty dram of something boozy and some light reading is just what the doctor ordered. Good thing The Nightcap is here, as always.
On the blog this week we were delighted to announce the launch of another delightful #BagThisBundle competition, this time with that small craft distillery Jack Daniel’s. You probably haven’t heard of them. We also kicked-off our Sober October coverage by selecting seven delicious low and no alcohol drinks for you to try before having a taste of Tamdhu’s latest Batch Strength bottling and making a dynamite Martini with Palo Cortado sherry. If you’re a lover of all things rum you probably enjoyed our breakdown of the wonderful world of Jamaican rum, while fans of our Five Minutes with… series will have noticed we had two big names join us this week, Johnny Neill, of Whitley Neill fame, and Dr Nick Savage, master distiller at Bladnoch Distillery.
Redbreast whiskey launches new look and partnership
Redbreast may be one of the most well-known Irish whiskeys in the world, with IMPACT recently naming it as one of the top five-selling Irish whiskeys in the US, but the brand has announced a new strategy this week to broaden its audience and “drive discovery with more whiskey fans by creating a distinctive and memorable character for the beloved range”. That character in question is a CGI robin called Robin (no shock there) who has made his debut in a number of videos on the Redbreast YouTube channel, explaining how Redbreast got its name, recommending how you should enjoy Redbreast whiskey and blushing at awards. The move brings the brand’s trademark robin to life as a plucky, witty character with plenty of irreverent Irish humour, very much in the vein of Sipsmith’s excellent Wes Anderson-style ‘We Make Gin Not Compromises’ advert or Ryan Reynolds’ marketing of Aviation Gin. As well as introducing Robin, Redbreast has also unveiled a new look carved from wood, paying homage to casks, and a global partnership with leading bird conservation charity, BirdLife International. “With the Robin being one of the world’s most recognisable birds, Redbreast Irish Whiskey is delighted to take the opportunity of the launch of its new character to announce its commitment to supporting BirdLife International and the welfare of not only Robins but all birds,” explains Laura Hanratty, head of prestige and speciality brands at Irish Distillers. Expect to see more of the little scamp in the future.
Check out London Cocktail Week’s month-long schedule
You might have heard that, in order to support the recovery of the hospitality industry, London Cocktail Week has decided to expand upon its usual boozy extravaganza by hosting events across the capital for a whole month! Among the experiences are an immersive tasting masterclass with Santa Teresa rum and specialist rum bar Burlock where guests will enjoy food, cocktails and live music, while Craigellachie and Milroy’s have collaborated to ‘Share the Rare’, an event in which measures of the rare and spectacular Craigellachie 31 Year Old are available to win! Lyaness will welcome Angel’s Envy for a ‘Tasting & Finishing School’, meanwhile, the Sun Tavern will host the eagerly awaited ‘Return of the Hatch’ courtesy of Aberfeldy with takeaway hot and cold honey-infused cocktails. We can personally recommend you check out the bars and pay tribute to your favourite haunts throughout October as we were lucky enough to head to Swift Shoreditch last night to sample drinks from the Noilly Prat and St Germain spritz trolley, accompanied by food from Masterchef finalist Yan Florio. You don’t need to ask us twice if we’re willing to have a great time and help out the hospitality industry. If you’re of a similar mindset, then find out more at londoncocktailweek.com.
“Most awaited whisky launch in a generation” announced
Torabhaig, the second legal distillery ever to be built on the Isle of Skye (you know, the one with Talisker on it), has revealed that it plans to join the peated single malt market by releasing some whisky. It’s Torabhaig Legacy Series 2017 and what we know about it at the moment is that it’s a limited-edition expression bottled at 46% ABV. Oh, and the brand has described it as the “most awaited whisky launch in a generation”. So that’s something. Production started at the island distillery, which is owned by Mossburn Distillers, back in January 2017 with a local team of nine distillers, many new to the industry. Torabhaig is also launching a member’s club called The Peat Elite complete with a subscription service, set to launch in November 2020. It will include two exclusive bottlings per year, the first being a cask strength pre-release 70cl bottle drawn from single casks. More details on how to sign up to The Peat Elite will follow closer to launch date. “By opening the second-ever licensed Single Malt Scotch Whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye we have from the start been mindful of the legacy we are leaving, it was never enough to make ‘just another whisky’,” says Neil Mathieson, chief executive at Mossburn Distillers. “We have created a characterful whisky with real depth and complexity, and an elegance and refinement which belies the extremely high phenol levels in the barley. It is a distinctive take on peat, and it is the first expression of our distillery’s signature style, a flavour profile we call Well-Tempered Peat, which we hope will help define the future of Torabhaig.” Sounds lovely. Good thing Torabhaig whisky will be available at MoM Towers in the future…
The first-ever English Whisky Festival is coming
The Whisky Show isn’t the only whisky-based fun you can have online this month. The first-ever English Whisky Festival will be taking place on 16-17 October. A few years ago the idea of a festival devoted to English whisky would have seemed peculiar but now with a vibrant scene producing a dizzying variety of styles including rye whiskies, Irish-style malted and unmalted barley pot stills and single malts, it’s sure to be an unmissable experience. Distilleries from all over the country are taking part including the Cotswolds Distillery, Kent’s own Copper Rivet Distillery, from Norfolk the English Whisky Company, Adnams of Suffolk, the Lakes Distillery in Cumbria and representing London, Bimber. Panel hosts include TV presenter Matthew Wright, whisky judge Amy Seton and writer, musician and all-round smoothie Felipe Schrieberg. Organiser Richard Foster, the founder of the English Whisky Society, commented: “This is a golden age for English whisky-making, with distillers making a name for themselves around the globe. We may not be able to gather in person, but the Virtual English Whisky Festival will be the first-of-its-kind celebration of the best English whisky has to offer.” Andrew Nelstrop, founder of The English Whisky Company added: “15 years ago when we built England’s first registered whisky distillery for over a century, we could never have imagined that such a vibrant and expansive English whisky scene would emerge as quickly and successfully as it has done. The English Whisky Festival will be a true moment to champion the success stories so far – and contemplate a very exciting future for us and our fellow distilleries.” Get involved here.
Macallan headlines Sotheby’s Inaugural Halloween Spirits Sale
Nearly a year to the day that Sotheby’s made history when its sale of The Ultimate Whisky Collection achieved £7.6 million, the highest total for any whisky collection ever offered at auction, Part II has been announced. Set to take place on Saturday, 31 October in London, or Halloween as it is also known, the collection will feature whiskies from renowned distilleries in Scotland, Ireland and Japan. The headline offering, however, will once again be from The Macallan, fresh off setting an auction record for any bottle of wine or spirit last year when a bottle of The Macallan Fine & Rare 60-Year-Old 1926 sold for £1.5 million. To mark the launch of a new classic aged collection of single malts from the Speyside distillery, the Sotheby’s sale will open with a complete set of six whiskies from age 40 Years Old to the oldest whisky ever released by the brand. The proceeds generated from this one-off offering at auction will be donated to global food charity, City Harvest, which redistributes surplus from the food industry to vulnerable people internationally. Full details will be revealed on 15 October, to coincide with The Macallan’s official launch.
Glencairn Glass celebrates 20 years with a riot of colour
The official glass of the Scottish Whisky Association is 20 this year. To celebrate this auspicious anniversary, the Glencairn Glass is being released in a set of five different colours: black, green, blue, red, and as Spandau Ballet once sang, ‘gold!’. Scott Davidson, new product development director and son of founder, Raymond Davidson, commented: “We were blown away by the massive success of our limited edition black Glencairn Glass last year which sold out almost immediately. So in response to public demand, our 20th-anniversary gift to loyal fans of the Glencairn Glass across the world is the introduction of this colourful new range, which is here to stay. Not only are the coloured glasses a fun addition to any drinks cabinet, tasting your dram blind is the perfect way to develop your senses and to learn all about the wonderful world of whisky”. Yes, these glasses don’t just look snazzy, they help with tasting as your senses won’t be deceived but the sometimes misleading colour of your dram. Glasses cost £8 each or £60 for the set (go to The Glencairn Crystal online store) which will also include a classic clear glass for those old fuddy-duddies who actually like to see their whisky’s colour.
Jedburgh whisky distillery plans back on track
We’re one step closer to having two new whisky distilleries in the Borders, which is part of the Lowland region. Despite fears that the project could be dead in the water after plans to build the £40m complex – close to the former Jedforest Hotel near Jedburgh – expired in January, fresh planning approval has been sought this week. Developers have now lodged a repeat application with Scottish Borders Council with the promise of up to 70 full-time jobs and a report to councillors has recommended they approve the plans as a “significant economic investment”. Backing had been given to the scheme back in December 2016 by the local authority and the proposals remain unchanged. Fresh permission is required, however, since the previous one has now lapsed. The first phase of the development is touted to include a small distillery built to educate visitors in the “craft of making spirit”, while a larger-scale distillery, capable of producing millions of bottles per year, would be completed after that. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we receive more good news on this front.
Dictador releases new 2 Masters expression with Royal Tokaji
On Tuesday, we were treated to an evening of perhaps epic proportions – and not even just due to the current pandemic times. Colombian rum brand Dictador hosted a cunningly socially distanced but no less fancy dinner at London’s 67 Pall Mall to reveal the next instalment of its always-intriguing 2 Masters series. What’s the proposition? Age wonderful rum for up to 40 years, pass some of these precious casks over to partners from different spirits categories for them to finish, and voila! Previous incarnations include a Glenfarclas expression, plus Hardy Cognac- and Barton 1792 bourbon-finished bottlings. This week, we got to experience Dictador 2 Masters Royal Tokaji! Hernan Parra, Dictador master blender, worked with his Royal Tokaji counterpart Zoltán Kovács for a truly luxurious, unctuous spirit, oozing with elegant rancio notes. To be more precise, a 1977 vintage Dictador rum travelled all the way to Poland (more adventure than most of us have seen recently…) where it matured for seven months more in Royal Tokaji’s 12-year-old, 300-litre Zemplén oak barrels that had previously aged the delightful 2016 Royal Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos. (And it really is a delectable wine!) “In the depths of the 13th century Royal Tokaji wine cellar, our rum has developed a new and extraordinary finish,” said Parra. “Its palate is elegant and balanced, smooth and rich, with a good attack and a persistent finish.” He continued: “The Tokaji Aszú aroma has made a remarkable mark too. Dictador 2 Masters Royal Tokaji is complex and rich, with hints of tropical fruits and a nice honey touch on the nose.” At £670, it’s not your average rum – it’s much more special than that. Keep your eye on the New Arrivals feed if you’re interested – could the age of prestige rum be here?!
Behold, the virtual Whisky Show is here!
Now in its 12th year, the Whisky Show has to be the highlight of the London or London-adjacent whisky lover’s calendar. It’s normally two days of whisky and rum intensity packed into the Fishmonger’s Hall but obviously, that can’t happen this year. So, it’s going online, and how! Now spread over seven days, 2-9 October, there’s something for everyone (as long as you like whisky and rum). There will be talks and panels on all aspects of whisky plus plenty of rum and some other spirits. We particularly like the sound of: a talk subtitled ‘Why is Blanton’s So Delicious?’; a tour of Sukhinder Singh’s legendary whisky collection and, one for the geekiest of whisky geeks, ‘Good Sulphur v Bad Sulphur’. You can buy tasting sets so can really join in with the fun. All your favourite whisky personalities will be there including Dave Broom, Georgie Bell, Dr Whisky and, of course, Billy Abbot. MoM will be represented in the form of Kristiane Sherry chairing three events with the East London Liquor Company, Teeling Irish Whiskey and That Boutique-y Whisky Company. While Henry Jeffreys will be reading from Empire of Booze: British History Through the Bottom of the Glass on the Whisky Auction stage. Find out more here. Come along and say hello using the magic of high-speed broadband.
And finally… Nothing says Christmas like a snow globe gin…
There was a time on The Nightcap when it felt like every week we were reporting on some weird and wonderful new gin, so this story coming into our inboxes this week had us tinged with nostalgia. Harvey Nichols has kicked-off the ‘holy crap, is it Christmas already?!’ season of news by announcing the launch of an Orange and Gingerbread Snow Globe Gin Liqueur. As in a gin liqueur presented in an Italian-made Snow Globe Bottle, you didn’t read that wrong. The expression, which contains an edible 23kt gold leaf and comes in a gold-foiled gift box, includes a lamp switch on the base for illumination, so if you give the globe a gentle shake and turn on the lamp you can see the gold leaf cascade around the Christmas scene inside. Harvey Nichols says the spirit has notes of “real zesty Seville orange, warmth from gingerbread and notes of cinnamon and dried cloves which perfectly capture the spirit of Christmas”, and recommend you enjoy it with either Prosecco or tonic water or as part of a festive cocktail or simply neat over ice. So, if you’re in the market for a boujee bottling that could become part of your Christmas decorations, you’re in luck!