It’s the final Nightcap of 2019, so for the last time year let’s all enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news!
Christmas is just around the corner, and then New Year’s Eve will happen, and then we’ll be in a brand new decade. Yes, another one. They just keep on happening, don’t they? There won’t be a Nightcap next week, for reasons that have nothing to do with being full of pigs within blankets. So, for the very last time of the 2010s, let’s check out what’s going on in the world of boozes with a plethora of brilliant bite-sized news chunks. It’s The Nightcap!
On the blog this week we launched our fabulously festive Where’s #WhiskySanta? competition in which you can win a £250 MoM voucher! Speaking of competitions, you’ve only got a few days left to enter the Starward competition, so be sure to pick yourself up a bottle from the Starward distillery range if you fancy a free boozy holiday down under… Elsewhere, #WhiskySanta announced his final SuperWish, the incredible Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter, while the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar continued to impress with its selection of spirits on days #14, #15, #16, #17, #18 and #19. Adam meanwhile rounded-up some cracking Christmas table tipples to ease your shopping woes, before checking out Amazónico, a new rainforest-inspired bar and restaurant in Mayfair. Henry then enjoyed the company of Cognac maverick Alexandre Gabriel and the spicy, bold WhistlePig Ten Year Old – Pitt Cue Exclusive. Annie made a case for The Alpine Toddy to be your winter warmer of choice this year, and cast her eye on an upcoming trend, the rise of the mini Martini.
Now, for the last time in 2019, let’s motor on with the Nightcap!
Barbados rum GI conflict hots up
The ongoing debate over the proposed geographical indication (GI) for Barbados rum has just gone to DefCon 3, after the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) issued a statement this week. It was signed by Andrew Hassell, managing director of the distillery, and Alexandre Gabriel, owner and master blender, and makes a few notable (and potentially controversial) points about what should be allowed in Barbados rum. Here we go: 1) Ageing off the island. They want a mandatory year’s ageing in Barbados, but the allowance of secondary maturation elsewhere like Cognac or England. “The 350-year-old double ageing historical practice must also be preserved,” they say. 2) Sugar additions should be allowed. “History shows that Barbados rums have been made for centuries both with and without the inclusion of sugar and caramel,” the statement reads. 3) Wood varieties: WIRD wants to continue using varieties of wood other than oak: “We are currently using seven types of sustainable wood for our rums and are studying further with local and international historians and established barrel-makers. Limiting Barbados to American oak barrels would be a great mistake that would obliterate historic practices,” they say. 4) Still types. In addition to pot and column stills, WIRD uses an archaic chamber still which they think should be allowed in the GI. Phew. This statement will no doubt be noticed by Richard Seale from the Foursquare Distillery, who has been vocal in the past about sugar additions, off-island ageing and described maturation in other woods in a recent interview as “marketing novelty”. There are stories of heated online debates over some of these issues. The statement from WIRD ends: “The future of the diversity of Barbados rum depends on this GI outcome.” Looks like this is an argument that will run and run.
Hendrick’s Gin brings a giant snow globe to Heathrow Terminal 3
We know that we can always count on Hendrick’s Gin for a marvellously quirky pop-up, and the latest one is a rather festive activation in London Heathrow’s Terminal 3! It takes the form of a giant snow globe that’ll reside there until 7 January, with an army of aproned brand ambassadors ready to talk all things Hendrick’s. Get to the gin already! Alright, alright, yes, you can grab a free sample of either a Hendrick’s G&T, or a Gin Buck, which is paired with ginger ale and lime juice. That’s not all though. If you’re passing through the terminal, you can turn the ‘Key of Curiosity’, and you’ll be treated to a Hendrick’s cracker filled with either a 50ml bottle, a cucumber pin badge, or a Little Guide to Conjuring magic book. It’s like Hendrick’s read our Christmas list! Oh, but we haven’t even got to the best part yet. At some mystery point, one lucky traveller will get to pull an extra special cracker containing the rare stainless steel Hendrick’s penguin pourer, with his top hat on and all. Manjot Riyait, head of marketing for William Grant & Sons GTR, said of the T3 snow globe’s activation: “There has been a constant buzz of passengers around the globe, taking photos and enjoying a Hendrick’s and tonic, and we look forward to delighting many more happy travellers over what we expect to be a busy and fruitful festive period for global travel retail.” Who even needs to go on holiday after you’ve had all this festive fun?
Kentucky revellers get free taxis
Here’s a good idea. The Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) has put $10,000 in a kitty so that party-goers can get a free or discounted ride home from a night out (depending on where they live). The initiative, run by the Safe Ride KY coalition, runs from 5pm on Friday 20 December until 5am on Wednesday 1 January. All you have to do is download the Lyft app on your phone, enter promo code SAFERIDEKY2020, and claim $10 in ride credit (more information here). KDA president Eric Gregory said: “We are proud to lead the coalition in offering discounted safe rides this holiday season for the third consecutive year. We encourage all who will be venturing out to celebrate to do so responsibly and plan your transportation ahead of time.” So if you’re going out in Kentucky this Christmas, you can have that Old Fashioned or two, and get home safely. Would be great if someone introduced something similar in Britain. We’re looking at you SWA.
Royal Lochnagar launches distillery-exclusive bottling for 2019
As the year comes towards an end, Royal Lochnagar has gone and released its 2019 Distillery Exclusive! The Highland distillery matured the single malt in European oak and refill casks, bottled at 48% ABV. What to expect? The distillery tells us there are notes of warming wood spice, green apple, vanilla and toffee, with burnt cocoa and candy floss in there too. The limited-edition bottling has been released with a run of only 5,004 bottles. “This special liquid perfectly captures the spirit of Royal Lochnagar distillery character, with a wide range of outstanding flavours and aromas which are inspired by the experience of being out in the open landscape of our home in the Cairngorm mountains,” Neil Murphy, the senior site manager at Royal Lochnagar said. “This rare and exclusive single malt has been selected by our expert team and represents a rare memento of whisky history for visitors to take and enjoy.” Here’s the catch: if you want a bottle, you’ll have to go to the distillery itself to nab it. Trip to the Highlands, anyone?
WSTA calls for cuts to wine and spirit duty
This time of year might be one for giving, but sharing the boozy love will set you back a pretty penny if you’re in the UK, according to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). Your basket of Christmas booze is set to cost an all-time high this year, with 49% of consumers’ cash going straight to the taxman. The French, by comparison, will pay just 21% tax. In fact, the UK alcohol industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe, with British drinkers paying an extraordinary 69% of all wine duties collected by all 28 EU member states and 25% of all spirits duties. This is by far the most of any member state despite accounting for only 11 per cent of the total EU population. That’s why the WSTA is calling on the government to cut alcohol duty. Wine is the UK’s most popular drink, enjoyed by 33 million Brits, but income from wine receipts actually decreased from last year’s take by 2.1% according to the HMRC Alcohol Bulletin figures released last month. If the 2.1% drop plays out for the whole year then Treasury would be set to lose £92 million compared to 2018. The WSTA attributes this to the chancellor’s decision to single out wine for a duty increase at the last Budget, and claims these figures are proof that raising alcohol duty is not only bad for business and consumers but also bad news for the Treasury. It’s worth remembering that the wine and spirit industry supports some 369,000 jobs and generates £49 billion in economic activity. “Comparing the wine and spirit tax regime in the UK to that in France puts the UK’s excessively high rate of excise duty firmly in the spotlight. The Treasury will be taking more money than ever from British businesses and consumers this Christmas while our French cousins’ booze bill will be much more palatable,” says Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and certified Nightcap legend. “We are calling on the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, to support British consumers, pubs and the wider hospitality trade by cutting alcohol duty.”
Ladies and Gentlemen goes dry for January
Yes, Dry January’s a thing. And yes, we’re thanking the booze(-free) gods that there are delicious low- and no-ABV alternatives out in the world. And now, London bar Ladies and Gentlemen is doing a full-on alcohol-free takeover, complete with Mindful Thursdays, throughout the month. From 10-31 January, no drink will have a higher ABV than 0.5%, with a menu based on Willow, a low-alcohol spirit that brings together CBD with the flavour of pineapple, star anise, blue agave and cherry tomatoes. Low-alcohol wines and beers with also be available. Feeling especially stressed? Pop down on a Thursday for Lego-based therapy, a mindful activity that will also raise money for The Toy Project, which recycles toys and distributes them globally. There will even be low- and no-ABV cocktail-making workshops, too! “The no & low-alcohol category has kept growing with no sign of slowing since 2001. said William Borrell, Ladies and Gentlemen founder. “With more products available on the market, we wanted to cut through those questions we are asked on a daily basis to help build this exciting category. I believe that no and low is perfect for those who want to hold off on alcoholic beverages and don’t need to miss out on the experience of enjoying a beer with friends or a non-alcoholic cocktail with all the cues of alcohol. What better place to host a month of wine , spirit and beer than a rock and roll dive bar.” Hurrah!
Hip-Hop artist Future and 1800 Tequila present ‘1800 Seconds Vol 2.’
1800 Tequila and Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Future have partnered together to curate 1800 Seconds Vol. 2 as part of an initiative to support up-and-coming talent. Seven rising artists chosen by Future and the A+R team were given the platform to write and release new tracks with major label resources and one major co-sign. The seven artists are Aurora Anthony (New York, NY), Herion Young (Memphis, TN), Juiicy2xS (Cincinnati, OH), Lihtz (Philadelphia, PA), Seddy Hendrinx (Jacksonville, FL), Shaun Sloan (Los Angeles, CA) and Test (Baltimore, MD). All beats and executive production came from Nick Papamitrou (aka Papamitrou or Nick Papz), who created the album in one week with Future in November, with the latter guest appearing on a number of tracks. The album, which is being distributed by UnitedMasters, is available now on all music streaming platforms. “When I got into music, I did it my own way, I made a path for myself. I’ve created shoes to walk down my path and I made them big enough for someone else to walk after me,” says Future. “Curating this project with 1800 Tequila gives me a platform to find and collaborate with young artists, help them shape their voice and push their vision. Everyone has a different vision for themselves – real success and magic happens when we come together and work collectively.” To download the full 1800 Seconds album, meet the artists and watch the behind-the-scenes documentary, you can visit 1800seconds.com. So, grab yourself a Margarita and enjoy the sounds of the future…
The Rex Whistler at The TATE Britain reveals the J&B Rare Manhattan
Now, it’s not proven that cocktails that are only available for a limited time taste better, but knowing that not everyone will have the chance to try something may add that extra pizzazz. Which brings us to The Rex Whistler restaurant at The TATE Britain, which has created a J&B Rare Manhattan! Mind you, it’ll only be on there for the next month or so only, until January 2020. If you’re not sure what The Rex Whistler is, it’s been open since 1927 and was described as ‘The Most Amusing Room in Europe’ when it opened because of its unique mural, ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’. Nearly a century on, we wonder if it would still uphold its title. Matthew Randall, General Manager at The Rex Whistler has put his own unique twist on the classic cocktail, having aged in a sherry barrel for two weeks. “The Rex Whistler is a classic restaurant, and we wanted to create a classic cocktail to showcase the different elements of J&B Rare,” Randall said. The barrel-aged sweet sherry matches this timeless whisky to create a delicious seasonal cocktail.” Well, certainly sounds like the kind of treat we’d want after gazing at art for a few hours. Or maybe we’ll just skip that part altogether…
And finally… Eau de Stilton
Ah, the seductive scent of. . . . cheese?! Yes, at a Christmas party this year you might be sitting next to someone with a uniquely seasonal smell. No, it’s not because they have some horrible fungal infection, it’s a new limited edition range of fragrances from PerfumeDirect.com. There’s Eau de Christmas Pudding, Pigs in Blanket Parfum and the Stench, sorry, Scent of Stilton. We certainly wouldn’t mind getting close to someone wearing the Christmas pudding perfume containing as it does notes of berries, citrus, almond and apple, vanilla, clove and Cognac, and carnivores might go wild for some of that piggy goodness. But even Jonny Webber from Perfume Direct sounds a bit sceptical about the last one: “The Stilton perfume is certainly different and will probably turn a few heads when the wearer walks past.” And probably not in a good way. But really, who are we to judge. It’s nearly 2020, man, whatever blows your hair back.
And and finally… how do you feel about a lickable beer igloo?
In the spirit of Christmas, we felt it appropriate to have not one, but TWO And Finallys this week. (Also, it’s clearly silly season and neither of these stories are sensible enough to make The Nightcap proper.) News reached MoM Towers this week of a new structure to come to Southwark in London. It comes complete with sleeping bags. You can fit two adults in it. And… you can lick it?! Yes! The Anchor Bankside pub has commissioned an actual igloo made from 1,000 litres of its new Ice Breaker ale. “We’ve never seen a real frozen igloo, particularly one where the walls are made from real beer,” said Matt Starbuck, Greene King managing director. “If it’s successful, we might even roll it out to our pubs up and down the country – it could be the ideal overnight stay for people who don’t fancy getting a taxi home at closing time!” We’re all up for sharing a pint, but licking walls that have been enjoyed by goodness knows how many others… we’re not sure we’re ever going to feel that festive. But if you are? Get to Southwark with haste, the igloo’s only there until it melts…