It’s the only place you’ll find rare whisky, pop stars and Kentish Pinot Noir all in the same place. The Nightcap is here!
We’re now officially at that time of year when Christmas shopping and decking the halls becomes less a joyous celebration of the festive season and more a stressful exercise in ticking boxes off a seemingly never-ending to-do list. In order to combat the chaos, we recommend a cosy chair, a good dram and some entertaining light reading. Like a round-up of everything that’s happened in the world in the booze. The Nightcap should do the trick. Read on.
The MoM Blog continues to be the place to be if you want to get your hands on tremendous drinks as we offered you the chance to win a VIP trip to the wonderful Jura Distillery. Elsewhere, Henry enjoyed the latest Exceptional Cask Selection from Foursquare, while Adam tasted his way through GlenAllachie’s Virgin Oak Series, picked out some bargain bottles of Irish whiskey and found out why Tequila is a spirit in demand. As for Annie, she had a week that made us long for the return of our favourite drinking holes, sitting down with cocktail trailblazer Julie Reiner, looking into the science behind mixing a cocktail and making a twist on an Old Fashioned that’s a long-time favourite at Sexy Fish.
Port loses one of its greats, James Symington
The Port business lost one of its most influential and dynamic figures this week in James Symington. Born in 1934 in Oporto, his family had been in the Port business since the late 19th century. After serving with the British Army in Kenya, he joined the business in 1960 shortly after marrying his wife, Penny. It was a difficult period for the industry with sales in the doldrums. Symington was a vital force in the revival of the region. He worked as a taster and blender for the firm, and created such legendary vintage Ports as Dow’s and Warre’s 1966, and Graham’s 1970, and he was instrumental in turning the family firm into one of the most important in the Douro region. Later, he moved to the commercial side of the business, developing markets in the US, Canada and Scandinavia, regions that now have some of the keenest appreciation of Port. In 1987, Symington and his wife restored Quinta da Vila Velha, a derelict property in the Douro valley, which now makes some of the best wines in the region. He is survived by his wife, two daughters Clare and Miranda, and son Rupert who is the CEO of Symington Family Estates. Let’s raise a glass, Dow’s ‘66 preferably, to one of the greats of Oporto.
Glengoyne to open rare 50-year-old whisky at someone’s special moment
Glengoyne is doing something pretty amazing with the launch of its oldest ever expression. A decanter of its limited-edition 50 Year Old Highland Single Malt, priced at £22,500, will be given away via an online ballot, open to groups of five or more friends or family. All you have to do is submit an entry alongside a description of your perfect moment for savouring the Glengoyne 50 Year Old together next year. The Glengoyne team will then make that special moment a reality, delivering the highly sought-after whisky for one group to enjoy and savour. “At Glengoyne, we believe that patience is always rewarded. This year we’ve all had to sacrifice spending time with our loved ones or delay celebrations. That’s why we want to make these moments extra special in 2021 with a memorable whisky that, after waiting so long for just the right moment, is truly ready to be opened and savoured,” said Robbie Hughes, master distiller at Glengoyne. The 50 Year Old comes in a special crystal decanter, alongside a 25ml sample of the 50 Year Old whisky, as well as individually numbered books which are signed by Hughes. Available from next week, this extremely limited-edition release will join a new 30 Year Old Glengoyne and the present 25 Year Old whisky, as part of the distillery’s new ‘Fine and Rare’ range. If you’d like a chance to taste this incredible whisky, then you have until Monday 14th December to gather your group and submit your moment here.
Johnnie Walker takes centre stage with Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054
Music and malt have always gone together particularly well so it’s no surprise to see a brand take advantage of a major collaboration. In this case, Johnnie Walker has launched a new partnership with Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 Livestream event. The digital music experience will be live-streamed globally on the 27 November and will see Lipa sing and dance with a cast of guest stars, surprise performers, acrobats and artists to tracks from her eponymous debut album, the multi-platinum Future Nostalgia and her most recent Club Future Nostalgia. Johnnie Walker, as the exclusive spirits partner, is tipped to feature throughout and has created a set of unique Studio 2054 Highball serves which celebrate global club culture throughout the decades. “This partnership is an opportunity for Johnnie Walker to be involved in a truly unique cultural moment that could only be delivered by a trailblazer like Dua”, says Julie Bramham, Johnnie Walker global brand director. “Our own ‘Keep Walking’ philosophy is all about a constant desire to push the boundaries and Dua is the perfect partner to do that with.” Further information and ticket access for the Studio 2054 live stream event can be found here and more details will be shared across Johnnie Walker social channels pre, during and post the event.
Big week for environmentally-friendly rum
It’s been quite the week if you’re into sustainable rum. First, plans have been submitted for the construction of a new £10 million carbon-neutral rum distillery and visitor centre in Cornwall, which will be powered by geothermal energy. Entrepreneur Matthew Clifford, founder of the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company (CGDC) wants to create a 100% sustainable rum cask maturation facility, visitor centre, cooperage and geothermal energy centre. The project even includes an “ultra-high-tech” Eden Project-style biome which can recreate global temperature and humidity profiles and will house the patent-pending carbon-neutral rum cask maturation pods. It all sounds a tad Bond villain, to be honest, but exciting nonetheless. Elsewhere, Two Drifters revealed it surpassed its fundraising target of £150,000 in three hours. The Devon-based brand (what is it with the south-west and green rum brands?), which was launched in 2019 by Gemma and Russ Wakeham and claims to own the world’s first carbon-negative rum distillery, began its crowdfunding campaign on Monday 9 November on Crowdcube to raise funds to secure larger retail opportunities and improve the distillery’s operations. “We are now in a position to take Two Drifters further to more people,” said Gemma Wakeham. We can also help out in that regard by pointing out that you can check out Two Drifters range of spirits here, which includes a British white rum, dark rum and an overproof spiced pineapple rum.
Whisky and Gin Live are coming to your home
To help us through the boredom of lockdowns, there have been many online tastings such as our own Instagram Live series or the Whisky Show, and now this year’s Whisky Live is taking place at home. It’s called… wait for it… Whisky Live at Home! Brilliant! The standard ticket (click here) costs £89 and includes 29 x 30ml samples, the equivalent of around one and a quarter full-sized bottles of whisky. You also get a Glencairn glass, magazines, oatcakes and water. The whole jamboree launches on 30 November but the clever thing is that you can tune in any time to Whisky Live TV and watch masterclasses, seminars, interviews and tasting sessions all hosted by top whisky personality Christopher Coates and his new evil genius beard. You can also buy more upmarket tickets giving you fancier drams and access. Plus, the team is also putting on Gin Live TV (click here) which works in a similar way only with gin (we didn’t need to explain that though, did we?) Those lockdown evenings are going to fly by.
Whiskey distillery to open at Titanic Dock in Belfast
The Irish whiskey scene looks like it will welcome a new player as businessman Peter Lavery and Belfast-based venture capitalist firm Norlin Ventures have announced plans to construct a new distillery at Titanic Dock and Pumphouse in Belfast. Assuming the full planning application that will be submitted next month is granted in the first quarter of 2021 (which is expected), the new site should be open by the end of next year. This will allow the brand to relaunch the Titanic Whiskey brand in April 2021 to coincide with the departure of Titanic’s maiden voyage in April 1912. “Before Prohibition, Belfast was the largest producer of Irish whiskey on the island of Ireland,” said Lavery. “Whiskey has therefore played an important part in the history of our city and we are excited to tell this story through the relaunch of our Titanic Whiskey brand and the development of a new distillery at Titanic Dry Dock and Pumphouse.” Lavery has got experience in the distillery game, having been involved in the long-delayed distillery plans at the Crumlin Road Gaol prison in Belfast, which resurrected the McConnell’s Irish whiskey brand after more than 90 years in 2020.
Le Kent Nouveau est arrivé
Do you remember when you used to see signs outside Victoria Wine saying “le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé”? Come to think of it, do you remember Victoria Wine? Showing my age here a little. Anyway, people still get quite excited when the young, so-fresh-it’s-almost-still-fermenting Beaujolais from the current year arrives on these shores on the third Thursday of November. Well, now there’s a challenger, as this Wednesday, one day earlier than Beaujolais, Balfour near Tonbridge, released an English nouveau made with Kentish Pinot Noir. Now, even in the heat of the Garden of England, Pinot Noir isn’t that easy to ripen but we’ve been blessed with a particularly warm vintage this year, perfect for creating a juicy fruity wine. Head winemaker Fergus Elias commented: “The fruit from this parcel was so early, with a lovely strawberry jam character, that we thought we would never have a better opportunity to make a Nouveau style red wine. This fruit was the forerunner of a harvest of exceptional quality”. He described the wine as “brimming with rich red autumnal fruits combined with delicate hints of spice and coffee”. All this for £20 with free delivery. Go to https://hushheath.com/ but hurry, as only 1000 bottles have been produced.
And finally… Hendrick’s Gin launches £1,800 exercise bike
If we told you that a gin brand had branched out into exercise equipment, you’d probably be quite surprised. But, if we showed you a picture of Hendrick’s limited-edition penny farthing-inspired exercise bike, you’d probably nod and say “yep, that is so Hendrick’s”. The gin-makers has had its fair share of Nightcap coverage thanks to its weird and wacky approach, but The Hendrick’s High Wheel is probably the most ridiculous story yet. Particularly as it will set you back £1,889 (plus shipping from the U.S). The bike is made of iron and comes equipped with a “hydration holder”, a “pedal-powered incandescent bulb”, a small bell, an adjustable seat and a built-in bookstand. This can be used to hold the High Wheel Exercise Manual, which includes photographs of a bike journey through Scottish landscapes to Girvan’s Gin Palace – no wifi or electricity here. If you’re interested in embarrassing your children and you fancy picking yourself up a Hendrick’s High Wheel, then note that to mount the olive-green machine you need to use the cucumber side-pegs or a staircase at the rear. Oh, and that it sits upon a synthetic lawn complete with fallen rose petals. Of course it does.