Ryan Reynolds, free rosé, a gin-based streaming service and a world-record breaking whisky. All on this week’s Nightcap.
It’s now raining and grey and miserable again at MoM Towers, which means the quintessential British summer is officially back on. This is good news for those of us who loathe sun cream and sand and instead prefer large woolly jumpers, hot drinks and just generally being indoors. But there is one thing that unites the introverts and extroverts of this world and that’s a love of the weekend, which are especially good when they begin with another cracking edition of The Nightcap. Which is exactly what we have here, so read on!
This week on the blog we launched a new series called MoM Loves which featured NÜTRL’s shiny new range of vodka sodas. Lucy then threw a pisco disco, Henry enjoyed a Champagne that tells the story behind the wines and Annie spoke with Julieann Fernandez about all things Deanston. Before she grabbed five minutes with the Highland distillery’s master blender Annie concluded her series on Icelandic spirits, while Adam learnt all about the groundbreaking story behind a brotherly bourbon and then made himself a Blood and Sand. Because if you could make a Blood and Sand, why wouldn’t you? Oh, and the virtual whisky spectacular Scotch and Sofa is just a fortnight away so if you still need to pick up a tasting set do so now! Onwards to The Nightcap!
Diageo buys Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin
Diageo has had a busy week once again, this time adding Aviation Gin, the brand co-owned by Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds, to its already considerable portfolio. The drinks giant’s new acquisition of Aviation parent, Davos Brands is reportedly worth £466m (£271 million immediately and up to £210 million more in performance-based incentives over the next decade) and includes its other signature brands, Astral Tequila, Sombra Mezcal and TYKU Sake, which means a greater share of those fast-growing agave and sake markets. The owner of Johnnie Walker and Guinness loves splashing the cash on drinks companies associated with a handsome leading man it seems, after it also purchased the Tequila brand Casamigos, which was co-founded by George Clooney, for $1bn in 2017. While the value of the deal to the actor was not disclosed, we do know that Reynolds will stay onboard as a stakeholder and public face for the brand moving forward. Which makes sense. The guy is phenomenally good at marketing his own brand. Seriously. “A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit. What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring. Growing the brand with my company, Maximum Effort Marketing, has been among the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever been involved with,” said Reynolds. “I want to thank Diageo for their incredible team and passion. We’re so excited for the next chapter of Aviation Gin, which, I promise, will require just as little reading”.
Johnnie Walker releases limited edition bottles and news of a documentary
It’s been a big week for Johnnie Walker, that’s for sure! First came the announcement that the brand released not one, but three new snazzy limited edition bottlings. Now you can get rare, colourful bottles of the Red Label, Black Label and Gold Label Reserve whiskies, all in honour of its 200th anniversary. Gone are the transparent glass bottles of yore, these new designs are looking bold in block colours. “These limited edition bottles give a bold new look to our most iconic whiskies and perfectly celebrate Johnnie Walker’s depth of character as we celebrate this incredible 200-year milestone,” said brand ambassador Ali Reynolds. Well, it’ll certainly make for a colourful drinks cabinet, and you can grab the limited edition Black Label from MoM right now! The other snippet of news that came our way this week was that award-winning film director Anthony Wonke is making a film about Johnnie Walker! The Man Who Walked Around the World will be a feature documentary, exploring the success of Johnnie Walker over 200 years. “The story of Johnnie Walker is fascinating. It explores the alchemy of a brand and what it takes to create an icon,” said Wonke. “It has punch and depth – a brilliant history packed with intrigue and romanticism. Dig deeper and we find it has the potential to be so much more – a story about what makes us human, the things we can achieve and what keeps pushing us forward.” It’ll premiere later this year (the exact date is currently unknown), and we know what we’ll be drinking when we sit down to watch that!
Champagne announces earliest ever harvest
In an unprecedented move, the Champagne region began its earliest ever harvest on record this week. It’s a direct result of climate change as warmer temperatures have fuelled early ripening of the prized grapes. The Champagne industry has been aware of the battle it faces against global warming for some time and was the first wine-growing region to carry out a carbon footprint assessment and identify the main sources of emissions back in 2002. Already 24% of the area has environmental certification and by 2030 the aim is that number will be 100%. The region also plans to be herbicide free by 2025 and reduce its carbon footprint by 75% per bottle by 2050, having already reduced it over the last 15 years by 20%. “Unprecedented year calls for unprecedented measures. Faced with climate change, a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, the Champagne region, not immune but ever-ready has agreed on a yield reduction (8,000 kilos/hectare vs 10,200 last year), a degree of deferred bottling and grape payment, united by an unflinchingly long-term commitment to sustainability,” says Francoise Peretti, director of Champagne Bureau UK and spokesperson for the Champagne industry in the UK, “Pragmatism, resilience and optimism reign over the 2020 harvest which is showing the signs of being one of the most qualitative year, reminiscent of 1988, 1989, 1990, 2018 and 2019”.
Ardbeg welcomes new distillery manager Colin Gordon
You might remember a while back we reported that Mickey Heads, Ardbeg’s distillery manager, was planning to retire after 13 years at the helm leaving big boots (as well as casks) to fill at the Islay distillery. Now Ardbeg has announced his successor: the wonderful Colin Gordon! You’ll almost certainly know Gordon from his time as distillery manager at Lagavulin Distillery and the former Diageo man also worked as the site operations manager at the Port Ellen Maltings, which provides barley to eight of the 10 Islay distilleries. Heads, meanwhile, has agreed to continue in his role as Chair of the Ardbeg Committee, the worldwide army of Ardbeg fans. “Ardbeg is an iconic name in whisky with an immense reputation. I’m absolutely delighted to be joining an experienced team producing such an exceptional dram”, says Colin Gordon. “Ardbeg has built a reputation for producing amazing whiskies with Mickey Heads at the helm. He is a huge name in the industry and will be a very hard act to follow. It’s a privilege to be chosen to take over the reins from him. Islay has been our home for five years and to be given the honour of overseeing the running of Ardbeg is very special indeed. I will do my very best to protect and enhance the reputation of the distillery and ensure it keeps producing the world-class spirit of Ardbeg.”
Nc’nean’s first whisky sets world record at £41,004
Nc’nean has broken a world record after the first bottle of its inaugural single malt whisky sold for £41,004 during an online auction. Bottle number one of the Highland distillery’s expression Ainnir, an unpeated no-age-statement whisky made from organic Scottish barley and matured a combination of five casks before it was bottled at natural cask strength (60.3% ABV), quadrupled the previous record and all 1,320 bottles of the inaugural whisky sold out within 36 hours. The first 10 bottles of Ainnir single malt were sold on Whisky Auctioneer in August to raise money for five charities and attracted more than 852 bids from 13 countries. In total, the auction raised more than £92,000 and all proceeds from the auction will be split between charities including Trees for Life, The Drinks Trust, The Ben, The Scottish Farm Land Trust and Morvern Community Trust. “We could not be happier with the success of this auction,” said Nc’nean founder Annabel Thomas. “I’m really proud that Nc’nean has been able to give something back to support charities and the hospitality industry that has been particularly hard hit recently.” Thomas also said to watch this space for the next chapter in the Nc’nean story and that the brand has some exciting announcements ahead…
£10m eco funding aims to turn Scotch whisky green
Drinks lovers will soon be able to enjoy a dram in the knowledge that they are helping to cut carbon emissions and support new green jobs. That’s because Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, announced the opening of a £10 million fund to be used to kick-start green innovation across the UK’s distillery industry. The move gives backing to distilleries across the UK to harness energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste to power their operations. Furthermore, enabling technology such as fuel conversion, transportation or storage will also be considered. Essentially, government funding will help distilleries continue to produce tasty tipples while contributing to taking pollution equivalent to emissions from 100,000 cars out of the atmosphere. “We want to harness the tremendous innovation of our distilleries so customers can enjoy their favourite tipple in the knowledge they are helping us to tackle climate change”, says Kwarteng. “In 2019, the UK distilleries industry grew by 20%, demonstrating the opportunity for the sector to be at the heart of a clean and resilient recovery.”
Select Aperitivo is coming home to Venice
If you want to make a proper Venetian spritz, do as the locals do and reach for a bottle of Select Aperitvo. This classic drink was originally produced in the Castello district but production had moved out of the city. But now, like football once did, it’s coming home! Parent company Montenegro has announced the plans for the ‘Ca’ Select’ (House of Select) housed in a former industrial laboratory in the Cannaregio district. The maceration of Select’s botanicals will take place at the new facility which has been revamped by Marcante-Testa studio alongside a tasting area and events space. Marco Ferrari, CEO of Gruppo Montenegro commented: “We have chosen to build an experiential site that brings the heart of the production process back to Venice and allows us to share it with the city and its inhabitants. We want to communicate, in a widespread way, the quality and tradition but also the research and innovation of our brand.” Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, added: “The City of Venice and I am proud that an important brand, such as Select, is returning to produce in the place that saw its birth 100 years ago.” Great news, we’re going to celebrate with a Select Bicycletta.
Free rosé at restaurants around the country
It’s definitely been the summer of rosé. And COVID, of course, but we like to accentuate the positive here at Master of Malt. All that lovely weather had us reaching for the rosé bottle again and again. Now, to encourage people to eat out once more, everyone’s favourite rosé-focused industry body Vins de Provence has teamed up with independent restaurants and wine bars around the country offering various rosé-tinted special offers. For example, in London Lady of the Grapes in Covent Garden is offering a free glass with three plates per person, and Blandford Comptoir will serve you a free glass of AIX rosé with a two-course lunch menu; while down in Eastbourne the first 50 diners through the door at The Grand Hotel get a free glass. Offer runs during August and September, go to Instagram for more information. But that’s not all, share your rosé photos @vinsdeprovenceuk and #thefutureisrosé, and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a case of Provence’s finest.
Discarded makes face masks out of milk
In case you hadn’t noticed, face masks (and not the cleansing clay type) have become the next big compulsory pandemic accessory. But the plight of single use face masks is a nightmare, harming marine life and adding to the hoard of single use waste. The clever folks behind Discarded have once again engaged their crafty brains and figured out a way to reuse waste products to make something wonderful – it’s not a vermouth or rum this time, but face masks! Discarded teamed up with Mi Terro, a company that extracts the casein protein molecules from the bacteria found in milk that’s past its best. Then, using something very complicated called dynamic flow shear spinning, it creates sustainable fibres, and these fibres are used to create the masks. That’s not all, because these catchily-named Milk Masks are being distributed by Discarded to London bars for free, while furlough staff from the hospitality sector were employed to make the face masks. We love all this positive news! “Typically, face masks are single use and have been named the new plastic bottle as they contribute to marine debris with a 450-year lifespan,” said Shana Gujral, William Grant & Sons marketing executive. “So in true Discarded Spirits fashion, we sourced fabric, which uses biotechnology to turn wasted milk into cotton fibres.” When life gives you sour milk, what else is there to do but make face masks?
And finally…Hendrick’s Gin launches unusual streaming service
If there ever was one, 2020 has been the summer of streaming, which goes some way to explaining the onslaught of subscription-based programming recently. Fortunately, Hendrick’s Gin has embraced its self-appointed moniker as the ‘world’s most unusual gin’ and decided to respond by creating its own streaming service. No, really. It’s available free of charge. There’s no subscription necessary to the 21+ audience. Oh, and it’s entirely made up of footage of three serene streams: The Brook that Dared, Cucumber Creek, and Little Falls with Rosy Dreams. This is not an April Fools prank. We swear. Look, check the link. See? It’s all real. The brand says round-the-clock access of bodies of water should offer a tranquil alternative to the ever-expanding maelstrom of choices of conventional streaming platforms. “Quite honestly, we find the array of films and shows available on conventional streaming to be quite mind-numbing,” states Vance Henderson, U.S. Ambassador for the Scottish-based gin maker. “Our stream-focused streaming service will provide a leisurely alternative, coupled with insights into how best to sip Hendrick’s cocktails while you watch”. For maximum stream gazing enjoyment (I can’t believe I’m writing this. I wanted to write the next great American novel, what happened?) Hendrick’s recommends going for either Hendrick’s Rickey, the Cucumber Lemonade or the delightful Floradora as your streamside cocktail.