The working week may have been slimmer but there was no shortage of stories in the post-Bank Holiday period including a new manager at Lagavulin, Guinness has been at the coffee, and Ballantine’s is doing something with video games. It’s The Nightcap: 22 April edition!
Welcome to another edition of The Nightcap, folks. Here in Kent, the weather is so glorious that we’ve had an idea. The alfresco Nightcap. It’s the same collection of great boozy stories, only you read it on your phone outside and enjoy the sunshine while you do. With a Spritz of some sort. And snacks. We’ll provide the stories as usual. Speaking of which…
On the blog this week we enjoyed all kinds of cracking whisky, from a new exclusive courtesy of Lindores Abbey to some of the finest German spirit on the market from Stork Club. And not forgetting a new Whiskymaker’s Reserve from the Lakes Distillery. It’s the best yet. We also made good use of Grand Marnier’s orangey, Cognac-soaked charm by whipping up The Grand Sour, celebrated the brands that are doing it for themselves, and pondered what the future holds for English whisky.
Now, onto The Nightcap: 22 April edition!
Lagavulin has a new distillery manager
We reported back in February there was a distillery manager role going begging at Lagavulin with Pierrick Guillaume leaving to return to France. Well, they have found their man. It’s Jordan Paisley, an Islay native, who is coming home to manage the distillery after an interesting career in the merchant navy where he helped tackle pirates off the coast of Somalia. Makes a change from managing the Port Ellen maltings. He commented: “Coming from Islay, it’s a real source of pride to be given the chance to manage one of Scotland, and the world’s, most iconic distilleries.” We wish him every luck in his role. And what a time to start, just before the madness of Fèis Ìle starts on the 28 May. In a nice touch, Paisley acknowledged his predecessor: “Pierrick has been such a great source of knowledge and support since I joined Diageo. I can’t thank him enough and wish him all the best as he embarks on his next chapter in France”. And we can exclusively reveal that Guillaume will be joining the team at Remy-Cointreau’s Le Domaine des Hautes Glaces whisky distillery in the foothills of the French Alps. Congrats to both whiskymen!
Bladnoch Distillery wins prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise
Bladnoch Distillery announced this week that it has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its excellence in international trade. Only 226 organisations nationally receive the honour and winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards Emblem for the next five years. The Lowland distillery, which has the distinction of being both the oldest privately owned Scotch Whisky distillery and the first ever to be owned by an Australian (equally prestigious, we’re sure you’ll agree), has been revamping its whisky and image since David Prior acquired it in 2015. In export markets such as Germany, China and the USA it has grown over 100% in the last year alone. Bladnoch’s head of commercial, Will Pitchforth, remarked that “the growth of the Bladnoch Distillery business has been a reflection of the dedication to quality and exceptional whisky making, combined with a philosophy, core to our way of working, to conduct business with integrity and fairness, recognised by our network of trusted distributors around the world.”
Oldest evidence of wine in Europe uncovered
The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has discovered evidence of prehistoric wine consumption in Philippi, northwest Greece. In what is arguably the oldest evidence of wine in Europe uncovered, the findings of grape seeds and pomace were preserved in a house fire are dated to around 4300 BC (great vintage), give or take a century. While modern science can reveal an awful lot, a lack of written records does make it difficult to create a complete picture of drinking culture from this time. Right now, there’s no telling yet if the grapes were foraged or cultivated, but the uncovered drink suggests wine was common in early-Bronze Age Greece. Maybe one day we’ll be able to revive these vines from the preserved seeds. The question, of course, is not whether we could, but whether we should.
Tamnavulin Distillery unveils White Wine Cask Edition
When you’re a distillery that has had great success finishing your whisky in red wine casks, the logical next step is surely to pop your spirit in white wine casks, right? Well, that appears to be thinking at Tamnavulin Distillery anyway, which is capitalising on the popularity of its Red Wine Cask Editions with its latest creation called, naturally, Tamnavulin White Wine Cask Edition. The single malt was matured initially in American white oak barrels, before undergoing its second maturation in Sauvignon Blanc white wine casks, a finish you don’t see too often. The resulting whisky takes that distinctive mellow, sweet orchard fruit profile Tamnavulin spirit has and adds fresh, rich, and dry elements like, ripe honeydew melon, white peach, jasmine, cinnamon spice, ginger, and lime biscuits. All for a single malt that has an RSP of £32. When this one arrives at MoM Towers, we think it’s one to plump for.
Guinness launches Cold Brew Coffee
Guinness is lovely, isn’t it? So is coffee, come to think of it. Why hasn’t the brand merged the two? Oh, wait. It has. In the brand’s latest creation, ice-cold Guinness meets cold brew coffee in a 440ml can format that will be rolled out to consumers over the coming months. The coffee, which has been steeped in cool water for long periods of time instead of brewed with boiling water, is added to the draught stout alongside additional roasted barley flavours. There’s only 2mg of caffeine per can too, which is the same as a decaf coffee. “We firmly believe we have created a taste experience truly unrivaled in the market and with over 95 million cups of coffee being consumed every day in Great Britain alone, now is the moment to offer a product that plays to an excitingly vast consumer space,” says John Burns, Head of Guinness GB. “There is already a natural connection with coffee notes in Guinness’ signature offerings like Draught and Extra Stout, so the creation of Guinness Cold Brew Coffee Beer was a perfect match.” This move doesn’t mean it’s ok to bring a can on the morning tube, though.
Lindores Abbey launches another new whisky!
You would think after launching one whisky this week, Lindores Abbey would sit back a little and enjoy the results. But there’s no rest for the wicked at the Lowland distillery it would seem as the brand is following up its single sherry cask release with a whisky matured exclusively in STR wine barriques. The Spanish casks are one of the three core styles used at Lindores and have undergone the shave, toasted, and re-charred process pioneered by Dr. Jim Swan, who worked with the distillery before his passing. The new bottling is the second installment of the “Casks of Lindores” series and, as with all of its whiskies, the release is non-chill-filtered, of natural colour, and bottled on-site at Lindores Abbey Distillery at its unique limited-edition strength of 49.4% ABV. If you want to get your hands on this new release from the hardest working distillery around, then you won’t have to wait long as it will be on the virtual shelves of MoM Towers very soon.
The Gauldrons unveils first Limited Edition Release
Douglas Laing & Co is expanding its award-winning Campbeltown Malt Scotch whisky brand The Gauldrons with its first-ever limited-edition expression. The Gauldrons Sherry Edition is a marriage of single cask single malt exclusively from Campbeltown that were then finished in Spanish sherry casks before being bottled at 46.2% ABV without colouring or chill-filtration. Experimenting with these exceptional-quality sherry casks has resulted in a classically Campbeltown dram with smoky sweetness balanced by rich spices, and we truly can’t wait to share it with whisky aficionados across the globe,” says Cara Laing, marketing director for the family brand. The run is strictly limited to no more than 2,125 bottles, so it’s one to get your hands on ASAP. Good thing it’s en route to MoM Towers…
Sake brewery employs adorable weeding robot
What do you do when you want to remove unwanted weeds in a sustainable manner? If you said the words, “use a robotic duck”, you’ve earned yourself a free drink. Because that’s exactly what Kojima Sohonten has done by putting the Aigamo Robot (named after the breed of duck which is known for ripping up weeds) to work across 12 hectares of rice fields. The robot, designed by an engineer who once made cars for Nissan, resembles a miniature hovercraft as it glides through the water-logged paddies, plucking out unwanted weeds while two ducks’ feet rotating rubber brushes on its underside oxygenate the water by stirring it up and prevent weeds from taking root. It’s part of a programme of sustainability for one of the world’s oldest sake producers, which has also taken the unprecedented move for the sake industry to switch all electricity used for its production to renewable energy generated in its surrounding area. That’s not as fun as robot duck though, is it? We simply must have one.
And finally… Ballantine’s hires Borderlands video game character
In news that frankly makes us here feel a bit old and cranky, Ballantine’s has announced a partnership with top computer game series Borderlands from Gearbox. This apparently entails appointing the non-player character (NPC) and bar mogul Mad Moxxi to the role of chief galactic expansion officer (CGEO) to help launch the world’s second-largest Scotch into the gaming stratosphere. The bar owner in the game’s setting, Pandora is better known for giving in-game missions to players, but now she’s launching her very own limited-edition bottle of Scotch whisky: The Ballantine’s x Moxxi’s Bar Edition. Those who snag a bottle will get access to exclusive Borderlands 3 content, but will have to adhere to new ground rules in Moxxi’s Bar that promote “responsible drinking via a special, personalised, cameo-filled message, encouraging visitors to her bar and beyond to drink and play responsibly”. Sounds crazy! This is said to be the first step in a long-term partnership between the two, with more news to follow in 2022. Personally, we’re not sure how this managed to get past the Portman Group as there must be concerns about this encouraging underage drinking, new ground rules or otherwise.