We round off another year of Nightcapping by raising a glass to Icons of Whisky winners, raising an eyebrow at £50m worth of whisky sold, and raising a hand to wave the maddening 2022 away.
The final Nightcap of the year. The one thing you can say about 2022: stuff happened. Three prime ministers, two monarchs, one recession, and a partridge in a pear tree. It’s hard to properly sum up a year that ends with both Lionel Messi and a head of lettuce coming out on top, and frankly, it’s been such a shambles reflecting on it further is liable to cause a migraine. So, sod it. Onwards to 2023.
… with one last shout-out for our blog first. This week #WhiskySanta said goodbye by giving you the chance to win £8,500 worth of Fettercairn 46 Year Old (part of the over £750,000 given away this year), we wrapped up our own last whisky Christmas present to you and found time to whip up a festive Negroni. There was also a Cognac matured in mizunara oak to enjoy, our last batch of MoM bottlings for the year, and a spotlight shone on the intriguing Blackwater Distillery in Ireland. We also had our final count down to Advent with Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru Murcian Lemon, Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old, Discarded Banana Peel Rum, Deanston Virgin Oak, Bathtub Gin, Yamazaki 12 Year Old, and Cîroc Vodka, with the last one to come tomorrow. It’s a doozy.
Thank you for reading this year. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Now, for the very last time in 2022, it’s The Nightcap!
Glenfarclas Distillery named distiller of the year
The Icons of Whisky Scotland Awards 2023 has concluded this week and with winners with Whyte and Mackay, Holyrood, and Glenfarclas among the big winners. The Icons’ ultimate Distiller of the Year category was won by Glenfarclas Distillery, with Whyte and Mackay highly commended. The latter also saw Gregg Glass awarded Master Distiller of the Year, Invergordon received the top award in the Grain Whisky category, and Kieran Healey-Ryder highly commended as Scotch Whisky Ambassador (Mark Thomson at William Grant & Sons coming out on top). Holyrood, meanwhile, was beaten to the crown of Craft Producer by Nc’nean, but was highly commended and also won Brand Innovator and Distillery Manager for Marc Watson. Other top prizes included Johnnie Walker Princes Street for Visitor Attraction and Tomatin for Sustainable Distillery. Slange var to all the victors!
Alcohol duty rise on delayed until August
In a much-needed boost for the hospitality trade, alcohol duty rises are being put on ice by the Treasury until August. They were due to come into force in February, with increases of 7p extra for a pint of beer, 4p on a pint of cider, 38p on a bottle of wine, and £1.35 on a bottle of spirits to meet a rise by RPI (retail Price Index) inflation, as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reversed Kwasi Kwarteng’s vow to freeze booze levies just a month after in his September mini-budget. But Hunt will now delay this hike until August, possibly amid concerns for the industry’s ability to overcome rising energy prices, with almost a third of cafes, restaurants, and hotels having been forced to reduce their opening hours according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics. “The decision by the Chancellor to freeze alcohol duty until August will come as a much-needed Christmas present for hard-pressed pubs, bars, and restaurants up and down the country,” says Nuno Teles, managing director Diageo GB. “Today’s news provides much-needed certainty for the sector and we raise a glass of Guinness to the Chancellor and the PM in thanks. Cheers, Chancellor!”
Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey part ways
Nightcaps past are filled with stories of exciting celebrity/ drinks collaborations but sometimes all good things must come to an end. We’ve just learned that Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey will be ending their relationship at the end of the year. In 2016, the world’s nicest actor, we like to think, became creative director for the bourbon giant. Two years later, they announced the release of McConaughey’s very own bourbon brand, Longbranch. A spokesman for Wild Turkey commented to the Robb Report: “At the end of 2022, our existing contract with Matthew will expire and our teams will amicably part ways. While our formal partnership with Wild Turkey and Longbranch will end, Matthew will always be family. Thanks to Matthew’s creative vision along with Eddie Russell’s mastery of whiskey, we set the stage for Longbranch to continue to be an important part of the portfolio.” But from next year, bottles will no longer carry the all-important McConaughey signature. Will it taste as good without it?
Whisky Auctioneer sells over £50m in 2022
If you wanted a quick snapshot of the rude health whisky is in at the moment, you could simply look at Whisky Auctioneer making over £50 million this year. The total hammer price of lots sold through its auctions was in large part due to the auction site breaking numerous world records, with a 1974 vintage Ardbeg fetching a distillery-high £35,000 (not the biggest record the Islay whisky makers set themselves…), Bottle No.1 from White Peak Distillery’s inaugural Wire Works whisky becoming the most expensive bottle of English whisky after selling for £9,900, and a 12-year-old Port Ellen whisky bottled for the Queen’s Visit in 1980 reaching £100,000. Bidders came from across the globe with Whisky Auctioneer shipping to 67 countries in a year where it also welcomed 10,500 new registered users and fielded 2.2 million bids across 115,000 lots. The buyers’ exceptionally deep pockets are a boon for the industry but also a sign of how the whisky market creeps away from the average buyer during a dire economic period. There is, at least, a positive note in the fact that £200,000 was raised to deliver a number of charity initiatives by Whisky Auctioneer partnering with William Grant & Sons, Chivas Brothers, Nc’nean, and more. What’s most striking, however, is that the site isn’t done yet. The final sale of 2022 will go live on 22 December and feature nearly 10,000 whiskies and spirits, including over 400 Springbank expressions (a 1952 vintage, one of only 24 bottles in the world, being the highlight), a 12-year-old Islay malt assumed to be Port Ellen from Samaroli, that has never been offered at auction before, and a 63-year-old Ben Nevis distilled in 1926.
Diageo urges moderation this NYE
The people at drinks giant Diageo have a message for you the customer this New Year’s Eve – paaarrrrtttyyyyyy!! Sorry, no, moderation, not party. That would be irresponsible. To ram the point home they’re come up with a campaign called ‘Do you really want to go there’ – hard to say that one without thinking of Boy George – which is designed to make you stop and think before consuming another measure of booze. Kate Gibson, global society director explained: “New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest holiday events of the year, a time when people should come together and celebrate with their friends and families. When it comes to alcohol, responsible drinking doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the festivities, and we hope this campaign will enlighten consumers about the importance of moderation.” There will be ‘attention-grabbing creatives’ on screens around London to remind revellers to be sensible. Outside of the capital though, you’re on your own.
And finally… the Lion, the Witch, and the Armani Wardrobe
Royal Salute has just launched a new advert and it’s…. pretty crazy. There’s some beautiful wealthy-looking people, naturally, in a bar. So far so normal. But then it all gets a bit witchy and, woah, why is there a lion in there? And is the bar now in space? Anyway, see for yourself: it’s like an AI dream/nightmare. The name of the film is called ‘Enter a New Kingdom’ and features Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip in The Crown) doing voice-over. Global marketing director from Royal Salute Mathieu Deslandes attempted to explain it all: “This campaign succinctly marries our heritage with our new direction, recapturing our aspirational status whilst presenting an inspirational lifestyle to a new generation of luxury consumers. We will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and explore key passion points of our consumers.” Pushing the boundaries of what is possible, like a lion in a bar, in space!