It’s nearly the weekend and that means it’s the return of our weekly news round-up! Get your fill of the drinks industry’s latest shenanigans here. It’s the Nightcap: 25 June edition!
Summer is proving to be a bit of a letdown weather-wise this year, isn’t it? While this isn’t exactly ideal, there are at least plenty of other fun things to do indoors. You can scroll aimlessly through Netflix and pretend like you haven’t already consumed every second of digital content ever published in the last year and a half. Or you could kid yourself into thinking you’ll commit to a new hobby like learning a language or an instrument knowing full well that as soon as there’s a glimmer of sunshine you’ll be in a beer garden so fast you accidentally bring your new clarinet with you. Or you could take the finer option. The connoisseur’s choice. Pour yourself a dram, find somewhere comfy to sit, and dig into another corker of a Nightcap. Congratulations, you made the correct decision. Put down that clarinet, let’s crack on.
On the blog this week
This week on the MoM blog we did something completely out of character and launched a competition. Can you believe it? This time with The Glasgow Distillery, offering a bundle of whisky, rum, gin, and vodka. Adam then got a taste of Lindores Abbey’s first whisky and a crash course in why you should embrace aquavit from Nuet. Millie, meanwhile, investigated why we love smoky flavours, Lucy offered some tips on how to make the most of holiday drinks and Henry made a vermouth-heavy concoction named after a hard as nails American president after sampling the delights of a Master of Malt exclusive gin liqueur. We also rounded up some perfect drinks for Wimbledon 2021 and our top ten whiskeys/ whiskies for 2021.
Meanwhile over on the Clubhouse App this week we’re asking questions about the industry’s commitment to sustainability while enjoying the usual Nightcap goodness with guests Russ Wakeham and Carmen O’Neal. Be sure to join us if you’re on the app.
Now on with the Nightcap: 25 June edition!
‘End these tariffs!’ says the Bourbon Alliance
A Nightcap without a tariffs story is like one without Miles Beale from the WSTA, missing something vital. Even though we reported last week at the ending of US tariffs on Scotch whisky, there’s still the little matter of the 25% UK tariffs on American whiskey. This was imposed by the EU and is still in place, for some reason, even though the UK is no longer a member state. A new initiative dubbed ‘Free the Spirit’ is campaigning to have them removed. It’s a collaboration between whisky giants Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Brown-Forman plus a group of smaller distillers, importers, retailers, pubs, and bars both in the US and US calling themselves the Rebel Alliance. Sorry, Bourbon Alliance. Founder Martha Dalton from Never Say Die Bourbon commented: “The Free The Spirit Campaign has already galvanised the hospitality industry and shown the united call for the government to cut the tariff. UK consumers have paid over £55m in tariffs on imported American Whiskies. This has hit investment in the hospitality industry when it needs it most.” The group says that US bourbon imports are down 53% since 2018. She went on to say: “We were delighted to see the Department for International Trade negotiate the resolution of the Boeing – Airbus dispute and are now calling on the Government to continue the momentum in trans-Atlantic trade discussions, and to remove the tariff on US Whiskey at the time when the sector needs it most.” We hope to be reporting good news on this in the near future. And then no more tariff stories ever again.
Champagne film featuring Stephen Fry released
A trailer has finally dropped for one of the most highly-anticipated films of the year. Called Sparkling: The Story of Champagne, the feature-length documentary was made by a London-based independent production company called Swipe Films and features a host of notable names. There’s Taittinger president Vitalie Taittinger, Lanson-BCC chairman Bruno Paillard, Louis Roederer cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Dom Perignon chef de caves Vincent Chaperon, as well as wine writers Oz Clarke and Tom Stevenson; authors, Don & Petie Kladstrup, and wine merchant, Tony Laithwaite. Plus, English actor and comedian Stephen Fry! Director, Frank Mannion, described the film as “a love letter to the joys and pleasures of Champagne.” Swipe Films held a premiere at the Ciné Lumière in South Kensington last night, followed by a Q&A with Frank Mannion and then a Champagne reception sponsored by Pol Roger, Fever-Tree, Bolney, and Franco Manca. Sparkling: The Story of Champagne was released today, which means you’ll be able to watch it yourself in selected cinemas.
Espresso Martini is named the nation’s favourite cocktail
It’s official: the Espresso Martini IS the nation’s favourite cocktail! Beating out the likes of Mojitos, Piña Coladas, and even the mighty Sex on the Beach for the top spot, the caffeinated classic has apparently stolen our hearts. This is according to Just Eat for Business’ Cocktail Championship study based on data from BBC Good Food, the UK’s most popular recipe site. When it comes to mocktails, the Virgin Mojito was top, while its alcoholic counterpart proved the second most popular cocktail overall. The analysis found that the most popular spirit across all drinks analysed was vodka, which appeared in 20 of the recipes, followed by gin which occurred in 13, and rum that was the main ingredient in 15 recipes. Trend data also shows that searches for ‘cocktail bar’ saw a staggering 56% increase since indoor bars were allowed to open on 17th May, suggesting Brits are excited to be drinking their favourite cocktails again. Which we already knew, but it’s nice to have it confirmed. To find out more about how popular your favourite cocktail is and which ingredients were the most popular across the UK visit the Cocktail Championship. For now though, if you don’t we’re going to raise a glass of the nation’s favourite to its creator, the late, great Dick Bradsell. Cheers to you!
Michael B Jordan renames rum after accusations of cultural appropriation
Michael B Jordan is one of many celebs looking to make a mark in the drinks world but life with his rum brand has hit rocky ground already. The Creed and Black Panther actor has issued an apology after announcing he was launching a line of rums called J’Ouvert. The term signals the start of carnival in the Caribbean and is a cornerstone of tradition in Trinidad and Tobago; which meant that Jordan’s use of the word was felt by many to be cultural appropriation. A line in Jordan’s trademark filing that claimed the term has “no meaning in a foreign language” drew particular ire. ‘J’ouvert’ is a French creole word meaning ‘daybreak’. An online petition to stop the trademark topped 12,000 signatures and the government of the islands also expressed deep concern over the plan. Singer Nicki Minaj, who comes from Trinidad, even urged Jordan to change the “offensive” name on Tuesday. Later that day Jordan posted an apology on Instagram Stories, commenting. “I just wanna say on behalf of myself & my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love & respect) & hoped to celebrate & shine a positive light on,” he wrote. “Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & engaging in countless community conversations …” Jordan has not yet said what he plans to rename his rum brand. How about ‘daybreak’?
Irish Distillers launches ‘A Perfect Blend’ podcast
Irish Distillers has unveiled its latest creation this week, a four-part mini-series on Irish whiskey. The podcast, produced and hosted by multi-award-winning radio producer Julien Clancy, focuses on the power of collaboration and features commentary from some of the industry’s most influential voices. The first episode of ‘A Perfect Blend’ features with Irish Distillers cooper Killian O’Mahony and president of Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky, Paul McLaughlin, who discuss the origins of their enthusiasm for coopering. In the second episode, Richard Forsyth of distillery design and build firm, Forsyths, and distiller at Irish distillers, Katherine Condon, speak about great copper pot still. In the third episode, forestry consultant and Pro Silva Ireland co-founder Paddy Purser and Finbarr Curran, the man responsible for sourcing Irish Distillers’ barrels, give an insight into how the industry is working together on cask sustainability. In the concluding episode, Irish Distillers archivist Carol Quinn and design duo Matthew Bolger and Emelie Lindstrom of M+E Design reflect on the art of storytelling and the unexpected benefits of collaboration. Episodes are available to download now in all the usual places.
BrewLDN is back!
More than 50 new breweries will welcome a festival of discovery, tasting experiences, world-class DJs and street eats as BrewLDN returns in July. The biggest collection of craft breweries to take part in a UK beer event since BrewLDN’s inaugural festival in February 2020, the event will take place in indoor and outdoor spaces at Printworks London from Thursday 29 July to Saturday 31 July. Fortunately, BrewLDN is unaffected by the UK’s recent delaying of the return to normality. “Everyone working in events has suffered during the last year and we’ve been incredibly nervous about our survival prospects. We are extremely grateful that we are able to host the first beer festival and trade show of 2021 at Printworks in July,” says Chris Bayliss, co-founder of BrewLDN. He had more good news to share too by revealing ticket sales are ahead of any previous year and also saluted the more than 50 small independent breweries “committed to taking part, sharing their products and moving forward in this incredibly positive way.” For tickets and more information head to brewldn.com.
Jim Beam’s Lineage arrives in travel retail
Jim Beam has a swanky new bourbon to show off and for this one it’s keeping it in the family. The aptly titled Lineage was made by seventh-generation Beam family master distiller, Fred Noe in collaboration with his son, Freddie, making it the first bottling released by the brand to feature the latter’s name. Freddie says he enjoys “breaking the rules and creating new and exciting expressions”, so making an expression with his dad “that’s different from anything out there in the bourbon world” was “an honor”. Last week Freddie hosted an interactive tasting session to guide us through the inspiration behind the new whiskey, which meant we got a taste. Oh boy. This one’s a beauty. Aged in charred white oak barrels in Warehouse K since 2004, the new bourbon is 15 years old and is bottled at a hefty 55.5% ABV. But in all the power and darkness there’s a refined quality throughout among the aromatic spice, rich vanilla and thick caramel. Lineage will be available soon, which is good news. It’s also $250 and exclusive to global travel retail, which is less so. However, that’s a sector of our industry that could really use a boost and this expression is exactly the kind of dram that could help.
Chivas Bros. pay dispute settled
We reported back in May of the threat of strike action by Chivas Bros. workers in Scotland. Now the unions have called off the proposed strike after reaching an agreement with the company behind Glenlivet, Royal Salute and Ballantine’s which employs around 1600 workers in Scotland. Keir Greenaway from one of the unions involved, GMB Scotland, commented: “Chivas have listened to the workers’ voice and our members have now voted to accept an improved offer on their pay and conditions for the next year.” Workers will receive a basic rise of 2.5% in 2021 and by at minimum 2% next year. Chivas CEO and chief executive Jean-Christophe Coutures said: “Despite the unprecedented business challenges we continue to face as we recover from the impact of Covid-19, we have maintained 100% of jobs and pay throughout the pandemic – and even recruited across our Scottish sites. Our newly-agreed offer – which includes guaranteed pay increases in 2021 and 2022 – means we can now move on from the disruption caused by the dispute and refocus our collective efforts on our recovery from the impact of the pandemic and achieving long-term business success.”
Milroy’s’ new Soho whisky terrace is open
One of London’s best whisky venues just got a bit better. Milroy’s has just announced a new 20 cover terrace for its shop and bar on the corner of Greek Street and Soho Square. So you can sip, enjoy the weather and watch the world go by. As well as an unrivalled choice of whiskies from around the world, Milroy’s Soho will have a new ‘Highball-on-tap- menu featuring delicious-sounding whisky cocktails such as the Aberfeldy Peach Tea and the Nikka Days Highball. Best of all for those of us who find booking to have a drink deeply weird, the new summer terrace and the main bar at Milroy’s Soho are walk-in only. Though if you want to visit the basement Vault bar or the Proofing Room at Milroy’s other venue in Spitalfields, you do have to book. We’re looking forward to revisiting this favourite haunt soon.
And finally…. Beer ice cream is coming
When it’s hot do you find it hard to choose between beer and ice cream? It’s one we struggle with at MoM towers. They’re both so refreshing. Well, now you don’t have to because beer ice cream, in fact booze ice cream of all kinds is on its way. First, this week Coors announced a 5% ABV orange hard seltzer ice cream in the US. Secondly a new machine claims to be able to turn anything boozy into ice cream. It’s made by WDS Dessert Stations; the company has dubbed it: “the Ferrari of soft serve machines.” It works using an NIA gel (Nitrogen Ingredient Additive) to turn high ABV drinks into ice cream. So, it’s not just beer, you can have ice cream made from Espresso Martini, Piña Colada, and even vintage Port – imagine that after a long meal. The inventor Will Rogers commented on its success: “When I first came up with the machines. Never in a million years did I think the brewery industry would be our main market but these brewers are the chefs of their trade”. All this science doesn’t come cheap, around £4,300, but that might prove a wise investment if we get a good summer. Beer ice cream, anyone?