At last, an end to the UK/ US tariff saga looks to be in sight, a giant wine barrel hotel, and cake-inspired cocktails hidden behind a fridge door. All in one place. It’s The Nightcap: 25 March edition!

British Summer Time officially begins on Sunday, and it’s a day when those of us in the UK (and many other countries around the world) will also say thank to our mothers – yes it’s Mother’s Day! That makes it a double celebration. That means we’ll have to figure out a way to get two party hats on our heads while not looking ridiculous. We’ll report back on our progress, in the meantime, enjoy the Nightcap.

But first, as usual, a quick round-up of all the fantastic writing that featured on our blog this week. We were delighted to publish Ian Buxton’s moving tribute to whisky and beer writer Michael Jackson and Lauren Eads’ fascinating look into the evolving world of distillery architecture. Elsewhere, there were juniper wood cask-aged gins, Brandy Alexanders, and spirits perfect for Mother’s Day to enjoy, while Henry also found time to take you into the world of Lucas Bols and the Pulteney distillery

Which all sets us up for this week’s round-up. It’s The Nightcap: 25 March edition!

The Nightcap: 25 March

It’s about time sense prevailed.

Tariffs finally lifted between US and UK

Great news in the on-going tariff saga as the UK is set to remove its 25% tariffs on US whiskey imports in June. The two countries resolved their ongoing trade spat over steel and aluminum imports following two months of talk, and the new measures will come into effect on 1 June, when the US will replace the 25% tariffs on steel with a new quota system. It’s a welcome relief, with the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) reporting that American whiskey exports to the EU had plunged 37% between 2018-20, down from $702 million to $440 million, while the latest stats show that US whiskey exports to the UK – the fourth-largest market for American whiskeys – fell by 42% since the tariffs were imposed,  down from $150 million in 2018 to $88 million 2021. “With the removal of the UK’s debilitating retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskey exports, US distillers are ready to fire up the stills and resume sharing the special taste, heritage, and quality of America’s native spirit with our UK consumers,” DISCUS’s president and CEO Chris Swonger said. Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and Nightcap legend, also welcomed the news, saying it would provide great encouragement to UK spirits importers, a significant boost to the UK hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic, and greater investment opportunities in the UK spirits industry by the US. The only problem we can see is the removal not taking place until June. Why the wait?  

The Nightcap: 25 March

It’s a great whisky supporting a great cause

Johnnie Walker announces Equal Measures partnership

Johnnie Walker has announced a year-long partnership with Equal Measures, a charity committed to greater equality in the drinks industry. Kicking it off in style, the pair hosted the first-ever Community Day in Hacha, Brixton on Monday 21 March, the first of a series of events. The aim of the day was to celebrate the achievements of the current (and future) students of the Equal Measures Education and Mentorship programmes, and make a few Johnnie Walker Highballs in the process. The competition challenged local young adults considering careers in the hospitality sector to create a Highball that embodied the atmosphere and energy of Brixton – Johnnie Walker global ambassador Tim Philipps Johansson was on-hand to give students an understanding of the liquid and brand. Each entrant to the competition is given a cash fund to purchase ingredients for their creation from the local market, in turn supporting businesses from the local area, while the winners will also be given vouchers for Hacha Bar and other local restaurants. This is the start of monthly Community Days at Hacha, focusing on food pairing masterclasses to panel discussions and management coaching. “We are grateful for the support of major player, Johnnie Walker, to help lift the first of these Community Days off the ground,” founder of Equal Measures and owner of Hacha, Deano Moncrieff commented. “Equal Measures is founded to support anyone who feels marginalised and faces entry barriers into the wider world of hospitality. Our intention is to create a regular, open for all, series of events where we can celebrate the local community.” Sounds like a hoot, and all for a wonderful cause.

The Nightcap: 25 March

Lots of lovely Aberlour.

Chivas Brothers brings home complete Aberlour A’bunadh collection

This week Chivas Brothers unveiled its line-up of in-person events at Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, taking place from 27 April to 2 May 2022. This year’s celebrations are going to be special for Chivas Brothers for two main reasons. Firstly, it’s offering festival-goers the first-ever opportunity to taste a flight of the rarest and finest whiskies from the Aberlour A’bunadh (“Original”) collection, which was recently brought home to Aberlour after being acquired through whisky broker Mark Littler LTD. In fact, it’s the only known and (more importantly) available series outside of the Chivas Brothers archive. The first tasting session will take place on Thursday 27 April, after which the full Aberlour A’bunadh collection will then be made available for special tastings at Aberlour distillery until it’s gone, so we can imagine it’ll be rather popular. On a more melancholy note, this year’s festival also marks Alan Winchester’s last, as The Glenlivet master distiller prepares to move to pastures new, continuing his 45-year Scotch whisky career. Fans can make the most of it during ‘An audience with Alan Winchester’ event, held at The Glenlivet Distillery on 29 April. Graeme Cruickshank, Aberlour master distiller, commented: “This year’s festival is extra special for us, as we finally get to share the only known full Aberlour A’bunadh collection for Scotch fans to taste and we raise a toast to the man-of-the-hour, Alan Winchester, and his impressive career.”

Tanqueray teams up with Bridgerton

Netflix series Bridgerton is back, with the second season premiering today, and to mark the occasion, gin brand Tanqueray has partnered with the series to launch a video campaign featuring Joe Jonas. In the clip above, the musician learns how to become a Bridgerton family member, acting alongside Jonathan Bailey, who plays Anthony Bridgerton, and comedian Phoebe Robinson, who is a self-confessed  Bridgerton ‘superfan’. It’s all part of the Make it T-time campaign, which promises exclusive prizes and limited edition cocktail kits for fans, and seeks to revive the Regency Era ritual of teatime with a modern twist, which basically means having a Tanqueray gin cocktail. Experiences that fans can win as part of the campaign include The Queen’s Ball experience, which entails a trip to New York City, an appointment with a stylist, a Tanqueray T-time happy hour, plus access to a Bridgerton-themed ball. There’s also a Bridgerton watch party, which will involve a Regency-era-themed T-time cocktail experience, hosted in a hotel suite or viewing location, with 10 friends. Finally, a Regency-era live oil painting, whereby 10 friends will be invited to a hotel suite, with a stylist on-hand to dress guests and finishing with an artist painting the scene. 

The Nightcap: 25 March

Now that’s luxury

Who wants to stay in a giant wine barrel in Portugal?

If you’re an oenophile, then you’re likely to look to include some wine-based adventures in your holidays, perhaps going to famous vineyard locations or visiting restaurants with great wine lists. But what if we told you that you could spend your break inside a giant wine barrel decked out with all manner of luxury amenities inside? No, really. The Quinta da Pacheca estate in Douro which makes both table wines and Port, has converted 10 outsized wine barrels into luxurious hotel rooms. The pinewood barrels are replicas of the actual barrels used in the winemaking process at this 280-year-old estate, and are dotted throughout the vineyard to place guests among nature and the vines. The estate also creates its own jams and olive oils alongside its wines, and there’s options to enhance the experience with dinner and more. But your basic wine barrel package will set you back roughly €400 per night… That’s a lot of Port.

The Nightcap: 25 March

If you like cakes and cocktails, then you know where to go

Cake-inspired cocktail bar hidden behind a fridge opens

Anyone for a Pick ‘n’ Mix Punch? Or a BakewellTini? Perhaps a Lemon Meringue Pie cocktail? All of these, and more, are available at one of London’s most intriguing new bar openings. The folks at The Big London Bake East, which offers a fun competitive baking experience, have launched The Pantry Bar, a luxury, cake-inspired bar opposite Haggerston Station, hidden behind a fridge door. The bar is open to all, so you don’t have to compete to enjoy the cake-themed serves or marvel at the unique decor, featuring hanging whisk lights, candy jar lamps, giant faux cupcakes. Very Instagrammable, if you care about that sort of thing. There’s also a drinks terrace and lawn, from which you can play spectator to the baking sessions to see what all the fuss is about. So, if you like cake, and a drinks after work or on the weekend, then this is the place for you. Which is surely everyone, isn’t it?

The Nightcap: 25 March

What is he thinking?! Only the technology can tell!

And finally… can your facial expressions reveal how you feel about a beer?

You will never believe it. But ground-breaking research by Japanese scientists has shown that we make different facial expressions depending on whether we like the taste of a beer or not. The incredible discovery was made by using facial expression technology to scan the faces of participants on tasting the beer to gauge their reactions. They found two fascinating responses: the first expression is the ‘lip suck’, where the lips are drawn inwards as if to say ‘mmmm’ in reaction to liking the beer, the experts claim. Meanwhile, the ‘lip press’, where the lips are pressed down on top of one another, is thought to occur when a person really did not like the taste of the beer. A total of 151 Japanese beer consumers were recruited for the study, and asked to try three different beer samples by the four scientists at Brewing Science Laboratories, a research lab belonging to brewing giant Asahi. Supposedly the brand thinks this research into how consumers respond to different beers could be vital for the brewer’s further development. “Relying solely on explicit liking could lead to a misunderstanding of consumers’ real intentions, ultimately resulting in the failure of a new product after its launch on the market,” the team says in its paper. “Analysing facial expressions as an implicit measurement may provide a better understanding of consumers’ preferences at a subconscious level by capturing their objective responses to products after tasting.”