On the Nightcap this week we applaud some forward-thinking brands, celebrate 750 years of Frapin and look at some intriguing new releases, including one made to honour Her Majesty…
This week there was presumably plenty happening in the worlds that exist outside of booze, no doubt misery-filled and relentless bits of news about how terrible everything is. But here at MoM Towers, this was a good week. A great week, in fact. Because he’s back: Whisky Santa has returned! That’s right, the dram-loving do-gooder is here once again to give away £250,000 worth of booze in the name of Christmas cheer! You know the drill, get wishing now and you could get everything you want this year with just the click of a button.
Being the lovely omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded thing he is, he’s already popped up on the MoM Blog this week to name his first Super Wish: a £1,500 bourbon from Woodford Reserve! And there are even more bargains to be found in our Black Friday 2020 sale. Was November always this busy? Elsewhere, Adam virtually ventured to Mexico to the country’s first whisky distillery and then turned our MoM-branded spotlight on Satryna Tequila, while Annie also cast her eye on another fine Central American brand, the family-owned Flor de Caña. Jess then explored how you can get your cocktail fix without even leaving your home as Henry enjoyed the rumification of a burger joint classic, a new Springbank whisky so good it sold out before you could say ‘Hey, look everyone, new Springbank!’ and then put together a list of ten of his favourite budget-friendly bottles of Scotch. Hey, speaking of Scotch…
Glenfiddich challenges stereotypes in campaign with Michelle Dockery
Giants of the category Glenfiddich has announced this week that it plans to use its prominent position to “progress the perception of whisky to new audiences” and break the mould to “encourage greater gender inclusivity”, which we like the sound of very much. The Speyside distillery has launched a new campaign featuring the award-winning actress Michelle Dockery, star of Downton Abbey and The Gentlemen in a shoot that attempted to reimagine the whisky imagery through a contemporary lens, with each image chosen to reflect a modern woman making her own choices. The whisky featured was Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23-Year-Old, which you can find here. “I am thrilled to be a part of Glenfiddich’s new campaign which celebrates mavericks. That’s what drove me to be a part of this latest campaign,” Dockery said. “The shoot is authentic, it reflects a modern woman making her own choices: being both feminine and strong, while enjoying whisky.” While more and more women are making whisky their drink of choice and working in the industry, the sad truth is that too many still see it as a man’s drink, which marketing companies and campaigns can address. It’s good to see Glenfiddich do that here.
Frapin celebrates 750 years with vintage Cognac
Cognac house Frapin is celebrating 750 years in the business. 750 years! The first Frapin recorded was a vine grower called Albert Frapin way back in 1270. At the time the Cognac region would have been part of the Duchy of Aquitaine, a possession of the English crown. Ah, happy days! Anyway, Frapin is celebrating in the most appropriate way possible by releasing some fine Cognacs. These include the Château Fontpinot XO 750, and a special vintage Cognac. No, not from 1270, that would be ridiculous. No, it’s a 40-year-old from 1979. This is the first vintage that the house ever released, in 1988. One cask, however, was kept back to be bottled at a later date. Cellar master Patrice Piveteau commented: “A limited edition of only 180 bottles coming from one cask jealously kept since four decades in our dry cellars…” He went on to describe the taste as “going off like a firework. Pow!” We were fortunate enough to be given a sample and can only concur. It’s an impossibly complex Cognac and we’re delighted to have some in stock. But that’s not all, we also have the 1992, 1990, and 1988. Why not collect the set?
La Hechicera releases rum aged in banana casks
We sampled a delightfully distinctive rum this week with La Hechicera for the launch of the second expression in its ‘Experimental’ range. Led by co-founder and managing director Miguel Riascos, we enjoyed the playful new limited-edition bottling, which is a blend of rums aged up to 21 years in American white oak barrels that were infused with organic sun-dried banana flesh before being bottled at 41% ABV. It pays homage to the brand’s history as three generations of the Riascos family’s original traded bananas, before moving in to the rum business. “Serie Experimental No. 2 is an amazing liquid that we are proud to share with the world,” said Riascos. “Rum is a category that is continuing to gain popularity and Serie Experimental No. 2 is a unique product that will help drive interest in the category by recruiting new consumers to the category and offering rum consumers something new.” We very much enjoyed our tasting, it’s a beautifully balanced rum, mixing refined sweetness of vanilla, toffee and hazelnut with notes of freshly baked banana bread, coffee, tobacco, dark chocolate and some salty minerality. If you fancy trying it for yourself, Serie Experimental No. 2 is available from MoM Towers now!.
Diageo launches ten-year sustainability action plan
Diageo has announced this week a range of 25 bold goals as part of its ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan. Designed to make a positive impact on the world by 2030, Diageo has broken down its ambitions into several achievable key goals. The first is to reach 1 billion people with messages of moderation, partly through ‘SMASHED’, its award-winning alcohol education awareness programme, and to increase representation by ensuring that, by 2030, 45% of its leaders are from ethnically diverse backgrounds and 50% are women. Diageo has also committed to working towards a low-carbon future by harnessing 100% renewable energy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across direct operations, making sure 100% of its packaging will be widely recyclable and making every drink it produces with 30% less water to make than it does today to achieve a net positive water impact. Alongside the ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ plan, Diageo has also introduced Sustainable Solutions, a global platform that will provide non-equity funding to start-up and technology companies in order to help Diageo continue to embed sustainability in its supply chain and brands. “As a global business, we are committed to playing our part to protect the future of our planet and to leading the way for others to follow,” CEO Ivan Menezes said. “I am immensely proud of Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility achievements to date, and this new, ambitious action plan will challenge us even further to deliver more over the critical decade to 2030.”
Glencairn presents the gin goblet
You probably know Glencairn as the brand behind the official glass for whisky, which sells over 65,000 units every week around the world, but the family-owned crystal glassware company has now set its sights on the world of gin too. Responding to the huge rise in the popularity of the spirit in recent years and consumer demand for a dedicated gin glass, Glencairn used its Mixer Glass, originally developed in consultation with the Canadian whisky industry, as a starting point and adapted it make something that considered the needs of the gin drinker, bar staff and distillers. The result? The Gin Goblet. The new glass has plenty of classic Glencairn features you’d expect, it’s made from crystal to enhance the clarity of the drink, it’s curvy in shape to help focus and enhance aroma and it was designed to require less ice, meaning that your gin doesn’t become too diluted. “At Glencairn we are proud of our innovative history, having been at the forefront of ground-breaking crystal design and creation for nearly forty years,” says Scott Davidson, new product development director. “We always strive to listen and respond to customer demand with the ultimate aim of enhancing the spirit lover’s drinking experience. We hope that we have delivered the perfect glass for gin lovers worldwide.” Sounds like the perfect present. If only there was some gift-giving occasion coming up…
New drink magazine is just the Tonic
A couple of weeks ago we announced the sad news of the demise of Imbibe, so we were especially pleased when we received a copy of a brand new magazine called Tonic. It’s a drinks magazine with a difference, you won’t find articles about Glenmorangie’s newest expression or quotes from Miles Beale from the WSTA. Instead, it combines travel and drinks writing with gorgeous photography and very high production values. As well as hardened drink professionals like Imbibe founder Chris Losh, Will Hawkes, Claire Dodd and our very own Henry Jeffreys, there’s more off-beat stuff such as Douglas Rogers on how his parents tried to start a vineyard in Zimbabwe, Father Thomas Plant on holy wine, and Juliet Rix on boozing in North Korea. It’s edited by travel writer Tristan Rutherford, and the publishing team are Robert Ellison and Benita Finanzio. They wrote: “The genesis of Tonic is our fondness for convivial, communal experiences with friends and strangers alike, sharing drinks and stories.” Just what we need in these difficult times when many of us can’t even go to the pub. We can’t wait for the next issue.
Coming soon: Glen Moray Sauternes Cask expression
It just doesn’t stop over at Elgin distillery Glen Moray. Head of whisky creation Dr Kirstie McCallum is always hunting around the warehouses for rare and unusual barrels to release as limited editions. Now it’s the turn of some Sauternes casks. This latest release is made up of five special sweet Bordeaux French oak barrels, filled in 2006 and left for 14 years. It’s bottled at cask strength with none of that chill-filtering or colour added. McCallum commented: ‘We’re very proud to be releasing our Sauternes Cask Matured expression in time for the festive season – and as the first whisky in our new Warehouse 1 Collection. This is an absolute cracker of a dram, and a perfect marriage of Glen Moray’s spirit with all the rich, deliciously sweet flavours you would enjoy in a glass of Sauternes. It’s a real celebration of flavour and Glen Moray’s passion for unusual cask maturation.” We have to agree with the good doc, the marmalade and spice character from the Sauternes casks is indeed a happy fit with the fruity Glen Moray style. Just 1248 bottles have been filled and as usual with these rare Glen Moray releases, it’s a bit of a bargain with an RRP of £79.95. Watch the New Arrivals page for its imminent arrival at Master of Malt.
Another new Irish whiskey distillery is on the way
It appears that not even a global pandemic can slow down the growth of the Irish whiskey industry as another new distillery is reported to be in the works. Gortinore Distillers, which was co-founded by Aidan Mehigan, along with two friends and his father and markets the Irish whiskey brand Natterjack, has revealed in a post on the brand’s Facebook that it has been granted planning approval for the construction of the €8 million project, which will entail renovating The Old Mill in Kilmacthomas, County Waterford. Gortinore Distillers acquired the lease of the building, which started life as a woollen mill in the 1850s and was later the home to Flahavan’s Irish porridge, back in 2016 and plan to install three copper pot stills and create warehouse space to store whiskey casks. A visitor centre, also said to be in the works, will add further value to the local tourism industry. Once complete, the distillery will have the capacity to produce one million bottles every year and will create 15 full-time jobs. “We are delighted to say that we have been granted planning approval for a distillery to be built at the site of The Old Mill in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. It has been a long process, but big plans deserve big consideration and we are honoured to be taking this stunning piece of history on its next adventure,” Gortinore Distillers announced in the Facebook post. “We may have big plans, but the premises, sitting on the banks of the River Mahon in County Waterford already has a story all of its own.”
Michael Urquhart appointed as 2021 president of IWSC
Former Gordon & MacPhail managing director Michael Urquhart has taken up a high-profile industry position after being named the 2021 president of the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC). He replaces 2020 president Tamara Roberts, CEO of English wine producer Ridgeview, and is tasked with promoting the production of quality wines and spirits throughout the world. Urquhart retired as managing director of Elgin-based Gordon & MacPhail, the fourth-generation business owned by the Urquhart family, in 2014 and stepped down from the board in 2017 after serving over 36 years in the company. In 1999 when he was made a Keeper of the Quaich and in 2012 a Master of the Quaich in recognition of services to the promotion of Scotch whisky worldwide. “It’s a real privilege, and I’m humbled, to be chosen as president of such a prestigious organisation as the IWSC. “I’ve always had the greatest respect for the IWSC and the excellent work it does in maintaining and developing the high-quality reputation of the global wine and spirits industry,” Michael Urquhart said. “I’m very much looking forward to getting behind the IWSC and ensuring it continues to work in the best interests of the entire industry.”
And finally… the Royal Family gets another gin!
The Royal Family really do love their gin. Not only is Charles partial to a Martini and the Queen a Gin & Dubonnet, but both launched their own brands this year, Highgrove Gin and Buckingham Palace Gin (see Nightcap 17 July) Well, now it seems that two gins are not enough because we have just learned about the arrival of a Sandringham Celebration Gin. It’s made on the Norfolk estate by local distiller Whatahoot using botanicals from the gardens including sharon fruit and myrtle. Apparently, it is “a full-bodied gin with rich juniper tones and a lingering citrus finish” and the price is suitably regal too, £50 for a 50cl, available direct from the estate. So what next for the gin-loving Royal Family? A Balmoral gin? Or perhaps Harry and Meghan will ape their LA celebrity pals with the release of a Sussex Tequila. Watch this space!