A €13 million Midleton Distillery upgrade, $400K worth of spilled Jack Daniel’s whiskey, and Bruichladdich makes a sour beer. They’re all in The Nightcap: 3 December edition.
It’s December and that means Christmas is officially here. Deck those halls, put the Michael Bublé on, and enjoy The first Nightcap of the festive season. It’s jam-packed with great stories, boozy news, and, of course, Christmas cheer.
Something else that was jam-packed this week was the MoM blog, which went full blogmaggedon. We launched two VIP distillery trip competitions, one to Highland Park and the other to Aberfeldy, kicked off our Advent celebrations (we hope you’ve enjoyed the first three days!), and released some single cask Master of Malt exclusives. We also asked the lovely folk who work here for Christmas present recommendations, made a modern take on ‘70s classic with Christmas Pudding Rum, and welcomed Bathtub Grapefruit & Rosemary Gin, exclusively to our humble towers. #WhiskySanta also returned to grant a Courvoisier Heritage de Louis Renard Super Wish, while Adam enjoyed all kinds of premium whiskies, including some perfect for Christmas presents, and others from two seriously exciting distilleries, Rabbit Hole and The East London Liquor Company.
The Nightcap: 3 December edition!
€13 million Midleton visitor upgrade announced
Big news just in from Irish Distillers. The whiskey giant has announced the redevelopment of the visitor experience at the Midleton Distillery near Cork. It will include new shops, a bar, café, and a restaurant, and will turn the old distillery into “a world-class, multi-sensory whiskey experience destination.” Conor McQuaid, chairman and CEO, commented: “Over the past 30 years, Midleton Distillery has become synonymous with Irish whiskey tourism, welcoming more than three million visitors from countries all over the world to our home in East Cork. At Irish Distillers, we are always looking towards the future of Irish whiskey, which is why we are delighted to announce our plans for the redevelopment of the distillery experience at Midleton. Our ambition is to deliver an exceptional, world-class experiential offering which will bring whiskey lovers closer to the production process than ever before.” The aim is to attract 200,000 visitors a year. The design of the visitor experience is being handled by New York-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) which has worked with museums all over the world including the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The firm has a tricky line to walk in modernising the rather dated experience while not interfering too much with the incredibly atmospheric old distillery which dates back to 1794. The work is due to be finished by 2025. We await the results eagerly.
Tamdhu puts on jamón and whisky night
Probably our two favourite things here at the Master of Malt blog are Tamdhu and Jamón Ibérico, so we were extremely excited to hear about a series of evenings at Brindisa Spanish deli in Borough Market in London. Tamdhu’s brand ambassador Gordon Dundas will be joined by James Robinson from Brindisa for a series of nights devoted to sherried single malts and sweet porky goodness. Disappointingly, they’re not calling the evening ‘Hamdhu.’ Nevertheless, it sounds pretty special. Robinson will be your guide to the wonderful world of Iberian hams offering such delicacies as Guijuelo, Dehesa de Extremadura, Jabugo, and Los Pedroches. They are traditionally served with sherry but, the idea goes, why not a sherry-infused whisky? To prove the point, Dundas will be bringing the big guns down with a flight of single malts including the sherrytastic Tamdhu Quercus Alba Distinction, aged in first-fill American Oak cask. The events will take place on 6/7/8 December from 6-7pm and 7-8pm. Tickets cost £95 (go here) and as well as the experience, guests will get to take home a 70cl bottle of Quercus Alba Distinction, two copita tasting glasses, and a jamón serving board made from oak whisky cask ends. So what are you waiting for? Jamón down!
$400K worth of Jack Daniel’s spilled in Tennessee
We’ve all heard the expression “don’t cry over spilled milk”, right? It seems like good advice. It’s just milk, after all. That logic doesn’t quite apply when $400k worth of whiskey spills onto the road, however. When that happens, cry away. Ugly cry. Call your mum and cry down the phone to her. That’s presumably what folks did in Tennessee last week when a semi-truck transporting $400,000 worth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey overturned as the driver was making a left turn onto an interstate. The main thing is that the driver was not injured, which on a whiskey blog we really must remind you is the most important thing, because we know people will be thinking about the “several gallons” of booze that spilled onto the pavement. According to a Facebook post from the Murfreesboro Police Department, the whiskey leak started when the trailer was being pulled upright by a wrecker. As you can imagine, the post was filled with responses along the lines of “I’m volunteering on THIS cleanup!” And thankfully it’s a huge brand who can take the loss on the chin. Besides, we’ve got plenty of Jack Daniel’s whiskey right here. So maybe there’s no need to cry over spilled whiskey after all?
John Campbell joins Lochlea Distillery
Laphroaig legend John Campbell has a new gig. He is joining the independent family-owned Lochlea Distillery as its new production director and master blender. Campbell, who dropped a shock announcement that he was moving to pastures new this year, has left his native Islay after 27 years working there in whisky. The former Laphroaig distillery manager will head up the production team ahead of the release of its inaugural liquid, set to launch in early 2022 (which we will have some of…) Campbell described the move as an “opportunity to develop a whisky that is innovative and distinctive, with a distillery that shares my ethos on quality, environment, and sustainability”. He added that getting involved in the process from this early stage means he can help to define “what Lochlea becomes”. Lochlea’s commercial manager, David Ferguson commented that it was clear that Campbell’s values aligned closely with Lochlea, and the most exciting part is that he brings “new ideas, an emphasis on quality and an entrepreneurial streak which shone through with the Cairdeas bottlings he was responsible for”. We look forward to seeing what he does there. Best of luck, John.
Limited-edition Redbreast bird feeder is back for another year
Redbreast just can’t stop helping the birds! After teaming up with Chris O’Dowd to protect “common birds” last month, the Irish whiskey brand is now shouting about the release of its limited-edition bird feeder bottle for the second year running. We have to admit, it’s pretty snazzy. Within an intricate copper shell you’ll find a bottle of Redbreast 12 Year Old single pot still whiskey. Out comes the bottle, and then you can repurpose the case as the fanciest bird feeder you’ve ever seen – even the common birds will be feeling like royalty snacking from this thing. You can get your hands on it here, and €3 from each sale is donated by Redbreast to Birdlife International with an aim of raising €80,000, as well as protecting the species you’ll find in your garden throughout the winter months. “After the success of last year, we are extremely excited to re-launch our beautifully crafted whiskey casing that has been specially designed to double up as a bird feeder”, says Billy Leighton, master blender at Irish Distillers. “We worked closely with BirdLife International to ensure the bird feeder continues to honour our mission of helping to protect not only robins, but all common birds, as we move into the colder months and food begins to become scarce.” Got a mate who loves birds and Irish whiskey? It’s nearly Christmas – you know what to do.
Wee Smoky adman blasts whisky industry for not being ‘culturally relevant’
Watch out, the whisky industry is about to get ‘disrupted’. Again. Creative director Barrington Reeves, who has worked with global brands including Nike and Red Bull, has teamed up with Wee Smoky, a single grain aged in peated whisky casks launched last year by Rory Gammel. According to Reeves: “Many brands have postured to try and be different, but nobody has actually truly disrupted whisky – it’s still inaccessible and elitist.” Some of his criticisms seem to have been beamed in from 2002, blasting the industry for trading on “twee” perceptions of Scottishness, something most brands abandoned years ago. Also isn’t the name Wee Smoky more than a little twee? He continued: “If Scotland is to be on the cultural map, we need to break through those out-dated, unhelpful stereotypes perpetuated by whisky.” Reeves thinks the potential is there to turn Wee Smoky into a global brand. But they are starting small: the second batch of only 5,000 bottles will be released in time for Christmas. Reeves went on to say: “I’m not a whisky drinker, and that’s because I’ve never felt any affinity to it. I always felt there was never a brand that engaged people like me. Whisky brands try to be diverse but I don’t think sticking a black person in your campaign is enough to be honest. Wee Smoky can be something that no other Scottish whisky is – culturally relevant.” Let the disruption commence!
Mermaid Gin founder plans to row across the Atlantic
Mermaid Gin co-founder Xavier Baker (centre above) has just announced he will be taking part in the 2023 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Chris Mannion and Paul Berry (a well-seasoned rower) from the Isle of Wight will join him to row across the Atlantic in their boat Mermaid Atlantic to raise awareness of ocean habitats and to raise funds for marine-focused charities. The team will be using sustainable suppliers and will seek out and refurbish an older Rannoch boat to minimise their impact, all while raising funds for The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Surfers Against Sewage, and the Seahorse Trust. “We are all focused and determined chaps with a good understanding of the sea and certainly know not to underestimate her,” Baker says. “While we each have our personal reasons for undertaking such an exciting and challenging adventure, we’re united in our passion for preserving the oceans and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to undertake the Atlantic challenge to spotlight these causes.” Embarking on ‘the world’s toughest row’, the team will leave La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December 2023 and will need to row 3000 miles around the clock to arrive in Antigua within 35 days to break the record in their class. To find out more about donation and sponsorship head here. Best of luck, guys!
Bruichladdich creates sustainable Scottish whisky sour beer
Bruichladdich has gotten into the beer game with fellow B Corp Brewgooder and sour brewery Vault City to create a tasty tipple that does some good. The limited-edition barrel-aged whisky sour beer was brewed in Portobello, Edinburgh, using a mixed fermentation base sour before being barrel-aged in Bruichladdich casks for nine months to infuse it with the character of the distiller’s unpeated Islay single malt. The result? According to the press release the depth of flavour from the casks provides “delicate notes of sweet oak and barley”, while the addition of hand-picked lemon balm, foraged locally from Islay, and Scottish heather honey create a “balance of tart acidity and smoky sweetness”. Sounds tasty, but there’s more. In a combined effort to strive for a better future, every litre of beer sold will fund 1,000 litres of clean water to communities around the world through Brewgooder’s ‘Billion Pint Pledge’ which aims to produce one billion pints of clean water in the next three years. So many booze brands trying to do their bit to do a little good in the world. We love to see it.
And finally…. Snowasis!
Last week a pub gig went on a bit longer than expected when the band and the entire audience were snowed in. Top Oasis tribute band Noasis played in front of 60 people at the Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales on Friday 26 November. But when it came time to leave, Storm Arwen had wreaked havoc making the roads leading to the isolated pub impassable. So the band and the entire audience had to remain until Monday morning. Tough gig! Somehow, everyone made the best of it, with the pub providing food and drink, and the band played an acoustic set. In fact, it was so much fun that there’s talk of doing it all again next year. Just goes to show, if you have to snowed in, the best place to be is a pub.