England’s ‘first bourbon’, Liev Schreiber enters the world of whiskey, and Monkey Shoulder makes whisky perfume. It’s The Nightcap!
Happy Friday, everyone! We had a team day this week in which all kinds of organised corporate fun was had and it got us thinking about the spirit of collaboration. And of collaboration in spirits. Just look at the last week alone. We’ve got a new creation called Burnt Oak that combines 25-year-old Islay whisky with 24-year-old bourbon, a rum from Guyana that Plantation has bottled, a Scotch whisky sourced by a Polish vodka brand, and the latest Ghost and Rare from Johnnie Walker that’s a blend of all kinds of whisky from lots of cool distilleries. The industry really does rely on working together, which is why we’re only too happy to tell you what everybody is up to. It’s The Nightcap!
That was the week that was
Well, it looks like that long hot summer did the business for English wine, despite an unusually wet autumn. Chapel Down had a “very positive harvest” and Nyetimber winemaker Cherie Spriggs commented in the Drinks Business: “We expect a record volume of grapes to be picked from what is the largest area of vineyards ever harvested by Nyetimber and most importantly, the quality of the fruit looks fantastic which is very exciting.” Talking of luxury brands, bigwigs at Edrington and LVMH will be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of tax-free shopping returning to Britain as reported in Vogue Business. Yes, Vogue has a business section. Get with it! It was a bad week, however, for Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo, as shareholders have told him that his £7.9m pay package is too large. And finally, the war in Ukraine has led to a shortage of CO2, essential to the production of lager, but could this be an opportunity for makers of traditional cask beer, asks Aris Roussinos in Unherd.
This week on our own blog it was all about That Boutique-y Whisky Company, which turned 10 years old! We celebrated with a whole bunch of new whisky, while also shouting out the artist behind those wacky labels and giving you a short history of the brand. It was also Diageo Special Releases week, so we did the decent thing and tasted all of them. We also recommend our own staff favourites, welcomed a sherry-tastic twist on a classic, and made a Martini with a fantastic new gin, Bathtub Rose & Cardamom.
Now it’s time for The Nightcap: 30 September edition!
Liev Schreiber launches Sláinte Irish Whiskey
As usual, there’s some celebrity booze news: Liev Schreiber, the eponymous protagonist from Ray Donovan and star of My Little Pony: The Movie has co-created a new Irish whiskey brand called Sláinte. It’s named after the traditional Irish toast to good health, and is a triple distilled Irish whiskey aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks. Teaming up with Richard Davies (of Neptune Rum fame), the brand donates funds to humanitarian crises via Blue Check Ukraine, also co-founded by Schreiber, which is a collective of humanitarian crisis response experts, entrepreneurs, and filmmakers that provides financial support to Ukrainian NGOs and aid initiatives. The brand has offered a giveback program, which sees 100% of the funds from the sale of a limited-edition 18-year-old whiskey allocated to Blue Check. “This brand began with an act of charity, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s an auspicious start,” Schrieber says. “The cask of insanely delicious 18-year-old single malt that Richard donated to Blue Check was completely unexpected and hopefully the beginning of something we will be doing for many years”.
Bowmore and Aston Martin reunite
Bowmore and Aston Martin have announced the launch of the second part in its series Masters’ Selection, a 22 Year-Old single malt whisky that brings together whisky distilled in 1997, aged in American oak hogsheads, and 2000, aged in sherry butts. It’s said to possess aromas of honey sweetness, peach, apricot, fresh tobacco, cloves, and eucalyptus. The palate, meanwhile, has an initial medicinal, salty taste with more sweet honey as well as flavours bringing it back to Islay with oysters and subtle peat smoke. “We talk about shared synergies between the contrasting worlds of Bowmore and Aston Martin and this is what truly defines the relationship Marek [Reichman, Aston Martin chief creative officer,] and I have formed,” says master blender Ron Welsh. “We have relished in the opportunity to share experiences, ideas, and thoughts from each other’s world’s, listening and learning from the inherent skill, knowledge and creativity we both possess. In collaborating as guardians of our respective legacies, we recognize the honour bestowed upon us”. The price for all this synergy? £390 and coming to a retailer near you.
Aberfeldy releases two new red wine cask limited editions
In recent years, Aberfeldy has claimed the red wine finishing category as its own with a series of limited releases. These meld the distillery’s honey character more or less seamlessly with the character imparted by specific red wines. Past releases have included Cote Rote and Pauillac casks, now we had a sneak preview of the latest iterations. First up was a Napa Cabernet 15 YO, where the ripe Californian wine brought sweet cherries and blackcurrants to the Aberfeldy honey and toffee party. The second version was quite different, an 18 year old finished in Bolgheri casks from Tuscany. Bolgheri is made from the same grape, Cabernet Sauvignon, and they are both French oak barriques, but the second release was dry with a bitter almond maraschino cherry and leather flavour to it. Terroir, innit? Both are very delicious and distinctive and coming soon to Master of Malt for around £55 for the 15 and £95 for the 18. Veritable bargains compared with some of the other limited releases out there.
Never Say Die unveils England’s ‘first bourbon’
A champion racehorse, the Beatles, and overcoming Donald Trump are all part of the, somewhat convoluted, story of Never Say Die bourbon, which calls itself ‘England’s first bourbon’. Essentially, it’s a bourbon distilled and matured in Kentucky across the Atlantic (on a six-week voyage, great for fans of a little ocean ageing) to mature in the UK, specifically in Derbyshire. So it is actually a bourbon, not a bourbon-style whiskey made here, and it’s not really ‘England’s ‘first bourbon’. Still, marketing. The transatlantic whiskey is the brainchild of Wilderness Trail distillers Pat Heist and Shane Baker, who named Never Say Die after the famous racehorse, which was revived with a shot of whiskey following a traumatic birth. Three years later and at odds of 33-1, Never Say Die became the first American-born horse in 70-years to win the Epsom Derby in 1954, which included Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill. This was also great news for a Liverpudlian woman named Mona Best, who had pawned all of her jewellery to place a huge, and successful bet that paid for the house where she eventually founded a new music venue, Casbah Coffee Club. This was where The Beatles played their very first gigs, with her son Pete on drums. Where does Donald Trump fit in? Well, Never Say Die bourbon actually began life as a project back in 2017, but its launch was only made possible when the 25% tariffs on US whiskey imports were reversed following Trump’s defeat in the 2020 American election. Significant campaigning went into that goal, including from the Bourbon Alliance, which was co-founded by Never Say Die director, Martha Dalton. So many stories, but the headline is this whiskey is now available from Master of Malt!
Old Pulteney announces new collection inspired by coasts
Old Pulteney is introducing a new collection of four limited edition whiskies called The Coastal Series. It’s inspired by coasts around the world that, like the North Sea air at Pulteney, affect how liquids age. The range kicks off with Old Pulteney Pineau des Charentes, a new territory for the brand thanks to the use of casks that carry echoes of the sweet aperitif native to the Charente-Maritime region. “We’re very pleased to introduce Old Pulteney Pineau des Charentes, the first in a new, exciting series by the brand,” says distillery manager Malcolm Waring. “Old Pulteney’s past, present, and taste is influenced by its home by the sea on the Caithness Coast, and The Coastal Series beautifully explores cask maturations that highlight wonderful expressions influenced by their global coastal homes”.
Tobermory Distillery unveils two new releases
Tobermory Distillery has two exciting new launches that we actually popped on our virtual shelves this morning! The first is a limited edition Ledaig 9-year-old Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured, and the second is Tobermory 21-year-old, which is to become part of the distillery’s core range. The Ledaig limited edition (pronounced leh-chig) is a peated dram fully matured in the Bordeaux red wine casks that’s designed to transport drinkers to the edge of Mull’s wild and rugged landscapes. The cask strength whisky is said to boast notes of smoked fudge, eucalyptus oil and sweet, yet earthy notes on the nose, with grape skins, melons, and wood-smoked meats on the palate. Tobermory 21, contrast, is finished in oloroso casks chosen to create flavours reminiscent of foraged fruit found scattered across Mull and possesses notes of marzipan, hazelnuts, toffee, and treacle. As mentioned before, these two whiskies are now in stock and you can find the Ledaig here and the Tobermory here.
Fettercairn launches 18-year-old whisky matured in Scottish oak
Fettercairn has been releasing lots of whisky recently but this is arguably the cream of the crop is its inaugural 18 Years Old single malt. The highlight being that its first ever whisky finished in locally-sourced Scottish oak. We’ve mentioned this fascinating project before (and told the story of the distillery itself), but now we finally have spirit to taste that’s the culmination of years of planning and innovation, as well as an embodiment of the Highland distillery’s commitment to the future and to its local communities. Initially matured in American white oak casks, Fettercairn 18 Years Old was then finished in casks made solely from oak sourced from the Scottish Highlands before being bottled at 46.8%, with no additional colouring or filtration. “Fettercairn 18 is a culmination of an approach to whisky making I have developed across a number of years,” says Gregg Glass, master whisky maker. “This first release reflects the dedication not just of myself, but of our partners ‘from Forest to Field’, who each played a role in rekindling the skills required to harvest Scottish Oak. At Fettercairn we are passionate about the potential of Scottish Oak and the unique flavour characteristics it offers to the whisky maker.” We’ll be tasting this beauty very soon, and will report back on what we learn, but the concept alone excites us a great deal.
The Dalmore collaborates with designers for new range
Fellow Whyte & Mackay brand The Dalmore, meanwhile is feeling the spirit of connection following its partnership with the V&A Dundee. The two have come together to create the Luminary Series, a range of limited-edition whiskies launched over three years that will bring together top designers with whisky. The first to launch in the series is the Luminary No.1 2022 Edition, which actually consists of a pair of single malts. The first is The Rare Edition, a 48-year-old single malt finished in a world-first ‘Kintsugi’ Japanese and Scottish Tay and American Oak casks. It was conceived by Dalmore master distiller Richard Paterson OBE along with 2021 TIME 100 architect and designer of V&A Dundee Kengo Kuma, who made a sculpture to house it in comprising 48 particles made from Japanese oak and Scottish Tay oak. Only three were created and one of which will be sold at auction with a portion of the proceeds donated back to V&A Dundee. Then there’s the Collectible Edition, which is approximately 15,000 bottles priced at £250 created by their protégés, architect Maurizio Mucciola and whisky maker Gregg Glass, respectively, which is a 15-year-old single malt also been finished in the Kintsugi cask and, in honour of Mucciola’s birthplace, Italian Amarone Red Wine casks. It’s a fascinating new range. Whyte & Mackay certainly aren’t messing around at the moment.
And finally… Monkey Shoulder launches whisky perfume
We love the smell of whisky, but we never really considered using it as perfume before. The crazy bunch at Monkey Shoulder, however, have had other ideas. Well, that idea, to be specific. The William Grant-owned brand has created a limited-edition scent that is inspired by its blended malt Scotch, which is said to have notes of “honey, vanilla, spiced oak and zesty orange”. It’s hilariously called ‘Monkey Musk’, and a 100ml bottle is set to retail at a very reasonable £30. Although we sell the actual whisky for £25.99, so you could just rub some of that on yourself, and then you have lots of whisky left to enjoy. “Creating whisky is in many ways similar to a perfumer crafting a fragrance,” says malt master Brian Kinsman. “We prioritise the quality of elements going into the blend and spend hours perfecting the combination of notes.” He wasn’t the only one from the brand to comment, however, as no less than Community actor Joel McHale also provided a quote as he is promoting the product as part of an on-going collaboration. “I love fine spirits, and I’m a fan of fragrances inspired by fine spirits,” he says. “The whisky smells great in a glass, so why not rub that all over your body?” Why indeed.