It’s Friday and you must know what that means by now, it can only be The Nightcap! 

Sometimes you see something wonderful and it restores your faith in the world. This week we had probably the best thing that’s ever been featured on our humble collection of boozy stories. It’s a story all about distillery pets. Do you want to see the cats and dogs (and a surprise animal) that reside at your favourite flavour factories? Of course, you do. It’s just the second feature from our new guest writer Lucy Britner and honestly, I don’t know how she tops it. Once you see those loveable animals you’ll feel ready to enjoy the weekend in all its glory. Grab a drink, settle down and kick it off with The Nightcap.

In another tip-top week on the MoM blog, Johnnie Walker kicked things off by announcing it releases four celebratory 200th-anniversary whiskies, while Henry had the pleasure of picking the brain of Elwyn Gladstone, the marketing guru behind such brands as Sailor Jerry rum, Hendrick’s, Malfy Gin and Hotel Starlino. Annie then did some trademark myth-busting on the role of water in spirits before Adam spoke to Michael Kain about 10 years of 6 O’Clock Gin. Fans of our regular posts will have noted that our Cocktail of the Week was the terrifically tasty Grasshopper, while our New Arrival of the Week was a delightful Japanese single malt whisky that was part-aged in an apple brandy cask.

The Nightcap

Founders of Sliabh Liag Distillers, James and Moria Doherty, with their first cask of Donegal whiskey

First Donegal whiskey launched

When we spoke to James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers back in 2019, he told us about his desire to distil peated whiskey and make Donegal to Ireland what Islay is to Scotland. Well, this week the brand has taken its first big step forward to fulfilling this ambition by filling its first cask with a peated single malt new-make. Marking the first time that legal whiskey distillation has taken place in Donegal since the closure of Burt Distillery in 1841, the small-batch production took place at Sliabh Liag Distillers’ Carrick facility while the business’s new whiskey distillery at Ardara is under construction and on Wednesday the brand launched a new crowdfunding campaign to help raise €1.5m of capital for the project. The new make was distilled twice in SLD’s copper pot still, known as Méabh, from peated Irish Craft Malts barley grown in Meath, mirroring the profile of the spirit that was being distilled in Ulster 200 years ago, before it was filled into a first-fill bourbon oak cask. “While Burt Distillery ceased production in 1841, we know illegal distilling continued during the intermittent years, not least by my grandfather who was creating a smoky, double-distilled spirit under the authorities’ radar on the hills ‘up the glen’ in Kilcar. I think my grandfather would approve that we are now distilling the first legal whiskey in Donegal for nearly 200 years, and there’s a lovely sense of coming full circle,” commented Doherty. “There has been a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point – especially last week in hand-mashing 500L of wort for brewing – but it’s given us a huge lift as we embark on the next stage in both our and Donegal’s history. Once we are up and running there, the future of Donegal Irish Whiskey will be even brighter.” 

The Nightcap

If everything goes well the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula should have a distillery by 2022!

Plans unveiled for Benbecula distillery

New whisky distillery alert! Well, potential distillery. This week, The Uist Distilling Company revealed plans for a £6.5 million site at Gramsdale on the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula! If it gets the green light, the distillery will make rum and gin alongside single malt, and will also feature a visitor centre and food outlet, where visitors can snap up all manner of freshly made local products. What’s especially exciting is that low-carbon tech will be used from design and build all the way through to distillation. Green(er) whisky incoming! 25 jobs will be created, alongside another 60-70 indirect jobs in the supply chain. Good stuff all round. “The new distillery aims to be a champion of all things Hebridean and Scottish and will provide a huge boost to tourism in the area,” said Angus A McMillan, Uist Distilling Company chairman and chief executive. “We want to produce whisky, rum and gin that will put Benbecula and the Hebrides firmly on the whisky tourist trail, while introducing the products we make to a national and international clientele.” The planning application is due for submission imminently, and, if all goes to plan, production will kick off in early 2022. Godspeed, folks!

The Nightcap

Scottish barley being harvested for Bruichladdich whisky

Bruichladdich continues transparent drive with No Hidden Measures campaign 

Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich has long committed itself to transparency. Back in 2016, it stood with whisky blender Compass Box in its drive for clearer labelling rules when it comes to the constituent parts of whisky expressions. Now Bruichladdich is honing in on accountability, with a focus on the prevalence of raw materials in whisky-making. Through its No Hidden Measures initiatives, it ‘hopes to bring a new level of transparency to single malt Scotch’ by publishing the provenance of and recipes for its flagship Classic Laddie and Laddie Eight bottlings on its website. Details include where the barley was grown (on the island of Islay or near Inverness), its maturation details of first- or second-fill casks, and the age of its youngest component part. Interestingly, the distillery also states how EU law restricts its transparency (the subject of the first campaign with Compass Box). “Never before have businesses been in such a privileged position to share the detail in all they do,” said Bruichladdich CEO Douglas Taylor. “Our customers are engaged with us across our big picture thinking down to the granular detail of how our whisky is made. Our aim has always been to make the most thought-provoking spirit possible, and we couldn’t do that without nurturing the same sense of curiosity in our consumers, as we allow ourselves.” He continued: “We’re determined to highlight the complexity behind every batch of The Classic Laddie and The Laddie Eight. There are no shortcuts taken in their creation, therefore we have no secrets… that’s what’s meant by ‘No Hidden Measures’. Some may dismiss this level of detail as unnecessary, but it’s important for us to make whisky accessible AND allow a more sophisticated conversation to take place.” To discover how their bottle was made, customers can pop a code found on the back of the bottles into Bruichladdich’s website. Happy tracking!

The Nightcap

Smeaton’s Gin is the latest brand to do their bit to support the on-trade

Smeaton’s Gin to boost Hospitality Action funds with new cocktail

We all know we’re living in challenging times, and that despite lockdown’s largely easing, the hospitality industry continues to struggle. Loads of brands and retailers alike have pulled together to support the on-trade, the latest being Smeaton’s Gin. The Bristol-based producer ran a cocktail competition to find a fabulous new serve. The winning concoction will be sold in bars and restaurants across the UK, with Smeaton’s making a donation to Hospitality Action for every cocktail sold. The winner? Gin blogger and judge Meme Toor with her serve The Hospitality. The pineapple-based drink “tastes delicious, shines in the glass, and will offer bars an easily-replicable, relatable, value-added cocktail to offer their patrons returning from lockdown,” according to brand ambassador Alex Williams. Smeaton’s owner Michael Palij MW added: “Bars and restaurants embraced Smeaton’s Gin when we launched. Now it’s our turn to help and at this immensely challenging time for the On-Trade, we are committed to supporting Hospitality Action – a charity which supports hospitality workers in times of hardship.” Good work all round!

The Nightcap

Cheers to 10 years of William Grant and Tullamore Distillery’s partnership!

William Grant & Sons Celebrates “10 Years of Tully”

Can you believe we’ve had 10 whole years of Tullamore D.E.W. deliciousness? This month marks an entire decade since it joined William Grant & Sons’ portfolio! Over that time it’s become the world’s second-largest triple blend Irish whiskey, which is pretty groundbreaking stuff. If you want to mark the occasion with more than just a dram (though that will certainly do), then you’ll be thrilled to know that Tullamore D.E.W. visitor centre reopened its doors to the public this month! We love a celebration. Anyway, we’ll leave you with a fact, the kind that’s going to come in handy at dinner parties. Here goes: across the world, 10 shots of Tullamore D.E.W. are consumed every second. Yes, really! Now, go and get yourself a glass of Tully and spread the word. 

The Nightcap

Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest Japanese whisky ever produced.

Oldest Japanese whisky ever distilled goes to auction in August

If you want to see a little piece of whisky history made next month then mark the 21 August (Friday) in your calendar as it’s the day the Bonhams Hong Kong auction of Fine and Rare Wine & Whisky will take place. The highlight of this sale? A bottle of Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest expression ever produced by the prestigious brand and the oldest Japanese whisky in history. The blockbuster of a single-malt was only released in June this year by Suntory, via a customer lottery system applicable only to residents from within Japan. The expression was distilled in the 1960s and matured in both Japanese Mizunara oak cask from 1960 and white oak cask from 1964 before it was bottled at 46% ABV. The whisky, which had an exceedingly-limited outturn of 100 bottles, is said to have a complex agarwood and sandalwood nose, rich in fruity scents with a sweet aftertaste. Excitingly, it’s even older than the coveted Yamazaki-50 Year Old, which – on several occasions over the years – has set the world auction record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky. Other wine and spirits highlights of the sale include a bottle of Saburomaru 1960 55-year-old, which means the auction will feature the two oldest Japanese whiskies currently available to the market, as well as Macallan Lalique 55-Year-Old, Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Blue Geisha and Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Gold Geisha and Bowmore 1955 (40-year-old). “We are thrilled to be the first international auction house to offer this historic and extremely popular bottle to the worldwide audience, which already has a strong appetite for the finest Japanese whisky,” Daniel Lam, Bonhams’ director of wine & spirits, Asia, commented. “One of only 100 that were produced, this amber joy by one of the most prestigious whisky distilleries is as rare as its quality is unmatched.”

The Nightcap

It’s wholesome escapism, Tobermory-style

And finally… need some soothing colouring? Tobermory’s got your back

Remember a couple of years ago when colouring-in books for grown-ups were the thing? Well, Mull-based Tobermory Distillery reckons it’s time for a come-back. After all, lockdowns around the world have inspired many of us to get in touch with our artistic sides, so why not? As such it has launched a Tobermory colouring book, featuring 10 hand-drawn designs by artist Lydia Bourhill depicting the charm of the island, from its technicolour harbour to dramatic landscapes. “Our colourful home on the island of Mull is ample inspiration for those looking to keep up the enriching, artistic hobbies many have started in lockdown,” said Amy Burns, Tobermory Distillery’s global marketing manager. “It’s thanks to this nourishing artistic community and the island’s stunning natural beauty that Tobermory Distillery is expressive by nature, and this is reflected in the spirits we craft.” She continued: “It is this expressive creativity which formed the inspiration for our colouring-in books, designed to let you relax, unwind and unlock your artistic passions over a gin and tonic or dram of whisky.” The colouring books are available from – soothing weekend plans sorted!