What’s the world’s most valuable spirit brand? Where is the world’s best bar? Why is Budweiser giving away 150,000 beers? It’s all in The Nightcap.
We always recommend you have a tasty drink in hand before you start Nightcapping. A dram of whisky is a classic option for those who like to kick it old-school, or maybe you like to mix it up and create a homemade cocktail. Today it might be a good idea to grab a beer, seeing as it’s International Beer Day. Whatever your drink of choice, it’s perfect because you’re pairing it with The Nightcap.
Over on the blog, we were delighted to welcome back the Master of Malt Icons of Whisky, the winner of which will be announced on Monday. We also teamed up with Bathtub Gin to offer you a cinematic experience, reported on a new distillery on Islay, and got geeky about worm tubs to celebrate our New Arrival of the Week. There was still time to get in a rummy mood, tasting cask-aged delights at Portsmouth Distillery, getting an education in all things Agricole, and learning the story behind a Balvenie and Caroni collaboration, plus we welcomed Lucy Shaw to the blog with a superb article on marketing whisky to women, whipped up a cocktail so good it’s the Bees Knees, and did our best Michelin Star chef impression with some top recipes from Edinburgh Gin.
A busy, busy week. But the fun doesn’t stop yet. It’s The Nightcap: 5 August edition!
Talisker open again to visitors after massive refurb
Talisker is the latest distillery to see the fruit of Diageo’s £185 million splurge on Scotch whisky Tourism. Yesterday, 4 August, the Skye landmark reopened its visitor centre with special guests artist Katie Tunn and record-breaking swimmer Ross Edgley. Rather disappointingly they arrived by boat rather than swimming across from the mainland. The refurbishment was done as much as possible with local craft and tradespeople, and boasts two bars and a shop selling local products as well as whisky. Visitors can take one of three tours: the basic Distillery Tour with a tour and three drams; the Made by the Sea Tasting Experience where “whisky lovers will have the chance to immerse themselves in a multi-sensory tasting session”; and the Talisker Cask Draw and Tasting Experience which is “designed with the whisky connoisseur in mind.” Sounds expensive! Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scotland Brand Homes, explained: “Talisker is inseparable from the unique Isle of Skye landscape and its whisky inherently shaped by the sea and landscape that surrounds it. Our new brand home celebrates that deep connection with the sea and Talisker’s commitment to preserving the wonderful marine environment in Scotland and around the world”. We’re hoping to visit soon and will bring you a full report.
Jim Beam invests $400 Million into distillery expansion
Beam Suntory isn’t messing around, clearly, as it’s just invested $400m into the expansion of Jim Beam. The latest move will increase production capabilities at the Jim Beam Booker Noe Distillery and create 50 full-time jobs. It follows the recent opening of the Fred B, Noe distillery, which is something of an experimental site that focuses on small-scale production and innovation. The news was broken in a press release from the office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “Jim Beam is a renowned name within Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry, and I am thrilled to see the company continue to grow in our state,” Gov. Beshear states. “This is a substantial investment in Nelson County that will ensure Jim Beam continues to grow in Central Kentucky for decades to come. Thank you to the leaders at the company for once again showing faith in our state and our incredible workforce.”
Mortlach releases 30 year old Midnight Malt
Normally when distilleries release a fancy new whisky we receive a press release. If we’re lucky we will receive a sample and if we’re very very lucky we might get a trip to the distillery. But for the launch of Mortlach’s new 30-year-old expression, dubbed the Midnight Malt, the PR company did something a bit different. Instead of trying the malt ourselves, we were sent an audio clip of everyone’s favourite whisky writer/ musician Felipe Schrieberg tasting this very special dram. And describing what he thought. It wouldn’t have been much fun if it was just the sound of him sniffing, swirling, swallowing, and then going ‘ahhh!’ It was all very tantalising and made us eager to try it. This special limited edition is finished in three unusual casks: Bordeaux wine, Calvados, and Guatemalan rum. Only 350 bottles have been filled and at the time of writing, we have a very limited number at Master of Malt. Click here to find out more. A bottle will set you back £3400 Pricey, yes, but don’t forget, it comes with the Schrieberg stamp of approval.
Johnnie Walker launches Cities Of The Future Blue Label
The brand that never sleeps has just launched a new futuristic edition of Blue Label. After 200 years of Johnnie Walker, the latest series, dubbed Cities of the Future, looks forward to what various locations might be like in the 23rd century. Luke Halls, the renowned digital artist, is creating the labels, the first of which is Cities Of The Future London 2220, imagines how London’s cityscape might look like in the year 2220. It’s a wind energy-powered metropolis with a cool sky rail to get around replacing the Underground. The Gherkin and Big Ben are still knocking about next to some towering geometric skyscrapers, though. You can scan an NFC on the front with your phone (assuming it isn’t a Nokia 3310) to open the ‘world of the future’ too, which is apparently one of AI-empowered cities, geoengineering, physics-defying technologies, and most importantly, whisky.
World’s most valuable spirits brands revealed
A report has been released which reveals the world’s most valuable spirits. Brand Finance’s annual search for the world’s biggest brands sees them put 5,000 of the most notable to the test and ranks them across all sectors and countries. And there’s absolutely no surprises anywhere. Hennessy is the biggest Cognac (placing 5th with a value of $5.2 billion), Bacardi remains the rum giant (7th with $3.1 billion), Johnnie Walker the best-selling Scotch (10th with $2.6 billion), and Jack Daniel’s keeps the crown in American whiskey (9th with $2.9 billion). Chinese baijiu brands almost remain dominant, with Kweichow Moutai topping the pile with staggering $42.9 billion, well ahead of second place Wuliangye ($28.7 billion) and almost seven times the value of third place Luzhou Laojiao ($7.3 billion). The research consultant’s report also says George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila is fastest-growing spirit brand of 2022, after nearly tripling its brand value over the last year. Even with Tequila’s going gangbusters as a category, the brand outstripped its competition by doubling its sales. Clooney and his partner Rande Gerber sold the brand to Diageo in 2017 for US$1bn, who themselves recently announced plans to invest US$500 million in expanding Casamigos’ production facilities in Mexico. The future is very bright for Casamigos and baijiu, it seems.
Edinburgh welcomes ‘World’s Smallest Whisky Bar’
If you’re in Edinburgh this August and fancy a dram, then you might want to try a new pop-up bar that’s opening on Princes Street this summer. But be warned, you’ll have to book as this bar is awful wee. In fact, it’s only 1.978 square metres. There is literally not enough room to swing a cat, should cat-swinging be your thing. The people behind it, Cask 88, purveyors of rare whiskies, have dubbed it the ‘World’s Smallest Whisky Bar.’ It’s made from an old police box. Yes, a bit like the Tardis. Head of sales Carl Johnstone explained the idea behind it: “A single cask of whisky produces a very small run of around 200 to 500 bottles – it’s the very definition of small batch – but at Cask 88, we appreciate that small things can be perfectly formed, and unique in their own way. A visit to our bar will give you a great insight into who we are and the wonderful world of single cask whisky.” In order to take a journey through time, space and whisky, you’ll need to book a 10-minute slot with Eventbrite and in that time you’ll get to enjoy one dram of single cask whisky. Oh if you get peckish, don’t worry, your whisky will be served in an edible cup from Mr. Stroodles. They really have thought of everything.
Whiskey distillery to be built in former Belfast prison
A former Belfast prison is to be converted into a whiskey distillery. The Crum, as it was nicknamed, opened in 1846 and operated as a prison for 150 years. The last inmates left in 1996 and the building is now a tourist attraction, but The Belfast Distillery Company intends to transform the A-Wing section of the listed Victorian into the J&J McConnell’s distillery. The brand produces McConnell’s Irish Whisky, which has only been on the market for two years after it was revived by a group of American investors but traces its Belfast roots back to 1776. The £22.3m investment is going to create a working distillery with accompanying visitors’ centre, which hopes to host up to 100,000 visitors each year, as well as a bar and shop. The hope is the process will also lead to 49 new jobs. The first batch of whiskey made at the Crum won’t be seen until at least 2026 as things stand, but that’s not too much of a wait. Certainly, the Crum has seen longer stretches…
Lyaness wins World’s Best Bar title
Ryan Chetiyawardana, Mr. Lyan himself, has done it again. Lynaess took home this year’s World’s Best Bar title, as well as the Best International Hotel Bar accolade, at this year’s Spirited Awards. The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) revealed the winners on 28 July at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, during the 20th Tales of the Cocktail festival. Lyaness, located in the Sea Containers hotel on London’s South Bank, previously received the World’s Best Bar gong in the 2017 awards when it was Dandelyan. London had a very good ceremony, with Tayēr + Elementary securing Best International Cocktail Bar, Sexy Fish nabbing Best International Restaurant Bar, and Remy Savage’s A Bar with Shapes for a Name winning the Best New International Cocktail Bar title. Savage, former head bartender at London hotel bar Artesian, also received the International Bartender of the Year award. “The Spirited Awards celebrates excellence in our industry and this year’s winners embody that standard so well,” said Charlotte Voisey, Spirited Awards’ overall chair. “After a difficult few years, it is truly inspiring to gather together once more and see what these recognitions really mean to everyone nominated.”
Respected wine author Clive Coates dies at 81
We were very sad to learn about the death this week of one of Britain’s most respected wine writers, Clive Coates MW. Coates was the author of many books including the essential The Wines of Burgundy, Claret and Côte d’Or which won the André Simon award, the Veuve Clicquot prize, a James Beard award, and the Prix des Arts et des Lettres from the Confrérie du Tastevin. Coates was born in England in 1941. He had stints working at the Wine Society where he passed the fiendishly difficult exams to become a Master of Wine in 1971, British Transport Hotels and later ran the Malmaison Wine Club. From 1984 to 2005, he published his own magazine, The Vine, as well as contributing to many other publications. He spent his later years living in Burgundy where he was a person of some importance; the French government appointed him Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole. He died in Lyons after a long illness.
And finally… Budweiser offers 150,000 free beers to fans celebrating the Women’s Euros
England’s Lionesses brought football home last Sunday by overcoming Germany 2-1 in the Women’s Euro 2022 final and to celebrate Budweiser is giving away 150,000 free beers. The official partner of the England Football squad has teamed up with Tesco to give fans a digital coupon that they can redeem against the price of a Budweiser 660ml bottle at participating stores. Not that there will be many left at this rate as coupons are being snapped up online, with up to three per second going on Sunday night after Chloe Kelly’s goal won the game. England’s squad themselves enjoyed a celebratory cold one after the Lionesses’ historic victory, and why not? It was the first international victory for England since the 1966 World Cup and the first ever major tournament win for the women’s team. An Instagram story featuring Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy showed the Euro trophy nestling in a crate of Heineken beers and ice with the caption ‘on ice’.