Settle in for the latest edition of our weekly news round-up featuring Tanqueray’s Summer Garden, regrettably drier Antarctic research stations, and a crafty, vodka-loving festival-goer plus some big news from Johnnie Walker. It’s all in the Nightcap: 6 August edition.
Since we last went Nightcapping seven days have passed and that means a whole fresh batch is required. Luckily we’ve just upgraded our boozy news oven so we’ve got a particularly tasty set of stories for you to get your teeth stuck into this week. We find that a dram of something delicious makes for the perfect pairing too, so why not pour yourself something tasty and enjoy.
This week the MoM blog became home to TWO new competitions giving you the chance to bag some Japanese or American whiskey goodies courtesy of Suntory and Jack Daniel’s. Meanwhile, our guest contributors had a busy week as Lucy looked into the history of Campari, Millie caught up with some of the drinks industry’s most avid glassware collectors and Dr. Nick Morgan joined us for the first time to pen an explosive article on the murky relationship between the Scotch and Japanese whisky industries. Elsewhere, there was still time for Adam to enjoy some rule-breaking Cognac and for Henry to sample an intriguing gin flavoured with Tokaji grapes as well as the delightful Rebujito cocktail.
Now on with the Nightcap: 6 August edition!
Tickets on sale for Johnnie Walker Princes Street
It’s been a long time coming but finally, Johnnie Walker’s swanky new brand home on Edinburgh’s Princes Street is open. Well, nearly, the building will open to the public on 6 September, but tickets are already on sale now (go here for more information.) The building was meant to open last year in time for Johnnie Walker’s 200th anniversary. Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scotland brand homes, explained the reason for the delayed opening: “Over the past year we have faced unprecedented challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic but now we can finally start the countdown to the opening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street”. Spread over 71,500 sq feet of prime New Town real estate, the building features the 1820 bar with views across the city and the Label Studio which will offer live events. Meanwhile, you can learn the 200-year-old story of Johnnie Walker, from its beginnings in a grocer’s shop in Kilmarnock, to being the biggest whisky brand in the world! Smith elaborated: “Johnnie Walker Princes Street will offer something unlike any other visitor experience in Scotland. It will be a venue for everyone, whether that’s visitors to Scotland or local people in Edinburgh, Scotch whisky lovers, or those savouring Scotch whisky for the first time. We can’t wait for you to join us.” We’ll be reporting from the opening on 6 September, so watch this space for more Johnnie Walker news.
Diageo announces new Prima & Ultima whiskies
More news from Diageo as the whisky giant announces the arrival of a new batch of Prima & Ultima releases. This exclusive set of eight whiskies from various distilleries are sure to get enthusiasts excited. How exclusive? Well, there are two bottles from ‘ghost’ distilleries: a 1984 Convalmore, and 1980 peated Brora. Then there’s a Linkwood 1981 aged in a mixture of PX, Oloroso and new American Oak, an unusual experimental Singleton of Glendullan 1992 aged first in refill casks before maturation in two small ex-Madeira barriques for further fourteen years, plus a 1979 Talisker, 1992 Lagavulin, 1974 Auchroisk and 1995 Mortlach. If you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford a set, RRP is £23,500 for the collection. It was put together by master blender Maureen Robinson who commented: “This is a selection of very special single malts – some that have never before seen the light of day and others that are the fleeting and final examples of their kind. Each bottling shares a glimpse into the history of Scotch and one that I am honoured to have witnessed in person. I remember choosing to hold back the cask filled at Auchroisk knowing it would be special for the future and the anticipation and excitement of the maturation trials we undertook with Linkwood and The Singleton, now realised in these releases. Some of these casks I helped to lay down, and have taken great pleasure in tending to them since, so I chose them with rich memories in mind. Each has its own unique style, which you can now explore for yourself.” We’ll be tasting some of these whiskies shortly and will report back. Yeah, it’s a tough life.
Fife Arms launches whisky with Dave Broom & Adelphi
This May, The Fife Arms hotel in the Highland village of Braemar opened a new whisky bar called Bertie’s, inspired by the famous Royal bon viveur, King Edward VII, also known as ‘Bertie’. This is very exciting because Dave Broom helped curate the 365-strong-selection (one for each day of the year!) which will be arranged by flavour profiles such as Fragrant, Fruity, Rich & Smoky. But what’s even more exciting is that The Fife Arms has marked the opening by commissioning its own whisky! The Fife Arms Braemar Whisky was made in collaboration with Broom and Alex Bruce, managing director of independent bottler and distiller Adelphi. The Fife Arms celebrates Scottish history and culture, so the team set out to create a whisky reminiscent of the signature styles enjoyed in the era when the hotel first opened in 1856. That’s why they used sherry butts, the cask type most widely used during this time, and smoky whisky from Ardnamurchan Distillery to create a classic 19th century-style blend. The hotel’s house whisky will launch on 13th September and will be available to purchase from the hotel’s shop and its online shop, retailing at £95 a bottle. Plus, there’s more to come as later this year, as the hotel will launch a collection of single cask whiskies in partnership with Broom and Bruce.
Tanqueray Gin’s Summer Garden lands in London
Tanqueray Gin’s Summer Garden has just opened in Flat Iron Square, London, giving us a chance to visit Seville, France and India through the different Tanqueray gins and botanicals. In classic British style, it was wet and rainy when we attended, but we just renamed it the English Summer Garden and drank our cocktails under a bit of shelter – we’re all used to the weather by now. Thankfully the rain did clear up and we were able to sit on a fetching swing bench covered in orange flowers and orange trees, wander around the fountain flowing with actual Negroni, and try some delicious food. These included a chicken bao bun, pumpkin boa buns, and pink(!) pasta. But we were really there for the gin. You can treat yourself to a gin masterclass where you taste the Tanqueray range, including five cocktails and snack pairing. You can also get stuck into a magnificent gin tree, taking you all around the world through different Tanqueray & Tonics: Tanqueray Rangpur, Blackcurrant Royale, and Flor de Sevilla all feature, or you can build your own. There is even the chance to win weekly prizes if you can find the hidden QR codes dotted around the garden. We particularly enjoyed playing a spot of boules, which is the perfect way to spend your day while sipping on a cocktail. You can book a visit here – it’s running until 30 August.
Bowmore and Aston Martin’s new collaboration
You might remember back in 2019 Bowmore and luxury British car maker Aston Martin teamed up to create Black Bowmore DB5 1964 whisky which was presented in a bottle incorporating a genuine Aston Martin DB5 piston. This was followed by the first automotive offering, the DBX Bowmore. Now the duo is launching a new range, the Designed by Aston Martin collection. It has given three classic Bowmore whiskies a new look, inspired by some of Aston Martin’s rarest and most influential cars. The new-look limited-edition collection features Bowmore 10, 15, and 18 Years Old single malts which will be released annually exclusively in global travel retail outlets. The Bowmore 10 Years Old is paired with the Aston Martin factory Team Car, the LM10, which first raced at Le Mans in 1932; the 15 Years Old takes inspiration from the Aston Martin Atom, and the 18 Years Old celebrates the Aston Martin DB Mk III. “These limited-edition releases not only celebrate our partnership but also give some of our wonderful whiskies a whole new look which I know will excite Bowmore fans and collectors around the world,” says David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager. “By bringing together our skills and passions, we are inviting drinkers to explore our stunning and exclusive GTR collection whilst also showcasing how our shared commitment to heritage and craftsmanship can truly come to life.” Travelers can find the collection in Duty-Free stores from this month.
Forsyths opens Irish division
Forsyths has big news this week as the Moray copper still maker and fabrication firm has opened a division in Ireland. Meeting increasing demand from the distilling industry, the Rothes-based group is involved in a number of projects in the country, including the construction of a new distillery in which U2 rock star Bono is a shareholder. Richard Forsyth, managing director of the family-run business, said it had launched a facility north of Dublin, where a coppersmith and pipefitters are based. “Business has been very buoyant for us in Ireland,” he added. “The famous Bushmills Distillery has just been doubled in production and we are also building a distillery called Monasterevin”. Forsyths’ international operations have been in full flight recently, having just shipped a distillery to China not long ago, with Mr. Forsyth confirming activities in the Far East market were “continuing to flourish.” It’s a demonstration of how much the Irish whiskey industry continues to thrive and grow and it’s fantastic to hear that the category will be welcoming the copper works experts, who have been supplying the whiskey world with copper stills and distillation equipment since the mid-1850s.
Frazer Thompson leaves Chapel Down after 20 years
Big news in the world of wine as Frazer Thompson who has helmed England’s largest wine producer Chapel Down for two decades announced this week that he is retiring. He said: “Over the last twenty years we have started to change the way people think about English wines forever. There is still much to do, but there has never been a more exciting time for our young industry and our business in particular.” Thompson will be replaced by Andrew Carter who is currently MD of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire, which was acquired earlier this year by Diageo. Thompson was full of praise for Carter: “I know he will bring the energy, enthusiasm, experience and the skills to drive the business to even greater heights.” He has some big shoes to fill as it was under Thompson stewardship that Chapel Down became England’s largest wine producer and, according to chairman Martin Glenn: “helped put English wine on the map.” But it hasn’t all been glorious, the team never managed to make the Curious Beer and Cider work, and ended up selling off the brands and the Curious Brewery and Restaurant earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Kent-based company is currently conducting a crowdfunding campaign to raise £7 million. So far they have raised 90% of the total, £6.3m, from around 3,600 investors. So it’s an interesting time for Carter to take over.
Antarctic research stations alcohol allowance halved
For those living and working in remote Antarctic research locations, making homemade beer has been something of a tradition. A new policy change, however, means that the alcohol allowance has been slashed at Australia’s four stations as the dangerous conditions have prompted representatives in the region to strike a cautious note. The controversial new ruling bans homebrewing outright and halves the amount of alcohol that people living and working in the research stations are allowed to drink, citing the division’s inability to “safely manage consumption, hygiene standards and alcohol content” as the reason behind it. This amounts to a pretty measly sum of seven cans of beer, one and a half bottles of wine, or half a bottle of distilled spirits per person per week. “Antarctica is a unique environment, and very small mistakes can lead to very big consequences,” AAD division director Kim Ellis told American television channel ABC. She pretty bluntly added that, while it is perfectly possible to sit out in the yard and stargaze after having a drink in Australia, “If you do that in Antarctica – you’re drunk and you go stare at the stars – we will find your body in the morning.” Regardless, it’s going to be an unpopular decision, particularly given Italy’s neighbouring station offers beer, wine, and spirits alongside food items.
Digging up a bottle of Tito’s vodka that was buried three weeks ago. #Lolla
(Names and video credit are being withheld by request.) pic.twitter.com/JsqZD1GxVA
— Vashon Jordan Jr. (@vashon_photo) July 31, 2021
And finally… Man digs up hidden bottle of vodka at festival
A Lollapalooza festival-goer is being hailed as the star act of the weekend. Why? Because he went through the effort of burying a bottle of vodka in the field weeks before the event and then digging it up once inside the festival. The video of him demonstrating his creative side went viral, understandably. There is something truly wonderful about somebody rallying so hard against paying marked-up prices that they went through the trouble of burying a bottle of Tito’s Vodka and digging it up a reported three weeks later. One tweet showing the man in action has currently racked up over 22k likes, commenting “Guy buried a bottle of vodka at Grant Park a week before Lollapalooza and dug it up when he got inside…..gotta give it up to the man it’s a straight up pro move”. It’s a straight-up pro move, indeed. Although, we do like to think we can put booze in your hands at least slightly more efficiently than this.