Valentine’s poetry, Valentine’s dogs, BrewDogs, and more all await you in this week’s edition of The Nightcap. Pour yourself a dram, and get stuck in.

The Nightcap is back once again, like a character in a famous film franchise about quickness and frenzied anger that people just can’t let go of. We’re not making reference to any one film in particular. Nope. Don’t know what you’re insinuating. If we were talking about something specific, we’d say it kind of messes with one of the moments with the most emotional weight to it in that film franchise, but also… You know what, this isn’t the time or the place. But this is the time and the place to find out all about the booze news from the week – it’s The Nightcap!

Before we got to Nightcapping this week we made a sad but important announcement: two delightful Nikka whiskies will be discontinued. Which is heartbreaking, but at least you can console yourself with the February edition of the Dram Club. Meanwhile, Adam enjoyed some delightful agave-based spirits with El Destilado and suggested some suitable spirits to spoil your significant other with on Valentine’s Day as Annie explored her artistic side with BenRiach and the intriguing process of making mezcal with meat. Elsewhere, Henry witnessed the innovation behind some sublime cask-aged gin and blended French brandy before he kept things sophisticated with our Cocktail of the Week with the best-dressed serve in town.

All that boozy goodness, and there’s still more to come. So, what are you waiting for? The Nightcap is here!

The Nightcap

Moonshine. Who knew?

Ole Smoky Distilleries named most visited distillery in the world

If you had to guess, would you have honestly said that the most visited distillery in the world in 2019 was a moonshine distillery? Well, it is, according to on-premise traffic figures which revealed this week that the four Ole Smoky Distilleries, who make the No. 1 selling moonshine brand in the world, welcomed 4.5 million visitors in 2019. That’s not a typo. It was 4.5 million people. In a year. To put that into context, the location of Ole Smoky, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, has an estimated population of 4,144. The figures show that people flocked en mass to the company’s four properties in Tennessee, with The Holler in Gatlinburg hosting 2.1 million alone, while The Barrelhouse and The Barn in Pigeon Forge accommodated 1.1 million each and 6th & Peabody in Nashville, which only opened last autumn, welcomed over 200,000 visitors. You might think that adding up the four distilleries is cheating, but let’s give credit where it’s due. Across those four sites, Ole Smoky welcomed more than twice as many guests as all of Scotland’s distilleries combined. Seriously. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), Scotland’s 68 whiskey distilleries saw 2 million visitors in 2018, while the Jack Daniel’s website claims to welcome about 280,000 people to its Lynchburg distillery. That means The Holler alone was visited more than every single Scotch whisky distillery combined. Every single one. Combined. Tell me I’m not the only one freaking out at this story? “2019 was a growth year for our brand and our distilleries. We continue to introduce innovative and appetising new products and opened an impressive 30,000 square-foot entertainment complex and distillery in the heart of Music City, Nashville,” said Robert Hall, CEO of Ole Smoky Distillery LLC. “Now with four locations, we provided memorable ‘see it made’ distillery experiences to 4.5 million visitors last year. From the quality and variety of our moonshine and whiskey products to our attractive merchandise and live music, distillery tastings and tours, our visitors experience the full spectrum of our Ole Smoky brand”. You can buy Ole Smoky moonshine here if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

The Nightcap

It’s safe to say this bottle was quite the bargain (photo courtesy of Whisky.Auction)

Man sells £11 bottle of Macallan for £2700

When Michael Amphlett bought a bottle of Macallan single-malt whisky for £11 back in 1978 in Fort William, Scotland, he presumably had no idea what a bargain it would prove to be. But Amphlett was no collector, the bottle was bought as a present for his dad. Amphlett confesses that back then he didn’t know much about whisky, but bought a bottle of Macallan following the shopkeeper’s advice and the 1937 year date on the neck label, which caught his attention as this was the year his father came to work in the Bolton Bros glove factory in Didcot as a 19-year-old. Mr Amphlett’s father was suitably pleased with the gift, but he decided not to drink the whisky until 1987 when it would have been 50 years old. Unfortunately, he would pass away from prostate cancer in 1991 having never had the chance to open the bottle and drink the contents with his son. The bottle was then tucked away in a cupboard in the family home, where it remained until Amphlett’s mother died in 2016. Amphlett, by now a whisky fan, was understandably staggered upon rediscovering the bottle and realising that it was a Macallan from 1937. Unable to bring himself to drink the whisky without his father, Amphlett’s set up his first-ever auction on Whisky.Auction with a reserve of £1,750, which was raised on January 12. By the 18th the bid had climbed to £2,100, then on the 21st the winning bid of £2,700 was placed. The bottle of Macallan was 82-years-old and had been owned by Mr Amphlett for 42 years.  “I had no idea that whiskies of that type could be so expensive. I just happened to be the right age at the right time,” Amphlett said. “I have to say I was both surprised and very pleased, but tinged with a little sadness that my dad didn’t get to taste it with me. But, if he was still here, I do believe he would have had a wry smile on his face.”

The Nightcap

Dry January appears to making its mark

UK adults cut down drinking in January; underage drinking drops 52%

A recent YouGov poll has shown that 27% of UK consumers reduced or abstained from drinking alcohol during January. The findings, conducted on behalf of independent alcohol charity Drinkaware, also showed that 72% of those who said they consumed less or stopped drinking last month plan to continue in the long-term, with 12% saying they plan to stop drinking completely in the long-term. It would appear Dry January is making its mark. “It’s incredible to see that such a large proportion of people who committed to reducing their drinking – or stopping completely – are planning to do so long-term,” Drinkaware’s chief executive Elaine Hindal said. “Reducing how much you drink can absolutely be a resolution that lasts beyond January, so it’s great to see so many people committing to that.” Meanwhile, a report from Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) found that weekly alcohol consumption among 13- to 16-year-olds in the UK more than halved between 2015 and 2019. The report from CAPs, which aims to reduce alcohol harm caused by underage drinkers, also uncovered a 40% reduction in youth alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, a 90% reduction in the number of residents reporting seeing under 18s drinking in the local area, a 77% reduction in young people hanging around shops and asking adults to buy alcohol for them and observed an 80% improvement in compliance with Challenge 25 initiatives. Derek Lewis, chair of CAP, said: “Underage drinking is associated with school and educational problems, unprotected sex, consumption of illicit drugs, violence and drinking problems in later life. We have been greatly encouraged to see emerging evidence that CAPs are reducing alcohol consumption by underage children.”

The Nightcap

The campaign features five-time Major golf champion Phil Mickelson

Amstel Light launches campaign for male friendships

In 2019, Men’s Health said one-third of men regularly felt lonely. And according to the Campaign Against Living Miserably charity, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Male friendships – which could literally make the difference between life and death – can be tricky indeed. And now Amstel Light has teamed up with five-time Major Golf Champion Phil Mickelson to shine a light on just that. By taking a humorous spin, the initiative intends to encourage men to forge new friendships in adulthood. At the centre is a video called In the Rough, and people will be able to engage with Mickelson on social and at events. “I am really excited about this partnership and to launch this new campaign as we work together to help adult men create new, long-lasting friendships around our shared love of Amstel Light,” he said. Check out the #FriendswithPhil hashtag on social for more – and if you’re struggling with loneliness, speak out. Campaign Against Living Miserably is just one resource of many. You don’t have to be alone.

The Nightcap

I don’t even have to read this story to know that I’m in. Whatever Coors is doing, it’s a yes.

Coors Light embarks on dog adoption drive this Valentine’s Day

Got the romantic plans ready for 14 February? If so, there’s a good chance you’re not a millennial. According to beer brand Coors Light, 58% of drinking-age millennials reckon Valentine’s Day is overrated. Seen as the pinnacle of ‘Cuffing Season’ (y’know, when you just want to be snuggled up indoors over the winter months), V Day just isn’t for everyone. So Coors Light is encouraging people to adopt a dog instead! It has committed to paying the adoption fees for 1,000 rescue pooches finding their forever home, from 4 February to 11:59 on 21 February. “Cuffing Season is a major cultural trend and poses tension for our younger drinkers, as they navigate the stress of finding someone to spend the cold months with,” said Chelsea Parker, marketing manager at Molson Coors. “With almost half of millennials planning to stay in on Valentine’s Day, we wanted to help empower people to savour the day with Coors Light and a dog by their side.” Of legal drinking age and want in?  Just text Coors Light a snap of you and your new furry BFF! All the T&Cs are here. And remember: a dog is for life, not just for Valentine’s Day (and is most likely an all-round better companion, too).

The Nightcap

Craigellachie took the stage in the first of Milroy’s new monthly Comedy Nights series

Milroy’s of Spitalfields launches Comedy Nights

It turns out that front row seats at stand up comedy gigs are something of a firing line, something at least one of us at MoM Towers discovered this week. So, it was somewhat blindly that we were led to a table at the very front of Milroy’s of Spitalfields on Wednesday evening to enjoy its new monthly Comedy Nights series, held on the first Wednesday of every month. Each month at its new East London site, Milroy’s will partner with a different distillery for the event, and we were lucky enough to pop in on the evening the Craigellachie took the stage! It was great to see that it was packed, though out of everyone in the bar we were in the direct eye line of each comedian, which made for some cracking jokes at our expense. Tickets cost £35, and with that you get the show (obviously) as well as three drams, and three highballs made with those same drams in between each set. We tasted Craigellachie 13 Year Old, served in a highball with biscuit distillate, Craigellachie 17 Year Old paired with strawberry honey in its highball, and finished off with Craigellachie 23 Year Old. The comedy was awesome as well, hosted by Russel Hicks, with sets from Barry Ferns, Kae Kurd and Jeff Innocent. If you missed this one, then 4 March awaits you with an all-female line up for International Women’s Day, with wonderful spirits from Aberfeldy to accompany. A belly full of laughs and whisky on a Wednesday night is a good time that we can’t argue with. We’d totally recommend the front row, though it’s not for the faint-hearted…

The Nightcap

BrewDog is swapping swear words for sustainability

BrewDog grows up with sustainability initiative and new look

Diffident Aberdeen brewer BrewDog has announced a new marketing campaign and visual identity. Rather than the laddy sweariness of old, the focus is on sustainability. Not very punk rock, one might think. It seems, however, that the company is going further than other drinks companies in its environment drive with six concrete plans for how to achieve this (see here for the full information). These include equity in the company in return for 50 empty beer cans, turning imperfect beer into vodka, and a ‘Tomorrow Fund’ in which the company will invest £1 million per year into making the brewing industry more environmentally friendly. James Watt, BrewDog Co-Founder, commented: “It’s been a crazy journey so far. We’ve made it here by shaking up brewing and crafting a community-owned business that is 100% powered by people. This marks a new dawn, welcome to the new BrewDog.” The company has been meteoric, going from a small Scottish craft brewer in 2007 to owning 101 bars, exporting to 60 countries and a new brewery in Ohio that opened in 2017. It sounds like Brewdog is growing up.

The Nightcap

The one with the bespoke cocktails

The one with Palentine’s at All Star Lanes

How well do you think you know Friends? Have you seen every episode? How about ‘The One with the Palentine’s’? Oh sorry, that’s not a real episode, that’s what All Star Lanes is doing this Valentine’s Day! Except it’s Palentine’s Day, with your pals. The bowling alley has even curated a special Friends-themed cocktail menu for the six main pals, so you can pick out your character in drink form (the one you actually are, not the one you want to be, because let’s face it that’s always Rachel). We particularly love that Ross has been designated an Old Fashioned, while Joey is Sex on the Beach, and Phoebe’s cocktail is dubbed Princess Consuela Bananahammock. Let’s just thank the cocktail gods that Mike Hannigan’s alter ego didn’t get a dedicated serve… You’ll find the menu running from 7 until 16 February, though you can really get into the spirit on 13 February, when All Star Brick Lane and Manchester will be putting on a pub quiz all about the cult TV show. Could we be more excited?

The Nightcap

Some neat Bacardi info-graphics, because everyone loves an info-graphic

Bacardi goes ‘Back to the Bar’ to find out what we’ll be drinking

Every year the 7,000 employees of Bacardi, the family-owned drinks behemoth, take part in an initiative called ‘Back to the Bar.’ This is where everyone from Jimmy in the post room to El Queso Grande in the corner office on the 89th floor spends some time working in a bar so that the company stays in touch with the people who are really selling its products, bartenders. “In an era where people are flooded with data, there is no substitute for putting feet on the street and seeing first-hand what’s happening at the bar,” commented Jacob Briars, global advocacy director. “When something excites the bartenders, we know that it is a matter of time before we start to see a shift in the mindset and behaviour of our guests.” From intelligence gathered at last year’s event (alongside some third party research), the company has just produced a report highlighting what the UK market will be drinking in 2020. And that is . . . Moon Juice! Not really, the answers are more humdrum. The usual suspects are there: low-alcohol drinks, the market for these is predicted to grow by 81%; dark rum, 2020 is the year where rum premiumisation finally happens according to 43% of bartenders; sustainability (natch). So nothing too surprising but interesting nonetheless. This year’s ‘Back to the Bar’ has just happened, so we await the 2021 report with interest. Perhaps it will finally be Moon Juice’s moment to shine. 

And finally… Kraken Rum and John Cooper Clarke team up for poetry competition 

We know from our recent Burns Night poetry competition that there are some budding bards among our customers so this one is for you. . . .  This Valentine’s Day, top Manchester punk poet John Cooper Clarke (if you don’t know who he is check out this clip of one of his poems being used on The Sopranos) will be judging a poetry contest in conjunction with Kraken Rum. He’s even written a poem to get you in the mood. To be in with a chance, submit your love-inspired poem on the website. Poems judged to be of sufficient standard will win special limited edition black bottles of Kraken Rum delivered by a scary-looking black battery-powered milk float. Not only scary but also eco-friendly (though it only operates in London and Glasgow). The great man himself commented: “The mighty pen, like the mighty Kraken, can have a huge impact on the heart. You can find love anywhere, from the depths of the sea to the person sat beside you on your commute to work. If you can’t pluck up the courage to tell them how you feel in person or on one of the other 364 days of the year, then grab a pen, think of a line or two, and send it to us. It could change your life – just don’t blame me if it doesn’t work out…” Deadline is Wednesday 12th February with winners receiving their bottles on Valentine’s Day itself. So what are you waiting for?