Singleton whisky gets a new home, Diageo acquires an AI flavour platform, and Blue Moon gives away free beer in exchange for juicy confessions. It’s The Nightcap!
So, it’s Friday. How’s your week been? Here in the UK, we don’t really have a Prime Minister anymore, so that’s fun. Of course, when you are the Keeper of The Nightcap, resignation is not an option. This is a position for life, we are bound to present a weekly update of boozy happenings with our souls. It’s a bit like being a Freemason, only we have a much better drinks collection and basically no commitments other than writing this. Anyway, we digress. Let’s get on with it.
On the blog this week we excitedly welcomed Filey Bay’s latest Yorkshire single malt finished in peated whisky casks, celebrated the end of tyrannical tariffs, and picked our favourite spots to indulge in whisky in the capital. Class was also in session as we got an education in Armagnac, the Whisky Barons, and David Lloyd George, before turning our attention to rum, taking a booze cruise around the world, whipping up a punch, and offering you a chance to win a load of goodies from Jamaican brand Langs Rum.
But there’s more to come. Here’s The Nightcap: 8 July edition!
Singleton opens visitor centre and celebrates with new whisky
Singleton whisky has a new brand home. Part of Diageo’s £185 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism, the visitor centre has opened at Glen Ord Distillery, which is one the three main brand that supplies The Singleton single malt, with Dufftown and Glendullan. It expects to attract thousands of tourists to the North Coast 500 route, the website for which already had one million visitors last year, to take part in a 90-minute distillery tour to learn about the production process behind The Singleton whiskies. There is also a bar, social and tasting spaces, serving whisky, cocktails and more, with ‘drivers packs’ for designated drivers to take samples away to enjoy later. A deli counter will offer a selection of sharing platters, and desserts will also be available from the local Bad Girl Bakery, while the retail section will sell a number of distillery-exclusive items. Diageo is marking the occasion with a celebratory single malt, The Singleton of Glen Ord Celebratory Bottling, which is available exclusively at the distillery. Taking inspiration from the sweet fruity aromas that fill the still house and the warmth that engulfs it in winter, the profile is full of dried fruits, crystalised orange peel, and vanilla fudge. The launch of The Singleton comes ahead of further openings planned for this summer, including Talisker Distillery and Caol Ila. Exciting times!
Whistlepig launches new creation: PiggyBack
Independence day was this week (4 July) and WhistlePig decided to celebrate by unveiling a new whiskey. It’s a fun, affordable, and bartender-friendly bottling called PiggyBack. It was something of a passion project for the distillery’s late master distiller, Dave Pickerell, who was aware of how important bartenders were to building the brand and wanted to give them a rye whiskey to play with as something of a thank you. The playful name gives you a good idea of the theme of this release, as does the pig on the bottle, who is not wearing a traditional top hat, but a Stetson, which was Pickerell’s trademark. PiggyBack was made with a 100% rye mashbill and was aged for six years before bottled at 48.28% (which is 96.65 proof, a nod to Pickerell’s birthday, but also a pain for customs), and will make all the classics like a great Manhattan or Sazerac. At the launch event this week at TT Liquor, however, we made a Paper Plane because it’s easy and different and Italian and fun to say. We combined 25ml PiggyBack, 25ml Amaro, 25ml fresh lemon juice, and 25ml Galliano (up the whiskey portion to 45ml in my opinion if you’re making one yourself), to make something that’s originally a bourbon cocktail, but as the brand ambassadors pointed out, rye cocktails have been co-opted by bourbon so it’s only right Whistlepig steals back some turf of its own. The idea was good, we got to see how easy it was to mix PiggyBack and appreciate the flavours in different contexts, but you can easily sip this neat too. It’s easy-drinking, full-bodied, and unashamedly rye-forward in that way that WhistlePig does best. It also has an age statement and isn’t actually young for rye, so the brand hasn’t skimped here. I’d highly recommend you plump for it.
Havana Club maestros apply to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list
Exciting news from the Cuban rum world this week – the Havana Club maestros made their way over to Paris to submit an application to UNESCO to recognise their work on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list! Cuba only has a dozen maestros, four of whom are dedicated exclusively to Havana Club – the largest team in Cuba – and three of whom (Juan Carlos Gonzales, Asbel Morales, and Salomé Alemán) were in Paris on Tuesday to put their case forward. Intangible cultural heritage goes beyond physical objects, and incorporates traditions and expressions inherited from ancestors, and expected to be passed on to future generations. The historic leader of the maestros and creator of Havana Club 7 Don José Navarro previously stated that Cuban rum is “a cultural heritage, transmitted from maestro to maestro, from heart to heart, from Cuban to Cuban.” But, if approved by UNESCO, it’ll be official, and further ensure that the knowledge and craft survive from generation to generation. It takes at least 15 years of training to become a maestro, and unlike in much of whisky making, which is separated between master distillers, blenders, and bottlers, the Cuban rum maestros oversee the entire process. Having spoken with the maestros ourselves, their passion and skill are clear, and we eagerly await the results of the application – as we’re sure they will be too!
House of Angostura unveils rare rum worth £2,500
Rare and exciting rum to tell you about now, right from The House of Angostura. The Trinidad and Tobago company unveiled Angostura Zenith this week, a limited-edition bottling worth £2,500. Joining the Private Cask Collection, the rum is a blend of Angostura and Caroni aged rums ranging from 20 years old to 23 years old, with the last of Caroni’s treasured molasses featuring, before it was aged in charred American oak casks. Established in 1923 on the site of the old Caroni sugar factory, the now-defunct Caroni Distillery produced rum that has now become some of the most highly sought-after in the world, notable for a distinctive heavy profile that’s rich, earthy and smoky, That means this one will be a collector’s must-have, especially as Zenith is limited to 195 bottles.
Diageo acquires AI flavour platform
Well, you heard it first here. Last month Ian Buxton reported on how the drinks industry was moving into AI and the next thing we hear is that Diageo has acquired Vivanda. This is the company behind the Journey of Flavour experience at Johnnie Walker Princes Street as well as the ‘What’s your Whisky’ platform currently used by Diageo. The plan is to use Vivanda’s FlavorPrint (sic) technology throughout the business. It works by mapping customers’ tastes based on their answers to questions, all the better to sell them stuff. Fiendishly clever. Cristina Diezhandino, chief marketing officer at Diageo, explained: “We know consumers are looking for more personalised, interactive experiences and that they are increasingly engaging with our brands digitally as well as in person. We’re delighted to welcome Vivanda to Diageo and we are looking forward to working together to connect with consumers in more innovative ways that help shape the future of how we socialise in person and virtually.” While Oli Fuchs, co-founder and CEO, Vivanda, added: “We are very excited to join Diageo. Vivanda set out to create innovative technology which connects consumers with products through sensory insight. We are proud of the excellent engagement we have received from consumers and are looking forward to connecting millions more people with their new favourite beverage and creating the digital standard for taste.” Also, ker-ching!
Cocktails in the City is back this summer
Do you like cocktails? Do you live in or plan to visit London this summer? If so, then you’ll love Cocktails in the City, which is back in Bedford Square Gardens in Bloomsbury. Now in its tenth year, it looks better than ever. The first outing runs from 7-9 July, that’s yesterday, today and tomorrow, and features pop-ups from such legendary London bars as Callooh Callay, Bourne & Hollingsworth, Coupette, Homeboy, and many many more. There will also be brands such as Vivir Tequila, Engine Gin, and Nc’Nean whisky. It’s a bit like going on the ultimate London bar crawl but without having to move very far. You could literally crawl, but you’d get dirty and people would point. And for when you get hungry, there will be delicious Mexican food courtesy of Cafe Pacifico, Italian food from Officina 00, and bento boxes from Sticks N Sushi. There’s an afternoon session from 12-4pm and a nighttime one from 5-10pm. Don’t worry if this is too short notice as there will be further events on 11-13 August and 8-10 September. Tickets cost £20 per person. Go here to find out more.
And finally… Blue Moon gives away free beer for juiciest confessions
What would you trade for your most terrible secret? Blue Moon reckons its Moon Haze beer is so juicy that it inspires drinkers to “embrace and share their juicy moments in life”. If that doesn’t work, the brewer thinks it can get you to offer up your most embarrassing moments in exchange for free beer for a year. “Be warned, Moon Haze isn’t just looking for everyday boring confessions – we expect you to be as juicy as we are,” Blue Moon warns. So, think you have what it takes? Then firstly, we’re very sorry for whatever happened to you. Secondly, you can enter here.