Regina Hall and Jameson have a fiendish idea of how to help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day while 170-year-old casks of whisky are salvaged from a shipwreck. Classic Nightcappers for the final edition. 

Well, all good things have to come to an end like the Beatles or Frasier, though the last three series of Frasier did drag somewhat. Anyway, the point is about great things ending and we’re sorry to announce that this is the final Nightcap ever. We’ve had five years of rounding up all the biggest, strangest and funniest stories from the world of booze. Who could forget the one about the radioactive gin? Or the cocktail called a jizzlord? And we’ll miss the incomprehensible press releases from Chivas. But it’s now time to say farewell and adieu and maybe even auf wiedersehen, because we’re putting the Nightcap to bed for the last time. The Master of Malt blog is changing to become more focused on tasting whiskies new and old. So there will be some sort of weekly or maybe fortnightly round-up but it won’t be called the Nightcap. Right, that’s it, let’s get on with the last ever Nightcap, just imagine The Last Post playing mournfully while the content team wipe away a whisky-scented tear when you’re reading the stories. 

But first, let’s take a look at what was on the blog. We kicked off the week with an amazing competition to win a trip to your favourite whisky region. Then just to remind you about those regions we took a closer look at Speyside and the Highlands, and we’ll be looking at Islay, Campbeltown and the Lowlands next week. Sticking with whisky, Henry took a look at the new Amarone cask Epicurean while Adam rounded up the whiskies you need to try in 2023. Meanwhile, James returned briefly with his favourite whisky bars in Edinburgh while Alex shook up the latest cocktail du jour, the Sushi Rice Negroni. And finally Ben put on his funkiest trousers to explain exactly what dunder is in Jamaican rum. 

Right, let’s get on with the Nightcap: 24 February edition. It’s the final Nightcap – dadada dun, dada da dun dun, da da duun, da da dun dun! 

The Noble-Rebel-whisky-trio

A noble trio indeed

Loch Lomond Group launches blended malt brand Noble Rebel

Watch out dowdy old blends, there’s a new brand in town. Called Noble Rebel, it’s just been released by the Loch Lomond Group, the people behind Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia. The press release promises that the brand “pushes boundaries in the pursuit of flavour creation, combining the nobility of single malt whisky with the rigour of craftsmanship.” We have no idea what that means but we have to say the whiskies, which have been put together by master blender Michael Henry, do sound tempting. They come in three varieties Orchard Outburst (all bourbon cask with some malt made with a chardonnay wine yeast) Smoke Symphony (finished in Rioja casks) and Hazelnut Harmony (finished in toasted American oak) – we think you can probably guess how each is meant to taste. The colourful packaging is particularly unusual without any of the usual visual cues you normally find in whisky. Best of all, these new blended malts all weigh in at 46% ABV with natural colour and no chill-filtering. And naturally, they will be arriving at Master of Malt shortly. We can’t wait to taste and tell you more about them. 

Bourbon salvaged from 170-year-old shipwreck

You’ve heard of sunken Scotch, but what about below-deck bourbon… or boatwreck bourbon… or err… you know what? Come back to us. The point is that a precious cargo of American whiskey that has been identified in the wreck of the Westmoreland. It was a ship that foundered in the frigid waters of northern Lake Michigan in 1854, sadly leading to loss of 17 lives. The contents of the ship’s hull were seemingly condemned to the deep, including 280 barrels worth of whiskey, until shipwreck diver Ross Richardson discovered the Westmoreland wreckage 200 feet below the surface of Platte Bay in 2010. The boozy content have since been salvaged and right now there’s no telling how well it has been preserved, or even how the spirit interacted with submerged wood for all that time. If we’re really lucky, there’s thousands of bottles here, maybe as much as 56,000. If they sell for the same price a single bottle of Scotch salvaged from the SS Politician fetched at auction in 2021, £12,925, then times that by 56,000 and you’ve got $871 million. That’s if the salvaged spirit goes up for sale, regional distilleries are clamouring for a piece to conduct scientific research. There’s a lot we can learn from mid-19th-century bourbon, after all. Permit faff might mean we have to wait years to see what becomes of this previously lost liquid. We’ve already waited 170 though, right? Well, not personally. We only actually found out about all this on Thursday. And we can’t wait anymore. Tell us about the boatwreck bourbon already!

The planned Castletown Mill distillery

Here’s what Castletown Mill is projected to look like

Castletown Mill Distillery approved

The historic Castletown Mill in Caithness will become a new Scotch whisky distillery. News broke this week that Organic Architects and Dunnet Bay Distillers have had a building warrant to convert the site, one King Charles personally expressed a desire to be saved, approved. The work will begin in April this year and the plan is for it to become a tourist attraction as well as the home of Stannergill Whisky. “We want to see Castletown Mill flourish again not only as a whisky distillery but also as a visitor destination to be enjoyed. The former grain mill is prominent alongside the route of the North Coast 500, yet it has lain empty for decades. It has a heroic scale, it contains impressive large internal volumes which would never be built in a new distillery,” says Andrea Wise, founder & director at Organic Architects. She adds that local Caithness stone will be used, while Martin Murray from Dunnet Bay Distillers said that he is particularly pleased to show that historic buildings can be given a new life.

And finally… Jameson and Regina Hall help you skip work

St. Patrick’s Day is a day off in Ireland, but many other countries have to make do with limiting the festivities until they get home from work. Jameson has a solution… ish. Really it’s just a marketing campaign, but it features Regina Hall so we’re basically on board. The Irish whiskey giants are creating life-sized cardboard cutouts that you can set up at your workstation while you’re off doing, well whatever it is you do on Paddy’s Day. “We’ve all been there before — your boss forgot you took an SPTO [St. Patrick’s Day Time Off] and swings by to meet one-on-one. Or your finance department didn’t get your SPTO memo and requests your latest expense report while you’re out of the office,” says Johan Radojewski, Jameson’s vice president of marketing. “That’s why in the true spirit of Jameson, we are introducing the Jameson Desk Decoy: a comical, life-size version of yourself for the office, so the real you can take that planned SPTO and go celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.” Scary Movie actress Hall helpfully appears in a series of videos to demonstrate how her Jameson Desk Decoy helps her bail on the office.