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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Ardbeg

New Arrival of the Week: Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (COIWC)

Today we’re welcoming a series of exciting bottlings at MoM from that mecca for whisky lovers, the Jewel of the Hebrides itself, Islay, including releases from Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Octomore…

Today we’re welcoming a series of exciting bottlings at MoM from that mecca for whisky lovers, the Jewel of the Hebrides itself, Islay, including releases from Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Octomore and, rarest of all, Port Ellen. The collection is called The Stories of Wind and Wave and it’s brought to you from the aptly-named Character of Islay Whisky Company.

It can be quite an adventure getting to Islay. Many times Master of Malt team members have tried to reach the island only to be thwarted by adverse weather conditions. And should you be lucky enough to have your flight from Glasgow cleared for take off, the wind-blown descent into the island’s airport on the tiny propeller plane can be terrifying for the uninitiated. Or there’s the joy of a two hour crossing on a CalMac ferry through rough seas. The fun doesn’t stop when you arrive down either, on a visit last year to visit Islay’s newest distillery, Ardnahoe, the air was thick with the scent of burnt heather. A combination of high winds, dry weather, and, probably, a stray cigarette end had set much of the south of the island on fire. The air smelt just like Islay whisky. 

For whisky lovers, this very inaccessibility is part of the magic of the island. You have to really want to visit. And the lure is, of course, the extraordinary concentration of distilleries all with their own unique character and the way the whiskies taste of their location, salt, peat smoke and seaweed. There are other peated whiskies from Scotland, but it’s the ones from Islay that get all the attention. 

Laphroaig John Campbell

Laphroaig on a rare sunny day

Those names, Ardbeg, Bowmore, and Laproaig, are music to whisky enthusiasts. And aiming to bottle some of that music, if such a thing were even possible, is a batch of rare malts that has just landed at MoM towers. It’s from our friends at the Character of Islay Whisky Company which previously released whiskies from anonymous distilleries on the island, but for this batch has revealed where they came from. Which is nice of them. The series is called the Stories of Wind and the Wave and includes bottlings from Bowmore, Laproaig and Ardbeg (see below). Plus still to come some Octomore and something tres fancy from Port Ellen.

The one we’re highlighting today is from Laphroaig, the most medicinal of all the Islay whiskies. It gets its distinctive character from only using Islay peat. The distillery has a traditional floor maltings and makes about 25% of its requirements using local Machrie moss peat which cold smokes the barley. The rest of the malt comes from the nearby Port Ellen maltings. Islay peat is largely made from seaweed which is where that love-it-or-hate-it salty iodine flavour comes from. The reason it tastes of the sea is because it comes from the sea, albeit a long time ago. This smokiness is accentuated by taking a late cut, so you get more of that peat smoke. 

The classic expression for lovers of medicinal malts is the 10 year old. But the longer you keep Laphroaig, the less smoky it becomes and the more tropical fruits start to appear. Release No.11693 was distilled in 2004 and aged for 15 years in a refill bourbon cask so you’re not getting that much wood influence. It’s bottled at 50.2% ABV. All that smoky character is still there but it’s been joined by stone fruit and quince (see below for full tastings notes). It’s a great dram to launch a series of rare and unusual whiskies that Islay fans will not want to miss. They’re the next best thing to a visit to the island itself.

Here is the full range of Stories of Wind and Wave whiskies currently available from Master of Malt:

Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11694)

Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11693)

Bowmore 18 Year Old 2001 (Release No.11715)

Bowmore 18 Year Old 2001 (Release No.11714) 

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11698) 

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11699)

Bowmore 16 Year Old 2003 (Release No.11697)

Ardbeg 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11673)

Tasting note for the Laphroaig 15 Year Old 2004 (Release No.11693) from The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Waxy peels, peppermint leaf and smoky black tea with a touch of baked earth to it.

Palate: Sweet smoke with savoury hints of salted butter and cedar underneath, plus stone fruit developing later on.

Finish: Polished oak, a touch of ash and continuing fruity elements.

 

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The Nightcap: 4 September

There’s a whole smorgasbord of big Scotch whisky news in this week’s Nightcap, as well as reports on new celebrity booze and Whisky Tea. Yes, really! Intrigued? Then read on……

There’s a whole smorgasbord of big Scotch whisky news in this week’s Nightcap, as well as reports on new celebrity booze and Whisky Tea. Yes, really! Intrigued? Then read on…

We hope you all enjoyed your Bank Holiday weekend. Whether you set off on an adventure, popped down to your local or enjoyed some well-earned R&R indoors, we’re sure you made the most of the opportunity to take a breath and enjoy a break. Fortunately for us, the world of booze never seems to stop churning out new products, projects and passions for us all to get all geeky and gleeful about so The Nightcap this week isn’t any lighter even with a day off. Take a look and see for yourself.

The MoM blog this week was also as busy as ever, and almost turned green thanks to the number of stories we had on Irish whiskey. First Ian Buxton examined its growing pains, then Annie learned why the progress of Sliabh Liag Distillers is proving cause for excitement. Certified organic distilleries also caught Annie’s eye, as Henry gave us a lesson in fortified wines casks to mark the arrival of The Epicurean Rivesaltes Finish. Elsewhere, Adam enjoyed a gin-based delight and one of the finest prohibition-era cocktails in The Southside, before wishing That Boutique-y Whisky Company a happy birthday by announcing another terrific new MoM sale.

Arguably the biggest news of all, however, was our announcement of the launch of Pour & Sip, our all-new, kick-ass whisky subscription service. Check out the blog post for more details. We’re also issuing one last call for you to tune in to our virtual whisky extravaganza Scotch & Sofa, which is taking place tomorrow. Oh, and don’t forget, Drinks by the Dram’s incredible booze-filled Advent Calendars are available to pre-order now!

Right, on with the news!

The Nightcap

CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures’ didn’t mince his words for the Scottish government.

Chivas Bros. criticises Scottish government over COVID response

It was a difficult results time for Chivas Brothers, which we’ll get on to in a moment, but the most interesting thing from this week’s press conference was CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures’ strong words for the Scottish government. He talked about a “bumpy period in March/April when we were not so clear about the direction the Scottish government wanted us to take. We know that we were not seen as an essential business to the economy even though Scotch whisky is the second-largest export for Scotland.” Happily (for everyone, not least Master of Malt customers), Chivas Brothers managed to keep the whisky flowing. Coutures praised the workforce and the unions for their helpful attitudes, and now the company is “almost back to full operations”. He added: “I still believe that the Scottish government needs to back us up and they need to understand that keeping this category operating is absolutely critical not only to the Scottish government but as well to the people of Scotland.” Meanwhile, on to those results: total organic sales were down 11%, in large part due to the lack of travel retail, with Ballantine’s shrinking by 8% and Chivas declining 17%. But there are grounds for optimism, with The Glenlivet cementing its position as number one single malt in the US, up 16%, Royal Salute expanding in Taiwan and South Korea, and Chivas growing in 34 markets including Turkey, Russia and Germany. Overall, there was confidence that Pernod Ricard had weathered the COVID storm as well as could be expected. Coutures added: “Our business and brands have responded with agility and resilience in the face of unprecedented market conditions, in many instances outperforming the category. We remain confident in the strength of our portfolio and the Scotch category as a whole, especially in its ability to withstand and overcome external challenges.” Now, if only the Scottish government could be a little more helpful… 

Long-time master distiller Jeff Arnett is to step down from his role at Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s master distiller to step down

Big news from Tennessee this week. Jeff Arnett, the man at the production helm of Jack Daniel’s for a whopping 12 years, announced he was leaving his role. This is significant stuff for Jack Daniel’s, the world’s biggest selling American whiskey. Arnett oversaw milling, fermentation, distillation, charcoal filtration and maturation, so these are some pretty sizeable shoes to fill. Parent company Brown-Forman hasn’t said why he’s leaving, or given word of his replacement. But Jack Daniel’s senior vice president, Larry Combs, did say: “Jeff has worked tirelessly on behalf of the distillery and brought with him the creativity and the expertise that makes Jack Daniel’s the most valuable whiskey brand in the world.” Arnett said his time with the brand had been “an incredible chapter”, but didn’t say what he’d be up to next. We’re thoroughly intrigued by the proceedings, and wish Arnett all the best!

The Nightcap

Is there anything he can’t do?

Snoop Dogg announces his latest creation: INDOGGO Gin

Not content with being a hip-hop legend and all-round entertainment icon, Snoop Dogg has once again turned his attention to conquering the booze industry. The creator of the classic hip-hop anthem ‘Gin and Juice’ has founded his own gin brand: INDOGGO Gin. Following a partnership with Treasury Wine Estates to release a California red blend under the 19 Crimes brand called Snoop Cali Red earlier in the year, Snoop Dogg teamed up with his friend and spirits veteran, Keenan Towns of Trusted Spirits and spirits importer Prestige Beverage Group this time to release INDOGGO Gin. The expression, which is housed in a purple bottle features a white logo with upturned ‘G’s in a hat tip to the fruit-infused gin being a remix on the classic juniper-dominant style, was distilled five times and features seven botanicals, including orange, coriander and cassia and is infused with “all-natural strawberry flavour” with no added sugar. “I can’t wait for the world to taste my remix on gin! When I wrote Gin & Juice back in ’94 it was about good feelings and real experiences, it just naturally became an anthem,” Snoop Dogg said. “When creating Indoggo, I wanted to give those feelings new life with an approachable juicy gin that’s smooth like the D.O. Double G.” INDOGGO Gin will first launch in Snoop’s home state of California in late September before it’s released throughout the rest of US through 2021, so if you can’t get your hands on it you can at least pour yourself something delicious and sing those seminal words: “Rollin down the street, smokin’ indo, sippin’ on gin and juice/ Laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.”

The Nightcap

It’s rare to see Ardbeg of this age so it’s particularly exciting news!

The second batch of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is (nearly) here!

The second batch of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is here! Or nearly here, it will be arriving at MoM towers soon. We liked the first release so much that we travelled up to Edinburgh with a film crew to listen to Brendan McCarron wax lyrical about it, video link here. The series is named after the beaches of Traigh Bhan (pronounced tri-van) on Islay which are known locally as ‘the singing sands’ because the noise the tide makes on the sand. This latest batch was matured in American oak and oloroso sherry casks for 19 years and bottled at 46.2% ABV with an RRP of £199. There’s a higher proportion of first-fill bourbon casks in the blend alongside refills and sherry casks. Dr Bill Lumsden commented: “To me, this whisky is the epitome of an aged Ardbeg. It somehow manages to balance the complex with the classic. It’s a truly unique bottling and we hope Ardbeggians everywhere look forward to comparing notes with the previous batch. I know I did!” Not only is the whisky special but the packaging is innovative too: each Traigh Bhan whisky carries its own unique batch code, batch symbol and signature from one of the Ardbeg team; this year it’s Jackie Thomson, the visitor centre manager. She said: “the small quirks and originalities on the bottle itself make it highly collectable – something we know our Ardbeg fans love.” They certainly do. Watch the New Arrivals page of the MoM website. It should be with us soon. 

The Nightcap

We can’t wait for this book to come out in October

Johnnie Walker book is coming

Have you ever wanted to know more about the man behind the world’s best-selling whisky, Mr John Walker? No? Well, we do. And now our curiosity is about to be sated with the imminent arrival of a new book called Johnnie Walker: A Long Stride. Its author, historian and Diageo’s grandly-titled head of whisky outreach Dr Nick Morgan, has been labouring in the company’s extensive archives for a good few years, and we can’t wait to find out what he has uncovered. It’s not just the story of the man, but also the brand up to the present day. According to the press release: “By doing things their own way, Johnnie Walker overturned the conventions of late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, survived two world wars and flourished despite the Great Depression to become the first truly global whisky brand, revolutionising the world of advertising along the way.” And you thought they just made delicious whisky. We’re hoping to host Dr Nick on the blog sometime soon to tell us more. 

The Nightcap

We’re very jealous of whoever gets their hands on this 47-year-old single cask whisky

Gordon & MacPhail launches 47-year-old whisky to mark 125th anniversary

Gordon & MacPhail has announced that it will launch four rare bottlings of single malt Scotch whisky to commemorate the company’s 125-year history. The independent bottler and distiller has been doing its thing since 1895, releasing all kinds of delicious single malts from over 100 celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries. Each exceptionally rare whisky will come from casks from a closed distillery or made on Lomond stills that are no longer in production and will be released periodically during the rest of 2020. The first of which is the Gordon & MacPhail 1972 from Coleburn Distillery in Speyside, which is particularly fitting given the distillery is situated just four miles from the company’s Elgin home. The 47-Year-Old single cask whisky is said to be sweet, intense and complex with notes of butterscotch, apricot, cooked apples and mint, a profile it attained after spending its entire maturation in a refill sherry puncheon (cask 3511) before it was bottled at cask strength, 62.4% ABV. “The whiskies we have chosen to commemorate our 125th Anniversary are all truly unique and seldom seen in the market,” says Stephen Rankin, a fourth-generation member of Gordon & MacPhail’s owning family and the company’s director of prestige. “They are bottled from the last remaining casks we have from these distilleries, and marks an emotional moment for my family as they leave the Gordon & MacPhail warehouse after being left to mature by my grandfather many decades ago.”

The Nightcap

We’re delighted to see one of London’s finest bars return

Tayēr + Elementary opens its doors

Award-winning cocktail bar Tayēr + Elementary re-opened its doors following its closure during the lockdown period. Alex Kratena and Monica Berg will stagger the return in two phases, Tayēr will return in October and the venue’s front bar concept Elementary opening from at the beginning of this month from 3pm until midnight Tuesday and Wednesday, and 3pm-1am Thursday – Saturday. Its new outside terrace to help enable social distancing will make its debut and food from new chef partners Kitchen FM will be available, including the pig’s head croquette (mmmmm, pig’s head), served with kimchi and oyster mayo, deep fry chicken, with a smoked and spicy maple glaze and pickles and desserts such as the plum jam with ginger ice cream. Elementary’s drinks offering will feature the bar’s signature classics such as the One Sip Martini, Whey Sour and ēe Frozen Coffee alongside new highballs, beers, wines and seasonal cocktails. The Bottle Shop will be available for takeaway, serving all of the bar’s own ready-to-drink cocktails, which were launched by the team during lockdown, such as the Bergamot Margarita and Palo Santo Gimlet, as well as a selection of beers and wines to takeaway. 

The Nightcap

Congratulations Pierrick!

Lagavulin gets a new distillery manager

Big transfer news on Islay: Pierrick Guillaume is moving from Caol Ila to take up the role of distillery manager at Lagavulin. Frenchman Guillaume has been with Diageo for eight years with stints at Mortlach and Talisker before the move to Islay and Caol Ila in 2017. Having met and tasted with Guillaume we can vouch that not only is he a lovely chap but extremely knowledgeable. He commented: “It is a great honour to be asked to take on the role of Lagavulin distillery manager. Lagavulin is a whisky that is revered around the world and it’s a great privilege to be joining the outstanding team that makes this exceptional Scotch whisky and I can’t wait to get started.” Meanwhile, there are some big boots to fill at Caol Ila and stepping up is Samuel Hale who is currently the manager of Port Ellen Maltings. If you want to know more, why not tune into our Scotch and Sofa whisky festival tomorrow, 5 September? At 2pm both Guillaume and Hale will be taking a boat trip to Islay alongside Colin Dunn from Diageo and Henry Jeffreys from Master of Malt. 

The Nightcap

The Delevigne sisters are the latest celebs to embrace the world of booze

Celebrity booze continues with Pimm’s competition and Delevigne Prosecco

Celebrities and booze go together like caviar (the celebrity of the seafood world) and Champagne (the celebrity of the wine world). As such, we’ve got double trouble on the celebrity booze front for you this week. First up, we have the Delevigne sisters who have launched their own Prosecco! The sisters, Chloe, Poppy and Cara, called their creation Della Vite, which, although it sounds a lot like their last name, actually translates as ‘of the vine’. Having partnered with the Biasiotto family, two expressions are being launched this month, Della Vite Prosecco Superiore (DOCG) and Della Vite Prosecco Treviso (DOC). “Placing sustainability first and using agricultural methods that don’t rely heavily on the industry is at the core Della Vite’s values,” said Cara. “We spent four months looking for the perfect winery to align with our vision and are so proud to have created two exceptional Proseccos that are both sustainably produced and 100% certified vegan.” There’s no label, with the bottle sporting the brand signature created by Poppy Delevingne. Well, that’s one way of getting her autograph. From Prosecco to Pimm’s, the latter has launched a competition to try and make up for the strange summer Britain has had! Louise Redknapp is spearheading this one, giving the public the chance to win an afternoon with the Pimm’s O’Clock Truck! The winner will get to enjoy it at home for the day with a small gathering of friends and family (complying with COVID regulations, obviously). If you want to enter, snap a photo-sharing Pimm’s with your pals onto Instagram. Make sure you follow @Pimmsgb on Instagram, tag @Pimmsgb and use #TheOriginalTasteOfSummer. You have until 7 September to get your photos up, so get the pitcher out quick!

The Nightcap

Keep an eye out because this historic whisky is on its way to MoM Towers!

Isle of Raasay inaugural release sells out (yes, we will be getting some in)

If you were hoping to get your hands on a bottle of Isle of Raasay Distillery’s inaugural single malt, set to launch in November 2020, we have bad news. It’s already sold out. Before it’s even been bottled. Okay, let us explain. Out of its expected outturn of 7,500 bottles, the distillery set aside 4,350 bottles for an online pre-sale. Obviously these went like hotcakes, while the rest of the bottles have been snapped up by a selection of international markets, specialist retailers, restaurants and bars. It’s no wonder too, with the lightly peated whisky matured in first-fill American oak and set to be finished in 21 first fill Bordeaux red wine casks. “We are delighted to have sold out of our Isle of Raasay Single Malt Inaugural Release before it’s bottled in November,” said Isle of Raasay co-founder Alasdair Day. “This is the first legal whisky from an island rooted in centuries of illicit distilling, so it really is a piece of Scotch whisky history!” There is still hope for a bottle though! Make sure you keep an eye out on MoM new arrivals because we’ve got your back and will be stocking the historic whisky. Keep your other eye on its social channels (@RaasayDistillery), because we also heard that the distillery is launching a competition in October with the chance to win one of the prized bottles. 

The Nightcap

We recommend this tea made with whisky. It’s much nicer than it sounds.

And finally… WHISKY… TEA?

When we heard about Whisky Tea, we thought of the great Peter Kay and his cheesecake routine: “WHISKY…. TEA? Are my ears playing tricks on me?” Well, this is no joke, it’s the latest product from Edinburgh-based Pekotea. We were sent some samples and suitably impressed. These are quality teas, not a gimmick. One of the brains behind it, Jon Cooper, filled us in: “There are some close analogies between whisky and tea and we wanted to create something that would reflect this in tea blends. Just like the different regions of tea giving different flavours and aromas, we thought it would be great to make teas that reflected the main Scotch whisky regions. Each of the teas contains a different blend of base tea with added fruit and spices as well as the whisky and a little flavour oil to highlight the nose of each of the whiskies. We wanted to bring out the main aromas associated with each area.” For example, the Campbeltown expression is made from a blend of black tea with cacao nibs, currants and cornflower steeped in high strength whisky with essential oil and then dried. It tastes rich and fruity, the perfect after-dinner tea instead of coffee, or indeed a dram. 

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The Nightcap: 21 August

Ryan Reynolds, free rosé, a gin-based streaming service and a world-record breaking whisky. All on this week’s Nightcap.  It’s now raining and grey and miserable again at MoM Towers, which…

Ryan Reynolds, free rosé, a gin-based streaming service and a world-record breaking whisky. All on this week’s Nightcap. 

It’s now raining and grey and miserable again at MoM Towers, which means the quintessential British summer is officially back on. This is good news for those of us who loathe sun cream and sand and instead prefer large woolly jumpers, hot drinks and just generally being indoors. But there is one thing that unites the introverts and extroverts of this world and that’s a love of the weekend, which are especially good when they begin with another cracking edition of The Nightcap. Which is exactly what we have here, so read on!

This week on the blog we launched a new series called MoM Loves which featured NÜTRL’s shiny new range of vodka sodas. Lucy then threw a pisco disco, Henry enjoyed a Champagne that tells the story behind the wines and Annie spoke with Julieann Fernandez about all things Deanston. Before she grabbed five minutes with the Highland distillery’s master blender Annie concluded her series on Icelandic spirits, while Adam learnt all about the groundbreaking story behind a brotherly bourbon and then made himself a Blood and Sand. Because if you could make a Blood and Sand, why wouldn’t you? Oh, and the virtual whisky spectacular Scotch and Sofa is just a fortnight away so if you still need to pick up a tasting set do so now! Onwards to The Nightcap! 

Diageo buys Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin 

Diageo has had a busy week once again, this time adding Aviation Gin, the brand co-owned by Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds, to its already considerable portfolio. The drinks giant’s new acquisition of Aviation parent, Davos Brands is reportedly worth £466m (£271 million immediately and up to £210 million more in performance-based incentives over the next decade) and includes its other signature brands, Astral Tequila, Sombra Mezcal and TYKU Sake, which means a greater share of those fast-growing agave and sake markets. The owner of Johnnie Walker and Guinness loves splashing the cash on drinks companies associated with a handsome leading man it seems, after it also purchased the Tequila brand Casamigos, which was co-founded by George Clooney, for $1bn in 2017. While the value of the deal to the actor was not disclosed, we do know that Reynolds will stay onboard as a stakeholder and public face for the brand moving forward. Which makes sense. The guy is phenomenally good at marketing his own brand. Seriously. “A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit. What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring. Growing the brand with my company, Maximum Effort Marketing, has been among the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever been involved with,” said Reynolds. “I want to thank Diageo for their incredible team and passion. We’re so excited for the next chapter of Aviation Gin, which, I promise, will require just as little reading”. 

The Nightcap

The doc will explore the “alchemy of a brand and what it takes to create an icon”

Johnnie Walker releases limited edition bottles and news of a documentary

It’s been a big week for Johnnie Walker, that’s for sure! First came the announcement that the brand released not one, but three new snazzy limited edition bottlings. Now you can get rare, colourful bottles of the Red Label, Black Label and Gold Label Reserve whiskies, all in honour of its 200th anniversary. Gone are the transparent glass bottles of yore, these new designs are looking bold in block colours. “These limited edition bottles give a bold new look to our most iconic whiskies and perfectly celebrate Johnnie Walker’s depth of character as we celebrate this incredible 200-year milestone,” said brand ambassador Ali Reynolds. Well, it’ll certainly make for a colourful drinks cabinet, and you can grab the limited edition Black Label from MoM right now! The other snippet of news that came our way this week was that award-winning film director Anthony Wonke is making a film about Johnnie Walker! The Man Who Walked Around the World will be a feature documentary, exploring the success of Johnnie Walker over 200 years. “The story of Johnnie Walker is fascinating. It explores the alchemy of a brand and what it takes to create an icon,” said Wonke. “It has punch and depth – a brilliant history packed with intrigue and romanticism. Dig deeper and we find it has the potential to be so much more – a story about what makes us human, the things we can achieve and what keeps pushing us forward.” It’ll premiere later this year (the exact date is currently unknown), and we know what we’ll be drinking when we sit down to watch that! 

The Nightcap

The Champagne region has been faced with climate change, a global pandemic and economic uncertainty

Champagne announces earliest ever harvest

In an unprecedented move, the Champagne region began its earliest ever harvest on record this week. It’s a direct result of climate change as warmer temperatures have fuelled early ripening of the prized grapes. The Champagne industry has been aware of the battle it faces against global warming for some time and was the first wine-growing region to carry out a carbon footprint assessment and identify the main sources of emissions back in 2002. Already 24% of the area has environmental certification and by 2030 the aim is that number will be 100%. The region also plans to be herbicide free by 2025 and reduce its carbon footprint by 75% per bottle by 2050, having already reduced it over the last 15 years by 20%. “Unprecedented year calls for unprecedented measures. Faced with climate change, a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, the Champagne region, not immune but ever-ready has agreed on a yield reduction (8,000 kilos/hectare vs 10,200 last year), a degree of deferred bottling and grape payment, united by an unflinchingly long-term commitment to sustainability,” says Francoise Peretti, director of Champagne Bureau UK and spokesperson for the Champagne industry in the UK, “Pragmatism, resilience and optimism reign over the 2020 harvest which is showing the signs of being one of the most qualitative year, reminiscent of 1988, 1989, 1990, 2018 and 2019”.

The Nightcap

Congratulations to Colin Gordon!

Ardbeg welcomes new distillery manager Colin Gordon

You might remember a while back we reported that Mickey Heads, Ardbeg’s distillery manager, was planning to retire after 13 years at the helm leaving big boots (as well as casks) to fill at the Islay distillery. Now Ardbeg has announced his successor: the wonderful Colin Gordon! You’ll almost certainly know Gordon from his time as distillery manager at Lagavulin Distillery and the former Diageo man also worked as the site operations manager at the Port Ellen Maltings, which provides barley to eight of the 10 Islay distilleries. Heads, meanwhile, has agreed to continue in his role as Chair of the Ardbeg Committee, the worldwide army of Ardbeg fans. “Ardbeg is an iconic name in whisky with an immense reputation. I’m absolutely delighted to be joining an experienced team producing such an exceptional dram”, says Colin Gordon. “Ardbeg has built a reputation for producing amazing whiskies with Mickey Heads at the helm. He is a huge name in the industry and will be a very hard act to follow. It’s a privilege to be chosen to take over the reins from him. Islay has been our home for five years and to be given the honour of overseeing the running of Ardbeg is very special indeed. I will do my very best to protect and enhance the reputation of the distillery and ensure it keeps producing the world-class spirit of Ardbeg.”

The Nightcap

You’re looking at a record-breaker, folks

Nc’nean’s first whisky sets world record at £41,004

Nc’nean has broken a world record after the first bottle of its inaugural single malt whisky sold for £41,004 during an online auction. Bottle number one of the Highland distillery’s expression Ainnir, an unpeated no-age-statement whisky made from organic Scottish barley and matured a combination of five casks before it was bottled at natural cask strength (60.3% ABV), quadrupled the previous record and all 1,320 bottles of the inaugural whisky sold out within 36 hours. The first 10 bottles of Ainnir single malt were sold on Whisky Auctioneer in August to raise money for five charities and attracted more than 852 bids from 13 countries. In total, the auction raised more than £92,000 and all proceeds from the auction will be split between charities including Trees for Life, The Drinks Trust, The Ben, The Scottish Farm Land Trust and Morvern Community Trust. “We could not be happier with the success of this auction,” said Nc’nean founder Annabel Thomas. “I’m really proud that Nc’nean has been able to give something back to support charities and the hospitality industry that has been particularly hard hit recently.” Thomas also said to watch this space for the next chapter in the Nc’nean story and that the brand has some exciting announcements ahead…

The Nightcap

The £10 million fund will help the UK’s distilleries become more environmentally sustainable

£10m eco funding aims to turn Scotch whisky green

Drinks lovers will soon be able to enjoy a dram in the knowledge that they are helping to cut carbon emissions and support new green jobs. That’s because Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, announced the opening of a £10 million fund to be used to kick-start green innovation across the UK’s distillery industry. The move gives backing to distilleries across the UK to harness energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste to power their operations. Furthermore, enabling technology such as fuel conversion, transportation or storage will also be considered. Essentially, government funding will help distilleries continue to produce tasty tipples while contributing to taking pollution equivalent to emissions from 100,000 cars out of the atmosphere. “We want to harness the tremendous innovation of our distilleries so customers can enjoy their favourite tipple in the knowledge they are helping us to tackle climate change”, says Kwarteng. “In 2019, the UK distilleries industry grew by 20%, demonstrating the opportunity for the sector to be at the heart of a clean and resilient recovery.”

The Nightcap

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, Select Aperitivo is coming home. . . to Venice.

Select Aperitivo is coming home to Venice

If you want to make a proper Venetian spritz, do as the locals do and reach for a bottle of Select Aperitvo. This classic drink was originally produced in the Castello district but production had moved out of the city. But now, like football once did, it’s coming home! Parent company Montenegro has announced the plans for the ‘Ca’ Select’ (House of Select) housed in a former industrial laboratory in the Cannaregio district. The maceration of Select’s botanicals will take place at the new facility which has been revamped by Marcante-Testa studio alongside a tasting area and events space. Marco Ferrari, CEO of Gruppo Montenegro commented:We have chosen to build an experiential site that brings the heart of the production process back to Venice and allows us to share it with the city and its inhabitants. We want to communicate, in a widespread way, the quality and tradition but also the research and innovation of our brand.” Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, added: “The City of Venice and I am proud that an important brand, such as  Select,  is  returning  to  produce  in  the  place  that  saw  its  birth  100  years  ago.” Great news, we’re going to celebrate with a Select Bicycletta

The Nightcap

#thefutureisrosé

Free rosé at restaurants around the country

It’s definitely been the summer of rosé. And COVID, of course, but we like to accentuate the positive here at Master of Malt. All that lovely weather had us reaching for the rosé bottle again and again. Now, to encourage people to eat out once more, everyone’s favourite rosé-focused industry body Vins de Provence has teamed up with independent restaurants and wine bars around the country offering various rosé-tinted special offers. For example, in London Lady of the Grapes in Covent Garden is offering a free glass with three plates per person, and Blandford Comptoir will serve you a free glass of AIX rosé with a two-course lunch menu; while down in Eastbourne the first 50 diners through the door at The Grand Hotel get a free glass. Offer runs during August and September, go to Instagram for more information. But that’s not all, share your rosé photos @vinsdeprovenceuk and #thefutureisrosé, and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a case of Provence’s finest. 

The Nightcap

Face masks made out of milk. Yes, we’re serious.

Discarded makes face masks out of milk

In case you hadn’t noticed, face masks (and not the cleansing clay type) have become the next big compulsory pandemic accessory. But the plight of single use face masks is a nightmare, harming marine life and adding to the hoard of single use waste. The clever folks behind Discarded have once again engaged their crafty brains and figured out a way to reuse waste products to make something wonderful – it’s not a vermouth or rum this time, but face masks! Discarded teamed up with Mi Terro, a company that extracts the casein protein molecules from the bacteria found in milk that’s past its best. Then, using something very complicated called dynamic flow shear spinning, it creates sustainable fibres, and these fibres are used to create the masks. That’s not all, because these catchily-named Milk Masks are being distributed by Discarded to London bars for free, while furlough staff from the hospitality sector were employed to make the face masks. We love all this positive news! “Typically, face masks are single use and have been named the new plastic bottle as they contribute to marine debris with a 450-year lifespan,” said Shana Gujral, William Grant & Sons marketing executive. “So in true Discarded Spirits fashion, we sourced fabric, which uses biotechnology to turn wasted milk into cotton fibres.” When life gives you sour milk, what else is there to do but make face masks?

The Nightcap

Yep. That’s a squirrel in a top hat eating a cucumber and watching a waterfall

And finally…Hendrick’s Gin launches unusual streaming service

If there ever was one, 2020 has been the summer of streaming, which goes some way to explaining the onslaught of subscription-based programming recently. Fortunately, Hendrick’s Gin has embraced its self-appointed moniker as the ‘world’s most unusual gin’ and decided to respond by creating its own streaming service. No, really. It’s available free of charge. There’s no subscription necessary to the 21+ audience. Oh, and it’s entirely made up of footage of three serene streams: The Brook that Dared, Cucumber Creek, and Little Falls with Rosy Dreams. This is not an April Fools prank. We swear. Look, check the link. See? It’s all real. The brand says round-the-clock access of bodies of water should offer a tranquil alternative to the ever-expanding maelstrom of choices of conventional streaming platforms. “Quite honestly, we find the array of films and shows available on conventional streaming to be quite mind-numbing,” states Vance Henderson, U.S. Ambassador for the Scottish-based gin maker. “Our stream-focused streaming service will provide a leisurely alternative, coupled with insights into how best to sip Hendrick’s cocktails while you watch”. For maximum stream gazing enjoyment (I can’t believe I’m writing this. I wanted to write the next great American novel, what happened?) Hendrick’s recommends going for either Hendrick’s Rickey, the Cucumber Lemonade or the delightful Floradora as your streamside cocktail.

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Ardbeg launches its first ever beer

The Shortie Smoky Porter has finally arrived. We spoke to Brendan McCarron at a virtual tasting to get the lowdown on Ardbeg’s first beer. You love Ardbeg. We love Ardbeg….

The Shortie Smoky Porter has finally arrived. We spoke to Brendan McCarron at a virtual tasting to get the lowdown on Ardbeg’s first beer.

You love Ardbeg. We love Ardbeg. What’s not to love? The Islay distillery has a distinctive style, an impressive core range and a canine mascot, Shortie, the Jack Russell. Wonderful. But today, on International Beer Day, no less, the brand has given us another reason to adore all things Ardbeg by releasing its very first beer. It’s a porter called The Shortie Smoky Porter (yep, it’s named after the dog – we approve) which will be available exclusively in the UK for a limited time (UPDATE: it’s here at MoM Towers!).

You may well have heard all of this before because the project was announced earlier in the year but, for obvious reasons, was considerably delayed, meaning we’ve all had an anxious wait to get our hands on this cross-category first for Ardbeg. It was originally meant to launch on World Water Day (March 22) as it was created in collaboration with clean water charity Brewgooder as part of its Global Gathering campaign. This means all profits of The Shortie Smoky Porter will be donated to support clean water projects in Malawi. So it’s a win-win product. You get to enjoy a tasty new beer and help out a great cause.

The project began life as a conversation between Alan McIntyre, global brand manager at Ardbeg, and Alan Mahon, founder of Brewgooder, who are flatmates, which makes you wonder why this didn’t happen sooner. Both were present last night alongside Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks at The Glenmorangie Company, for a virtual tasting and presentation (sort out that Wifi, McCarron) where McIntyre recalled its inception. “I was blown away by the concept and said to Mahon it would be amazing if Ardbeg could get involved in this. Then we looked at each other and had this lightbulb moment – why don’t we just try?”.

Ardbeg The Shortie Smoky Porter

Look – it’s Ardbeg’s first ever beer!

The idea was run by McCarron and Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks, who initially needed to be convinced of its practicality. One meeting with Mahon changed this. “After the initial meeting, we all agreed that Mahon was the man and the idea was amazing and we loved it. Then he said he needed it four months and we all said we hate him and want to kill him,” McCarron jokes. “We just didn’t think it would be possible. But it shows how passionate we were about this project that, having never made a beer and with everything else going on at Ardbeg, we decided that we couldn’t miss the opportunity and we needed to make it happen”.

While it’s not exactly common to see a whisky company swap disciplines and release a beer, there is a history of crossover expressions between the two drinks. The Belgian Brouwerij de Dochter van de Korenaar has actually used casks from Ardbeg Distillery to create peat notes in its beer, while Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish and Jameson Caskmates were finished in beer-seasoned casks. There’s also a lot of familiarity in the process of creating beer and whisky, as Mickey Heads, Ardbeg distillery manager, explains. “Helping brew a beer may seem like uncharted territory for Ardbeg, but as any whiskyphile worth their malt will tell you, beer and whisky share the same DNA. Just like brewers, we ferment our malt. The only difference being, we hold on to the hops”. 

Fundamentally, both drinks include three of the same ingredients; water, barley and yeast, and are really almost identical until the end of the fermentation phase. In both processes, barley is wetted, laid for germination, kilned and then ground at the mills. Then the grist (the ground malt) is mixed with hot water in mash tuns so it releases sugar and becomes the all-important wort. After this step whisky distillers will add yeast to induce fermentation, while brewers will bring hops into play first, then yeast.

Ardbeg The Shortie Smoky Porter

Flatmates Alan Mahon and Alan McIntyre came up with the idea

Ardbeg didn’t take on the challenge of brewing this beer all by themselves, as you probably suspected, instead opting to join forces with Williams Bros Brewing Co, who McCarron and Dr Lumsden both rate as their favourite brewery. The same peated malt as Ardbeg Ten Years Old whisky was utilised and, while McCarron couldn’t say how much was used, he did confirm that Ardbeg opted against going for the smokiest option as it simply didn’t work. A lot of sample beers were made, including a host of IPAs that McCarron says were delightful complements to the Ardbeg style and spectacular beers, but in the end, the brand opted for a porter as it was felt this style was better able to capture the distillery profile. And no, before you ask, there are no plans for this beer to be cask-aged so an Ardbeg equivalent of Caskmates isn’t on the cards.

However, McCarron was certainly inspired by the project and we could well see some interesting experimentation at Ardbeg in the future thanks to it. When answering a question about the difference in timescale between producing beer and whisky, which he described as “mindblowing” and remarked that he was in the wrong job (“I could have had my career five times over if I was a brewer!”), he revealed that the process had demonstrated to him what distillers can learn from brewers. “There’s quite a bit of learning whisky can do from how agile and quickly the process moves in beer. I’ve also now got a whole host of ideas to take back to Ardbeg regarding different raw materials, preparations of barley and fermentations,” he explains.

Coming in at a hefty 6.2% ABV and possessing what the brand has described as a “peat bog brown” colour, which might seem a little convenient but is honestly not much of a reach, The Shortie Smoky Porter has quite the reputation to live up to and there will be questions about the best way to enjoy it. I highly recommend having a can of this with Ardbeg 10 Year Old, which was what we did at the tasting. It’s the classic distillery expression and its DNA is present in the porter so it makes for a fascinating comparison. I’d be intrigued to see if this works in a Boilermaker and you can imagine pairing it with food quite easily, particularly blue cheese. 

So, what can you expect from The Shortie Smoky Porter? Dr Lumsden said in the press release that, as with most porters, this beer is smooth and creamy but that “our malt has helped make it distinctly smoky – the way we imagine an Ardbeg beer is meant to taste!” In the tasting, McCarron commented that the profile of this smoke is not the medicinal, woodsmoke note the whisky has, instead it’s more of a tarry, coal dust smoke. “We did think about doubling down on the smoke, but it’s a divisive profile in beer and super-smoky beers aren’t that pleasant. We wanted the beer to recognise the character of Ardbeg, but also to have a contrast,” he says. “It’s complex and has a lovely sweetness as well as a long finish. it’s a real sipping beer.” Here’s the full tasting note plus my own thoughts. 

Ardbeg The Shortie Smoky Porter

The Shortie Smoky Porter Producer’s Tasting Notes:

Nose: On the nose, Ardbeg’s distinctive peat gives rise to more oily notes intermingled with sour cherries, rich coal tar and pine. Ardbeg’s malt then begins to reveal itself, with aromas of toasted nuts and sweet lemon and lime.

Palate: On the palate, this smoky porter boasts a typically creamy texture, with bitter dark chocolate, malty biscuit, dry espresso coffee and a hint of liquorice.

Finish: In a finish that lingers long beyond the can, delicious and distinctively smoky notes guide the palate towards the bitter end.

My thoughts: Wow. I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Peat and beer can be a tricky combination but it’s done beautifully, it’s really well measured and doesn’t overwhelm the other flavours at all. It’s rich, creamy and ridiculously moreish. I have a few cans left but honestly, I’ll probably try and buy more.

The Shortie Smoky Porter is available to purchase from Master of Malt, as well as online at Ardbeg.com and via Ardbeg Embassies. It’s priced at £14 for a four-pack.

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Coping with Covid: Scotch whisky’s post-pandemic plans

Today industry veteran Ian Buxton takes a look at how Scotland’s whisky business has coped with the global pandemic and what the mood is as the world begins to return…

Today industry veteran Ian Buxton takes a look at how Scotland’s whisky business has coped with the global pandemic and what the mood is as the world begins to return to some semblance of normality. 

You don’t need me to tell you there’s a nasty bug going round. Not so very long ago I was worrying about the new US import tariffs on single malt Scotch and the tit-for-tat taxes on American whiskey exports to the UK and European Union, noting that producers on both sides of the Atlantic, especially smaller distillers in the so-called craft sector were starting to feel real pain. The USA is Scotch’s most valuable single market – worth more than double the next nearest (France in case you wanted to know, where they love ‘value’ blends) – so it’s important.

Well, I didn’t know the half of it. ‘May you live in interesting times’ goes the old Chinese curse and regardless of where this particular C-virus curse originated we’re certainly in interesting times now.

Like most of the rest of the world and certainly the UK, Scotland’s distilling industry was brought to a dead stop with the arrival of Coronavirus. By mid-May the Scotch Whisky Association was reporting that “87% of production sites are either operating at reduced capacity or have closed entirely”. Many began producing hand sanitiser and high strength ethanol for key workers but, however laudable their efforts, they weren’t filling casks of new make or bottles of whisky.

However, at last, there are reasons to be hopeful, and while visitor centres remain shuttered, bottling and distilling has restarted at many locations. I’ve been asking what the industry plans to do to rebuild sales in the land of the free.

There must be worse places to isolate than the Hebridean island of Islay, from where Bruichladdich’s Christy MacFarlane told me that a phased restart got underway on 3 June though many employees remain home working. “Within the USA, sales and marketing have continued on a conservative basis, with an uplift in e-commerce channels,” she says. Also on Islay, Ardbeg and its mainland sister distillery Glenmorangie have reopened – just in time to support the launch of two new products into the USA. The Cadboll Estate is Glenmorangie’s first single estate whisky.  Aged in American oak bourbon casks for 15 years, this limited edition single malt Scotch whisky is exclusive to the US, Canada and Mexico. Wee Beastie is Ardbeg’s first 5 year old expression, matured in ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks.

Islay’s smallest distillery (for the moment) is Kilchoman. Just prior to lockdown, the family had completed a significant expansion and now they’re back at work, albeit with a smaller team all keeping an appropriate social distance.

Back on the mainland, Gordon Buist, production director at Chivas Brothers explained that “at present, seven of our 14 distilleries are operational [with] the health and safety of our team our number one priority. Any decisions on increasing capacity and/or reopening sites will be led by government guidelines that keep them – as well as our visitors, partners and the wider community – safe.”

However, while anticipating that “social distancing will continue to be the norm across all of our sites until a vaccine is found,” he concluded that Chivas “remain confident in the resilience of Scotch – which has seen just one dip since 2000 – and its ability to bounce back after this outbreak, as it has done following many other macro events that have impacted the world in the past 20 years.”

whisky crash

Ian Buxton next to a cask of whisky

Representing Balblair and Old Pulteney single malts, Malcolm Leask, global vice president of sales, was similarly upbeat, remarking on its new US distributor partnership with the super-premium artisanal spirits importer and distiller Hotaling & Co, from April and promising “exciting plans for these brands in the US market over the next year, to tell the stories of our whiskies and re-engage US malt whisky drinkers.”

But tourism and whisky festivals have been hit hard. It feels as if 2020’s visitor operations will be a total write-off, though some distilleries have been offering their limited edition festival bottlings online. Expect them soon on an auction site as the virtual roundabout continues.

Back in the USA where blends are still hugely important, from major player Dewar’s comes word that blending and bottling operations have continued without interruption of supply. Brian Cox, VP Dewar’s North America says “COVID-19 has raised challenges, as it has for everyone, but we remain resolutely focused in trying to anticipate and shape the future, for both Dewar’s and the category. We plan to carry on pushing the boundaries of what is expected from the whisky category and continue our long-standing commitment to innovation. Watch this space for more exciting news from the brand soon.”

That’s the spirit for these times!

Though he has neither a beard nor any visible tattoos or piercings, Ian Buxton is well-placed to write about drinks. A former marketing director of one of Scotland’s favourite single malts, his is a bitter-sweet love affair with Scotland’s national drink – not to mention gin and rum, or whatever the nearest PR is pouring. Once, apparently without noticing, he bought a derelict distillery. Follow his passionate, authentic hand-crafted artisanal journey on the Master of Malt blog.  Or just buy his books.  It’s what he really wants.

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Deals of the day return for the weekend

Weekends are already pretty good. But we know how to make them better. That’s right: the Deals of the Day have returned. Everybody loves a good comeback story. Istanbul. Robert…

Weekends are already pretty good. But we know how to make them better. That’s right: the Deals of the Day have returned.

Everybody loves a good comeback story. Istanbul. Robert Downey Jr. Lil Bub. But how many great comebacks actually save you money? This one does. That’s right, we’ve brought back our Deals of the Days for the weekend. A series of deals on a bunch of delicious booze, all delivered straight to your doorstep!

Obviously you’re already basically salivating at the thought of it, but just to whet your appetite even more, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite bargains for this weekend. Make a note of that. This isn’t even all of the deals we’re doing. There’s more to be found here.

Deals of the day

Ardbeg 10 Year Old

There are a lot of people who will fondly remember their first sip of Ardbeg 10 Year Old as the moment they were converted to the wonders of the powerful and peaty dram. This is Islay whisky as you want it, full of coastal air, smoke and more. Today, incidentally, is Ardbeg Day, so you should head to its distillery page to see what else is on offer… Spoiler: there be hella deals. 

What’s the deal?

It was £42.45, now it’s £33.95.

Deals of the day

Roku Gin

We’re big fans of this delightful Japanese gin from legendary spirit-maker Suntory, as you can probably tell, and for good reason. Alongside traditional gin botanicals like juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander and cinnamon, this beauty features six Japanese botanicals including sakura leaf, sencha tea, sansho pepper and yuzu peel. What does all this mean? Amazing G&Ts. Seriously, so aromatic and balanced. Get involved.

What’s the deal?

It was £29.49, now it’s £24.99.

Deals of the day

Doorly’s XO Rum (40%)

How does a great deal on a rum teeming with notes of dark chocolate, toffee apples and oaky spices that was created at one of the most revered and historic distilleries in the world sound? We already know the answer to this one. Who could resist? Doorly’s XO Rum is one of those bottles where you just want to throw away the cork and enjoy with your friends. Shoutout to the excellent bird on the label. I appreciate that.

What’s the deal?

It was £33.83, now it’s £26.83.

Deals of the day

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old

The legendary Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky has got a reputation for making all kinds of excellent whiskey and Eagle Rare 10 Year Old is no exception. Indulge yourself with this well-aged Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey and you’ll be enjoying notes of toasted oak, flamed orange peel, maple syrup, oily walnuts, red fruit and vanilla. The multi-award-winner for good reason also features another excellent bird on the label. This is quite the line-up for fans of birds on labels.

What’s the deal?

It was £36.99, now it’s £28.99.

Deals of the day

Larios 12 Botanicals Premium Gin

Did you know that the English are not the only gin-crazy folk in Europe? The Spanish love their gin, and globally Spain ranks among the big players in gin consumption year after year. It’s no surprise when they have a gin as good as Larios behind every back bar and on every supermarket shelf. Check out what all the fuss is about.

What’s the deal?

It was £21.47, now it’s £16.47.

Deals of the day

VIVIR Tequila Añejo

VIVIR Tequila wants to be part of the conversation that treats Tequila seriously and to do that you need to make seriously good Tequila. Luckily for VIVIR, that’s exactly what it does. The Añejo was distilled from Highland Weber Blue Agave which is cooked traditionally in clay ovens, and the spirit was matured in ex-Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey casks for 18 months.

What’s the deal?

It was £39.95, now it’s £29.95.

Deals of the day

Jura 21 Year Old Tide

Arguably the big hitter of our weekend deals, Tide is a 21-year-old single malt released as part of Jura’s Aged Vintage series. It was twice matured in American white oak bourbon barrels and then hand-selected virgin American white oak casks before it was bottled at a hefty 46.7% ABV. You can expect notes of gingerbread, allspice, buttery caramel digestive biscuits and tropical fruit. It also comes in a pretty funky presentation box, which is always a bonus.

What’s the deal?

It was £149.95, now it’s £99.95.

Deals of the day

Grant’s Cask Editions – Rum Cask Finish

If you want a less decadent dram that you can put to good work in a number of cocktails, then we recommend Grant’s Cask Editions – Rum Cask Finish. Master blender Brian Kinsman created this expression to add some spice and fruit-forward deliciousness from the rum casks to the classic Grant’s character. It really works. 

What’s the deal?

It was £20.95, now it’s £15.95.

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The Nightcap: 29 May

It’s a vintage week on the Nightcap for the last Friday in May, including an Ardbeg aged in New Zealand Pinot Noir casks, a vineyard mosaic, and buckets and buckets…

It’s a vintage week on the Nightcap for the last Friday in May, including an Ardbeg aged in New Zealand Pinot Noir casks, a vineyard mosaic, and buckets and buckets of rosé.

It’s been a short week with the Bank Holiday on Monday, but that hasn’t stopped the booze news from pouring in. That was a pun which was not intended but greatly appreciated. If you’re looking to find out what’s been going on, we’ve got another edition of The Nightcap coming your way, packed full of the latest stories from the drinks world. Dig in.

On the MoM blog this week we launched two competitions, one with the fab folk at Goslings Rum and the other being a Father’s Day special with Tobermory Distillery. Speaking of the upcoming celebration, Adam selected some sublime spirits to give yourself a head start on Father’s Day, or you might consider the funky and fruity joy of Dunderhead Rum, our New Arrival of the Week. Annie returned to uncover Grenada’s best-kept secret and take a closer look at Langley Distillery, before Henry made a cocktail that marries New York and Ireland.

We’d also like to say congrats to Kostas Stavropoulos, who won last week’s virtual pub quiz! Thank you to all who entered, the answers to last Friday’s quiz are listed below, as always. For those who fancy their chances at besting this week’s edition of the MoM pub quiz, it will be on our blog from 5pm as always.

The Nightcap

We welcome any more Kylie-based puns you have

Where the wild rosés grow

Another day another missed opportunity in naming a celebrity pink. Last year it was Jon Bon Jovi declining to call his wine ‘Jon Bon Rosé’ in favour of the baffling ‘Hampton Water’, now it’s Kylie’s turn. The pint-sized pop star has just launched pink and it is not called ‘Where the wild rosés grow’ after her 1996 hit with Nick Cave. Instead, it’s called simply ‘Kylie Minogue Rosé.’ Boring! It’s a Vin de France (i.e. not from a specified viticultural area); the press release says it’s made from “Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sourced from the sun-drenched southern French Coast.” It will only be available from 450 Tesco stores and retails at £9. Kylie herself commented: “I have a great passion for rosé and have loved working for the last two years on developing Kylie Minogue Wines. Working with the brilliant team at Benchmark Drinks we have created a rosé that I am truly enamoured by, it’s fresh, light and the perfect pink.” Benchmark Drinks is the team behind Ian Botham’s, really rather good, range of wines, and there’s talk of other Kylie wines to come including later this year a Côtes de Provence rosé. We should be so lucky. 

The Nightcap

We’re open to Ardbeg sheep-based puns too

Ardbeg Day goes online

Fèis Ìle might off this year, but that doesn’t mean that Ardbeg fans have to miss out. Especially as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Ardbeg Committee. Tomorrow, 30 May, there will be a two-hour programme of tastings, games, and entertainment based around the just-released limited edition Ardbeg Blaaack, which was matured in New Zealand Pinot Noir casks. Distillery manager Mickey Heads said: “We were looking forward to marking Ardbeg Day this year with our dyed-in-the-wool fans here at the Distillery, and at celebrations around the world. Sadly, global events overtook us. However, we’ve put our heads together and come up with a back-up plan to keep our Committee Members entertained, safe at home. I’ll be shepherding the Ardbeg team in an online extravaganza instead expect tastings of some much-loved whiskies, fun, blether, and maybe even a few Blaaack-inspired surprises.” You can join in the Ardbeg Blaaack Whisky Trials from 7pm BST on Ardbeg’s Facebook page. So tune in, and don’t forget your sheep-based puns. Oh, and if you want to get hold of a bottle of Ardbeg Blaaack, don’t worry, it will be baaack in stock soon. Sorry. 

The Nightcap

Rosé Prosecco is on the way, folks!

Rosé Prosecco is coming! 

More pink news just in: Rosé Prosecco is now officially a new DOC category, approved by the Italy’s Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies’ National Wine Committee and all! There are a few things producers will have to adhere to in order to label their wine Prosecco DOC Rosé, such as the grape varieties (Glera and 10%-15% Pinot Nero), a second fermentation and residual sugars, among a few other things. Oh, and it has to be pink. Duh. Stefano Zanette, president of the Prosecco DOC Consortium thanked “all those who have contributed to obtaining this important result, in a moment particularly tough for the wine industry.” The Consortium’s estimates predict up to 30 million bottles of Rosé will be produced each year… We’d better get drinking! 

The Nightcap

There’s everything you need in here to help you open your business after lockdown

100 Day Playbook created for return of hospitality industry

We’re slowly edging towards a period where pubs, restaurants, cafes and more can begin to reopen, which is delightful news. However, relaunching after so much time in lockdown won’t be easy and the hospitality industry could use all the help it can get. That’s why it’s great to see initiatives like the 100 Day Playbook, a marketing and communications guide, be unveiled this week. The playbook comprises over £150,000 of insider knowledge, advice and insight, as well as best practice on branding, marketing, PR, digital and social in order to offer businesses the best possible chance to tackle reopening in a post-COVID19 world. It was created by a collective of agencies and consultants including KAM Media, Fleet Street Communications, ME:MO Media, Smithfield, Supersonic Inc, 2 Forks, DataHawks, Bums on Seats, Wireless Social, Feed It Back, Studio Nomad, and was requested over 300 times ahead of its launch on the 27th May. The 100 Day Playbook is now available at www.100dayplaybook.com and will be free for all operators, although everyone that downloads the booklet will be encouraged to donate to charity Hospitality Action. “This project is about hospitality’s best agencies and brightest marketing minds coming together to really support our venues, brands and businesses in getting back on their feet, and getting as many guests as possibly back into their venues when they reopen” says Mark McCulloch, founder and CEO of Supersonic, who spearheaded the 100 Day Playbook project. “I’m so pleased to be sharing this with our industry and look forward to how businesses incorporate some of insight, methods, tips and tricks we’re sharing.”

The Nightcap

The stunning discovery could date back to the 3rd century AD. Credit: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella/Facebook

And finally… Roman mosaic floor found under Italian vineyard

Have you ever lifted up some carpet or moved an old piece of furniture and found something cool? I’ve had the typical experience of finding some money. A friend of mine found a tiny crab behind a kitchen unit once, which was pretty rad. I think it’s safe to say that a recent discovery in Italy tops all of this, however. A perfectly-preserved ancient Roman mosaic floor dating back to the 3rd century AD was unearthed in an Italian vineyard. Archaeologists had first found the site in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near the city of Verona in 1992, but it was later abandoned. A team from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona returned to the site last October only to have the pandemic halt their progress. Archaeologists were able to resume work this month after Italy eased its lockdown restrictions and discovered the beautiful mosaic just a few metres beneath a row of vines at the site of an ancient villa. “After countless decades of failed attempts, part of the floor and foundations of the Roman villa located north of Verona, discovered by scholars a century ago, has finally been brought to light,” authorities from Negrar di Valpolicella wrote on the town’s Facebook page. “The superintendent will now liaise with the owners of the area and municipality to identify the most appropriate ways of making this archaeological treasure, which has always been hidden beneath our feet, available and accessible.” The town will now work to ensure the stunning floor can be seen by the public, officials said, but they warned: “The result will not come soon and significant resources will be needed.” 

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

1) Which of these cocktails is not mentioned by name in The Great Gatsby?

Answer: Martini

2) How many bottles of champagne make up a magnum?

Answer: Two

3) In which European city did Harry MacElhone open Harry’s New York Bar in 1923?

Answer: Paris

4) What is the name of “Pawnee’s Sickest Nightclub” in Parks and Recreation?

Answer: The Snakehole Lounge

5) How many times does Kendrick Lamar say the word “drank” in his song Swimming Pools?

Answer: 32

6) In Champagne, which of these designations is the driest?

Answer: Brut

7) Which barrel is the biggest?

Answer: Pipe

8) What cocktail did Anthony Bourdain describe as a “hell broth”?

Answer: Negroni

9) Whose mother is erroneously thought to have created the Manhattan cocktail?

Answer: Winston Churchill

10) A Caipiroska is a version of Brazil’s national cocktail the Caipirinha made with what spirit?

Answer: Vodka

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Join our Islay celebrations on Instagram Live!

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of…

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of interviews with the island’s distilleries that features tastings, chats and Q&As.

This is usually the time of year where we would pack our travel bags, camera kit and 10-litre bottles of midge insect repellent to head north to the beautiful Scottish island of Islay to revel in one of the highlights, if not the highlight of the whisky calendar. The week-and-a-bit from 22-30 May was sure to provide all the whisky-dipped merriment you could shake Dave Worthington’s pipe at.

But we have no intention of letting this period pass by without some recognition of an island that is home to some of Scotch whisky’s finest distilleries. Which is why we’ve put together the next best thing. Through the wonderful medium of Instagram Live, we’ve created our own virtual festival by teaming up with the island’s distilleries (and the fab folk at Jura, of course). We’ve put together a programme of tastings, chats and Q&As with your questions, comments and tasting notes to keep the Islay spirit alive and your tasting glass full from the comfort of your own home.

We thoroughly hope you enjoy our virtual Islay celebration. The schedule for the Instagram Live shows is listed below, complete with accompanying dram. Don’t forget, you can always embrace the Islay spirit whenever you like with Drinks by the Dram’s Islay Whisky Tasting Set! Why not order one for you and a pal and set up your own Zoom tasting?

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old

Day One

Who’s joining us? The Character of Islay Whisky Company and its head of whisky, Sam Simmons for a tasting. What a way to kick off proceedings!

What whisky will we be tasting? Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old, Green Isle, Grace Île and Fiona Macleod.

When is it? Friday 22 May at 7:30pm

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Lagavulin will be joining us on day two

Day Two

Who’s joining us? Lagavulin and its distillery manager Colin Gordon for an evening dram and a chat. Grab a tasting glass and get your questions ready for Colin!

What whisky will we be tasting? Lagavulin 8Lagavulin 16.

When is it? Saturday 23 May at 8:30pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Head distiller Adam Hannett will join us for a tasting and Q&A

Day Three

Who’s joining us? Bruichladdich and its head distiller Adam Hannett for a tasting and Q&A. Bruichladdich also has its own Laddie Lock-In, while its ballot system to decide who can get their hands on its alternative festival bottling, Port Charlotte 16, has now concluded.

What whisky will we be tasting? The Classic Laddie.

When is it? Sunday 24 May at 6pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Caol Ila Distillery, as seen from the skies.

Day Four

Who’s joining us? Caol Ila and its distillery manager for an evening dram and a chat with Pierrick Guillaume.

What whisky will we be tasting? Caol Ila 12.

When is it? Monday 25 May at 8:15pm. 

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

We’ll be spending lunchtime with Laphroaig

Day Five

Who’s joining us? Laphroaig for a lunchtime taste and learn session with distillery manager John Campbell. It will also be hosting its own celebration, #LaphroaigLive from 18:15pm.

What whisky will we be tasting? Laphroaig 10.

When is it? Tuesday 26 May at 1pm. 

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

The beautiful Bowmore Distillery who will join us on day six

Day Six

Who’s joining us? Bowmore for another lunchtime Live, with time with distillery manager, David Turner. We’ll have a chat about all things whisky, so ready your questions!

What whisky will we be tasting? Bowmore 12.

When is it? Wednesday 27 May at 1pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills will stop by to kick-off our Thursday with a bang

Day Seven

Who’s joining us? Kilchoman and its founder Anthony Wills will be kicking off the day with us. The distillery also has quite the online festival Programme, complete with live tastings and a distillery tour.

What whisky will we be tasting? Kilchoman Machir Bay, Loch Gorm 2020, the new Am Burach, 100% Islay 9th Edition, and the official Festival Bottling!

When is it? Thursday 28 May at 10.30am.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà

Day Eight

Who’s joining us? Bunnahabhain and its global brand director, Derek Scott, who will host a tasting with a very delicious dram, usually distillery-exclusive dram (it will also host its own 8pm tasting, ‘Fèis at home‘). 

What whisky will we be tasting? Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà, Bunnahabhain 25-Year-Old, and the very exciting Bunnahabhain 2003 Amontillado Finish, which is usually only available from the distillery.

When is it? Friday 29 May at 5pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

The scenic Jura Distillery makes delicious and subtle smoky whisky

Who’s joining us? Jura and Whyte & Mackay’s Gregg Glass, who will be online with us for an evening tasting. 

What whisky will we be tasting? Jura 10 Year Old.

When is it? Friday 29 May evening.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

The stunning Ardbeg Distillery at night

Day Nine

Who’s joining us? Ardbeg and Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks for Ardbeg (and sister distillery Glenmorangie) ,for an Ardbeg Day tasting. You can also join the distillery at 7pm on Facebook for its first-ever online Ardbeg Day!

What whisky will we be tasting? Ardbeg 10An Oa and Blaaack. 

When is it? Saturday 30 May at 3pm.

 

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Cocktail masterclass with Moët Hennessy

With the promise of warmer weekends ahead, now’s the time to pin down a selection of light, refreshing and unfussy al-fresco drinks. Here, American Bar at The Savoy’s bartender Jake…

With the promise of warmer weekends ahead, now’s the time to pin down a selection of light, refreshing and unfussy al-fresco drinks. Here, American Bar at The Savoy’s bartender Jake O’Brien Murphy and Belvedere vodka brand ambassador Mark Tracey share four simple and delicious Scotch whisky, Cognac and vodka-based cocktails…

Stock up on choc ices and fire up the BBQ – summer might look a little different this year, but it’s so close, we can almost taste it. Technically, we’ve already tasted it, having attended a virtual cocktail masterclass hosted by Moët Hennessy (the French company behind Ardbeg, Glenmorangie, Hennessy and Belvedere). 

Guided by Jake O’Brien Murphy, bartender at American Bar at The Savoy, and Mark Tracey, Belvedere brand ambassador, we re-created four quintessential summer serves designed to make the most out of everyday ingredients you might find in your kitchen. And now we’re sharing the recipes with you, because we’re nice like that. Before you slap that sunscreen on, though, a few words of advice. 

The American Bar at the Savoy

First of all, ready your workspace. Or to paraphrase nineties rapper Ice Cube, prep yourself before your wreck yourself. It only takes a few minutes to make syrups, lay out garnishes and squeeze lemons and limes, and it’ll make assembling your cocktail far easier. “I would always encourage using fresh produce, squeezed as close to making the drink as you can,” says Tracey.

Should your chosen cocktail require shaking – as several below do – don’t skimp on the ice. Fill the shaker as full as you possibly can. Aim to shake for between eight and 10 seconds, or until condensation forms on the outside of the shaker. “You just want to tie everything together and add a load of tiny little micro-bubbles into [the drink],” says O’Brien Murphy. “That’s the idea of shaking: We’re trying to get it cold, dilute it, and alter the texture.”

The same goes for your glassware, too. “If you pour the drink over one cube of ice, that cube of ice will lose its thermal integrity quicker than a big glass full of ice,” O’Brien Murphy continues. It might help to think of ice as an ingredient that makes your drink more consistent from start to finish. “The less ice, the more dilution,” says Tracey, “which means the drink is going to change, it’ll heat up and it’s not going to be as palatable.” 

Finally, use a fine strainer if you have one. Not only will it catch citrus remnants and pulp from other fruits (if you’re shaking with berries, for example) but it’ll also capture smaller shards of ice, potentially affecting the dilution, and nobody wants that. 

Well, we’ve done our bit. You’re free to get cracking on the cocktails below – but if you fancy watching the professionals do it first, Tracey and O’Brien Murphy are hosting this very masterclass live on Moët Hennessy’s Clos19 Instagram account this Wednesday, 20 May at 5pm.

Belvedere Almond Milk Punch

Tell me more… A light and silky take on the traditional milk punch.

Ingredients: 40ml Belvedere, 25ml fresh lemon juice, 15ml honey water*, 60ml almond milk, mint to garnish

Method: Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into ice filled highball glass. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

*Honey water: combine 3 parts honey and 1 part boiling water (3:1)

Ardbeg Shortie’s Dirty Daiquiri

Tell me more… A smoky twist on popular summertime classic, the Daiquiri.

Ingredients: 50ml Ardbeg Ten Year Old, 20ml apple juice, 20ml fresh lime juice, 10ml vanilla syrup*

Method: Shake all ingredients over ice before straining into a chilled coupe.

*Vanilla Syrup: combine 1 part caster sugar and 1 part boiling water (1:1). Stir until clear and then simply add a dash of vanilla essence or vanilla paste.  

Glenmorangie Ginger & Honey Highball

Tell me more… Fresh and light, combining the fruity notes of Glenmorangie with sweet citrus.

Ingredients: 50ml Glenmorangie Original, 15ml fresh lemon juice, 15ml honey water*, sparkling water to top, lemon wedge, slices of raw ginger

Method: Mix all ingredients together (excluding the sparkling water) and strain into an ice-filled Highball glass. Top with sparkling water. Garnish with a lemon wedge and thin ginger slices.

*Honey water: combine 3 parts honey and 1 part water (3:1)

Hennessy & Ginger

Tell me more… A perfectly-balanced sweet and spicy highball.

Ingredients: 50ml Hennessy VS, ginger ale, fresh lime to garnish

Method: Pour Hennessy VS into a tall glass. Add ice cubes, top with ginger ale and stir with a bar spoon. Garnish with fresh lime.

 

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The Nightcap: 27 March

It’s another bitesize Nightcap this week, but there’s still plenty of booze news to enjoy – as well as the answers to last week’s pub quiz! Staying in this Friday? Well,…

It’s another bitesize Nightcap this week, but there’s still plenty of booze news to enjoy – as well as the answers to last week’s pub quiz!

Staying in this Friday? Well, what are the chances – so are we! In fact, plenty of us have been staying in quite a bit and getting involved with various projects. Some DIY, learning a few new cocktail recipes, that sort of thing. Our Sam has been trying to listen to every Neil Young album. Turns out there are loads and it’s taking him ages. If you’d prefer a project that’s just a bit easier to tick off your list, we’ve got a brand new edition of The Nightcap right here!

On the MoM blog this week, Ian Buxton returned this to discuss the implications of agave casks being used in Scotch whisky before we helped you explore the drinks world in lockdown-mode by picking five of our favourite drink books. Adam continued the theme by taking you on a distillery tour of Glenglassaugh and Wolfburn without leaving the house. You can thank virtual reality for that. Annie, meanwhile, enjoyed five classic spirits made in non-traditional places and gave us 10 pointers from the pros about how to DIY your G&T. Elsewhere, Henry made an Old Fashioned, but slightly better, and recommended a new bottling that would work particularly well in that serve, as Jess rounded up the best of the best from the World Gin Awards 2020 winners.

And after all that excitement, it’s on with The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Look, it’s Ardbeg Wee Beastie!

Ardbeg unveils new whisky: Wee Beastie

The folks at Ardbeg Distillery clearly understand that at a time like this we need good news and things to look forward to. That’s why it was a welcome surprise to be told this week that the Islay whisky producer is set to launch a new permanent expression. It’s called Wee Beastie, presumably because it was matured for just five years in ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. The press release explains that Wee Beastie is a “feisty and intensely powerful smoky whisky that’s untamed by age”, with “intense aromas of cracked black pepper, sappy pine resin and sharp tangs of smoke”, and an explosive mouthfeel that “bursts forth with chocolate, creosote, tar and savoury meats”. We do love a young, raw and bold Islay bottling here at MoM Towers. Ardbeg’s director of whisky creation, Dr Bill Lumsden, said of Wee Beastie: “I’m in no doubt that Ardbeggians will love this tongue-tingling expression. The casks chosen for its creation make it ideal for enjoying neat or as the mouth-watering main ingredient in a powerfully smoky cocktail.” Soon-to-retire distillery manager Mickey Heads added: “A new permanent expression in the core range is always momentous for the distillery, but Wee Beastie is a particularly special dram. As it’s a younger whisky, it means we’re able to get as close to the still as possible. So it’s safe to say this is a ferociously good wee nip!” Wee Beastie will be available here from May.

The Nightcap

The 52 year-old Karuizawa ‘Zodiac Rat’ 1960 sold for £363,000, a new record

Karuizawa expression sells for £363,000 and sets new record

In these dark times, it’s good to know there are still people with tonnes of money prepared to splash out on whisky. You may recall on a previous Nightcap we previewed an upcoming sale of fine and rare wines and spirits by Sotheby’s and expected big things from Macallan and Karuizawa (as always). Well, they didn’t disappoint. The 52-year-old Karuizawa ‘Zodiac Rat’ 1960 sold for £363,000, a new record for a bottle of Japanese whisky. It’s the oldest expression ever released from the distillery and the bottle is one of only 41 produced, each packed with a netsuke (a miniature sculpture) carved from the oak cask that once held the whisky. Macallan also had a good auction as a complete vertical of The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection was sold for £423,500, while The Macallan Lalique Genesis Decanter 72-year-old was bought for £84,700. The present global situation didn’t appear to disrupt much for Sotheby’s, which sold £3.7 million worth of booze. A substantial proportion of lots exceeded their high estimates and 50% of winning lots were made online. “Against a backdrop of extraordinary circumstance, the persistence and commitment of collectors came through in yesterday’s sales, where a bottle of Japanese whisky became the most valuable ever sold, accompanied by strong prices for Scotch whisky, led by the Macallan in Lalique Decanters,” said Jamie Ritchie, chairman of Sotheby’s Wine. “Collectors also continue to compete for the world’s greatest wines, and when there is an opportunity to acquire the very best the market has to offer, as with the two cases of the legendary Cheval Blanc 1947, they are willing to stretch to the highest level.”

Michael Broadbent in action in the (judging by the haircuts) 1980s. Photo courtesy of Christie’s

Industry pays tribute to Michael Broadbent 

Tributes poured as the wine world lost one of its most eminent figures, Michael Broadbent, at the age of 92. Jancis Robinson MW described him as “a towering figure in the history of wine.” Born in 1927, Broadbent had a varied career in the wine trade, becoming a Master of Wine in 1960 but it was his time at Christie’s, the auction house, where he was most influential. He joined the firm in 1966 and almost single-handedly revived the auction market for fine and rare wines (and later spirits). He was famous for taking notes on (nearly) every wine he tried, and the most notable was published in The Great Vintage Wine Book. He retired from Christie’s in 1992 but remained a consultant with the firm until 2009. In addition, he was chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, president of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and chairman of The Benevolent. He was particularly revered in France where he was made Chevalier of the Ordre National du Mérite in 1979. Au revoir Monsieur Michael!

The Nightcap

It’s the final batch of While We Wait!

Isle of Raasay Distillery releases its final While We Wait

For what seems like about 30 years, the Isle of Raasay Distillery has been releasing an annual single malt under the While We Wait banner (it’s actually only been five years but we’re so impatient it seems like longer.) Now, the wait is almost over as the last batch of WWW whisky has just gone on sale. Appropriately enough, this last batch is called The Last Orders and it’s made up of peated and unpeated spirits matured in bourbon barrels and finished in first and second fill Tuscan red wine French oak casks for 18 months. It will be available only direct from the distillery. Co-founder Alasdair Day commented: “This fifth and final release of our While We Wait series is a highly significant step forward for our distillery. Our team are constantly looking to push the boundaries of whisky making, exploring the effect that different finishes and casks have on the flavour profile, and this spirit is the perfect embodiment of our ethos.” Later this year, the Isle of Raasay’s first single malt distilled on the island will be released which is extremely exciting. Watch this space!

The Nightcap

Get involved, if you’re in the US, of course.

And finally…  Bardstown Bourbon are looking for ‘world’s’ top whiskey taster 

The Company has partnered with Moonshine University to create an exciting contest that calls on whiskey lovers, enthusiasts, fans and connoisseurs alike in the search for the World’s Top Whiskey Taster. Sounds amazing, except it’s not open to the world. It’s just for legal residents of the fifty United States (and District of Columbia). Unless self-isolation has turned my brain to mush, I’m pretty certain there’s a distinction between the US and the world. Might want to reconsider that name. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of $20,000 with a contract to represent Bardstown Bourbon Company as an ambassador, as well as a scholarship to Moonshine University’s Executive Bourbon Steward certification programme, and a trip to Bardstown, Kentucky to blend a custom product with Bardstown Bourbon Company master distiller Steve Nally. Frankly, I don’t know why I’m not entering for goodness sake. Oh, right. I can’t. The competition consists of three phases, starting with an invitation to submit an audition video, followed by regional qualifiers and national finals. “Entrants are encouraged to be creative and have fun,” said Bardstown Bourbon Company vice president of sales & marketing, Herb Heneman. “Tell us what makes your palate as good as it is. Show us things like your favourite bourbon cocktail, your most impressive or underrated pairing, or pick the most amazing bottle in your stash and geek out on it. But most of all, tell us what representing Bardstown Bourbon Company as a distillery ambassador would mean to you.” The full contest rules, terms and conditions are here. To upload your audition video or for more information, you can do that here. But only if you’re in the US, remember?  

The Nightcap

That’s it for the Nightcap this week, now here are the answers to last week’s pub quiz. We appreciate it was a tad on the tough side so today’s edition (coming soon) should prove more accessible. However, congrats to Pete Jeffery who triumphed!

1) Which much-admired Islay distillery manager announced his retirement last week? 

Answer: Mickey Heads

2) How many distilleries are there on Skye?

Answer: Three: Talisker, Torabhaig Distillery and Isle of Skye Distillery.

3) How many times is Mortlach single malt distilled?

Answer: 2.81 times according to the distillery.

4) Where would you find boisé? 

Answer: In Cognac.

5) Which cocktail does the Polish agent drink in John Le Carre’s The Looking Glass War?

Answer: The White Lady

6) What’s bigger, a British pint or an American?

Answer: A British pint. 

7) What sport is the carraway-flavoured schnapps kümmel commonly associated with?

Answer: Golf.

8) What whiskey does Sylvester Stallone’s character Jimmy Bobo request in the 2012 movie Bullet to the Head?

Answer: Bulleit Bourbon

9) What do both the glass Gatsby raises and Tom Buchanan’s car have in common in The Great Gatsby film? 

Answer: They are both a couple (or coupé).

10) Which bourbon whiskey brand inspired a Billy Idol single?

Answer: Rebel Yell

11) Evan Williams originally hailed from which country?

Answer: Wales

12) Which drink brand did the first-ever cinema advert?

Answer: Dewar’s Scotch whisky

13) There are more barrels of bourbon than people in the state of Kentucky, true or false?

Answer: True (two barrels of bourbon for every person)

14) In which wine region would you find ‘the dogs’ teeth’?

Answer: Burgundy

15) How many monkeys are there on a bottle of Monkey Shoulder?

Answer: 9.

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