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Tag: Bacardi

The Nightcap: 11 February

It’s The Nightcap and we’ve got stories on a Valentine’s jellyfish tasting menu, a big departure from Lagavulin, and a Brit Award being turned into a beer pump! Valentine’s Day….

It’s The Nightcap and we’ve got stories on a Valentine’s jellyfish tasting menu, a big departure from Lagavulin, and a Brit Award being turned into a beer pump!

Valentine’s Day. If you’re not tragically alone forever (people, who needs them?), you’ll be well aware the day of organised love is just after this weekend. This means it is this weekend, basically. For those partaking, it’s time to get your presents, cards, and excuses together. For those who aren’t, or just need a break from the stress of it all, we’ve got just the tonic. Lots of gin! Oh, and the Nightcap!

On the blog, there was cause for awe/pointing-and-laughing as Macallan released its oldest-ever whisky, an 81-year-old bottling priced at £92k that’s presented on something straight off the Addams family’s mantlepiece. We then had the pleasure of tasting Crabbie’s new single malt and enjoying a classic Valentine’s Day cocktail, before whipping up some last-minute gift ideas, as well as recommendations for The Queen as she celebrates her big landmark (first monarch to kill 50 swans, or something). Elsewhere, Ian Buxton kept that theme going (monarchy, not swanicide) by walking us through the history between Scotch whisky and the crown in a feature on Royal Warrants, and Alex Badescu joined us for the first time to make Paddington’s favourite: marmalade cocktails! Of course, if you want some orangey goodness without the fuss, then you can always indulge in the new Jaffa Cake Negroni.

So, all that’s left to do now is to enjoy The Nightcap: 11 February edition!

The Nightcap: 11 February

Au revoir M. Guillaume

Pierrick Guillaume to leave Lagavulin 

Whisky news doesn’t come any bigger than a manager’s vacancy at Lagavulin. Ok, maybe an 81-year-old Macallan in a creepy fantasy sculpture. That’s pretty big. But nevertheless, we were all ears when we learned that everyone’s favourite Frenchman (er, what about Ludo Ducrocq? Ed.) in Scotland Pierrick Guillaume is leaving the Islay distillery after less than a year and a half at the helm. We asked Guillaume for a comment but he just referred us to a statement from Diageo:  “Pierrick has provided great service to our Scotch whisky business in his time at our distilleries, including the great island distilleries of Lagavulin, Caol Ila, and Talisker. We will miss him but we wish him the very best for the future.” We’ve heard rumours that he’s off to make whisky in France, of all places. Guillaume’s short reign at Lagavulin seems to be something of a trend for Diageo. His predecessor Colin Gordon was only there for just over two years. Meanwhile, Stewart Bowman recently left Brora for Isle of Arran, and Georgie Crawford was poached by Elixir from her job as manager at Port Ellen. These are ‘three of the most coveted jobs in the Scotch whisky industry‘ according to Diageo. Is there something going on at the spirits giant or is this just the nature of today’s competitive whisky industry?


Americans can’t seem to get enough of this

Irish whiskey could be bigger than Scotch in the US by 2030

Figures just released by the Distilled Spirits Council in the US will make very happy reading for Ireland’s distillers. Irish whiskey has had another bumper year with sales to America now standing at 5.9 million cases, up 16% by volume and 10.2% by value on the previous year. The vast majority of those sales are in the ‘high-end premium category’ which we think basically means Jameson. What is extraordinary is that 20 years ago Irish whiskey was selling less than ½ million cases in the US, and that the category is still expanding so rapidly. It’s the third fastest-growing category behind pre-mixed cocktails and Tequila/ mezcal. It still has some way to go before passing Scotch whisky which sells 9.7 million cases per year but if the current rates of growth continue for both categories, Irish should pass Scotch by 2030. “We’re bigger than Jesus!” commented William Lavelle from the Irish Whiskey Association. Only joking. He actually said: “With more supply coming available of age-statement, super-premium brands – from both established and newer distilleries – it is clear that Irish whiskey is going to be an increasingly competitive player in the higher-end whiskey market, taking on Scotch single malts.” They’ll be partying responsibly on the streets of Cork tonight. 

The Nightcap: 11 February

It doesn’t look 1200 years old

‘Britain’s oldest pub’ forced to close after 1,229 years

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St. Albans has been serving drinks for 1,229 years, but sadly it might have served its last pint after the landlord, Christo Tofalli, says it has gone into administration. The pub was already struggling to turn a profit for several years due to tax hikes and rising costs, but it would seem the effects of the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is said to date back to 793 and lays claim to being Britain’s oldest, although it gained its current name when it is thought to have hosted cock fighting in the late 19th century. The pub reputedly has a tunnel leading to nearby St Albans Abbey that was used by monks, and Oliver Cromwell is said to have spent a night there. “It is with great sadness that I have to announce that today, after a sustained period of extremely challenging trading conditions, YOFC Ltd has gone into administration,” Mr Tofalli said in a statement. “Along with my team, I have tried everything to keep the pub going. However, the past two years have been unprecedented for the hospitality industry, and have defeated all of us who have been trying our hardest to ensure this multi-award-winning pub could continue trading into the future.” Whether the pub is truly the oldest or not in the country, it’s gutting to see another great site go down, we’ve lost too many in the last couple of years. Let’s hope there’s a solution here somewhere.

The Nightcap: 11 February

This could be you. As long as you like jellyfish, of course

Kraken creates Valentine’s Day jellyfish tasting menu

If your Valentine would like the world’s most unusual dinner this year, then you’re in luck because Kraken Rum has created a gelatinous gastronomic adventure you won’t forget. Or probably want, to be honest. Developed by professional chefs, the three-course dinner is available to Valentine’s diners to experience at home and comes complete with a complimentary cocktail and Kraken’s new ‘Unknown Deep’ limited-edition bottle. The starter is jellyfish salad with sesame and peanut dressing; the main is teriyaki jellyfish with squid ink noodles and bonito flakes, and the dessert is a seafood pudding of the wobbliest proportions – jelly infused with jellyfish and Kraken Rum. There’s actually a method to this madness, because the jellyfish has been touted as the sustainable seafood of the future due to its large numbers and unique renewable life cycle. The kit also includes custom Kraken plates, an ocean projector (to recreate an underwater ambiance at home), and a special bioluminescent cocktail. The brand says that, though designed for the dinner table, if diners wish to serve the jellyfish dinner in their bathtubs “this is not discouraged”. Those up for a romantic night of jellyfish were able to get a kit through The Beast’s online portal The League of Darkness. If you miss out we wouldn’t be too disheartened, though. There’s surely no chance your loved one was expecting to get this.

The Nightcap: 11 February

Get down to the Merchant House bar in London on Valentine’s Day

Or celebrate Valentine’s Day, Hungarian style, with Seven Hills Tokaj gin

One of our favourite gin producers will be in London on Monday 14 February. Yes, on Valentine’s Day, Seven Hills Tokaj gin from Hungary will be taking over the Merchant House bar in the City of London with brand ambassador Rico (like Madonna or Beyonce, he only has one name) shaking up some suitably sexy cocktails. The award-winning gin is made in the Tokaji region, home to the legendary sweet wines, and uses Linden Leaf grapes as one of its botanicals. Cocktails include the ValenTea made with Tokaj gin, blackcurrant tea cordial, and kewra (a kind of flower) water; Strong Stephen Smash which includes gin, amaro, grapefruit juice, and spicy pickled pepper jam; and a Rick Collins, made up of gin, clairin communal, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, syrup, and soda water. The event kicks off at 7pm but if you’re a bartender, get down earlier for a special trade-only event, and see what all the fuss is about with Seven Hills Tokaj gin.

The Nightcap: 11 February

Bacardi’s previous initiatives include biodegradable bottles

Bacardi rum to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50%

Bacardi is celebrating its 160th anniversary by looking towards the future as it steps up its commitment to cut greenhouse gases by 50% by 2025. By next year its GHG emissions will be halved when a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system goes live at its distillery in Puerto Rico, which will replace heavy fuel oil with propane gas. This 50% reduction represents a 14% cut in the total emissions globally for the company, according to The Drinks Business. It’s part of the brand’s pledge to a corporate responsibility programme called ‘Good Spirited’ and is also in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The ultimate goal wasn’t just to halve greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce water consumption by 25% at Bacardi production sites; as well as to make sure that 100% of key raw materials and packaging are sourced sustainably; 100% of product packaging is recyclable, use 40% recycled content in product packaging materials and be working at contributing zero waste to landfill at all Bacardi production sites. Noble aims that we support. 

The Nightcap: 11 February

Think you can win? Anyone can enter…

Equiano Rum creates cocktail comp to champion inspiration 

Equiano Rum is launching its own cocktail competition, inviting both professional bartenders and enthusiasts (hometenders?) from around the world to create a unique drink inspired by Africa and/or the Caribbean. That could be the story behind the drink, the method, the ingredients etc. As long as they use Equiano Original or Equiano Light, of course. The competition is called The Interesting Narrative Cocktail Competition after the memoir, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of  Olaudah Equiano, the writer, entrepreneur, abolitionist, and freedom fighter who is the company’s inspiration, Entries will be judged by a panel led by Equiano co-founder Ian Burrell as well as the Cocktail Lovers’ Sandrae Lawrence, Monica Berg of Tayēr + Elementary, and Trailer Happiness owner Sly Augustin. Prizes for the five eventual finalists from the bartender include a £2,000 cash prize for the winner, a year’s supply of Equiano Rum and the chance to be recognised amongst the global bar community and be featured in The Equiano Rum Co Cocktail Book set for international release in 2022, while those who enter as ‘hometenders can secure a complimentary night out with all their friends at a world-class bar in their country, where their winning cocktail will be made for them throughout the evening. To find out more about the competition and submit entries just head here.

The Nightcap: 11 February

Fender back in 2019 creating his first award beer pump

Sam Fender to turn his BRIT Award into a beer pump

If you’re the kind of person who wins lots of awards, you’ve probably had that internal dilemma of what to do with them. Display them in their full glory, knowing guests will probably roll their eyes at your trophy cabinet? Keep them somewhere discreet and employ a dollop of false modesty when somebody mentions your success? Both solid options. Singer-songwriter Sam Fender, however, has surely had the best idea. He’s turning the BRIT Award he won this week into a beer pump at the local pub. The Low Lights Tavern in North Shields is a place that’s special to him as it’s where he used to work and was first discovered. The Best Alternative/Rock Act winner has form, the Critics’ Choice gong he picked up in 2019 is already serving as a beer pump. So if you want a pint pulled by a shiny award, you know exactly where to go. And do check out Fender if you haven’t already, he’s really very good.

The Nightcap: 11 February

The cat is out of the bag. Oh, hang on, that’s a dog

And finally… Don’t mention the English Whisky Association

We’re not meant to talk about it but apparently, there are plans for an organisation of English whisky distillers. On a recent trip to Circumstance in Bristol, which will be launching its first whisky in September, head distiller Mark Scott (above right) mentioned something about distillers forming a group to discuss possible regulations for the industry. This was followed by frantic lip buttoning gestures from founder Liam Hirt (above centre). When questioned, Hirt then awkwardly elaborated that “all the important ones were involved”, which begs the question, who are the unimportant ones? Apparently, various distillers will be talking to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and there will be an announcement later this year. This story was corroborated by Max Vaughan from White Peak in The Drinks Business. He said that “everyone around the table is a founder of a distillery, who has invested very heavily, personally and financially.” Another anonymous distiller described a possible English Whisky Association as “the worst kept secret in the industry.” Sounds like the cat is very much out of the bag. 

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The Nightcap: 7 January

Why has Taiwan bought 20,000 bottles of rum? Have Bono and the Edge found what they’re looking for? And can you cure a hangover? We ask the big questions in…

Why has Taiwan bought 20,000 bottles of rum? Have Bono and the Edge found what they’re looking for? And can you cure a hangover? We ask the big questions in our first news round-up of the year. The Nightcap: 7 January 2022 has landed!

Hey folks, long time no see. We hope you had a lovely Christmas, a wonderful Chanukah, and a Happy New Year. We did too, thanks for asking, and are now looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. And what better way to do that than with a classic round-up of boozy news. Who’s ready to do some new year Nightcapping?

Since our last edition a fair amount has happened on the blog, so let’s run through it quickly. We made a list of our top ten favourite and most-read posts as well as our funniest stories from 2021. We also launched our famous Burns Night poetry competition and kicked off our Dry January coverage with a guide on how to do it the MoM way, as well as giving you a recipe for a delicious low-alcohol cocktail, some cracking options for which bottles to buy, and even a chance to win big. We also talked about terroir in rum, helped you find a new favourite dram, saw how New Zealand is getting on the whisky map, learned the story behind Fable whisky, and showed you which distilleries to keep an eye on in 2022.

Phew! Lots to catch up on. But for now let’s crack on with The Nightcap: 7 January edition!

The Nightcap: 7 January

These two from U2 have put some serious cash into the beer biz

Bono, the Edge, and Hozier invest in brewery

The Wicklow Wolf Craft Brewing Company has added some star power to its ranks. U2 stars Bono and the Edge, as well as fellow Irish musician Hozier, a part of a group of investors backing the craft brewery. Founded by Mountmellick native Quincey Fennelly and Simon Lynch in 2014, The Wicklow Wolf Craft Brewing Company has issued new shares for almost €2.4 million. Reports suggest Bono and the Edge put up €327,000 between them, and Wicklow native Hozier invested almost €110,000, while the largest investor was Zatrix Holdings, a company controlled by Mary Ann O’Brien, the founder of Irish chocolate maker Lily O’Brien’s. It’s not the first time the brewery has made headlines for big sums, with the company investing €4 million in a brewery in Newtown Mount Kennedy in 2019, the funding for which came from a €2 million equity raise. It’s good to see a company thriving in these difficult times, and hopefully Bono and the Edge have found what they’re looking for. We make no apologies.

The Nightcap: 7 January

We’ve all got our own methods, but let’s face it – none of them truly work

Hangover cures don’t work, say scientists 

On New Year’s Day, did you rub your aching head and reach for the ginseng? If so, we have bad news. According to the scientific journal Addiction (reported in UPI), there’s no evidence that so-called ‘hangover cures’ have any effect. Dr. Emmert Roberts and his team at King’s College London published a study based on over 20 trials of various products containing red ginseng, artichoke extract, prickly pear, and other popular hangover remedies. The doc commented: “Our study has found that evidence on these hangover remedies is of very low quality and there is a need to provide more rigorous assessment.” He continued: “For now, the surest way of preventing hangover symptoms is to abstain from alcohol or drink in moderation.” However, the study did not contain data on the effects of common painkillers like aspirin nor on that old standby, a can of ice-cold full fat Coca-Cola and a bacon sandwich. More research needed, we think.

The Nightcap: 7 January

Lithuanian rum, now very popular in Taiwan

Taiwan buys 20,000 bottles of Lithuania rum destined for China

Taiwan is sharing tips with the public on how to drink and cook with rum after it bought 20,400 bottles of Lithuanian rum bound for China. According to local media, Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTL) purchased the rum after learning that it could be blocked from entering China. It comes after Lithuania established a de facto embassy in Taiwan using the name ‘Taiwan’ rather than ‘Chinese Taipei’, the name preferred by the Chinese government (yes it’s a bit complicated, well worth reading this on the China-Taiwan relationship). In retaliation, China downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania days after. The state-owned TTL said it had been notified by Taiwan’s finance minister and head of the Taiwanese Representative Office of Lithuania (great job title mate) Eric Huang that a batch of rum could be up for grabs, as past shipments of beer had been blocked. Taiwan’s National Development Council later said in a post on Facebook that the rum “could not pass through Chinese customs” and has urged locals to buy rum at the end of January when the shipment would be on sale. Recipes that have been shared include ones for a Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail (classic), and rum-infused French toast (nice), steak (tell me more) and hot chocolate (all great ideas). Of course, we’ve got plenty of rum recipes ourselves if anyone wants any more inspiration. 

The Nightcap: 7 January

A Caribbean-infused Burns Night feast!

Dewar’s will deliver a Caribbean Burns Night feast 

Dewar’s has the perfect answer if you’re planning on celebrating Burns Night at home this year. The Scotch whisky brand has teamed up with creative consultant Mark Low, who also works with Mr Lyan Studio, and food delivery people All in a Box to deliver you a Burns Night supper with a twist. It’s not your standard haggis, neeps, and tatties fare, as it’s inspired by Dewar’s Caribbean Smooth so there’s a West Indian vibe about the whole thing. The box features haggis Scotch eggs, jerk chicken with neeps, tatties, and plantain mash, and an Irn-Bru-infused take on a Manhattan and a Cranachan-inspired Highball cocktail, all made with Caribbean Smooth, an eight-year-old Dewar’s finished in rum casks. It even comes with a special playlist, The Proclaimers covering Chaka Demus and Pliers, perhaps. Boxes cost £70 and you can order from 10 January (go here for more information) for an unforgettable Caribbean-infused Burns Night.

The Nightcap: 7 January

Drinks from the likes of Adnams, Big Drop and Lucky Saint are available

Alcohol-free off-licence comes to London

Can you imagine running down to the offie and finding out that they only have alcohol-free drinks? Surely a nightmare for some, but not for Laura Willoughby who is putting on a pop-up ‘off-license’ just off Regent Street in London with no alcoholic drinks whatsoever. Willoughby (MBE, no less) who runs Club Soda, an alcohol-free drinks site, commented: “More UK drinkers than ever are putting their health first by choosing low and no alcohol products. Substituting alcohol-free drinks for alcoholic ones is a tried-and-tested approach to cutting down or stopping drinking, and having good quality choices makes that easier.” Thankfully these days going without booze doesn’t mean going without flavour. There are over 70 brands on sale including Master of Malt favourites Everleaf and Lyre’s plus excellent zero and low ABV beers from Adnams, Big Drop, and Lucky Saint. So whether you’re doing Dry January, dry curious or just don’t drink alcohol, then head down to 59 Great Portland Street until 20 January. Deliciousness awaits. 

The Nightcap: 7 January

Your Dry January options have just increased

Bacardi releases non-alc spirit Palette

If you’re looking for non-alcoholic deliciousness, Bacardi may have the answer. It has collaborated with bartenders in Amsterdam on two spirit substitutes made with all natural flavours called Palette Roots and Palette Bold. Master of botanicals Alessandro Garneri and his team put cutting-edge technology and three different methods to good use to extract flavour. Of the two varieties, Roots is more your white spirit imitation, made with juniper berries, ginger, and the essential oils of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, while Bold mimics an aged spirit using the likes of American oakwood and gentian root. At the moment it’s on-trade only, the brand will launch in bars and restaurants across London including Lyaness, L’Escargot, and Christopher’s. Suggested serves include the Pink Clove which combines Roots with grapefruit soda, lime juice, and tonic, finished with a grapefruit garnish, or Bold Rush, made with Bold, lemon juice, agave syrup, and mint. “We’re calling time on sweet, tasteless ‘mocktails’,” says Marine Rozenfeld, innovation development lead for Bacardi Europe, Australia & New Zealand. “With the launch of Palette coming hot on the heels of our new Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo with its groundbreaking quality and taste, we are definitely taking mindful drinking to new heights.” Exciting stuff, and right in time for Dry January. That was probably deliberate.

The Nightcap: 7 January

One of the finest Highballs in London

Swift Soho shows off swanky new menu

Did you know that Swift Soho, the award-winning bar and home of the Irish Coffee I think about at least once a week, has just turned five years old? Well, it has, and to celebrate the news the bar has put together a brand new menu: Legends. Inspired by famous drinkers throughout history and their favourite tipples, including drinks industry icons such as Dick Bradsell and his daughter Bea, Peter Dorelli and Salvatore Calabrese, historic figures like Van Gogh and Hemingway, up to present-day celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Sir Ian McKellen. The menu includes 19 fun and elegant cocktails, with new innovations as well as some classic Swift serves, all illustrated by hospitality industry artist Dan Collins, who has drawn a portrait of each of the famous faces and their respective inspired cocktails. We had the opportunity to try a couple and, typically, Swift did not disappoint. There’s a smoky Highball made with Port Charlotte 10 Year Old called the Hummingbird that is so drinkable I’d like to install a tap of it in my flat, while the Pisco Sour-inspired Shanghaied is spectacular. Right now we desperately need to support the hospitality industry, so if you need an excuse we can think of worse ones than sampling the Legends menu. Now I really fancy an Irish Coffee…

The Nightcap: 7 January

Farewell, fellow whisky lovers

And finally… monks expelled for drinking whisky at New Year

Three Buddhist monks were caught boozing at a temple in Thailand on New Year’s Day, claiming they were only drinking whisky to “deliver” the alcohol to ancestors. Police from the Mueang Kamphaengphet District Office at a temple in Kamphaengphet found the senior monks were violating the rules of monkhood after breathalyser tests confirmed suspicions. Local residents who had heard the monks drinking and partying tipped them off and the odour of alcohol was, according to the officers, very strong in the area when they entered the temple. Monk Arpat was the one who confessed, reportedly telling officials, “We don’t usually drink, only in festivals. We were drinking local rice whisky from local residents who wanted to give the spirits to their ancestors as a blessing. So we drank this whisky in order to deliver alcohol to those dead people. We were doing a good thing by blessing their ancestors and thought this would not violate the rules of being a monk.” As excuses go, it’s more creative than anything I’ve ever come up with. Unfortunately, it didn’t wash with the authorities and all three monks were expelled from the monkhood for breaking one of the major rules of conduct for Buddhist Monks in Thailand. If you think they’re bad, just wait till you see the amount of sherry Irish nuns put away at Christmas. Igniting the pudding is a high-risk endeavour. 

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The Nightcap: 21 May

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap. Happy…

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap.

Happy Friday everyone. We hope you all got to spend some time inside one of the many fine hospitality venues and had a nice drink away from all the wind and rain. While there’s something reassuringly British about somebody trying to sip from a pint glass while they get battered by a storm, I think we all agree that things are better this way. Inside it’s warm, there’s music and there’s wi-fi so you can load the latest version of The Nightcap, settle in and enjoy. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Good thing we’ve got another new edition to read. Here it is.

People who love a good competition will have been delighted to see us launch a brand new one with Redbreast. Just find the golden cork and you can win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask whiskey! If gin and vodka are more your speed, then make sure you throw your hat in the ring for a chance to win a VIP trip to the Boatyard Distillery. Elsewhere, we welcomed the news that Brora is back (!) after 38 long years, understood how distilleries have coped launching during Covid, and asked 10 drinks industry experts what they were toasting the grand reopening with. We also heard from Sandy Hyslop on the art of blending whisky and Jon Darby on how to create a brand as unique as Sin Gusano while enjoying five great gins from around the world, a delicious bottle of Argentine red, and a cocktail that brings together bourbon and cider.

Don’t forget to join us on the Clubhouse App at 3pm where you can hear us greedily feast on another week of brilliantly boozy stories and embrace our inner mixologist by insisting on the joy of a whisky cocktail. Now, to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 21 May

This dram comes Bob Dylan approved

Heaven’s Door and Redbreast make whiskey together

Clearly, Redbreast Irish Whiskey felt it wasn’t on the blog enough this week what with our new Dream Cask competition and so revealed that it has teamed up with Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door whiskey for the first time. The collaboration has produced a limited-edition 10-year-old straight bourbon finished in Redbreast Single Pot Still Casks for 15 months called The Master Blenders’ Edition, in honour of the two people who hold the role at Heaven’s Door and Redbreast respectively, Ryan Perry and Billy Leighton. Apparently, Dylan too is actively involved, sampling over a dozen blends before settling on the final selection. Leighton says the legend is a “perfectionist” who “knows his whiskey”. Dylan also created a new gate design in his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio, which was nice of him. The press release believes the end result of this Irish-American marriage is a taste profile “unlike any American whiskey” which Perry says “blew them away”. We’ve been told to expect plenty of nuts, spice, and leather, as well as the influence of “sherry, citrus, dark fruit, and a subtle sweetness of Yellow Man from the Redbreast casks”. The Master Blenders’ Edition is being released in the U.S. for Father’s Day but will also be available in limited quantities in September in the UK and Ireland. Be warned folks: once it’s gone, it is gone for good.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Fancy running things around here for a day? Now’s your chance.

Become a distiller for the day with Annandale

Have you ever dreamed about being a Scotch whisky distiller, even just for a day? Well, now you might just get to live the dream thanks to Annandale. The independent distillery in Dumfries and Galloway, which was first established in 1836 and ‘reborn’ in 2014, is giving people the chance to do just that after listing on Airbnb this summer. The stay is available on the site as part of a new campaign to encourage people to visit the Scottish Lowlands and promises an “immersive two-night stay” in which guests will shadow Annandale’s distillery team and sleep in cottages next to the distillery site. And this isn’t simply pressing a button or tasting a sample at the end. You’ll actually witness each stage of the process, from meeting the malt delivery, to milling and mashing the barley, fermentation, firing up the stills, and filling the casks. Thrown in is a whisky tasting and evening meal at The Globe Inn, Dumfries, a historic pub dating back to 1610 and once frequented by Robert Burns, with two chefs with Michelin star experience at the helm. Plus when you check out you’ll get a bottle of Annandale’s Single Malt Scotch Whisky. And the knowledge of exactly how much work and love goes into making whisky. The stay will be available to book for £480 for two people and you can see which dates are available when you visit airbnb.com/annandaledistillery.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Last Drop hasn’t made its own booze before, so this is quite the entrance

Last Drop Distillers launches first signature blend 

You might remember The Last Drop Distillers was gearing up to create all kinds of delicious booze. Well, the first of the impressive new signature blends range has been unveiled. The creatively titled The Last Drop 50-Year-Old Signature Blended Scotch Whisky was made by esteemed master blender Colin J.P. Scott, who presumably put all his knowledge and experience to good work. He joined Last Drop after a distinguished career with more than 50 years at Chivas Brothers as one of the six founding members of The Assembly, although to put this whisky into context this is just the second 50-year-old blend he’s made in nearly half a century in the industry. The release, just the 22nd in The Last Drop’s history, marks the brand’s first foray into the creation, as well as curation. The whisky began as a new distillate of single malts and grains, which were filled into sherry and bourbon casks more than 50 years ago. But few will get to taste it sadly because as you can imagine for a whisky this old and prestigious, there’s not a lot of it (just 500 bottles worldwide) and it will cost you an arm and a leg (priced at RRP £3,250). Scott says he’s “immensely proud both of the complexity of the whisky and of its significance: as The Last Drop’s first Signature Blend, and as my inaugural release with them”. He adds that he “sincerely hope everyone who tastes it will take as much pleasure in this whisky as I did in blending it.”

The Nightcap: 21 May

Lots of mead awaits if you’ve got what it takes

Help bees, grow sunflowers, win mead

As we’re sure you’re aware, yesterday, 20 May, was World Bee Day. To celebrate these magical pollinating honey-making little creatures, Gosnells Mead, distributed thousands of packets of sunflower seeds across Peckham in south London. The idea is that ‘guerilla gardeners’ plant them in all sorts of places to help bees. And also sunflowers look splendid too. As the founder of London’s only mead producer Tom Gosnell put it: “There are so many patches of bare earth in cities just waiting to be loved, and we hope that our packs will bring an irregular army of smiling sunflowers to urban Peckham and beyond.” He went on to say: “We are doing our bit to enrich biodiversity, something we started in April by making our new Mead Garden & Bar into a flowering jungle. It is a pretty unlikely sight in an industrial estate in Peckham SE15: And now, we’ll be giving out thousands of sunflower planting kits to the likes of community groups, churches, local gardens, shops and care homes.” What’s more, Gosnells is happy to send seeds to people in the UK to grow their own sunflowers. The person who grows the tallest will win the height of the flower in Gosnell’s cans. What a prize! Let’s hope we get some sunshine. 

New #LooksLikeGuinness advert makes us want a pint

England’s pubs opened fully this week and to celebrate/cash-in Guinness unveiled a new campaign called #LooksLikeGuinness. The 40-second advert is based on how when you want a pint, everything from socks on a washing line, to a white cat napping on a black bin looks like a pint of Guinness. The song playing is, naturally, ‘Always on my Mind’. Head of Guinness GB Neil Shah commented: “We want to do all that we can to make sure that the opening week of indoor hospitality is as successful as it can be. We’re pleased to be able to mark this momentous occasion with the #LooksLikeGuinness campaign – the reopening of the pubs has been a long time coming but as we say at Guinness, ‘Good things Come to those who wait’” The advert was created by Jack Watts and James Cambridge at ad agency AMV BBDO, and we think it’s a worthy successor to the great Guinness adverts of old.  Just watch it because it will make you smile and make you want a pint of Guinness – so job done ad people.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Get yourself off the grid. Just as soon as you, errr.. go online first

Go off-grid with Shackleton whisky

We don’t know about you, but being permanently online as many of us have been in the past year has been exhausting. Wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere with no Twitter, email, Slack, Zoom, Instagram, spreadsheets, Clubhouse, or Whatsapp? Well, Shackleton whisky has the answer with its #GoOffGrid interactive map of the best off-grid destinations in the UK. From hidden caves in the Lake District to a shepherd’s hut on the Welsh hillside, these are places where there is no mobile reception or wifi. So you can switch off your phone, enjoy the company of friends and family, get back to nature or appreciate a fine whisky without having to post about it on Instagram. Kenny Nicholson from Shackleton Whisky explained: “After more than a year being stuck indoors, our need to get in touch with our adventurous side and to enjoy quality time with others has never been stronger. When we step outside and put our phones down, we free ourselves of distractions – and that’s why we wanted to build on the map and to give people some inspiration to have longer off-grid adventures through these staycations this year.” To launch the #GoOffGrid campaign, Shackleton is offering a prize for up to six people to stay at a mystery destination over the bank holiday weekend (28-30 May). Sadly, you do have to go online to enter, via the brand’s Instagram channel. If you want to see what you could win, Richard Rankin from Outlander visited the secret location and, erm, recorded his experiences on Instagram. Doesn’t that defeat the whole point of the exercise?

The Nightcap: 21 May

There’s some big brand beef to get stuck into this week

Bacardi avoids £51m claim in Brown-Forman lawsuit

There was some big brand drama in the news this week after a London court determined on Wednesday (19 May) that Bacardi UK has escaped a £51.5 million lawsuit raised by its former distribution partner Brown-Forman. The duo first formed a UK distribution alliance in 2002 and officially ended the relationship in April 2020, after 18 years, severing the alignment between the considerable portfolios which includes brands such as Bombay Sapphire gin (Bacardi) and Jack Daniel’s whiskey (Brown-Forman). In a written argument to the court, Brown-Forman stated the companies decided to go their own ways after Bacardi brought on a new global chief executive who sought structural changes and sued them citing payments owed from a cost-sharing agreement inked with a Bacardi subsidiary in 2016. The Bacardi subsidiary responded with its own cross-claim seeking remuneration for its work as a commercial agent. Now both claims will move forward to arbitration. So this isn’t over yet. Brown-Forman has declined to comment on the ruling, while a spokesperson from Bacardi told The Spirits Business the company was “pleased” with the court’s decision and that “the ruling demonstrates we have acted properly and with integrity”. We suspect this won’t be the last we hear of this.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Everyone, meet Rocco!

And finally… Girvan Distillery hires sniffer dog

News from Girvan Distillery emerged this week regarding possibly the most important story we’ll ever cover. The distillery has hired a dog. Yes, you read that correctly. The Ayrshire-based site does not have a new pet. It has an employee. One-year-old cocker spaniel Rocco has been brought in as a full-time sniffer dog, tasked with nosing any imperfections in wood used to make the distillery’s casks. He’ll then report back to his boss should he detect any issues with the barrels at the cooperage. And what would be his boss’ name, I hear you ask? Why, it’s associate global brand director Chris Wooff. The dog works for a guy called Mr. Wooff, folks. Speaking about the new appointment, Mr. Wooff (hahaha, how is this a real story?) said: “The sense of smell of a dog like Rocco is 40 times stronger than a human’s, and we’ve specially selected and trained Rocco to pick up the scent of anything that’s not quite right as the whisky matures.” Rocco was trained for the role for six months in Pembrokeshire by dog expert Stuart Phillips and reports suggest he is indeed a good boy. Team leader Lianne Noble says the atmosphere lifts wherever Rocco is working, and that people “can’t help but smile in his presence”, adding: “He’s a working dog rather than a workplace pet, so we have guidelines in place to make sure he doesn’t get disturbed when he’s taking a break between shifts, but the boost in morale has been a joy to see.” What a tremendous story this is, and it’s made us realise that it’s vital that we hire a dog as soon as possible. If you know any good candidates tell them to chuck a CV our way. We do require that the pup is toilet-trained and can shake and sit, however. So no timewasters.

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A history of celebrity-endorsed drinks 

From Sean Connery advertising Suntory in the ’90s, to David Beckham with Haig Club, Ian Buxton looks into the history of celebrity-endorsed drinks. Nowadays you’re nowhere in celeb world unless…

From Sean Connery advertising Suntory in the ’90s, to David Beckham with Haig Club, Ian Buxton looks into the history of celebrity-endorsed drinks. Nowadays you’re nowhere in celeb world unless you’ve got your very own Tequila, whisky, gin or Prosecco.

I couldn’t help but notice that Sir Ranulph Fiennes is flogging rum these days. Celebrity-endorsed drinks adverts have been a long-standing fixture since, well, since there were celebrities and advertisements in which to feature them but looking into Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum, it seems that those relationships are now more than skin deep.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes with Dr John Waters

Sir Ranulph Fiennes with Dr John Waters from English Spirit

Celebrity-endorsed drinks through the ages

Sometimes, the celebrity juxtapositions seem bizarre– hard to believe that even in 1949 actress Doris Day was the best salesperson for Harvester road rollers, for example. In alcohol, today’s audiences might look askance at Woody Allen promoting vodka (assuming any brand would think it a great idea) but, in 1966, he was apparently the ideal choice for Smirnoff to appeal to trendy young drinkers.

Fortunately for Smirnoff, its association with Mr Allen was long forgotten (except for this blog’s keen eye for gossip) before recent adverse publicity reflected badly on the brand. But in fact, the possibility of the celebrity turning toxic and damaging the partner is a real danger of celebrity endorsements.

That’s something probably well remembered by Bacardi’s marketing team who, in late 2003, had to withdraw TV commercials featuring ex-footballer turned thespian Vinnie Jones hastily following his involvement in an unfortunate air-rage incident. Unfortunate for both parties as he lost what was clearly a lucrative gig, and Bacardi had to dump at least one expensive advert that had yet to air.  

Once upon a time, it was simpler to use dead celebrities, as at least they could be relied on not to misbehave. Mark Twain (died 1910) and Rudyard Kipling (1936), were both disinterred to promote Old Crow bourbon in American press adverts in the early 1950s based on Twain’s reputed fondness for the brand. He could hardly argue the point or ask for a fee.

Old Crow Whisky

Just Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain enjoying a glass of bourbon

Take the money and run

Some years later, a fashion developed for publicity-shy but impecunious celebrities to endorse Japanese brands, confident that the association would not be picked up in the West, a trend wonderfully satirised by Bill Murray in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation. Murray stars as Bob Harris, a fading American movie star who is having a midlife crisis when he travels to Tokyo to promote Suntory whisky.

Who could he have been thinking of? Surely [surely shurely? Ed.] not Sean Connery’s 1991 promotion of Suntory Crest? Surely one of the world’s greatest Scotsmen would want to promote a fine single malt? Well, no single malt could afford his rumoured fee of $1 million but Dewar’s stepped up in 2004 with some digital magic in which Connery meets his younger self and advises ‘Some age, others mature’.

Doubtless Connery’s agent was happy with that deal and by the turn of the millennium any coyness about an association with alcohol had long been abandoned as more celebrities began to cash in. In fact, coy hardly describes Sharon Stone’s promotion of the William Lawson’s blended Scotch whisky, a sister brand to Dewar’s that’s popular in European markets. 

Leveraging the brand

But soon an even more astute generation of celebrities with a keen sense of their commercial value began looking for more than a lucrative payday, linking their personality uniquely closely with the brand by seeking first a royalty payment based on sales and, even more recently, taking an ownership position with equity in the brand itself.

This is a new development and demonstrates our continuing fascination with celebrity.  Never mind seeking out some obscure, artisan product – as consumers we’re proving little more than biddable sheep, anxious to secure the reflected glory of a well-known face and name.

The trend setters have been US hip-hop* artists such as Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy, Puff, etc) with his 2007 partnership with Diageo’s Ciroc Vodka. Fellow rappers had worked previously with various Cognac brands, such as Jay-Z with Chateau de Cognac’s D’USSE and Nas has been working as a brand ambassador for Hennessy since 2012. 

But P. Diddy changed the rules, treating the French vodka like a trainer brand and insisting on a 50/50 profit split and creative control of US marketing. Did it work? Ask Diageo, which when it acquired DeLeón Tequila was quick to cut a similar deal with Combs.

George Clooney Casamigos

The two amigos, George Clooney and Rande Gerber

In fact, this appears to be a particularly effective strategy for star-struck Diageo which has form in celebrity tie-ins with their brands – think David Beckham with Haig Club and George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila, both following in Combs’ Ciroc footsteps.

Cashing in

The amounts of money are staggering. Casamigos changed hands for a reputed $1 billion if all the longer term targets are met, and August 2020 Diageo was back in business, having ponied up a cool $335m to buy Aviation American gin, with another $275m to follow if sales live up to expectations.

The fortunate celebrity here is Ryan Reynolds who we may safely assume will be able to stand his round for many years to come.

* For the avoidance of doubt the editor has suggested I confirm that I am unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Messrs. P. Diddy, Jay-Z and Nas though, full disclosure, I did once watch a James Bond film.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Cuba Libre

From classic cars to crumbling buildings, Cuba carries the faded beauty of an old movie. Famous for revolutions, communism and its delicious drinks, country’s political history often goes hand-in-hand with…

From classic cars to crumbling buildings, Cuba carries the faded beauty of an old movie. Famous for revolutions, communism and its delicious drinks, country’s political history often goes hand-in-hand with its liquid one. Today we’re making one the island’s classics, the Cuba Libre.

While classic concoctions such as the Daiquiri, the Mojito and El Presidente might require a little more skill (or a good bartender), this week we turn our attention to a much more simple drink: the Cuba Libre. On the face of it, the Cuba Libre is just rum and Coke with a bit of lime. But dig deeper, and it becomes so much more. This is not just a spirit/mixer, this is a cry for freedom.

Cuba Libre Bacardi advert

Free Cuba

The Cuba Libre (which means Free Cuba) became a popular drink on the island following Cuba’s war of independence with Spain in the late 1800s. Before the arrival of Coca-Cola to the island, reports suggest the original Cuba Libre was a mix of honey or molasses with water and rum, or just water and brown sugar.

But by 1900, Coca-Cola was well-established in the country and no doubt a welcome sight for American soldiers still garrisoned there, following the war.

Bacardi, which at that time was still making its rum in its native Cuba, calls the Cuba Libre “part cocktail, part rallying cry”. And original recipes call for Bacardi in the mix.

The rum brand’s archivist Rachel Dorion says that in August 1900, a messenger to Roosevelt’s commander General Leonard Wood, who was later appointed the Military Governor of Cuba, witnessed a new incarnation of the Cuba Libre that used Coca-Cola.

The messenger, Fausto Rodriguez, said that shortly after the war in Cuba, with military intervention still in effect, two Americans opened The American Bar on Neptuno Street in Havana.

The invention of the Cuba Libre

“Rodriguez remembered meeting an American member of the Signal Corps named Russell who ordered Rodriguez a Coca-Cola. He himself ordered his Coca-Cola with Bacardi Gold rum and a wedge of lime,” says Dorion. “The drink became extremely popular among the American soldiers who regularly gathered at the bar.”

The story goes that Russell and his soldier friends decided the cocktail deserved a name. They went for ‘Cuba Libre’, since the phrase ‘Free Cuba!’ was a cry embraced by both Cuban revolutionaries and sympathetic American soldiers.

Rodriguez later affirmed under oath in the State of New York that the event was the first time the phrase Cuba Libre was applied to an alcoholic drink, and that the ingredients were Bacardi Gold rum and Coca-Cola.

Records from the Bacardi archives show that the Cuba Libre cocktail made with Bacardi rum has been mentioned in publications as early as 1928 and in recipe books in the late 1930s. The earliest advertisement that mentions the Cuba Libre cocktail in the Bacardi archive dates back to the 1930s and it reads: “Say ‘make mine with Bacardi’. Try our Bacardi Cuba Libre.”

Cuba Libre advert

Refreshers to lamb chops

In fact, the Cuba Libre has been advertised in several different ways over the years. In a 1946 LIFE magazine ad, the drink was hailed for being refreshing and by 1953, it was all about calorie counting. This ad claims a Cuba Libre has fewer calories than a lamb chop! Good to know, I guess. 

Besides Bacardi, Pernod Ricard’s Havana Club also champions the Cuba Libre. The rum is made in Cuba and in 2018, Havana Club relaunched its Añejo Especial, with a big push for the Cuba Libre cocktail.

“Not to be confused with a basic rum and cola, the authentic Cuba Libre needs a generous squeeze of lime to even out the drink’s sweetness,” says Havana Club.

First taste of ‘freedom’

Balance is always important in a drink. And, as it happens, when you’re standing up on a train.

My first Cuba Libre  – and not just a plain old rum and Coke – was 2009, on board an old Hershey’s Chocolate train that rattled through the sugar cane fields near Havana to Hershey station. US chocolate magnate Milton Hershey had set up business in Cuba in the early part of the 20th century, establishing a railway for the transportation of his sugar.

Anyway, nearly 100 years later, I was on the train in Cuba with Havana Club rum and about 15 bartenders.

It turns out that besides rum, cola and the necessary citrus, you need three other things to make a good Cuba Libre on the back of a rickety old train: pre-cut limes, plastic glasses and a steady hand. Of course, it also helps if you’re surrounded by bartenders.

So, without further ado, here’s how to make it:

Rum and Cola Cuba Libre

How to make a Cuba Libre

50ml Bacardi Carta Oro rum
100ml Coca-Cola
2 lime wedges

Fill a glass with ice, squeeze over the lime and drop the wedges into the glass. Add the rum and cola. Give it a gentle stir and garnish with more lime. Raise a toast to Cuba Libre!

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The Nightcap: 29 January

It’s Friday and that can only mean one thing: it’s the weekend! Oh, and The Nightcap is here! Which is actually two things. Two wonderful things. Let’s proceed. If you…

It’s Friday and that can only mean one thing: it’s the weekend! Oh, and The Nightcap is here! Which is actually two things. Two wonderful things. Let’s proceed.

If you dared to check out the news this week you’ll have seen all sorts of stories about vaccine politics and US stock trading or how it’s been a year since the confirmed case of Covid-19 in the UK. It’s all pretty heavy stuff and, we don’t know about you, but here at MoM Towers we are pretty fatigued by it. We long for the days when a dog chasing deer made the news. More stories like the Robin Hood society going to bed on Wednesday evening with under 400 Twitter followers and waking up to more than 33,000 on Friday are required. Bring on the wholesome content. Speaking of which, here’s The Nightcap. It’s got news on exciting whisky launches, new distilleries on the horizon and virtual whisky festivals to look forward to. Oh, and Bacardí doing the Conga! Can you feel the warm glow of lovely, silly escapism yet?

This week on the MoM blog we had the pleasure of unveiling The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Archive and announcing the results of our third Burns Night poetry competition. My word, you are a creative lot. It was a joy to read the majority of your entries. Apart from the poetry composed by those who insisted on rhyming ‘whisky’ with ‘frisky’. You know who you are. Elsewhere, Ian Buxton revelled in the increasing popularity of rye whisky, Henry delved into the links between history, perfume and booze with BeauFort Spirit, Adam learned about the amazing story behind Masons Gin and Annie got the low-down on Kiwi whisky and more with Cardrona Distillery’s Sarah Elsom. We also enjoyed a five-year-old blended malt from Campbeltown, a once-forgotten classic cocktail and looking at some iconic booze bottle designs.

In The Nightcap this week we've got news on Ardbeg 25 Year Old the oldest permanent expression in the brand's core range

It’s the oldest and arguably most prestigious permanent expression yet!

Ardbeg reveals new whisky. Again.

Not content with just appearing in last week’s Nightcap, Ardbeg has only gone and released yet another intriguing new whisky. In fact, the Islay distillery has released the oldest expression yet to join its permanent range of whiskies: Ardbeg 25 Years Old. One of the most exciting releases to emerge from the distillery, the spirit was distilled during the 1990s, at a time when the brand was only producing a trickle of new make spirit every year. You know what that means. This is rare spirit, folks, and at that age expect a price tag to match. Of course, while this is incredibly exciting, there are some who will fear that so much maturation will tame Ardbeg’s smoky power. Dr Bill Lumsden, director of whisky creation, says this is not the case. “After a quarter of a century in the cask, you’d be forgiven for imagining that Ardbeg 25 Years Old would have lost some of the hallmark Ardbeg smoky punch. I can assure you it hasn’t,” he commented, adding: “There’s also a remarkable complexity and elegance to this whisky that I find utterly captivating. It’s unmistakably Ardbeg, but unlike any Ardbeg you’ve tasted before.” The official tasting note reveals aromas and flavours of smoked cream, earthy bonfires, peppermint, sherbet lemon sweetness, creamy toffee and Ardbeg’s classic fennel and pine resin note. Sounds delightful. As is the fact that Ardbeg 25 Years Old will be available from this very site soon…

In The Nightcap this week we're delighted to learn that we might get not one, but two Spirit of Speyside festivals!

We might get not one, but two Spirit of Speyside festivals this year!

Spirit of Speyside goes virtual. Again.

As you might expect given Fèis Ìle and the Campbeltown Malts Festival were cancelled, the Spirit of Speyside Festival has announced it will be taking its celebrations online this April. An array of delightful virtual events have been put together, including a tour of one of Dalmunach Distillery from master distiller Alan Winchester. There will also be an exploration of Benriach’s new portfolio with brand ambassador Stewart Buchanan and a whistle-stop virtual tasting tour of malt whisky country with The Malt Whisky Trail. The full programme will be revealed in the coming weeks and tickets will go on sale online on 16th March 2021. “Given whisky lovers won’t be able to come to Speyside for our annual festival this April, we have decided to take the festival to them,” James Campbell, chairman at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, said. “In the meantime, we hope that our online programme of events in April will lift everyone’s spirits and give people a taste of what to expect from the festival in November. We will then revert back to our traditional date in 2022.” Yes, you read that correctly. The organisers have also said that, as long as it’s safe, there will also be a festival in person from 3-8 November 2021. As in a festival with proper humans walking around near each other without hazmat suits on. Hurrah!

In The Nightcap this week we welcome a new Speyside distillery

The imaginatively named Speyside Distillery will soon welcome a sister site!

New distillery from Speyside Distillers announced

Sticking with Scotland’s largest whisky-producing region, Speyside Distillers has revealed this week that it will build a new whisky distillery as part of exciting new expansion plans. While full details of the development are secret, including exactly where it will be located, we have got confirmation that the brand’s second distillery will be in Speyside. Which you probably guessed, to be fair. Best known for operating the Speyside Distillery near Kingussie in the foothills of the Cairngorms National Park, Speyside Distillers produce both Spey and Beinn Dubh whisky as well as Byron’s Gin. Managing director Patricia Dillon had this to say on the news. “Last year was challenging for us, as it was for most businesses dealing with Covid-19. Our plans for a new distillery will ensure that we can continue to distil the quantities of whisky required, while also allowing us room for further expansion. Although our full plans – including location and design – are currently under wraps, we’re looking forward to sharing more as they unfold over the coming months and years.” Speyside Distillers has been investing in its future for some time now, having spent £200,000 in creating a visitor centre in the Scottish Highlands of Aviemore in 2018 as well as signing a distribution deal with Luzhou Laojiao International Development in China in 2019. Most recently, the brand has taken on two new members of distilling staff, Martin MacLeod and Raymond MacKay, to assist long-serving employee Andrew Scorgie and distillery manager Allan Findlay. I think we can all agree it’s great to see positive news like this!

In The Nightcap this week we're sending a call out to UK bartenders!

Calling all UK bartenders! A fantastic opportunity, and plenty of vermouth, awaits…

Regal Rogue unveils bartender training program

To bring a bit of good old Australian positivity to the beleaguered British bar scene, Regal Rogue vermouth has just announced a bartender training program. These online sessions will be hosted by founder Mark Ward and the team from the brand’s new distributor, The Liana Collection. The challenge is to create a new cocktail featuring Regal Rogue vermouth with the hashtag: #RogueTipplecocktail. The winning bartender will win a load of Regal Rogue to put to use when the bars reopen. Please let that be soon. Mark Ward commented: “We are all too aware of the challenges facing the industry right now and we are looking to play our part in bringing the industry back to life in a post-Covid world. To that end, we are excited to announce our new partnership with The Liana Collection as our exclusive UK importer. We are looking forward to taking the brand to the next level with the team at Liana and with that, double down on our partnership with the UK bartender community.” David Wood from the Liana Collection added: “We believe training and development is something that can really add value while not breaking the rules of furlough while bar teams are stuck at home. Mark’s category knowledge is a sought-after resource and if I ran a bar team, I would be quick to jump at the opportunity. The sessions are open to all pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK and will operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.” For those not in the trade, we can all indulge in a little amateur mixology at home with Regal Rogue.

In The Nightcap this week we've got a delightfully mysterious Crabbie whisky

While the distillery wasn’t revealed, we can confirm this expression is mighty tasty

Crabbie releases 28-year-old whisky from mystery Speyside distillery

Hot on the heels of the delicious 1994 bottling which we covered last year, John Crabbie & Sons has just released a 28-year-old whisky from 1992. It’s all part of the countdown to the day when the revived Crabbie & Co. distillery in Edinburgh can bottle its first single malt. It won’t be for some time though as the first single malt distillery in the city for over 100 years only opened in 2018. With the 1994, Crabbie was open about the source of the whisky, Tobermory, but for this new release, the team is being all mysterious. All we have been told is that “it comes from a very famous distillery in the GLENLIVET [capitals theirs] valley.” There’s a clue in there somewhere. What we can say about it is that it’s delicious. The nose is like walking into a patisserie with almonds, vanilla, baking spices and orchard fruits, and it doesn’t disappoint in the mouth with a finish you can measure in minutes. We also know that it’s bottled at 45% ABV, costs around £350 and will be with Master of Malt soon.

In The Nightcap this week we cast a sceptical eye on hard seltzers

Hard seltzer is happening… apparently

Here at the Master of Malt blog, we’ve been a bit sceptical about hard seltzers. Whenever we hear those two words we channel Regina George in Mean Girls: “Stop trying to make hard seltzer happen, it’s not going to happen.” Granted they have taken America by storm, and what are essentially low sugar alcopops are clearly a good idea. Our problem is that the category is based on two words that mean nothing to British drinkers, hard meaning alcoholic and seltzer meaning sparkling water. Hoping to prove us wrong comes hard seltzer brand DRTY which has commissioned a report into the category with comments from various drinks industry veterans. According to its figures, from January 2020 the UK market has grown 947% by value. Sounds impressive, though the category did only appear in 2019 so it’s from a very low base. At the moment only 3.3% of households have bought a hard seltzer in the past year. The market is currently worth £10.4 million and if it keeps growing at the same rate it will be worth £75 million by 2023. There are certainly a lot of brands on the market both from multinationals to independent brands; like our own Nate Brown with his Easy Social Cocktail Co. Given a hot summer we think that certain brands will cut through, rather like Hooch and Two Dogs did back in the day. But whether the words ‘hard seltzer’ will be met with anything except bafflement on the streets of London, Leeds or Leighton Buzzard is another matter. 

And finally… Do-do-do. Bacardí does the conga!

It’s a song that has plagued weddings for years but that hasn’t stopped Bacardí by putting together a shiny new cover version of the Conga. The rum brand has put a contemporary spin on the 1980s hit by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine as part of a campaign launched in November which challenged rum fans around the world to “find their rhythm and do what moves them through song and dance”. If you did submit a video of you doing your thing to Instagram then you can check out the Conga Feat. You music video above to see if you made the cut. Among the fan submissions from around the world, the song also features Alesha DixonDiversity, Leslie GraceMeek Mill and was produced by the Grammy-winning Boi-1da (it’s a play on ‘boy wonder’. This man has a Grammy). Ned Duggan, global senior vice president for Bacardí, explained the inspiration behind the campaign. “We’ve always seen music as such a powerful force in bringing people together, and as the world trended toward division and isolation this past year, we wanted to use music as a catalyst to bring people back together in a way that has never been done before. We can’t wait for you to see it.” To accompany the release, Bacardí created a cocktail called the Coco Conga, a spin on the classic Mojito. You make it by adding 50ml Bacardí Carta Blanca Rum, 25ml lime juice, 2 tsp sugar and 12 fresh mint leaves to a highball glass. Press that mint with a bar spoon to release the oils, add crushed ice, almost to the top, and churn. Top with some Club Soda and crown with a playful splash (I like to say the word ‘splash’ out-loud when I do it) of Bacardí Coconut Flavored Rum. Finally, garnish that with beauty with a mint sprig and a lime wedge and find a nice seat to relax in and enjoy it with a good book. Nah, we’re just kidding. Go and do the Conga!

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The Nightcap: 6 November

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy! As we all…

The first Nightcap of the second lockdown has arrived just in time to provide some much-needed cheer and levity. It’s packed full of boozy goodness so enjoy!

As we all brace for Lockdown 2 (or 2 Lockdown 2 Furious), the team at MoM Towers has been searching for silver linings. Maybe we’ll have some more time to try to understand the electoral college system and even more time to watch old James Bond films after we’ve inevitably given up. We’ll also be able to do some important research, like finding out what the implications of Sam’s snack grid are (someone grab some dark rum and popcorn for the Bond marathon, while I think of it) and why we haven’t done more coverage of distillery pets. Of course, with Black Friday, Christmas and who knows what else on the way we probably won’t have any more free time, but we can guarantee that there will always be a fresh, warm Nightcap ready every Friday evening, just how you like it. That’s a pretty good silver lining, at least.

Things might have ground to a halt around us but the MoM blog was as busy as ever this week as we launched another #BagThisBundle competition, this time with the wonderful folks at Cointreau. Then, as it’s #SherrryWeek, Annie looked at the vibrant vermouth scene in Jerez and the rest of Spain, before learning about the story behind a gin created to raise money for a historic endeavour and how Nikka is spoiling us by launching not one, but two new Japanese whiskies. Henry then shook up a special seasonal cocktail for Bonfire Night and created a shopping list of the essentials bottles you need to make your home bar the envy of your friends. As for Adam, he had a pretty whisky-soaked week, finding out what makes Scandi spirit-makers Stauning so stellar and tasting a 60-year-old single cask whisky from Glenfarclas Distillery. 

Johnnie Walker film coming soon

First, there was the whisky, then there was a book, and now we’ve just got the news that there’s going to be a Johnnie Walker documentary. Slated to appear on the 12 November we don’t know terribly much about it, only to say that it’s the story of the world’s most famous whisky brand. Called ‘The Man Who Walked Around the World’, it features contributions from Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan, advertising guru John Hegarty, and noted booze enthusiast Alice Lascelles. It’s been directed by award-winning filmmaker Anthony Wonke for independent production company Something Originals and Partizan films. Check out the jazzy trailer above. When we know more, we’ll let you know. 

The Nightcap

We can now officially say this is an artist’s representation of The Cairn

Gordon & MacPhail unveils The Cairn 

Do you remember that distillery that Gordon & MacPhail was building in Cairngorms National Park? Well, the family-owned whisky specialist has given it a name: The Cairn. Which makes sense. Must have been a short meeting. The brand has said it was chosen to honour the stunning surroundings of the park (it really is glorious) and that it wanted a brand that would be easy to communicate globally, which presumably rules out any hard-to-pronounce Scottish Gaelic and prevents them from stepping on the toes of its other distillery, Benromach. “We wanted the new brand to complement, not compete. It’s eye-catching and contemporary and the approach to developing it put the consumer at the centre of our thinking,” said Ian Chapman, The Cairn brands director. “It is the same approach we have taken to designing The Cairn Distillery itself. The modern building takes advantage of the outstanding views across the River Spey to the Cairngorms and has been designed with the customer at the centre of the experience.” An icon has been developed to symbolise the brand; the fragmented shape representing the coming together of many pieces to form a cairn. Scheduled to open in spring 2022, The Cairn Distillery will include a visitor experience, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop.

The Nightcap

It was bottled at 95% ABV, folks. 95%. You read that right.

Anno Distillers launches world’s strongest gin

Our Kent-based neighbours Anno Distillers informed us of some pretty astounding news this week, it has created what is believed to be the world’s strongest gin. Anno Extreme was bottled at a frankly alarming 95% ABV Gin, smashing the previous record of 82.5% ABV and made in Sweden. Naturally, the gin is available in smaller bottles, just 20cl, and even comes in a presentation box with a 25ml scientific measuring beaker, perfect for accurate measurements with the suggested serves. There’s the Light G&T, a 5ml measure of Extreme poured over ice and served with premium tonic and a slice of grapefruit which is said to deliver “full flavour G&T with 75% less alcohol” (so a Hayman’s Small Gin kind of deal) and the Strong G&T, a 25ml measure of gin poured over ice and topped up with at least 120ml of premium tonic (the equivalent of an ordinary double measure, Anno says), garnished with a sprig of bruised thyme. “We wanted to make a gin which packs more punch and flavour drop-for-drop than any other spirit in the world,” says Dr Andy Reason, co-founder of Anno Distillers. “As scientists we really wanted to push the limits of possibility and create the spirit of alchemy, turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.” 

The Nightcap

Of course Sam Neill makes booze, he’s so awesome.

Sam Neill meets Samuel Gelston’s whiskey

Samuel Gelston’s has announced the launch of its latest expression and it’s honestly one of the coolest collaborations ever. You see, Johnny Neill, who runs the brand, teamed up with his cousin who owns a vineyard in New Zealand called Two Paddocks and matured the single pot still Irish whiskey in Pinot Noir casks. Who is that cousin, you ask? Sam Neill. The Sam Neill. The actual star of Jurassic Park, Peaky Blinders and more. Amazing. Anyway, back to the liquid, it was triple distilled and matured for 19 months in ex-bourbon casks, before spending a further 21 months maturing in the French oak casks and is said to have notes of strawberry, nutmeg, tropical fruit, blackcurrant and more. “The Neill family have been making quality spirits for generations. My great, great grandfather Harry Neill set up the successful McCallum Neill & Co in Australia in 1851, and Percival, one of his younger brothers set up Messrs Neill & Co in 1882 – Percival was Sam’s great grandfather,” said Johnny. “Sam and I have continued this legacy in our respective sides of the world. For the first time in 150 years, we’re bringing together the expertise from both sides of the family  – the result being an incredibly exciting sweet, honeyed and very inviting single pot still whiskey”.

The Nightcap

The World’s Best Bar has been announced, just as we can’t visit!

Connaught in London named World’s Best Bar

In a bit of cruel timing as much of Europe goes back into lockdown, the World’s Top 50 bars have been revealed just as we can’t visit them. Oh well! Sitting astride the world is the Connaught Bar in London. Mark Sansom, content editor for The World’s 50 Best Bars, commented: “Hats off to Connaught Bar, undoubtedly one of the finest cocktail bars of our time. The institution has earned a place on the list every year since 2010 and it has gradually grown in stature to become the world-beating bar it is today. Ago Perrone and his team are dedicated to excellence and look at every element of the guest experience to choreograph a faultless service.” Runners up were last year’s winner Dante in New York followed by the Clumsies in Athens. It’s been a great year for London with three in the top ten: Tayēr + Elementary were at number five and newcomer Kwant at number six. All in all the list features bars from 23 countries: the Best Bar in Asia award went to Atlas, Singapore; the Best Bar in Australasia is Sammy in Sydney; Zuma, Dubai picked up Best Bar in the Middle East and Africa, while Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires, is The Best Bar in South America. Elisa Gregori from main sponsors Perrier added: “The pandemic has heavily impacted the entire hospitality industry and the situation remains shaped by uncertainty, yet the industry is adapting quickly and we believe it will return stronger after these difficult times.” Congratulations to everyone who made the list and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to visit some of them in the not too distant future.


The Nightcap

Dr Bill says Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish is an “indulgently sweet and rich” dram

New small-batch Glenmorangie is on the way

We can never hear the words ‘Glenmorangie’s launches new whisky’ too much so we were obviously delighted to learn that a small batch edition was on the way (keep an eye out for it). The 12-year-old bottling was finished in Malaga wine casks, which aren’t the most common sight in Scotch whisky. Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie director of whisky creation, sourced the rare handful of first-fill Malaga ‘dulce’ casks (which once contained wines at the sweeter end of Malaga’s range), then filled them with an eight-year-old whisky initially aged in bourbon casks. After four years of finishing, Dr Bill chose the best of these casks in July 2020 to be bottled for the Distillery’s Barrel Select Release. “The honeyed aromas and fruity, chocolatey tastes of Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish take me straight to the sun-kissed south of Spain, where Malaga’s famed fortified wines are made,” said Dr Bill. “By finishing our soft, creamy whisky in Malaga ‘dulce’ casks, we’ve created an indulgently sweet and rich small-batch single malt. Our Barrel Select Release is a delicious treat for whisky lovers old and new.” You can see for yourself if Dr Bill is on the money, as Glenmorangie Malaga Cask Finish will be available soon from Master of Malt. 

The Nightcap

The industry needs support like this from those who have the resources to provide it

Diageo relaunches Learning for Life

This is a critical time for the hospitality industry with COVID-19 restrictions set to have a continued impact on the sector, so now would be the moment for some big players to step up. Diageo has set its sights on doing just that this week by relaunching Learning for Life, an award-winning bartender and hospitality training programme that aims to assist the sector to meet the demands of dealing with COVID-19. Learning for Life has been designed to help to develop and engage the industry’s hard-pressed staff, including those on furlough, by providing key training, alleviating isolation, improving practices and updating ways of working during these challenging times. The £1m-per-year programme will work alongside Diageo’s Raising the Bar programme, which pumps £30 million into the UK hospitality trade to create a safer infrastructure, for example through the introduction of hand sanitiser units or personal protective equipment for staff. “People and businesses in the hospitality industry across the UK are fighting for their future and we stand alongside them in that fight,” said Nicola Reid, Diageo Learning for Life Manager. “That’s why we’ve refocussed our Learning for Life programme so it offers the best training opportunities possible to support bar staff and businesses with skills that will help them weather the current storm”.

The Nightcap

Ten expressions from The Glenlivet form the bulk of the range

Chivas Brothers unveils 2020 Distillery Reserve Collection

Chivas Brothers latest single malt collection is on the way! There are 48 new single cask expressions ranging from four to 29-years-old that were sourced from 13 of Pernod Ricard’s distilleries, including The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Aberlour and Scapa. The full Distillery Reserve Collection is now available for purchase from visitor centres of the aforementioned distilleries (visit here for full information on opening times and restrictions to operations) but, due to the current travel restrictions, for the first time, a smaller selection of bottlings will also be available from The Glenlivet website. “Our distilleries are the beating heart of Chivas Brothers and the Distillery Reserve Collection celebrates the heritage, innovation and style that make each one unique. This one-of-a-kind collection has been hand-selected to showcase the breadth of character and bold flavours single malt distilleries can achieve,” says Miriam Eceolaza, marketing director, single malts at Chivas Brothers. “I’m thrilled to be able to invite whisky lovers to join us in celebrating the stories of Speyside and delve even deeper into the vast world of single malt whiskies.”

The nation’s favourite on-screen boozers revealed

Liberty Games has done some vital research this week and conducted a survey to find out the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer, as well as analysing the price of a pint, the location and the IMDb score of each pub. The games retailer can reveal that The Nag’s Head from Only Fools and Horses is the nation’s favourite on-screen boozer in the UK. with 17.2% of Brits saying they would love to have a drink there, although it does tie with Harry Potter’s The Leaky Cauldron for having the most expensive pint, costing £5. Typical London prices. The cheapest pint can be found in the pub from Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’, the Archer Hotel, at just £3.20. Liberty Games also found London has the most on-screen pubs, but that Yorkshire has the majority of the nation’s favourite on-screen pubs. It is God’s own county, after all. The Woolpack from Emmerdale and the Leaky Cauldron are the second and third favourite fictional pubs with 13.4% and 12.6% of respondents agreeing they are the pub they would most like to have a drink in. The Crab & Lobster from Doc Martin, Heartbeat’s The Ainsfield Arms, The Drovers Arms from All Creatures Great and Small, Life on Mars’ The Railway Arms, The Boatman from Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Slaughtered Lamb from An American Werewolf in London also made the top ten. Which fictional pub would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments.

The Nightcap

If any of our family are reading this, then yes we want one of these

And finally… Bacardi combines a bar with a turntable

According to Bacardi, a fifth of British people will be hosting a virtual cocktail party this Christmas while 60% will be celebrating with friends and family over Zoom. And in the best marketing tradition of revealing a problem and then solving it, Bacardi has the antidote to all this enforced staying at home. Designed by “famed furniture designer” Hugh Miller (surely, you’ve heard of him?), it’s called the Mixing Console, and it’s a freestanding bar with a walnut top and an actual turntable and speakers built-in. And not just any turntable but an “attractive and well-engineered” Fluance RT80. Not my words but the words of What HiFi magazine. So you can mix your drinks while spinning your records. Just be careful you don’t get the two confused or it could get messy. Also, this magnificence doesn’t come cheap, £1700. But Bacardi’s research also stated that: “treating yourself, family and friends more are top 2021 New Year’s resolutions”, so come on family, treat me!

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The Nightcap: 24 July

Well, another week bites the dust. It’s time to put your feet up, pour yourself a drink and immerse yourself in some fresh booze news. This week, Ardbeg brings you the…

Well, another week bites the dust. It’s time to put your feet up, pour yourself a drink and immerse yourself in some fresh booze news. This week, Ardbeg brings you the thrill of the grill, Glen Moray unveils some single cask expressions, and Jose Cuervo debuts an automatic Tequila button.

Greetings, weary traveller. You have stumbled upon an everlasting tome of knowledge, one that is reborn anew once a week, refreshed, revitalised, brimming with new information. This rejuvenating opus tells tales of people who use the elements to create deliciousness where the once was none. These descriptions sound like myths and legends, but they are in fact true reports. What could this regularly regenerating work be?! Well, weary traveller, it’s The Nightcap!

We kicked off the week with an irresistible competition to win some sustainable booze from our neighbours at Greensand Ridge Distillery. Henry highlighted a rare single grain bottling from the now-demolished Port Dundas in Glasgow, before shaking up some sherry and cassis with Alex Williams from the Great Scotland Yard Hotel for our Cocktail of the Week. On Tuesday, we welcomed a new writer to our blog, Lucy Britner, who looked at pre-mixed cocktails. Welcome Lucy! Annie had a busy week, she spoke to a company looking at distillation from a molecular point of view, and interviewed Ron Welsh master blender and strategic inventory manager for distilleries including Bowmore, Laphroaig and Auchentoshan. Finally, Adam got all excited about cocktail bundles, and who can blame him? That was the week, now on with the news!

Ardbeg and DJ BBQ team up for online grill sessions

This summer you can experience the thrill of the grill online as Ardbeg teams up with diffident TV cook DJ BBQ for the Ardbeg Smoke Sessions. DJ BBQ (aka Christian Stevenson) will be hosting a series of online classes showing whisky lovers how to up their grill game as well as making delicious smoky drinks using Ardbeg 10, An Oa and Wee Beastie. Joining him will be everyone’s favourite head of maturing whisky stocks, Brendan McCarron, aka DJ PPM. Mr BBQ commented: “My smoky barbeque recipes share so many characteristics with the flavours of Ardbeg whisky, and they complement each other perfectly. The laws of wood, heat and smoke are so important to barbecue and single malt alike, and once mastered, you’ll become a barbeque boss! The taste of braided beef fillet alongside an Ardbeg 10 Old Fashioned is just awesome, and a sip of hot Wee Beastie punch with a slow smoked pork shoulder is unrivalled!” The series launched on 21 July on Ardbeg’s social channels (you can watch the first episode here), and there will be a special Instagram Live event on Friday 24 July (tonight!) at 8pm BST. Furthermore, things will be happening in the real world too, as you can order DJ BBQ’s Maple and Bacon Old Fashioned via Mothership on the Drinks At Home platform. Looks smoking!

Lovely wine cask whiskies are just a phone call away

Glen Moray releases three wine cask whiskies

She’s been at it again. Dr Kirstie McCallum has clearly been having a whale of a time in the warehouses of Glen Moray since she joined the distillery as head of whisky creation in 2019. Earlier this year, it was a 2006 Madeira cask, and now there are three new single casks Distillery Editions available: a 2004 Chenin Blanc, a 2003 Chardonnay, and a 2004 Burgundy. All have been fully matured in wine casks and bottled at cask strength. The team at Master of Malt was given a wee taste, and not only did we love these distinctive whiskies, we were impressed with the very reasonable pricing, £85 a bottle. They would normally be available only from the distillery which reopened last week. But if you can’t make it, you might still be able to get your hands on a bottle. Just give them a ring. Visitor centre manager Iain Allan commented: “Buying a bottle of Glen Moray from our annual Distillery Edition is as much about the experience of a visit to the distillery as it is about buying a wonderful new whisky. For the many people who would normally make the trip and take away one of these special bottles, we wanted to find a way to make the range available but avoid making it just a basic transaction over email or the internet. Everyone working at the distillery enjoys nothing more than talking about whisky with fellow enthusiasts, answering questions and sharing behind the scenes stories of how Glen Moray is made.” So dial Glen Moray for a nice blether about whisky. 

Totally fabulous, darling

Harrods opens luxurious basement Baccarat Bar 

News just in: swanky basement bar has just opened in Harrods. Though wouldn’t it be more newsworthy if a dingy pub opened in the Knightsbridge department store instead, offering £2 a pint Wednesdays and wall-to-wall football? Anyway, Harrods went for the more obvious swanky option: the new venue has been created in partnership with Baccarat, the crystal glass maker. It’s called… The Baccarat Bar! With social distancing in place, there’s room for 23 guests only, so it’s pretty exclusive. The totally fabulous interior, a symphony in glass and marble, was created by Fabled Studio and is inspired by Baccarat’s creations. The menu, put together by bar manager Cameron Attfield, is no slouch either, with 16 signature drinks made using state of the art techniques. He commented: “We have approached the drinks in a unique manner, with the design of the bar and its playful yet exquisite elegance and form setting the tone of our menu, but then applying multiple flavour extraction techniques, including fermentation, vacuum distillation, ultrasonic homogenisation and carbonation to make it a reality.” Each drink comes in its own special glass. You can probably guess the manufacturer.

Al fresco drinking will be all the rage this summer

It’s going to be the summer of the garden party, says Bacardi

Top drinks company Bacardi commissioned a survey of Britain’s plans for summer drinking, and you won’t be surprised to learn that it involves being outside… a lot. Out of a survey group of 1,000, 39% said that they will be socialising outdoors more than last year. You’d think, though, that it would be more like 100%. Much of this al fresco frolicking will be taking place at home, with 71% planning on attending or hosting a garden party, and 44% preferring their own gardens to outdoor spaces at venues. So some way to go before Britain’s pub-going returns to normal. But 59% did say that an outdoor space would entice them back to a pub or restaurant with socially-distanced tables (57%), hand sanitiser at the bar (53%), and contactless payments (52%) all cited as important. And what will we be drinking this summer according to the survey? Happily for rum giant Bacardi, the answer seemed to be rum-based cocktails with the most popular being the Mojito and Piña Colada (both picked by 24%). Let’s hope the weather holds up.

Safe and snazzy: Boë Gin’s masks

Boë Gin gives away face masks as coverings become law in the UK

If you’re reading this in the UK you’ll know that as of today, it’s a legal requirement to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces, including shops, banks, and public transport hubs. There are a number of options, from the surgical to the homemade, if you’re one of the craftier among us. But if, like us, you’d rather someone else puts the leg work in, then look no further than Boë Gin! The Scottish producer is giving away snazzy reusable face coverings to bartenders and hospitality workers around the country. The purple masks feature a floral pattern inspired by the brand’s violet gin, and can be washed and reused. “We hope these face masks can help people look great and stay safe at the same time,” said Andrew Richardson, Boë director. “The stylish masks are designed to be worn regardless of the occasion – whether that’s a trip to the shops or working behind a bar making some of our delicious signature cocktails. As always, we encourage everyone to stay safe – even while they are enjoying themselves.” Taken by the masks? Head to the Boë site and to see how you can get your mitts on your own! 

Aberlour is one of four Chivas Brothers distilleries welcoming visitors back

The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Scapa and Strathisla get set to reopen

Wonderful news reaches us! And it will be especially welcome if you’re planning on a spot of Scotch whisky tourism this summer. Chivas Brothers has announced it will reopen four of its Scotch brand homes as lockdown eases in the UK! The Glenlivet, Aberlour and Scapa will throw open their (highly sanitised) doors on 29 July, with Strathisla allowing visitors back in from 7 August. Pre-booking online is essential, your temperature will be zapped on arrival, social distancing measures will be strictly enforced, and you should bring your own face mask (although there will be supplies on-hand if you forget yours. But face coverings are the new normal, people. Get with the times.). “After four challenging months, we’re delighted to be able to reopen the doors to our brand homes to give visitors the chance to safely enjoy our whiskies and the beautiful surroundings in Speyside and Orkney,” said Gordon Buist, Chivas Brothers production director. We have had substantial best-in-class Safe System of Work processes in place across all of our operational sites over the last few months, and we have been working closely with our local Speyside and Orkney communities to enable us to take significant steps in implementing these strict social distancing and sanitation measures in our visitor centres as well, ensuring we’re able to welcome visitors safely, protect our colleagues and neighbours, and support Scottish tourism. Whether a discerning drinker or discovering drams for the first time, the team and I look forward to welcoming visitors safely back to our homes to uncover more about our rich Scotch heritage.” We can’t wait to get back inside a distillery – just no sharing drams, obvs.

Avallen Calvados

Avallen’s on a £250k crowd-funding drive

Calvados brand Avallen kicks off Seedrs crowdfunding drive

Every so often, the chance to own a little bit of a booze brand comes along. If you’ve fancied yourself as the next Cameron Diaz or Post Malone but without the singing, we have news for you. As of this week, Calvados brand Avallen is looking for investors! The sustainability-focused brand launched in spring 2019 and it’s notched up more than 1,000 case sales since launch. The brand’s philosophy is all about creating planet-positive drinks that taste delicious – and now we can be part of it, too. Avallen’s founders are looking to raise £250,000 through crowdfunding platform Seedrs, with the funds put towards hiring sales and marketing directors, and securing carbon-neutral certification. Fancy splashing out? Head over to Seedrs and check it out!

Certainly presses our buttons

And finally… press a button for Jose Cuervo Tequila

The best thing about being rich is being able to press a button and get exactly what you want. Who hasn’t dreamed of being Mr Burns from The Simpsons who, at the touch of a button, can summon a team of top lawyers, a flight of winged monkeys, or drop his enemies down into a bottomless pit? No? Just us? Well, top Tequila brand Jose Cuervo is about to make someone’s button-based dreams come true, though sadly it doesn’t involve bottomless pits or winged monkeys. Just in time for National Tequila Day on Friday 24 July (as in, today!), the company is launching a competition to win a ‘Push for Tequila’ button. One lucky person will win a button and a year’s supply of Tequila (one bottle per month). Simply press the button, and a bottle of Tequila will be sent to you to enjoy with your friends (responsibly, natch). You can enter via Jose Cuervo’s UK Instagram @josecuervouk and Facebook pages. Good luck!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 24 July

The Nightcap: 17 April

Easter Monday might have made this a shorter working week but there’s still a good helping of boozy news to get stuck into. It’s The Nightcap! If you’re looking to…

Easter Monday might have made this a shorter working week but there’s still a good helping of boozy news to get stuck into. It’s The Nightcap!

If you’re looking to head into the weekend with a brain full of news from the world of booze, you’ve come to the right place – it’s The Nightcap! If you wanted to go into the weekend with a brain full of badger facts, you’ve also come to the right place: badgers are part of the Mustelidae family, meaning they’re related to wolverines. The word “badger” is thought to come from the French word for someone who digs, “bêcheur”. Probably because they’re good at digging. OK, enough badger facts. Time for the booze news!

On the MoM blog this week we were delighted to announce that Glenlivet Spectra has arrived exclusively at MoM HQ. Elsewhere, Annie took us inside the archives at Irish Distillers and then cast an eye on four botanical bottlings that capture the essence of their local area, Jess gave us some top tips on how to have the perfect virtual tasting and Henry mixed a cocktail that made its name back in the golden age. Adam, meanwhile, led us on VR tours of GlenDronach and BenRiach Distillery and recommended some incredible whiskeys from across the pond as well as five films that feature a drop of the good stuff. Oh, and don’t forget there’s still to enter our competition to win a VIP 2021 trip to The GlenDronach distillery!

Once again we’d like to thank all those who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday and say congratulations to the winner, Richard Hales! He’s won himself a £25 gift voucher to put to good use at MoM Towers and if you like the sound of that, you’ll be pleased to know this week’s edition (link here) will go live at 5pm tonight. You can also find the answers to last week’s quiz if you scroll down to the bottom.

Now, let’s get on with The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Happy International Kümmel Day!

Kümmel ye faithful!

Today is the big one, bigger than British Pie Week, more exclusive than World Whisky Day, it’s International Kümmel Day! The second-ever and it celebrates 170 years since Ludwig Mentzendorff decided to import his kümmel, which was made in Riga at the time, to the UK (it’s now distilled in France). The British seemed to have fallen for kümmel’s caraway-scented charms immediately. It was particularly popular among golfers who used to refer to it as ‘putting mixture’ but every drinks cabinet would have had a bottle, there’s no better cold weather-pick-me up. Now this classic schnapps is undergoing a revival as bartenders around the world discover it’s peculiar charms. Such luminaries of the drinks world as Simon Difford, Richard Godwin and Alice Lascelles have all come out as members of the Kümmel cognoscenti. You can mix it or just enjoy it neat with ice. So dig out a bottle or buy one and all this week give kümmel some online love with the #mentzendorffkummel hashtag. 

The Nightcap

Say hello to Jameson Hosts!

Jameson supports global bar community online with Jameson Hosts

Jameson has gone and launched an online platform to bring the international bar community together in these strange times. Say hello to Jameson Hosts, an online space where the bar community can come together to share their experiences and knowledge through the wonders of video! What’s more, Jameson is those who create videos for the platform financially, with the content covering all sorts of topics from cocktail masterclasses, wellbeing, career coaching and whiskey tutorials, as well as advice from bar teams around the globe about how they’re adapting to the new challenges imposed by the pandemic. It’s looking to the future too, covering how businesses can better equip themselves for when they (eventually) reopen. “The global bar community has dedicated its life and career to the service of others.  Now, more than ever, this community needs a new place to come together and share inspiring stories, real-world guidance and encouraging words to help each other overcome the challenges they face today and those that lie ahead,” says Brendan Buckley, international marketing director at Irish Distillers. “We hope this will offer both practical and emotional support through this challenging time and we very much look forward to celebrating with all our hosts at Midleton soon.”

The Nightcap

The awards take place on the 18th – 20th September, assuming we can do things by then

Glencairn sponsors Scottish crime writing awards

Everyone’s favourite whisky tasting glass company Glencairns has teamed up with the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival to sponsor two awards. The big one is The McIlvanney Prize named after William McIlvanney who pretty much invented the hard-boiled Scottish detective genre in a brilliant trilogy of novels: Laidlaw, The Papers of Tony Veitch and Strange Loyalties. Without McIlvanney there would have been no Rebus and no Taggart. The winner will receive a prize of £1000, a Glencairn Crystal Decanter and nationwide promotion in Waterstones. Glencairn will also be sponsoring The Bloody Scotland Debut Prize consisting of £500 and a Glencairn Star Trophy. Kirsty Nicholson from Glencairn commented: “As a Scottish family-owned company we are excited and proud to be involved with such prestigious prizes that both celebrate and reward such a rich and talented tradition as Scottish crime fiction. Like Scottish crime writing, the Glencairn Glass is uniquely Scottish with a truly global appeal. We look forward to a great working relationship with Bloody Scotland and would like to wish all the authors who have entered the best of luck.” Festival director Bob McDevitt added: “It’s great to see that in this time of great uncertainty, the Bloody Scotland prizes have attracted another great crop of Scottish crime novels for readers to escape into. I’m also really pleased to welcome Glencairn Crystal on board as a sponsor of the prizes this year and look forward to working with them in the future.” The awards will take place during the festival 18th – 20th September. If we’re allowed out then.

The Nightcap

The cocktails are made with Bacardi spirits, including its signature rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin and more

Bacardi and Deliveroo Editions delivering cocktails to your door

Bacardi and Deliveroo Editions have joined forces in a bid to break lockdown boredom and support local bars in London and Manchester while their doors are closed. The ‘Cocktails at Home’ initiative will ensure that you can still enjoy your favourite cocktails by delivering them straight to your door. More than 120 bars in London and Manchester in the UK began to offer the service yesterday and new bars and cocktails will be added every two weeks over the next two months. To order you can simply head to one of the following links: Whitechapel, Bermondsey, Manchester. The initiative has focused on smaller, independent bars that have no corporate backing and the cocktails will be made with Bacardi spirits, including its signature rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Grey Goose Vodka, Martini vermouth and Patrón Tequila. “Our strong relationships with bars and bartenders in the UK is incredibly important to us and as we face the current challenges together, we’re doing all we can to provide the support they need,” says Amanda Almond, managing director for Bacardi, UK and Ireland. “We have 158 years’ experience of overcoming the crises and coming out fighting, and through our Raise Your Spirits initiative, we intend to do exactly that for our on-trade partners.” So, if you fancy a Cubano with Bacardi Ocho from Kwānt, a Rosy Life with Patrón Tequila from Artesian or Lychee Martini with Bombay Sapphire Gin from Filthy 13, you know what to do!

The Nightcap

Gin O’Clock has become a regular highlight of the lockdown for people

And finally… Gin, crisps and ready meals keep the nation’s spirits up during lockdown

As the UK collectively feels the effect of the government-imposed lockdown, you won’t be surprised to hear that people are finding collective comfort in gin, crisps and ready meals. According to proquo ai’s Covid-19 brand impact monitor, folks looking for ways to enjoy a ‘big night in’ have turned to brands like Hendricks, whose products have surged in popularity helped by the goodwill generated when it repurposed some of its production facilities to make hand sanitiser. Gin O’Clock has become a regular highlight, with one respondent saying: “I never used to drink gin but now I have a little on the weekend. Me and the neighbours have started buying different flavours, and we meet up and have a social-distancing gin tasting night.” Unsurprisingly, mixers have also benefited from the trend, with Fentimans, Fever-Tree and Schweppes all attracting new customers and as cocktails go hand in hand with a salty snack, premium crisp brands are also gaining in popularity with new users. “Our platform gathers people’s feelings towards brands 24/7 so it’s been fascinating to see the immediate impact of Covid-19 and related lockdown on public perception,” says Jim Brennan, managing director of proquo ai. “People are not only changing their daily routines, but are also interacting with brands they wouldn’t normally use outside of a crisis. Brands that understand what people need at this time – and work to meet these needs – will ultimately be the ones which succeed.” If you’re looking for a tasty new gin to indulge in, we have a few right here.

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers


1) What is Beyoncé ‘sippin’ with no chaser’ in 2016 hit Formation

Answer: Cuervo

2) What was Jack Daniel’s real name? 

Answer: Jasper Newton Daniel

3) What was John Lennon’s favourite cocktail? 

Answer: Brandy Alexander

4) What is Dr Dre’s gin brand of choice? 

Answer: Hendricks

5) Which Craft Beer producer also produces Lone Wolf Gin?

Answer: Brewdog

6) Which late comedian shares his last name with the profession of fabricating barrels? 

Answer: Tommy Cooper

7) What drink does Carrie Bradshaw attempt to order at McDonald’s alongside her cheeseburger and large fries in Sex and the City?

Answer: Cosmopolitan

8) Jean Martell, the founder of the Cognac house, came from which island? 

Answer: Jersey

9) Which country is famous for making rum in wooden stills? 

Answer: Guyana

10) Do London dry gins have to be made in the UK capital?

Answer: No

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The Nightcap: 7 February

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

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

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

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

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

The Nightcap

Moonshine. Who knew?

Ole Smoky Distilleries named most visited distillery in the world

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

The Nightcap

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

Man sells £11 bottle of Macallan for £2700

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

The Nightcap

Dry January appears to making its mark

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

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

The Nightcap

The campaign features five-time Major golf champion Phil Mickelson

Amstel Light launches campaign for male friendships

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

The Nightcap

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

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

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

The Nightcap

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

Milroy’s of Spitalfields launches Comedy Nights

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

The Nightcap

BrewDog is swapping swear words for sustainability

BrewDog grows up with sustainability initiative and new look

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

The Nightcap

The one with the bespoke cocktails

The one with Palentine’s at All Star Lanes

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

The Nightcap

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

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

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

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

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

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