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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Beer

The Nightcap: 16 July

Friday means one thing around these parts: The Nightcap. Settle in for another jam-packed week of boozy news.  Good afternoon, folks. Or, we should say, good afternoon to anybody who…

Friday means one thing around these parts: The Nightcap. Settle in for another jam-packed week of boozy news. 

Good afternoon, folks. Or, we should say, good afternoon to anybody who has managed to avoid melting into a puddle on their desk chair/couch/novelty racing car bed. It’s a scorcher today, isn’t it? It’s probably about time we acknowledged that the UK is in dire need of a mass installation of air conditioning units in its residences. It can get legitimately warm here in the summer now and frankly, none of us are prepared for it. Although, you just know the moment those units were fitted the sun would run off down under again. So probably best to not tempt fate. Instead, let’s pour a cold drink, settle down and enjoy another edition of The Nightcap. 

The blog was lively as ever this week as we announced a new competition that offers you the chance to win a virtual cocktail party with a guest appearance from Phil Tufnell (hell yeah). Millie then explored the phenomenon of infinity bottles, Lucy explained what gin botanicals do, and Jess found out why ice is the vital element in your drink. Henry was then in a very helpful mood, sharing a recipe for our drink of the summer, running the rule on Glenmorangie’s new mixable malt, and letting you know where to holiday in boozy style without having to travel. 

Meanwhile, our Clubhouse room today will see us delve into the murky world of cask investment as we discuss the rapidly expanding market and its potential pitfalls with our guests Blair Bowman, Louise McGuane, and Kristiane Sherry. Do check it out at 3pm today.

Now, it’s on with the Nightcap: 16 July edition!

The Nightcap

London and Kent beer writer Johnny Homer, who sadly passed away at 56

London and Kent beer historian Johnny Homer dies

We received some really sad news this week as we learned that beer writer and radio personality Johnny Homer died suddenly at the age of 56. Homer will be familiar to Londoners as a regular guest on the Robert Elms show on BBC London talking about beer and history. He was born in Clerkenwell and worked as a music journalist contributing to publications including The Face, NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, and Vox, as well as writing seven books on beer and pubs. Later he moved to Whitstable in Kent with his wife and daughter, and became head of media at Shepherd Neame Brewery in Faversham. Chief executive Jonathan Neame commented: “Johnny was a most valued member of our team. He was a fantastic ambassador for the company, for our beers and pubs, and played a significant role in promoting Shepherd Neame. He will be greatly missed. His loss is a great shock to us all, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.” We were very fortunate enough to have been shown around the brewery by Johnny himself and marveled at his knowledge of beer and Shepherd Neame’s rich history. He also seemed like a thoroughly nice chap as the tributes on Twitter attest. 

The Nightcap

Nc’nean continues to impress with its approach to sustainability.

Nc’nean is first UK whisky distillery to reach net-zero Co2 emissions

Nc’nean has always placed environmental responsibility at the core of its business, but this week the business announced it ramped things up a notch by becoming the first UK whisky distillery to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its production. Beating the official Scotch whisky industry target by a staggering 20 years, distillery founder Annabel Thomas says the move “feels like our greatest achievement so far”. The Highland distillery is 100% powered by renewable energy, and is one of the few Scotch whisky distilleries that uses only certified organic Scottish barley. A biomass boiler is powered by wood chips that heats the stills, and residual carbon emissions are offset through a sustainable tree-planting program. In an industry first, all of Nc’nean’s whisky bottles are made of recycled glass, which reduces the typical carbon footprint of a whisky bottle by 40%. The cooling water is continuously recycled via a natural pond, meaning Nc’nean uses 80% less water than a traditional distillery, and reduces energy use to cool it down. It’s an impressive operation and a great example to others on how to make meaningful change.

The Nightcap

The new look MacNair’s, including Exploration Rum

GlenAllachie Distillery unveils first rum

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company is no longer just home to whisky thanks to its latest innovation. For the first time, the brand has branched into rum with a range of small-batch expressions called Exploration Rum. The three bottlings will be released under The GlenAllachie’s MacNair’s brand, which has been repositioned as a Boutique House of Spirits, complete with a new-look design for its Lum Reek whisky brand. The first rums in the series are a 7 Year Old Peated, a 7 Year Old, and a 15 Year Old made with liquids sourced from Panama. Each expression was initially matured in American oak in Panama before being transported to the GlenAllachie Distillery in Speyside, and is presented at 46% ABV. The peated rum underwent secondary maturation in casks that previously held heavily peated whisky distilled at GlenAllachie, while the 7 Year Old and 15 Year Old were filled into ex-red wine, virgin oak, and ex-bourbon casks for more than two years. The process was overseen by GlenAllachie master blender Billy Walker, who says he is fulfilling a “long-held desire to explore and apply my expertise to a new spirit category”, having already made a sizeable impact in Scotch whisky. He explains that rum was a natural choice for him as, like whisky, “it allows for greater scope of innovation and experimentation, particularly in regard to maturation” and that this trio of rums will “explore the influence of wood, but also the impact of maturation in a cooler climate.” We look forward to seeing the results, which you’ll be able to taste for yourself very soon as Exploration Rum is on its way to MoM Towers as we speak…

The Nightcap

La Bandera, the new bar’s signature cocktail

Award-winning Hacha bar announces second site

Why have one excellent agave-focused bar when you can have two? This is the question industry veterans Deano Moncrieffe and Emma Murphy presumably asked themselves recently, as the duo have excitedly announced they are opening a second Hacha location in Brixton’s Market Row. The original location in Dalston opened in 2019 and now Moncrieffe and Murphy are bringing their unique brand of agave-based drinks and authentic Mexican food to South London. Hacha has garnered acclaim for its striking signature serve, the Mirror Margarita, and its comprehensive list of Tequilas, mezcals, and other distillates. Set to launch next month, the new venue sprawls over two floors, with a bottle shop on the ground floor, and a 50-cover bar and an open kitchen upstairs – the latter will be run by Maiz Azul, the residency behind the food at Hacha Dalston. Moncrieffe has also developed a new drink that will act as the bar’s signature: La Bandera, a twist on the classic Mexican three-shot drink. The serve features three mini cocktails, each with a different agave spirit base, in the colours of the Mexican flag. The duo also plan on contributing beyond spirits and cocktails, closing Hacha Brixton once a week to host a ‘community day’ in partnership with Equal Measures. “Community Day is all about providing opportunities for people who want to grow, learn, share and help others,” said Moncrieffe. “We will run seminars, educational courses, workshops, cooking lessons, spirits masterclasses, mentorship sessions, networking events as well as providing a venue for other Black businesses to showcase their businesses.”

The Nightcap

The distillery edges ever closer after the latest round of investment

Uist Distilling Co gains £2m for low-carbon distillery

It just wouldn’t be The Nightcap without news on an upcoming distillery project, and we’ve received good word this week from the Uist Distilling Co regarding its planned low-carbon distillery. The proposed £12.5 million site in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides has received a £1.99m funding boost from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish government’s economic and community development agency. The Uist Distilling Company also secured more than £80,000 (US$110,000) in funding from the UK government’s Green Distilleries scheme. The reason for all this support is that the distillery, which will be located on the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, is that it promises to pioneer innovative low-carbon technology across its design, build, and distillation process. The company has invested £1.25m in building a green energy centre, including a high-temperature heat pump system, which will provide hot water to the distillation process. The distillery, which is the brainchild of South Uist businessman Angus A Macmillan and his son, Angus E Macmillan, plans to produce spirits with a ‘Hebridean flavour’ including single malt whisky, rum, and gin. Production is expected to start in early 2022. “The new distillery aims to be a champion of all things Hebridean and Scottish and will provide a huge boost to tourism in the area,” says Angus A Macmillan. “We want to produce whisky, rum, and gin that will put Benbecula and the Hebrides firmly on the whisky tourist trail while introducing the products we make to a national and international clientele.”

The Nightcap

Cocktails and theatre are coming together in London soon!

Coming soon: an immersive cocktail experience from Mr Tipsy

There’s an immersive cocktail experience coming to London in August. We have visions of being lowered into a giant Negroni or diving into an Olympic swimming pool-sized Martini, but the truth is slightly more prosaic. Instead, ‘Mr. Tipsy’s Down the Hatch!’ will be a combination of a bar and theatre taking place at One America Square in the City of London. So for example, you’ll sip Margaritas on a Mexican beach. It’s the creation of Nick A. Olivero, the man behind Roaring ‘20s experience ‘The Speakeasy”. He explains: “‘Mr. Tipsy’s sprung from my passion of fine spirits and meaningful social interactions. It blends theatre with multiple themed bars and is crafted specifically for post-lockdown groups looking to reconnect with friends in a fun, safe environment. I think it is going to put a lot of smiles on people’s faces and we can’t wait for the spectacle to begin!” The experience costs £39.50 including drinks and lasts approximately 70 minutes (tickets available here). There’s a soft launch on 19 August with the full opening on 9 September. So what are you waiting for? It’s theatre but with cocktails!

The Nightcap

Cheers to your success, Roger!

Dad sells casks of whisky for incredible £225,000

Retirement is coming early for one savvy/lucky 59-year-old bank manager, who has turned an astonishing profit on two casks of whisky. Roger Parfitt, who hails from Coventry, paid £4,700 for the casks 30 years ago and revealed this week that he’s sold them for a remarkable £225,000. In 1994, Parfitt, 59, spent £3,200 on a cask of single malt Macallan and £1,500 on a cask of Tobermory, essentially in the vague hope they might be worth a few quid someday. Parfitt does not consider himself an expert in whisky. However, his gamble worked and he plans to use the profit to pay off his mortgage and retire three years earlier than planned. According to the Daily Record, since whisky casks are categorised as a ‘wasting asset’ by HMRC, the money he has made is also tax-free. “I remember thinking, if it doesn’t appreciate in value, the worst that could happen is that you would have to get it out of the warehouse, bottle it and drink it,” Parfitt says. “It always had that fallback for me – you could drown your sorrows if it didn’t work out financially.” He now plans to buy a cask each for his children, hoping for a similar result. But the market is very different nowadays, as we’ll discuss on Clubhouse later…

The Nightcap

All this will soon be heading China’s way

And finally… Entire whisky distillery ships out to China

We’ve spoken plenty about China making moves in the whisky world. One thing we weren’t exactly expecting to write about, however, was an entire distillery being shipped out from Scotland. Today, more than 35 tonnes of equipment, including stills, flooring, control valves, and pipework, is leaving Buckie in Moray for the port of Tianjin. The shipment is part of a £3 million “design and build” deal signed between Forfar firm Valentine International and China’s Mengtai Group in 2019. The equipment will be assembled at a facility being built in Ordos in Inner Mongolia, becoming its first whisky distillery when it opens, which is expected to be at the end of this year. All of the distillery equipment was built by Forsyths in Rothes, and the firm will send a team of five engineers to supervise assembly, with a team in Hong Kong to provide after-sales back-up and services. Valentine International chairman and managing director David Valentine said the project was the brainchild of Mengtai chairman Ao Fengting, who planned to create a “globally award-winning whisky”. In a separate development, Valentine International also revealed that it has signed a “strategic agreement” with Mengtai to supply bulk whiskies for China. The whisky distiller has not been named, but Valentine did say that it is a “long-established” firm.

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Ten great British booze destinations 

As most of us won’t be going far this summer, we’ve picked some great British booze destinations around the country for you to visit. From vineyards to gin distilleries, these…

As most of us won’t be going far this summer, we’ve picked some great British booze destinations around the country for you to visit. From vineyards to gin distilleries, these are some of our favourite places to enjoy whether the sun comes out or not. 

Last week we showed you how you can go on holiday without leaving the comfort of your own home. Today we’ve picked some of our favourite drinks destinations around Britain, from ancient breweries to modern vineyards, and not forgetting the wealth of distilleries found all over the country. There’s something here for everyone. 

Great British booze destinations

Somerset Cider Brandy Company

Burrow Hill Cider, Somerset

Anyone who has been to the Glastonbury festival will have tried Burrow Hill’s delicious produce at the famous Cider Bus. At his farm in Somerset, cider master Julian Temperley (above) produces a broad range of traditional West Country ciders ranging from delicious summer sippers to complex bottle-fermented products made from single apple varieties. But that’s not all, he’s also the man behind the Somerset Cider Brandy Company, making, since 1989, England’s answer to Calvados. Truly this place is a booze wonderland. 

Hush Heath estate, Kent

Hush Heath Estate, Kent

Hush Heath has to be one of the most gorgeous vineyards in England, set among the rolling Kent hills. Here the father and son wine making team of Owen and Fergus Elias make a superb selection of wines under the Balfour label. They are justly famous for their sparkling wines, particularly, the rose but the still wines are coming on strongly with some increasingly good Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs. Take a walk in the vineyards and then soak up that view from the terrace with a few glasses of wine and some food. 

Tillingham

Tillingham vineyard, East Sussex

I’ve learned from bitter experience that children find wine tasting very boring which is why I’ve picked this place. While you taste and practise your best wine speak, they can eat pizza and run around. There are rooms and bell tents to sleep in in the summer. It’s run by a maverick called Ben Walgate (seated above) who makes delicious idiosyncratic wine and cider using Georgian amphora and the like. There’s a real sense of fun about Tillingham.

Chase Distillery in Herefordshire

Chase Distillery, Herefordshire

The Chase family is all about potatoes. First it was crisp, Tyrell’s. Then they sold that business to do something a bit different, make vodka. And they turned out to be rather good at it winning awards left, right and centre. The distillery, set in the heart of Herefordshire cider country, now produces a range of spirits including gin, apple brandy and liqueurs. The distillery itself with its huge column still (once the tallest in Europe) at the centre looks spectacular and it’s worth a visit even if you’re not a booze nerd.

The Lakes Distillery in Cumbria

The Lakes Distillery, Cumbria

One of the perennial questions for tourists in England is what to do when it’s raining in the Lake District, which is often. Well, instead of sitting in a tea room reading Wordsworth, you should instead visit the Lakes Distillery, makers of first class single malt whisky. It’s really set-up for tourism with a fine restaurant and cafe on the site. Take a guided tour and then sample some of the sherry-cask whiskies created by ex-Macallan whisky maker Dhaval Gandhi. You won’t want the rain to stop. 

Shepherd Neame Faversham in Kent

Shepherd Neame Brewery, Kent

There’s something magical about towns like Faversham in Kent that are dominated by a large family brewer. The sprawling Shepherd Neame site sits in the centre of this beautiful medieval market town and permeates the whole place with the sweet smell of malted barley. The company dates back to the 17th century and is still in family hands.It’s the home of perhaps Kent’s most famous beer, Spitfire, as well as great strong beers like Bishop’s Finger and 1698.

Adnams Copper House Distillery

Adnams Brewery and Distillery, Suffolk

Another two for the price of one visit here as Adnams not only produces a delicious selection of Suffolk ales, but there’s also a distillery. The company was a pioneer of English whisky when it began distilling in 2010, so they have some properly mature whisky now for you to sample. Our favourite is probably the malted rye. Adnams also has a wine merchant arms, so they’ve got the booze business pretty well covered. It all takes place in Southwold, one of the prettiest seaside towns in the country so we’d recommend staying for a couple of days. In a pub owned by Adnams, naturally. 

Haymans Gin

Hayman’s Gin, London 

If you love gin then you have to visit Hayman Distillers in south London. The family has been distilling for generations, they are descended from James Burrough who created Beefeater gin, but the name Hayman’s only appeared on a bottle in 2004. Then in 2018, they opened this gin palace in Balham to produce a range of true London dry gins. Visitors can learn about the history of distilling in the capital,  admire the gleaming stills, and find out how gin is made. Or if that sounds a bit too strenuous, you can just enjoy the best gin and tonic in London at the bar.

Glenfarclas Distillery, mountain background

Glenfarclas Distillery, Speyside

Whisky fans are spoiled for choice in Speyside, the home of Glenlivet, Macallan and Balvenie, but there’s something particularly special about Glenfarclas. It might be because it’s one of the very few single malt whisky producers that is family owned, by the Grant family since the 19th century. Or it might be because the old ways are preserved here, like direct-fired stills, long-ageing in sherry casks and damp earth-floored warehouses, not because they look picturesque but because they make whisky with character. 

Ramsbury Distillery/ Brewery in Wiltshire

Ramsbury Estate, Wiltshire 

The Ramsbury Estate is a mecca for food and drink lovers. Covering nearly 20,000 acres of beautiful Wiltshire countryside, the farm raises cattle, pigs and deer, and grows wheat, barley, rapeseed, and other crops. Best of all, you can visit the on-site brewery and distillery which makes first-rate gin, vodka, and beer all made from scratch (no bought in grain alcohol here) largely using estate-grown produce. Nothing is wasted: leftovers from gin distillation are even used to cure venison to make charcuterie!

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The Nightcap: 25 June

It’s nearly the weekend and that means it’s the return of our weekly news round-up! Get your fill of the drinks industry’s latest shenanigans here. It’s the Nightcap: 25 June…

It’s nearly the weekend and that means it’s the return of our weekly news round-up! Get your fill of the drinks industry’s latest shenanigans here. It’s the Nightcap: 25 June edition!

Summer is proving to be a bit of a letdown weather-wise this year, isn’t it? While this isn’t exactly ideal, there are at least plenty of other fun things to do indoors. You can scroll aimlessly through Netflix and pretend like you haven’t already consumed every second of digital content ever published in the last year and a half. Or you could kid yourself into thinking you’ll commit to a new hobby like learning a language or an instrument knowing full well that as soon as there’s a glimmer of sunshine you’ll be in a beer garden so fast you accidentally bring your new clarinet with you. Or you could take the finer option. The connoisseur’s choice. Pour yourself a dram, find somewhere comfy to sit, and dig into another corker of a Nightcap. Congratulations, you made the correct decision. Put down that clarinet, let’s crack on. 

On the blog this week

This week on the MoM blog we did something completely out of character and launched a competition. Can you believe it? This time with The Glasgow Distillery, offering a bundle of whisky, rum, gin, and vodka. Adam then got a taste of Lindores Abbey’s first whisky and a crash course in why you should embrace aquavit from Nuet. Millie, meanwhile, investigated why we love smoky flavours, Lucy offered some tips on how to make the most of holiday drinks and Henry made a vermouth-heavy concoction named after a hard as nails American president after sampling the delights of a Master of Malt exclusive gin liqueur. We also rounded up some perfect drinks for Wimbledon 2021 and our top ten whiskeys/ whiskies for 2021. 

Meanwhile over on the Clubhouse App this week we’re asking questions about the industry’s commitment to sustainability while enjoying the usual Nightcap goodness with guests Russ Wakeham and Carmen O’Neal. Be sure to join us if you’re on the app.

Now on with the Nightcap: 25 June edition!

The Nightcap: 25 June

The giants of bourbon want to end those tariffs. And we agree!

‘End these tariffs!’ says the Bourbon Alliance

A Nightcap without a tariffs story is like one without Miles Beale from the WSTA, missing something vital. Even though we reported last week at the ending of US tariffs on Scotch whisky, there’s still the little matter of the 25% UK tariffs on American whiskey. This was imposed by the EU and is still in place, for some reason, even though the UK is no longer a member state. A new initiative dubbed ‘Free the Spirit’ is campaigning to have them removed. It’s a collaboration between whisky giants Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Brown-Forman plus a group of smaller distillers, importers, retailers, pubs, and bars both in the US and US calling themselves the Rebel Alliance. Sorry, Bourbon Alliance. Founder Martha Dalton from Never Say Die Bourbon commented: “The Free The Spirit Campaign has already galvanised the hospitality industry and shown the united call for the government to cut the tariff. UK consumers have paid over £55m in tariffs on imported American Whiskies. This has hit investment in the hospitality industry when it needs it most.” The group says that US bourbon imports are down 53% since 2018. She went on to say:  “We were delighted to see the Department for International Trade negotiate the resolution of the Boeing – Airbus dispute and  are now calling on the Government to continue the momentum in trans-Atlantic trade discussions, and to remove the  tariff on US Whiskey at the time when the sector needs it most.” We hope to be reporting good news on this in the near future. And then no more tariff stories ever again.

Champagne film featuring Stephen Fry released

A trailer has finally dropped for one of the most highly-anticipated films of the year. Called Sparkling: The Story of Champagne, the feature-length documentary was made by a London-based independent production company called Swipe Films and features a host of notable names. There’s Taittinger president Vitalie Taittinger, Lanson-BCC chairman Bruno Paillard, Louis Roederer cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Dom Perignon chef de caves Vincent Chaperon, as well as wine writers Oz Clarke and Tom Stevenson; authors, Don & Petie Kladstrup, and wine merchant, Tony Laithwaite. Plus, English actor and comedian Stephen Fry! Director, Frank Mannion, described the film as “a love letter to the joys and pleasures of Champagne.” Swipe Films held a premiere at the Ciné Lumière in South Kensington last night, followed by a Q&A with Frank Mannion and then a Champagne reception sponsored by Pol Roger, Fever-Tree, Bolney, and Franco Manca. Sparkling: The Story of Champagne was released today, which means you’ll be able to watch it yourself in selected cinemas.

The Nightcap: 25 June

The humble Espresso Martini. Who would have thought it?

Espresso Martini is named the nation’s favourite cocktail

It’s official: the Espresso Martini IS the nation’s favourite cocktail! Beating out the likes of Mojitos, Piña Coladas, and even the mighty Sex on the Beach for the top spot, the caffeinated classic has apparently stolen our hearts. This is according to Just Eat for Business’ Cocktail Championship study  based on data from BBC Good Food, the UK’s most popular recipe site. When it comes to mocktails, the Virgin Mojito was top, while its alcoholic counterpart proved the second most popular cocktail overall. The analysis found that the most popular spirit across all drinks analysed was vodka, which appeared in 20 of the recipes, followed by gin which occurred in 13, and rum that was the main ingredient in 15 recipes. Trend data also shows that searches for ‘cocktail bar’ saw a staggering 56% increase since indoor bars were allowed to open on 17th May, suggesting Brits are excited to be drinking their favourite cocktails again. Which we already knew, but it’s nice to have it confirmed. To find out more about how popular your favourite cocktail is and which ingredients were the most popular across the UK visit the Cocktail Championship. For now though, if you don’t we’re going to raise a glass of the nation’s favourite to its creator, the late, great Dick Bradsell. Cheers to you!

The Nightcap: 25 June

It’s an inauspicious start for Jordan’s brand

Michael B Jordan renames rum after accusations of cultural appropriation

Michael B Jordan is one of many celebs looking to make a mark in the drinks world but life with his rum brand has hit rocky ground already. The Creed and Black Panther actor has issued an apology after announcing he was launching a line of rums called J’Ouvert. The term signals the start of carnival in the Caribbean and is a cornerstone of tradition in Trinidad and Tobago; which meant that Jordan’s use of the word was felt by many to be cultural appropriation. A line in Jordan’s trademark filing that claimed the term has “no meaning in a foreign language” drew particular ire. ‘J’ouvert’ is a French creole word meaning ‘daybreak’. An online petition to stop the trademark topped 12,000 signatures and the government of the islands also expressed deep concern over the plan. Singer Nicki Minaj, who comes from Trinidad, even urged Jordan to change the “offensive” name on Tuesday. Later that day Jordan posted an apology on Instagram Stories, commenting. “I just wanna say on behalf of myself & my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love & respect) & hoped to celebrate & shine a positive light on,” he wrote. “Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & engaging in countless community conversations …” Jordan has not yet said what he plans to rename his rum brand. How about ‘daybreak’?

The Nightcap: 25 June

You can tune in now!

Irish Distillers launches ‘A Perfect Blend’ podcast

Irish Distillers has unveiled its latest creation this week, a four-part mini-series on Irish whiskey. The podcast, produced and hosted by multi-award-winning radio producer Julien Clancy, focuses on the power of collaboration and features commentary from some of the industry’s most influential voices. The first episode of ‘A Perfect Blend’ features with Irish Distillers cooper Killian O’Mahony and president of Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky, Paul McLaughlin, who discuss the origins of their enthusiasm for coopering. In the second episode, Richard Forsyth of distillery design and build firm, Forsyths, and distiller at Irish distillers, Katherine Condon, speak about great copper pot still. In the third episode, forestry consultant and Pro Silva Ireland co-founder Paddy Purser and Finbarr Curran, the man responsible for sourcing Irish Distillers’ barrels, give an insight into how the industry is working together on cask sustainability. In the concluding episode, Irish Distillers archivist Carol Quinn and design duo Matthew Bolger and Emelie Lindstrom of M+E Design reflect on the art of storytelling and the unexpected benefits of collaboration. Episodes are available to download now in all the usual places. 

The Nightcap: 25 June

If you like beer, this is a no brainer. Get those tickets booked!

BrewLDN is back!

More than 50 new breweries will welcome a festival of discovery, tasting experiences, world-class DJs and street eats as BrewLDN returns in July. The biggest collection of craft breweries to take part in a UK beer event since BrewLDN’s inaugural festival in February 2020, the event will take place in indoor and outdoor spaces at Printworks London from Thursday 29 July to Saturday 31 July. Fortunately, BrewLDN is unaffected by the UK’s recent delaying of the return to normality. “Everyone working in events has suffered during the last year and we’ve been incredibly nervous about our survival prospects. We are extremely grateful that we are able to host the first beer festival and trade show of 2021 at Printworks in July,” says Chris Bayliss, co-founder of BrewLDN. He had more good news to share too by revealing ticket sales are ahead of any previous year and also saluted the more than 50 small independent breweries “committed to taking part, sharing their products and moving forward in this incredibly positive way.” For tickets and more information head to brewldn.com

The Nightcap: 25 June

Global travel retail needs big hitters like this right now

Jim Beam’s Lineage arrives in travel retail

Jim Beam has a swanky new bourbon to show off and for this one it’s keeping it in the family. The aptly titled Lineage was made by seventh-generation Beam family master distiller, Fred Noe in collaboration with his son, Freddie, making it the first bottling released by the brand to feature the latter’s name. Freddie says he enjoys “breaking the rules and creating new and exciting expressions”, so making an expression with his dad “that’s different from anything out there in the bourbon world” was “an honor”. Last week Freddie hosted an interactive tasting session to guide us through the inspiration behind the new whiskey, which meant we got a taste. Oh boy. This one’s a beauty. Aged in charred white oak barrels in Warehouse K since 2004, the new bourbon is 15 years old and is bottled at a hefty 55.5% ABV. But in all the power and darkness there’s a refined quality throughout among the aromatic spice, rich vanilla and thick caramel. Lineage will be available soon, which is good news. It’s also $250 and exclusive to global travel retail, which is less so. However, that’s a sector of our industry that could really use a boost and this expression is exactly the kind of dram that could help.

The Nightcap: 25 June

Jean-Christophe Coutures wants to move on and focus on recovery

Chivas Bros. pay dispute settled

We reported back in May of the threat of strike action by Chivas Bros. workers in Scotland. Now the unions have called off the proposed strike after reaching an agreement with the company behind Glenlivet, Royal Salute and Ballantine’s which employs around 1600 workers in Scotland. Keir Greenaway from one of the unions involved, GMB Scotland, commented: “Chivas have listened to the workers’ voice and our members have now voted to accept an improved offer on their pay and conditions for the next year.” Workers will receive a basic rise of 2.5% in 2021 and by at minimum 2% next year. Chivas CEO and chief executive Jean-Christophe Coutures said: “Despite the unprecedented business challenges we continue to face as we recover from the impact of Covid-19, we have maintained 100% of jobs and pay throughout the pandemic – and even recruited across our Scottish sites. Our newly-agreed offer – which includes guaranteed pay increases in 2021 and 2022 – means we can now move on from the disruption caused by the dispute and refocus our collective efforts on our recovery from the impact of the pandemic and achieving long-term business success.”

The Nightcap: 25 June

One of the best places to drink fine whisky just got even better

Milroy’s’ new Soho whisky terrace is open

One of London’s best whisky venues just got a bit better. Milroy’s has just announced a new 20 cover terrace for its shop and bar on the corner of Greek Street and Soho Square. So you can sip, enjoy the weather and watch the world go by. As well as an unrivalled choice of whiskies from around the world, Milroy’s Soho will have a new ‘Highball-on-tap- menu featuring delicious-sounding whisky cocktails such as the Aberfeldy Peach Tea and the Nikka Days Highball. Best of all for those of us who find booking to have a drink deeply weird, the new summer terrace and the main bar at Milroy’s Soho are walk-in only. Though if you want to visit the basement Vault bar or the Proofing Room at Milroy’s other venue in Spitalfields, you do have to book. We’re looking forward to revisiting this favourite haunt soon. 

The Nightcap: 25 June

Why choose when you can get the best of both worlds?

And finally…. Beer ice cream is coming

When it’s hot do you find it hard to choose between beer and ice cream? It’s one we struggle with at MoM towers. They’re both so refreshing. Well, now you don’t have to because beer ice cream, in fact booze ice cream of all kinds is on its way. First, this week Coors announced a 5% ABV orange hard seltzer ice cream in the US. Secondly a new machine claims to be able to turn anything boozy into ice cream. It’s made by WDS Dessert Stations; the company has dubbed it: “the Ferrari of soft serve machines.” It works using an NIA gel (Nitrogen Ingredient Additive) to turn high ABV drinks into ice cream. So, it’s not just beer, you can have ice cream made from Espresso Martini, Piña Colada, and even vintage Port – imagine that after a long meal. The inventor Will Rogers commented on its success: “When I first came up with the machines. Never in a million years did I think the brewery industry would be our main market but these brewers are the chefs of their trade”. All this science doesn’t come cheap, around £4,300, but that might prove a wise investment if we get a good summer. Beer ice cream, anyone?

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The Nightcap: 11 June

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11…

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11 June edition!

The weekend is always an exciting thing. But this weekend is particularly thrilling because we’re given the perfect excuse to enjoy some delightful gin. That’s right, tomorrow is World Gin Day and, while we don’t really need an excuse to enjoy the finest juniper-based beverages, it’s always nice to have something to say while you raise your glass in good company. And we’ll be doing exactly that at 3pm today on the Clubhouse App with World Gin Day founder Emma Stokes as well as the Neil Ridley and Kristiane Sherry. Join us, won’t you?

Over on our blog this week we rounded off our Islay Festival coverage with Ardbeg and Jura before launching a fab new competition with our friends at Tomatin. If a hamper full of whisky goodness doesn’t interest you then a) don’t enter and b) seek help. For Father’s Day (it’s soon, don’t forget!) we had a look at brands that keep distilling in the family and rounded-up a list of the finest musician-made booze on the market. Ian Buxton then cast doubt on a dubious claim about column single malt whisky while Lucy Britner busied herself learning the history of the brand that changed vodka. Amidst all this fun and fancy there was still time to enjoy some tasty blended Scotch and a cocktail with a song in its heart

Now, let’s get stuck into some Nightcap goodness!

BrewDog carbon negative

The founders of Brewdog were singled out for criticism in the open letter

Ex-Brewdog staff allege “culture of fear”

We begin with an explosive story that hit the headlines yesterday as former staff at Brewdog published an open letter regarding the “culture of fear” and “toxic attitude” that they allege exist at the company. The signatories said a “significant number” of former staff had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at BrewDog” and that the firm was built around a “cult of personality” of founders James Watt and Martin Dickie. The Scottish brewer and pub-chain has never shone away from controversy in its marketing, but the group calling itself Punks With A Purpose says this came at a cost. That Watt and Dickie exploited publicity, “both good and bad” to further their own business goals, chased “growth, at all costs”, and created an environment where staff were afraid to speak out about concerns. The letter included further statements such as “being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given for those working at Brewdog”. The plots thickened when Unite Hospitality (@FairHospitality) released an email attributed to Brewdog which appeared to encourage current staff to sign a counter letter dismissing the negative views of current and former staff. Watt responded to this and then later released a statement saying Brewdog was “sorry” and that it would not contest the letter, but “listen, learn and act”. It’s not the first time the brand has landed itself in hot water over its practices. And this story clearly isn’t over yet.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Joe Wilson says this is one of the most “collectible independent bottlings in existence”

Rare Samaroli whiskies head to auction

Few bottlers can boast a range of whiskies as desired and collectible as Samaroli so it’s no wonder headlines have been made now that 60 of its rare Scotch whiskies are set to go under the hammer via Whisky Auctioneer this month. Taking place from 17 to 21 June, the online auction will feature whiskies from collector Emmanuel Dron’s personal stash, some of which have been signed by Samaroli himself, including a 1967 Strathisla, 1967 and 1970 Laphroaig bottlings, a 1951 Glen Cawdor (Springbank), and the 1966 Bowmore Bouquet. Bottlings will also be up for auction from The Corti Brothers of Sacramento, such as a ‘very rare’ 1965 Clynelish and bottlings from Balmenach and Imperial, distilled in the 1960s. “This collection is a magnificent example of some of the finest and most collectible independent bottlings in existence,” says Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer. “What’s special about Emmanuel Dron’s collection is that these bottles have unparalleled provenance. Whiskies with such an impeccable source are hard to come by.” And you know what that means. A price tag to match. Expect to see some eye-watering sums next week.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Rumour has it this beauty will be at MoM Towers in the future…

Lochlea whisky prepares for first bottling

For years Lochlea has been known best as the farm in Ayrshire which was the home of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns from 1777 to 1784. By late 2021, however, it will also be recognised for its whisky. The independently owned farm-based distillery has announced this week that it is ready to launch its first expression this year. The distillery is the result of a £6m investment and production of the purpose-built facility began in 2014, taking four years. Lochlea then began laying down its first casks of whisky in the on-site warehouse in August 2018. So while we don’t know the exact launch date yet, we know it will be no sooner than August at least. The Lochlea Distillery team says it’s been working on creating a “truly distinct whisky” and describes the new make spirit as having a profile that’s “bursting with orchard fruit” with a “beautiful elegance way beyond its years”. All production is overseen by distillery manager Malcolm Rennie, who has spent 34 years in this industry at the likes of Kilchoman, Bruichladdich, and Ardbeg. Lochlea says that he sees this whisky, however, as the result of his life’s work. “Ensuring full traceability from field to cask is vital for us. We grow and harvest our own barley on Lochlea farm with the resulting draff used to feed local cattle and the water is sourced on-site. We’ve been able to take advantage of Ayrshire’s natural resources and in doing so it keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum,” says Rennie about the distillery’s process, which does sound extremely promising. Let’s hope it does Robert Burns proud.

The Nightcap: 11 June

We can’t wait to see you all again!

Imbibe Live to return this September

Great news arrived in our inbox this week from the UK’s leading drinks industry event as Imbibe Live confirmed it will be returning to London’s Olympia this September. The return to some normality will run from 13 to 14 September 2021, bringing the industry back together again after a challenging year. Strict standards of health and safety will be adhered too, naturally, as folks discover newly launched and unique products and attend seminars from industry leaders. Helping to curate the programme are the likes of Anna Sebastian, drinks expert and founder of ‘Celebrate Her’, Gabe Cook, global cider expert, Lorraine Copes, founder of not-for-profit organisation Be Inclusive Hospitality, and more. Daniel Zanetti, exhibition director at Imbibe Live, says the industry has shown an “incredible amount of support for one another” during the last year hopes that Imbibe Live “provides those working in the trade with real insight and practical support on how to help their businesses grow and thrive once again”. Registration is open now, although due to venue capacity visitors will be asked to attend on either the 13 or the 14 September to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to go. For further information visit the website and to register visit here. Let’s hope everything goes well between now and then to let this fantastic event take place. Fingers crossed!

The Nightcap: 11 June

It’s a bumper year for the Fiona Beckett

Fortnum & Mason awards 2021 shortlist announced

The Oscars of food and drink writing are back as the shortlist for the Fortnum & Mason awards has just been announced. The big award, as far as we’re concerned, is drinks writers of the year with the Guardian’s Fiona Beckett taking on Hamish Smith from CLASS magazine and beer writer extraordinaire Will Hawkes for his work in Pellicle and Tonic magazine. It’s a bumper year for Beckett as she is also shortlisted in the book category for How to Drink without Drinking (which we covered back in January). Also in the book category is Jane Anson with Inside Bordeaux and Wine Girl by Victoria James. Meanwhile, the debut book line-up features a great-looking new cocktail book which we’ll be covering shortly called CO SPECS by Cas Oh, Drink? by Prof. David Nutt, and Which Wine When by Bert Blaize and Claire Strickett. There’s also some food stuff. The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony on 13 July. Nigella might be there. Oooh!

The Nightcap: 11 June

Tom Hurst rocking the dragons

Rockstar Spirits rock Dragons’ Den

We go for years without featuring a story about spirits brands on Dragons’ Den and then two come along in under a month. In May, we reported on Whisky Me securing funding from all the three ‘dragons.’ And now we were delighted to learn that Rockstar Spirits, the company behind delicous bottles like Two Swallows rum, secured funding after appearing on the BBC 1 programme on Thursday 10 June at 8pm. That’s last night. Founder Tom Hurst received bids from all but one Dragon, winning the backing of both Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani – who will both receive 4% of the premium spiced rum business in exchange for £12,500 each. Most impressively, Hurst managed to secure an offer for double the money and five times the equity from Theo Paphitis. Hurst said that he hadn’t been as nervous “since I had to do a reading in assembly when I was 11,” but that it was a “fantastic experience to take part in the show and a great rite of passage for any entrepreneur to test their mettle against some of the best business brains in the UK.” To celebrate Hurst has come up with a special Dragons Daiquiri cocktail with Two Swallows Citrus rum.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Copper Rivet is one of the many fantastic English whisky distilleries featured

The English Whisky Show is back

For the second year running there’s a whole show dedicated to English whisky called, um, the English Whisky Show. Sadly, like last year, it’s only taking place online but we’re all good at this now and the organisers can boast quite a line-up. All the big names are represented including Adnams, Copper Rivet, Bimber, the Oxford Artisan Distillery, Lakes, and, the granddaddy of them all, the aptly-named English Whisky Company, alongside independent bottlers like That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Taking place on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September there will be six sessions all with tasting packs hosted by names including Felipe Schrieberg and Fiona Shoop. Prices start at £27.50 per session which seeing as you’ll be tasting some quality liquids including 11 new releases, looks like pretty good value. Tickets are available here and there are discounts for bulk buys and members of Exploring English Whisky. From single malts to spicy ryes and experimental grains, we couldn’t be more excited about the varied and dynamic English scene. So whether you’re already a fan or just English whisky curious, we highly recommend signing up for one or, better still, all the sessions. 

The Nightcap: 11 June

The new ‘world-first’ is a single nitrogen dispense solution. It pours pints from cans, basically.

Guinness launches world-first ‘microdraught’

Guinness was in an excitable mood this week as it revealed its new ‘microdraught’ technology, which aims to serve fresh pints regardless of an establishment’s size or setup. The result of a two-year development process, the MicroDraught unit uses a “keg’ so small, it comes in a can”, so even though the Guinness used is brewed in exactly the same way, the system bypasses the need for the traditional system of kegs, beer lines, and cooling systems. The dispense technology is described by the brand as its biggest innovation “since the development of the widget in 1988”, and is set to be trialed in restaurants in Great Britain from June, in venues in Ireland from July, and fully launched in Korea in July. Further trials in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Germany, and Russia will follow later this year. “Guinness is enjoyed the world over and globally renowned for pushing boundaries in technology.  Guinness MicroDraught is the next step in this journey and today’s launch means that Guinness will be available in over 12,000 more outlets for millions more consumers to enjoy,” says Grainne Wafer, global brand director, Guinness. “The secret to how the MicroDraught unit produces beautiful Guinness every time is the world-first patent-pending double coaxial piercing of the can. It uses an air pump – as opposed to the gas cylinder used in the traditional system – to push the liquid out of the can and through the standard Guinness Draught spout. The result is a beautiful two-part pour with the iconic surge and settle and cold, smooth taste that makes Guinness Draught a beer loved by consumers around the world.” We’re intrigued to see if the innovation takes off and whether the new pints feature on the right Instagram page, or the wrong one

The Nightcap: 11 June

The swanky, new-look Talisker is more sustainable

New sustainable packaging upgrade for Talisker 10 Year Old

Diageo has made a big deal about its sustainability commitments in the last couple of years and the drink giant’s latest innovation concerns Talisker. New packaging for its Talisker 10 Year Old has been introduced as part of the company’s wider 2030 sustainability action plan. The new packaging has increased the recyclability of the classic dram to 99.8%, while the bottle’s plastic components have been reduced by 86% and the original plastic stopper has been replaced with a premium wooden stopper. The brand also ensured the packaging weight was reduced by 6%, which will reduce materials used by 28 tonnes across 2021, meaning less waste to be managed per bottle. Pranay Chandra, malt whisky marketing manager, says that “consumers are increasingly conscious of their own environmental impact, and we are dedicated to supporting and being a part of this.” She adds that “we understand that there is still more to do, however, this is a significant step towards our goals of making all Talisker packaging recyclable by 2030, as well as working towards zero waste across our supply chain.” It’s another positive step in the right direction and we welcome any further improvements in the future.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Shit.

And finally… A beer made from goose poo. Mmmm!

We’ve had some funny drinks on the Nightcap –  like gin flavoured with sprouts or Chernobyl vodka – but a new beer might just take the biscuit. It’s from a Finnish brewery called Ant Brew which has just released a series of beers called Wasted Potential that are brewed from waste including goose droppings. No joke, this shit is for real. According to the press release: “The poop is used in a food-safe way to smoke malt to create a unique stout beer. The goose droppings are gathered from local parks, where geese are causing a messy problem.” Everybody wins! Sort of. Anyway, we can mock but this might be the logical conclusion of sustainability. Ant Brew’s home city of Lahti, aims to have a wasteless economy by 2050. So, in future, when someone says: “this beer tastes like shit”, it’s probably because it’s brewed with real poo. Lovely. 

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The Nightcap: 7 May

It’s been a shorter week thanks to the Bank Holiday weekend but there still was plenty going in the world of drinks. It’s The Nightcap: 7 May edition! We hope…

It’s been a shorter week thanks to the Bank Holiday weekend but there still was plenty going in the world of drinks. It’s The Nightcap: 7 May edition!

We hope you all spent the long weekend as far away from office desks (or wherever you work) as possible, and are nice and refreshed. It went quickly though, didn’t it? We can’t believe it’s already Friday and time for a new Nightcap. It dawned on us while enjoying our time off that if the powers-that-be made every working week just four days, then there’d be numerous benefits. Chief of which would be that it would feel like The Nightcap had arrived surprisingly early every week. And what a treat that would be. Right? Anyway, let’s get on with it. 

On the MoM blog this week, we launched a new competition perfect for those who want to whip up some delicious Irish whiskey cocktails. We also had the pleasure of celebrating Dennis Malcolm’s incredible 60 years in the whisky business, enjoying an authentic English rum, some of the finest Mexican spirits for Cinco de Mayo, and a Tequila cocktail that celebrates the life of the late, great Tomas Estes. Elsewhere, Ian Buxton found out why you’re nowhere in the celeb world unless you’ve got your very own booze brand, Millie uncovered the divine truth behind the angel’s share and Lucy showed why English wineries should be high on your list of staycations options this year. 

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

This bottle honours the man who arguably did the most to put single malts on the map

Gordon & MacPhail launches 67-year-old whisky

If you love a bit of ultra-rare single malt coverage then you’ll be pleased to know Gordon & MacPhail has something very impressive for you to enjoy this week. It’s a 67-year-old Scotch whisky distilled on Christmas Eve 1953 that was matured in a single, first-fill sherry butt and bottled at a cask strength of 59.4% ABV, which is incredible given the age of the whisky. You might be wondering why Gordon and & MacPhail have bottled it now given this fact, but it’s because the company is currently enjoying its 125th anniversary and saw fit to honour the man who contributed arguably the most to the brand: George Urquhart. Known by whisky legend Charlie MacLean as the “father of single malt” or as ‘Mr. George’ to his friends, he oversaw the filling of this very special cask during a period in which he was busy championing Scotland’s single malts while most were concerned with supplying spirit for blends. Just 355 bottles are available of the Gordon & MacPhail Mr. George Legacy 1953, which was distilled at Glen Grant. Stephen Rankin, the grandson of ‘Mr. George’ and Gordon & MacPhail’s director of prestige, says Mr. George held a particular fondness for the Speyside distillery, adding that the new “Legacy series allows us to explore some of these stories, providing some exceptional whiskies in fitting tribute to ‘Mr. George’s’ life’s work.” So, expect more rare, single cask drams in the future. They’ll set you back a pretty penny (the RRP for this one is £5,000), but if Maclean seems to think it’s worth it, noting: “This is a remarkable whisky. It is full of the complexity that long maturation can bring, yet it remains astonishingly vivacious. Frankly, as good as it gets!”

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

The high life awaits…

Want to get paid $20k to drink Miller High Life beer?

If you’re a beer lover who would love to visit Milwaukee and pocket $20,000, then today is your lucky day. Because this week Miller High Life beer has announced that it is hiring for the role of ‘Champagne of Beers Region’ ambassador. You see, the beer brand is currently petitioning the Milwaukee Common Council to create an official Champagne of Beers region in Wisconsin. And Miller High Life believes that it will need an official ambassador to help champion this noble cause. The scarcely believable role comes with a year’s supply of free beer, some High Life swag, and an all-expenses-paid trip to explore The Champagne of Beers region in addition to the compensation package. The brand’s petition asks, “If Champagne can only come from Champagne, France, why is The Champagne of Beers any different? [erm, we can think of a couple of reasons] We’re petitioning the Milwaukee Common Council to establish an official Champagne of Beers region, and declare that only beers invented within its strict borders – around the Miller Brewery – will be considered The Champagne of Beers.”  Applications opened yesterday and to apply just head over to the website and explain in 50 words or less why you’d be the perfect ambassador.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

Space wine will surely appeal to the kind of people who’ve got $1m spare

Christie’s selling first-ever space-aged Pétrus 2000

It seems there’s an awful lot of sending wine into space going on, but if you’ve ever wondered what the result of wine gracing the final frontier is then you’ve got a chance to find out now thanks to Christie’s. The auction house is selling a bottle of space-aged Pétrus 2000, which spent 14 months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time wine has travelled to the ISS and returned to Earth and the aging took place in a carefully monitored and controlled environment. The wine will be presented in a trunk made by the Parisian Maison d’Arts Les Ateliers Victor, alongside a decanter, glasses, and a corkscrew made from a meteorite. Tim Triptree, a master of wine who works at Christie’s, says a regular bottle of Pétrus 2000 will also be included alongside the space-aged bottle, “so the lucky buyer will be able to compare the two”. This is the only bottle from the case that was sent to space, as three were opened for the tasting and the remaining eight will be kept back for future research. We wouldn’t get your hopes up about winning this particular lot, however, as Christie’s estimates a sale price of $1m (£720,000). The good news is that the proceeds of the sale will go towards funding future space missions. So, if you do have that kind of cash sitting around and would like to acquire a piece of vinous and space history while also contributing to ongoing research then head to Christie’s now.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

You can wish McEwan a fond farewell over some quality drams

Enjoy a ‘last chat’ with Jim McEwan 

Jim McEwan is retiring… again. You may remember back in 2015, Jim McEwan retired from Bruichladdich only two years later to be lured back with a production director job at new Islay distillery Ardnahoe. Since then he’s appeared in two films: The Water of Life and The Golden Dram, done a book: A Journeyman’s Journey, and launched his own range of whiskies with Dramfool, Jim McEwan Signature Collection. Oh, and helped out at Cape Byron distillery in Australia. Makes a change from playing lots of golf. But now he really is retiring and he’s doing what’s billed rather ominously as a “last chat”. It’ll cost you £185 to take part with £25 going to Scottish charity Air Ambulance. For this you’ll receive access to The Water of Life, a copy of The Journeyman’s Journey with a signed letter from McEwan, plus a Gold Collection tasting kit with rare drams from notable McEwan distilleries including Bowmore, Bruichladdich, and his last gig, Cape Byron. Most importantly, you’ll also get access to a Zoom link to join a chat with McEwan on Sunday 23 May. If that’s a bit steep for you, there’s a £50 ‘Silver Collection’ option (£10 going to charity) with no book and less fancy whiskies but you still get to chat with the man himself and bid him a fond farewell. Or is it au revoir?

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

Vic Galloway invites you to enjoy his picks. And we invite you to make your own…

SMWS and BBC radio DJ pick music and whisky pairings

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is getting its groove on with long-standing BBC Radio Scotland presenter, Vic Galloway, by pairing music with whisky flavour profiles. The DJ has been broadcasting weekly on BBC Radio 1, BBC Scotland and BBC 6 Music for over 22 years and also happens to be an avid whisky fan and a member of the SMWS. Examples from the full SMWS pairing list, which can be found here, include Society’s ‘Young & Spritely’ flavour profile being likened to the genre ‘Dream Pop’ (whatever that is), with its “effervescent and sweet, joyous and uplifting exuberance that seems utterly timeless and forever young”. The Scottish broadcaster said: “Music and whisky go together like, well, music and whisky! There’s nothing better than sitting back with like-minded friends and sharing experiences. And that is what The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is all about.” He added that there are some surprises in his selection and recommends folks become members of the SMWS, which he describes as the “world’s most entertaining whisky club”. Galloway will also chat all things music and whisky on the SMWS ‘Virtual Pub’ being streamed tonight, one of the many events in the calendar to look forward to for members. We’d love to hear your suggestions on genre and whisky pairings you’d like to see. Liquid funk and Lagavulin? Garage rock and Glenlivet? Let us know in the comments below.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

It turns out there’s an ever big rip-off than space wine. Who knew?

“Counterfeit” $1,000  bourbon discovered

One of the dangers of buying very old spirits is the rise of counterfeiting. It appears that one such bottle was discovered recently in New York. Reporters from US publication Inside Edition bought a bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain Bourbon from Acker Wines, America’s oldest wine merchants, for $1,000. This whiskey was released at around $100 a bottle but such is the demand that bottles have been going for up $3,000. They sent it to where it was made, Buffalo Trace in Kentucky, for authentication where it was pronounced a fake, and not a very convincing one, with the proof on the bottle not matching the contents, a backwards strip stamp, and it was missing the correct lot code. This isn’t the first time that Acker Wines, previously known as Acker, Merrall and Condit, has run into problems with counterfeit goods. The firm was at the centre of the Rudy Kurniawan wine counterfeiting scandal outlined in the 2016 film Sour Grapes. It sold millions of dollars of rare wines that turned out to be fakes. The moral of the story is always do your homework before buying rare boozes.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

The only real question is, how did this move not happen sooner?

And finally… UB40 releases an actual red, red wine

We’ve just put a story up on the blog about celebrity boozes, and it’s already out of date because we have just learned that the lads from top light reggae outfit UB40 will soon be releasing their very own wine. It’s called… yes you guessed it… Red, Red Wine after their biggest hit (though the song was actually written by Neil Diamond who had a hit with it in 1968). It’s a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux Supérieur priced at an extremely punchy £28.50 – you can get some seriously tasty claret for that money. Nevertheless, it’s been described as “a good blend: a rich wine with fine tannins and attractive fruits.“ Not our words, but the words of Wine Enthusiast magazine. For those who don’t want to pony up nearly £30, you can save a massive four quid with the £24.50 version which is an organic vegan Merlot/ Petit Verdot blend though we’re not told where it’s from. Both wines are made in conjunction with a company called Eminent Life. Astro (above right) from UB40 commented: “Red, Red Wine has great balance and is really satisfying to drink. Like our music, we are always looking for balance and harmony. The Red Red Wine has both.” So there you go.

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The Nightcap: 23 April

On this week’s Nightcap there’s new Ardbeg and Talisker to drool over, the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’ and a man pouring a pint of lager over his head. Its…

On this week’s Nightcap there’s new Ardbeg and Talisker to drool over, the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’ and a man pouring a pint of lager over his head. Its all in The Nightcap: 23 April edition.

Happy St George’s Day, everyone! We hope you’re having something delicious and English to celebrate, whether it’s whisky, gin, rum, sparkling wine, or whatever takes your fancy. Personally, we’re very much enjoying The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s first rye whisky. Sadly, there’s very little of it about, so you’ll have to enter our latest lottery for a chance to buy a bottle. But you don’t have to slay any dragons to get involved. So that’s something. 

Elsewhere, the MoM blog was the place to be if you love Japanese booze as we uncovered the philosophy of Suntory and recommended seven of the finest Japanese whiskies available now. Australian whisky was also on our mind as we unveiled That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s new series of delightful expressions, as was the role of the Scotch Whisky Association and the news that Elixir Distillers snapped up Georgie Crawford in a surprise transfer from Diageo. The forgotten Prairie Oyster, Glen Scotia’s special Campbeltown Festival release, Canaïma’s cause-led gin and the simple but sublime Cuba Libre also caught our attention in a packed week.

But we’re not done yet. It’s The Nightcap: 23 April issue!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

The fearsome fire-breathing limited edition will be arriving at MoM Towers soon…

Fearsome fire-breathing Ardbeg Scorch unveiled for Feis Ile

Fèis Ìle might not be taking place IRL, but the distilleries are still doing plenty to keep the fans spending money. Sorry, happy. We’ve just heard the news that Ardbeg will be releasing a limited edition in time for Ardbeg day on 5 June. It’s called Ardbeg Scorch based on a dragon that apparently lives in Dunnage Warehouse no. 3. No this isn’t a St. George’s Day fool, the team really is releasing this whisky (though the dragon thing sounds unlikely, imagine the health and safety implications with all that flammable whisky.) It’s aged in heavily-charred ex-bourbon casks and bottled with no age statement at 46% ABV. Dr Bill Lumsden described it as “a fire-breathing beast of a dram!” The tasting note is quite something: “A long and heroic finale, with a subtle tarry aftertaste. A finish that will drag on, well into its happily ever after.” Blimey! Colin Gordon, Ardbeg’s new distillery manager, said: “This year will be my first Ardbeg Day ever: a baptism of fire! It’s a shame we Ardbeggians can’t enjoy it together in person, but the online event is shaping up to be tremendous fun. With a whole virtual world to explore, including fantasy inns, campfire tales, medieval feasts and live tastings, there’s plenty for people to be excited about this year.” Sounds fun! Ardbeg Scorch will be available from 27 May for £100 from your favourite online retailer. And it’s been a busy week for Dr Bill and team as they also unveiled X by Glenmorangie, a whisky that’s “made to mix.” Full feature on this mixable malt coming soon…

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

A remarkable liquid with a story that’s… well, it’s a story alright.

Talisker releases its oldest expression to date: 43 year old Xpedition Oak

In what might be the most convoluted bit of coopering ever, the latest release from Talisker called Xpedition Oak The Atlantic Challenge was finished in casks containing staves that sailed across the Atlantic. James Aiken took the unusual cargo on his yacht, the Oaken Yarn, for a 3,264 journey following the route of the rowers in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge from La Gomera in Spain to Antigua. The staves were then sent back to Scotland and made up into barrels which were used to finish a 43-year-old Talisker in. We’re not quite sure why. Still, 1805 bottles were filled at 49.7% ABV and should cost you around £3500. Bottle number one will be auctioned to raise money for conservation charity Parley for the Oceans. Brand ambassador Ewan Gunn commented: “This whisky is a sublime single malt that captures the pinnacle of the key aromas of Talisker – spice, sweetness, waxy and creamy, with a sense of the sea salt spray the morning after a storm. The four decades of maturation have given a full flavour, yet a softness to this bold dram resulting in a rounded and elegant experience.” We were given a little sample and can only agree with Gunn, that Talisker DNA just shines through even after 43 years with an incredible lingering creamy sweetness. What a treat, though what effect the Atlantic voyage has on the flavour is not obvious to us.

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Arnett is moving on to exciting new pastures

Former Jack Daniel’s master distiller to found $20m distillery

When Jeff Arnett left his role at the world’s biggest American whiskey brand back in September 2020, I think it was pretty clear to all of us that he was going to put his experience to good use. This week, the former master distiller of Jack Daniel’s revealed he’ll do just that at a new distillery being built in Tennessee. Following a US$20 million investment, Arnett’s Company Distilling project will open a 4,000 sq ft site with a tasting room and restaurant in Townsend, Tennessee in autumn 2021. It will be followed by the opening of a multi-functional ‘family-friendly’ facility in Springbrook Farm in Alcoa, Tennessee in 2022, which shows you how serious this plan is. The latter 20,000 sq ft site will eventually be home to the main distillery and manufacturing operations and will also include a tasting room, restaurant, brewery, and retail store with outdoor activities and entertainment hosted in 31 acres of space. There will be live music and games such as corn hole and pickleball (we have no idea what these but are guessing they are something Cletus from the Simpsons would play). Arnett is not the only significant figure in American whiskey at the centre of this project. It’s collaboration with Kris Tatum, former president of the Tennessee Distillers Guild; Heath Clark, founder of Tennessee-based H Clark Distillery; construction management professional Corey Clayton; and Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton. Arnett is understandably excited about the project. He commented: “For years now, we’ve had this spirit in the back of our minds. It’s straight bourbon whiskey finished with maple wood to produce a sip like no other. It’s hard to believe it’s finally real. And it’s better than we ever imagined.” And there pickleball too!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

It was quite the return to the world of in-person events for us this week

Bowmore and The Savoy team up to open Solas

This week did something truly amazing. We went to a bar for an event. Frankly, we’d have bit your hand off for an evening at Moe’s Tavern but we got to enjoy some a little more sophisticated at The Savoy. The London landmark was celebrating the launch of Solas (which means light, joy and comfort in Scottish Gaelic), an pop-up outdoor dining space in the historic Savoy Court that takes advantage of this age of outdoor hospitality. It’s a collaboration with Bowmore, which helped put together quite the menu. There’s an array of sublime cocktails that we got to taste as well as a raw seafood bar (mmmmm, raw seafood bar) that serves oyster selections, lobster rolls, gravadlax and scallop ceviche. The venue is a feast for the eyes too, but as you might imagine, it was the cocktails that really sold it for us. Standouts include the Pursuit For Perfection, a light, refreshing and elegant combination of Haku Vodka, peach, rosebud cordial and Champagne and Timeless, a rich, deep and complex mix of Bowmore 15 Year Old, Chezakette Bianco, Averna, Angostura, aquavit and sugar. It’s a truly impressive experience, to be honest. It looks great, the cocktails were delicious and the food? Well, Gordon Ramsey was there and he seemed perfectly happy. Solas is now open seven days a week until 21 June 2021 and I’d imagine reserving ASAP would be a good idea. 

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

The distillery has always had sustainability at the core of its business

Flor de Caña Rum to plant one million trees by 2025

With it being Earth Day yesterday, many brands have put the PR machines into overdrive in order to shout about how environmentally friendly they are. There are a few that aren’t simply greenwashing however, like Flor de Caña. It’s a sustainably-produced rum distilled with 100% renewable energy that’s carbon neutral and Fair Trade certified. It also has its own reforestation program, which has led to the planting of nearly 750,000 trees since 2005. Now it’s ramping up those efforts by pledging to plant more than one million trees by 2025. By partnering with One Tree Planted, its global campaign aims to raise awareness on the importance of reforestation and inspire consumers, bartenders and the general public to donate through the One Tree Planted platform. This guarantees that one tree will be planted for every dollar received. In turn, Flor de Caña will then match all donations received in order to have a greater impact. The global campaign, titled ‘Together for a Greener Future’, will also see the launch of several events with retailers, bars, restaurants and on social media (#TogetherForAGreenerFuture) to engage eco-conscious consumers. “Trees are essential for biodiversity and a healthy climate, so it’s great to work with a brand so committed to making a positive impact for reforestation and sustainability overall,” said Diana Chaplin, canopy director at One Tree Planted. Keep up the good work, guys!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Congratulations Mark!

Mark McClintock is Diageo World Class GB Bartender of the Year

Congratulations to Mark McClintock who fought off stiff competition to be crowned last night as Diageo World Class GB Bartender of the Year. The test consisted of two challenges. The first dubbed ‘Alive with Freshness’ used Tanqueray No. Ten and was judged solely on flavour and balance. The second was more complicated and involved contestants designing a dream whisky bar along with two cocktails, one made with Talisker and one with Johnnie Walker Black Label. World Class ambassador Jo Last praised McClintock’s “impeccable skills and hospitality throughout both challenges”.The judging panel was led by Pippa Guys who commented: “Mark has demonstrated a consistently high quality of drinks, knowledge, and personality ever since he stepped into the World Class programme.” McClintock himself said: “I am genuinely shocked and so honoured to go on and represent GB on the global stage”. In addition to the glory of going to the final 4-8 July (virtually), McClintock wins a 12-month contract with Global Bartending, WSET Level 3 spirits course, a personalised Cocktail Kingdom kit, and photoshoot. We wish him the best of luck for the final.

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Loser has to sing The Champs – Tequila on karaoke.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Cazcabel’s ‘world’s first Tequila board game’

Last week we heard about Jose Cuervo’s plans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, now Cazcabel has revealed how it will mark the event. The brand has launched the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’, La Lotería. A hand-illustrated version of the Mexican classic bingo-style game, the aim is to be the first to match all the pictures on the sheet, La Tabla, with those called out by the host from the deck of cards. Each La Lotería game, comes in a magnetic box complete with a deck of cards, eight reusable La Tabla sheets and pens, a rule sheet, and a Spanish translation guide. Cazcabel Tequila is also hosting a Mexican Fiesta two-hour virtual event filled with tequila cocktails and La Lotería at 6:30 pm on Thursday 6th May. It will be hosted by the brand’s global brand ambassador Nate Sorby, with tickets available via Design My Night for £25 per person. It also sounds great, but to be honest the idea of mixing up some Margaritas whilst playing a Tequila board game sounds hard to beat. You can pick one up from the brand’s website and grab your Cazcabel Tequila here

And finally… man celebrates end of lockdown by pouring a pint over his head

Here in England, we’ve unable to contain our excitement that the pubs are opening again so we can have a delicious pint of beer in the garden. But not as excited as one St Helens man who was so overcome with emotion at the thought of that first pint, that rather than drink it, he poured it over his head. 45-year-old Charlie Richards commented: “My mate was just doing a video showing everyone there really enjoying the day and it went onto me, and well I got a bit excited and ended up rubbing the beer on my face before pouring it over my head for a few laughs. I didn’t think too much of it really, but my mate posted it on Facebook and now it’s gone everywhere.” So this St. George’s Day, we raise a glass to a true Englishman. Cheers Charlie!

1 Comment on The Nightcap: 23 April

The Nightcap: 16 April

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April…

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April edition.

You may have seen the news already, but this week is a big one here at Master of Malt as we’re saying a tearful goodbye to our wonderful editor, Kristiane Sherry who is moving on to pastures new. This humble blog wouldn’t be what it is today without her contribution and we hope you’ll join us in wishing her all the best in her new role. Thanks for everything, Kristy.

Elsewhere, we launched two different competitions, each one offering you a chance to get your hands on some delicious booze. So, if you’re a fan of Darkness and/or River Rock whisky, be sure to check them out. Adam then cast our MoM-branded spotlight on Black Cow Vodka, Henry spoke to Lady Armagnac herself, Amanda Garnham, Kristy heard from Jake Burger about his new book and how the bar trade will endure and Scott Davidson from Glencairn Crystal spoke to Lucy Britner about 40 years of making exceptional glassware. We also enjoyed new Kilchoman whisky, the El Presidente cocktail and ten delightful drinks from independent distillers

Now, on to the Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

5/10, it’s the Mitre in Holland Park,

These are London most mediocre pubs

We’re used to listicles outlining people’s favourite venues; we’ve even seen round-ups of worst places, but The Fence Magazine (an extremely funny newish magazine that we’d highly recommend subscribing to) has come up with an entirely new kind of clickbait when this week it published its top 25 most mediocre pubs in London. The thinking behind it was that the capital’s best pubs would be rammed, what with lockdown restrictions easing in England, so here are some places that nobody in their right mind would queue to get into. The list included such legends of mediocrity as the Mitre in Holland Park, “an archetypal non-place”, the Zetland Arms in South Kensington, “the kind of place you end up going to regularly for a few months, never develop feelings about and, occasionally, go again”, and the World’s End in Finsbury Park, “an adequate place to drink a few pints.” It might be because we’ve been deprived of pubs for so long, but the mention of these ordinary boozers made us feel moderately nostalgic. 

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

This is one for the gin lover in your life

Beefeater celebrates 200 years with snazzy new book

The Beefeater story begins in 1820 when James Burrough began distilling in Chelsea. Since then, the brand that became Beefeater gin has stayed true to its London roots being based since 1958 in Kennington. To celebrate 200 years, Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, the Ant and Dec of drinks writing, have produced a lavish new book. Murielle Dessenis, global brand director for Beefeater, explained “This book is not a time capsule but a creative visualisation of Beefeater’s history, and its future, told by those who have helped shape it.” We were fortunate enough to see an advance copy and it’s very snazzy indeed as it’s laid out as ‘triptych’ so the book opens up three ways. But it’s much more than a pretty face, the book contains a history of the company, insights from master distiller Desmond Payne MBE and evocative old adverts and photos from Beefeater’s long history. The lads commented: “It is London, this city of contrasts, that has provided the backdrop for Beefeater’s greatest moments and achievements. This was a fantastic project to work on as we were able to take a look at what gin means to the people behind Beefeater and to the location in which it is crafted.” It’s something that no gin lover should be without so you’ll be pleased to know it’s available from the Beefeater shop for £50.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Fining dining comes to Chatham’s historic dockyard

Copper River Distillery in Chatham opens fine dining restaurant

You don’t often hear the words ‘fine dining’ and ‘Chatham’ in the same sentence but all that is about to change as the Copper River distillery has just announced that it will be opening a fancy new restaurant. Called the Pumproom, after the beautiful Italianate building (above) housing the distillery in Chatham’s historic dockyard, it’s first service will take place today, Friday 16 April, with diners distanced on a deck overlooking the historic River Medway. Copper Rivet Distillery’s commercial director, Stephen Russell, explained a little about what to expect: “Outstanding food creations by head chef Will Freeman are complemented by expertly curated wines from Kent and from around the world, as the Russell family has had expertise as wine buyers for over 40 years.” And maitre d’ Dom Schefferlie added: “Our team at the Pumproom will be using seasonal ingredients to maximum effect and, in keeping with the ethos of the distillery, will be taking a keen interest in provenance – using local ingredients wherever possible, be they locally grown-vegetables, locally-reared meat or locally-landed fish such as Rye Bay cod. Both the restaurant and the distillery count food miles and the minimising of waste as key deliverables.” There’s both tapas and more formal dining. We have to say that the menu sounds delicious with the thought of a starter of bone marrow, chicken crackling, smoked eel, cockles, radish & toast really getting our juices going. Sounds worth a visit.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Great Islay whisky and delicious Scottish beer have come together in a joyous union once more

Innis & Gunn launch Islay whisky cask beer with Laphroaig Distillery

Any fan of Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn will know it loves to do a bit of innovation and its new limited-edition beer demonstrates just that. Islay Whisky Cask is a 7.4% amber ale aged in ex-Laphroaig 10 Year Old casks. During its 12-week maturation in barrel, the beer is said to have extracted some hallmark Laphroaig notes of peat smoke and brine, as well as cask influences of vanilla and floral aromas. Combine that with the rich, warming malty flavours from the malted barley and it sounds like something that’s right up our alley. Like when Ardbeg made peaty beer. Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder of Innis & Gunn, says the collaboration is a perfect example of the “quality that can be achieved when you work innovatively with your craft and unite with other complimentary talents”. He also comments that the beer “truly evokes the island that inspires both our brew and the iconic Laphroaig” and that the result is evident “even before you take your first sip, as you open the bottle, you’re welcomed with the distinctly peaty, complex aroma that defines Laphroaig”. Just 3,400 bottles of Islay Whisky Cask have been available to buy in the UK from today via the Innis & Gunn online shop, so you might want to hurry if you want to get your hands on one.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

The research project which could inform future barrel experiments.

Buffalo Trace Distillery begins oak research project

This week we learned that two Kentucky giants, Buffalo Trace Distillery and the University of Kentucky, are teaming up to learn more about white oak. This is handy, seeing it’s the wood bourbon is matured in. The two are joining forces on a 15-year research project called the White Oak Initiative. The idea is to ensure the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak by studying the genetic responses of trees from various regions to different white oak forest establishment techniques in a rural field application. The study kicked off with the planting of 1,066 trees on the farm at Buffalo Trace Distillery this week featuring seedlings from 40 different parent trees from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Dennis Walsh, homeplace manager for Buffalo Trace Distillery, explains further, “We’re excited to partner with University of Kentucky on this project. It’s important that we look towards the future and how we can contribute to the sustainability of the white oak industry. The project will also assess the cost per board foot required to maintain a sustainable supply of new white oak long into the future”. Buffalo Trace is considering adding tours in the future of its farm, which would include education about its participation in the White Oak Initiative. Long term, Buffalo Trace may be able to use some of the oak trees it has planted for future barrel experiments.  

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Anyone else hungry?

Jose Cuervo helps you celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home

With the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo coming up (5 May in case your Spanish is a bit rusty), you can expect to see a host of Tequila and mezcal brands marking the event in the next few weeks. For Jose Cuervo, 2021’s festivities will include teaming up with award-winning chef James Cochran to launch the Around the Cluck X Jose Cuervo Cinco de Mayo at-home-kit. Featuring Cochran’s signature Around the Cluck fried chicken, his favourite Sauce Shop condiments, and exclusive Margarita pairings from Jose Cuervo, the restaurant kit looks like ideal way to celebrate at home with loved ones. The Twisted Piña Margarita combines Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila, with pressed pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, coriander, jalapeño and agave nectar with garnishes of cracked black pepper and a fresh lime wheel. Oli Pergl, Tequila educator at Jose Cuervo, says: “Cinco De Mayo is an important date in the Mexican calendar so what better way to celebrate than a partnership between award-winning chef, James Cochran, his restaurant 12.51 and Jose Cuervo Tequila. Delicious food complemented with perfectly paired cocktails will transport you, figuratively not literally, to Tequila Valley… enjoy!” The kits are available to order from this week until the 3rd May at https://www.1251.co.uk/

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Is it madness or brilliance?

And finally…. Crisp-flavoured beer??! WTF?!

Crisps are wonderful things. We’re particularly partial to salt & vinegar flavour Chipsticks here at MoM. And beer is brilliant too. These are things we can all agree on. But what about if you put them together? No, not beer-flavoured crisps, that would be too straightforward. We’re talking crisp-flavoured beer. It’s taken an all-Yorkshire partnership of Seabrook’s crisps and Northern Monk brewery to make this unholy creation come true. The idea was first aired on 1 April so was widely thought to be a joke, but they did the old switcheroo and made their joke a reality. There’s two versions: a 5.4% ABV Cheese & Onion lager which is said to have “notes of cheese and onion”, and a 5% Prawn Cocktail Gose “with the tang of prawn cocktail.” Northern Monk founder Russell Bisset commented: “After one of the most challenging periods in recent history, we decided to take this quest into uncharted territory, creating an experience that would make people laugh – or grimace actually – as lockdown lifts.” We’re not going to knock them until we’ve tried them but, let’s face it, they sound horrible. We’ll stick with a pint of Landlord and a packet of salt & vinegar Golden Wonder, thank you very much.

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The Nightcap: 9 April

The “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottle ever”, a taboo advert and Madison Beer all feature in the Nightcap: 9 April. Why? Well, you have to read on to find…

The “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottle ever”, a taboo advert and Madison Beer all feature in the Nightcap: 9 April. Why? Well, you have to read on to find out…

Well, this is it. The last weekend before folks in (some of) the UK can go back to pubs, bars and restaurants. It’s a momentous occasion. But does anyone remember how any of this actually works, exactly? We’re worried both bartender and consumer will just stare at each other blankly across the bar like malfunctioning androids. It’s going to be a nation of accidental Mark Zuckerberg impressions. Still, it’s exciting all the same. Like reading about all the most interesting things that happened in the world of booze in the last few days. It’s the Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Which you’ll already have a taste of if you’ve read our blog this week. Just because it was a shorter week, that didn’t mean we skimped on the content. There were all kinds of stories to enjoy, like the launch of our exclusive Glenfiddich Tasting Collection or a new expression that combines whiskey with tea. Elsewhere, Millie returned to reexamine the role of the often-derided Mixto Tequila, Ian had his eye on the most valuable drinks companies in the world while Lucy asked if the living room was the new tasting room. Brora Distillery was then in headline-stealing mood by announcing its opening in May and launching super fancy celebratory booze. Oh, and if you need any inspiration for a weekend tipple and love flavoured gin, then you’ll enjoy this week’s cocktail.

Now, let’s get Nightcapping, shall we?

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

We love some fancy Bowmore

One-of-a-kind Black Bowmore Archive Cabinet heads to auction

In top fancy whisky news of the week, a complete set of five rare, iconic Black Bowmore bottlings is about to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. But not just that: the 29, 30, 31, 42 and 50 year old expressions, first distilled in 1964, are housed in something very special indeed. A gorgeous cabinet crafted by John Galvin, an expert in his field, who took two years designing and building the thing. It all started with a trip to Islay, where he took in the scenery from Machir Bay to Bowmore itself. And the cabinet even features parts of the distillery itself, including handles made from the decommissioned spirit safe, and details from the washbacks. “The spirit in those bottles went through the spirit safe,” said Bowmore master blender Ron Welsh via video call to talk about the really rather magnificent construction. The cabinet, plus all five bottles, is expected to fetch at least £400,000 when it goes up as the first lot in the Wine & Spirit Spring Sale Series, which runs from 16-18 April. Funds raised will go to the Bowmore Legacy Project, which supports young people on Islay with housing and training. “The best thing is that the money goes back into the island,” Welsh added. We can’t wait to see what it goes for!

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

A computer-generated image of what the new brewery and distillery will look like when finished

New €24m Killarney brewery and distillery to open this summer

If you thought the last year would dent the demand for new producers of Irish whiskey, you’d be wrong. It seems like every week there’s a new announcement that somebody is going to do the lord’s work and make the water of life on the Emerald Isle. Killarney Brewing & Distilling, however, has to be one of the most notable and exciting. At 62,000 sq ft, it’s set to become Ireland’s largest independent brewery, distillery and visitor centre when it opens this summer. The site, which cost more than €24m (just over £20m), will house a rooftop garden, a 250-seat gala event space, a chocolate shop and other facilities. It will employ over 85 people, while the brand aims to attract in excess of 100,000 annual visitors. Paul Sheahan, Tim O’Donoghue and Liam Healy founded Killarney Brewing & Distilling in 2013 and opened a town centre location in 2015, restoring the old Killarney Mineral Water drinks facility into a taproom and pizzeria. This is one serious project. While we wait for the brand’s spirit to mature, Killarney Brewing & Distilling announced on St Patrick’s Day that it was launching two flagship products, an eight-year-old blended Irish whiskey and an imperial stout matured in the same Killarney whiskey casks designed to complement the flavours of the whiskey blend. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

These are some of the most sustainable bottles ever produced.

Diageo makes “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottles ever”

You might recall us previously writing about Diageo’s Society 2030: Spirit of Progress sustainability plan. Well, the series of ambitious environmental goals produced a real result this week as the drinks giant was able to pioneer the lowest carbon footprint glass bottles ever produced for a Scotch whisky brand. In collaboration with glass manufacturer Encirc and industry research and technology body Glass Futures, Diageo has used waste-based biofuel-powered furnaces and 100% recycled glass to the most environmentally-friendly receptacles, which reduce the carbon footprint of the bottle-making process by up to 90%. For the purposes of the trial Diageo used its Black & White Scotch whisky brand, producing 173,000 of the impressive bottles. Further work now needs to be done to develop and scale the trial for future production, but it represents a significant step forward. John Aird, senior packaging technologist at Diageo, who led the project for the company, said the trial was just a first step in the journey to decarbonise this aspect of the supply chain and that the brand still has a long way to go, but that it was “delighted with the results of the collaboration” and the “platform it creates for future innovation”.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

If you guys need any volunteer tasters you know where we are. Also, rad dog.

White Peak Distillery to launch first whisky after crowd-funding success

If you thought the Peak District had everything before 2016, you were wrong. Very close, but wrong. Because it didn’t have a full-scale distillery capable of making delicious English whisky. But five years ago that changed when White Peak was founded by local husband-and-wife team Max & Claire Vaughan. Since then, it’s won plenty of awards for its distillery visitor experiences and tasty gin and rum, while generating lots of excitement with its impressive new make. Now White Peak is gearing up to launch its first single malt whisky in October 2021. To make the most of this pivotal year, the distillery is currently offering the opportunity to become a shareholder in White Peak. Interested parties can contribute to the crowd funding campaign, which already raised nearly £1 million, almost doubling its target of £500,000. The crowdfunding page, which is due to close on 23 April, reveals that White Peak has more than 950 casks of maturing whisky and is operating at 50% of its capacity, allowing further room to grow. The distillery’s prologue release, a two-year-old spirit, sold out in two days. Co-founder Max says the team is excited for the next chapter of the distillery’s story to unfold with the release of the single malt whisky and that the brand’s “journey over the past five years has been incredibly rewarding”. We’re certainly looking forward to tasting the new dram. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Don’t drink and hike. Obviously.

River Rock Scotch whisky ads banned 

One Scotch whisky brand found itself on rocky ground this week after the UK’s advertising watchdog upheld a complaint against it. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has deemed two of River Rock’s ads as being “irresponsible” on the grounds they linked alcohol with an activity or location where drinking would be unsafe. The ads, both seen on 7 January 2021, included a post on the brand’s Facebook page, which read: “What better way to celebrate the launch of batch #2 than with a whisky tasting at 3,500ft?” It was accompanied with images of people mountaineering, with a bottle of whisky shown with the hikers. A second ad, posted on the journal section of the brand’s website, included a similar message. The ASA said that, while neither ad showed someone drinking alcohol, consumers would likely assume whisky had been consumed at 3,500ft due to the question posed. River Rock contested that the images did not show or imply whisky consumption and says the brand takes its position within the outdoor community and alcohol industry seriously. The Scotch whisky makers also revealed it liaised with the ASA and updated the content to ensure it met approved standards. River Rock’s Kirsten Geary says mountaineering images are still allowed to be used to promote River Rock and that its commitment to the great outdoors is “fundamental to the brand”, and “as a proud member of 1% for the Planet which sees the brand contribute one tree for every bottle sold, we will also continue to feature and celebrate Scotland’s wild spaces in our communications.”

Rare Brora whiskies go under the hammer

Brora! Brora! Brora!

Super rare Brora collection goes under the hammer

Did our post this week whet your appetite for all things Brora? Yes? Well read on. Whisky Auctioneer is hosting an auction entirely dedicated to this legendary ghost (though not for much longer) distillery from 15-19 April. Especial rarities include: Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s 61.1, the first-ever bottling of Brora single malt; bottle number one of 60 of a 41 year old 1978 Brora bottled for Diageo’s Casks of Distinction programme; a 1972 Cask Strength 40-Year-Old decanter; and even some bottlings from when the distillery was known as Clynelish. That’s before the new Clynelish was built in 1969 and the old one labelled Brora. Yes, it’s a bit complicated. The head of auction content, Joe Wilson, commented: “The Brora auction encapsulates the distillery’s past as it prepares to turn on the stills to its future with the chance to bid on complete collections and rare single malts created prior to the distillery’s halt in production in 1983 – a timely reminder to revisit these legendary malts and that ‘lost distilleries” are not always lost forever.” He added: Whether you are a whisky collector or lost distillery enthusiast, this is a one of a kind opportunity to get your hands on these special Brora bottles, many of which are rarely seen on the secondary market.” So sell your house, pawn the family silver and get bidding.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

This is actually how Guinness comes over from Dublin, in two enormous cans

Fresh Guinness is on its way as England’s pubs reopen

Here at MoM, we have the date 12 April ringed in our diaries as that’s the day that the pubs in England reopen. Sort of. You still have to drink outside but still, beer! In preparation, Guinness is sending 49 tankers of the black stuff across the Irish sea for the country’s thirsty drinkers. And to make sure that everything is in tip-top condition for the big pour, the company is sending a crack squad of stout technicians to 50,000 venues around the country. Head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah, commented: “Our teams have been working round the clock, undertaking a series of rigorous checks with the utmost care and attention so that when people all over GB have their first sip of a fresh pint, it’s the best it can be.” He went on to say: “The past year has been tough for the hospitality industry, so we want to do all that we can to make sure that their opening week is as successful as it can be.” Seeing as this was only announced yesterday, the pubs reopen on Monday and there are only 50 of these experts, they better get moving if they’re to get around all those venues. Especially as the photos supplied show a Guinness tanker still in Dublin! Come on chaps! We’re dying of thirst here.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

The dream. This is the dream.

Black Chalk’s vineyard tree houses open this summer

We don’t know about you, but we’ve always wanted a proper treehouse. Just the word ‘treehouse’ conjures up magical images of Swiss Family Robinson (Google the 1960 film version) or the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi. But we’ve just heard about one that’s even better cos it’s right by a vineyard! From 12 April, top Hampshire sparkling wine producer Black Chalk will open its four new treehouses to the general public. The treehouses sit six metres off the ground on the Fullerton Estate. They are built in a Scandinavian style using local materials and designed to blend in with the landscape. Oh, and include outdoor hot tubs. Sexy! Black Chalk’s Andrew Seden comments: “The treehouses are a great addition to the estate and bring another dimension to the Black Chalk experience, shining a light on our Test Valley home and putting our wines in front of new consumers.  Whilst the majority of guests are expected to be from London, and the wider U.K. – especially with international travel restricted – The Test Valley draws in tourists from all over the world, including Japan which is our primary international market.” And if you don’t fancy the full treehouse experience (what is wrong with you?), tours of the winery resume on 12 May. We hear Hampshire is lovely at that time of year. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Don’t try this at home. Obviously. Credit: TikTok/@doctortristanpeh

And finally… don’t open beer bottles with your teeth

Madison Beer was in the news recently. No, not a Czech-style lager from Wisconsin, but top American singer Madison Beer. Do try to keep up, dad. But beer is involved. The two beers collided when a video went viral of Beer, the singer, opening a bottle of beer, the delicious hoppy beverage, with her teeth. Then this week, a publicity-seeking Singapore dentist, Doctor Tristan Peh, waded in with a video of his own out that this is not good for your teeth. Duh, thanks doc!

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The Nightcap: 19 March

Islay’s first dedicated rum distillery, a troll-inspired beer and more all await you in this week’s edition of The Nightcap: 19 March edition. Get stuck in. Tomorrow it’s officially Spring™….

Islay’s first dedicated rum distillery, a troll-inspired beer and more all await you in this week’s edition of The Nightcap: 19 March edition. Get stuck in.

Tomorrow it’s officially Spring™. According to the internet, anyway. And when is it ever inaccurate? Usually at this time of year we’d be looking forward to things: the brighter weather; Bank Holidays; Easter and the mountain of chocolate that comes with it. But it’s hard not to look back this year. It’s been a whole 12 months since the UK went into lockdown. The sun has completed 365 keepy-ups with the earth (science isn’t our strong suit) since the first MoM virtual quiz. A lot has changed since then. Even The Nightcap. But it’s still full of fun stories, cool pictures and interesting tidbits. Go and check it out if you don’t believe us. It’s right there. Just scroll down.

We were all a little Irish this week on the MoM blog. Our St Patrick’s Day celebrations were filled with delicious Irish whiskey and plenty of cocktails. Elsewhere, we did our best Soft Cell impression by saying hello to Pour & Sip and waving goodbye to Dram Club. Ian Buxton returned to investigate the merits of mizunara oak. Then Lucy demonstrated how to point and click like a pro. New Ardbeg distillery manager Colin Gordon also stopped by for a chat. And we enjoyed some bargain brandies, a first spiced variant from a rum giant and a fruity twist on a whisky classic.

But there’s still more boozy stories to enjoy ahead, so let’s crack on. It’s The Nightcap: 19 March!

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Big changes are coming to Glen Garioch Distillery

Beam Suntory invests £6 million in Glen Garioch

Things are changing at Glen Garioch thanks to a huge investment by its owners Beam Suntory. The drinks giant is pumping £6 million into renovations. Cutting-edge technology is on the way. As is the return of some traditional production processes. Which isn’t as counter-intuitive as it sounds. The brand will alter its wash still to heat it with direct fire. But, to do that it will use a state-of-the-art, efficient and safe method. It will even reduce the distillery’s carbon footprint by around 15%. Glen Garioch will also soon home to floor maltings. The expectation is that the work, which began last year, will be completed later this year. Distillery manager Kwanele Mdluli says the team have “deep expertise and passion” for traditional distillation and malting methods. François Bazini, Beam Suntory’s managing director Scotch, Gin & Irish, added: “Our whisky has always been made with extraordinary care, and by reinvigorating its distillery and tapping into the brand’s rich history, we’ll be able to build on the quality and complexity that Glen Garioch is already known for. Although we’re looking to the past for inspiration – we’re opening the next chapter in Glen Garioch’s future”.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Islay might be known for its whisky, but the island could soon have its first-ever dedicated craft rum distillery.

Islay welcomes first dedicated rum distillery

There’s a new distillery on the way for Islay, but it won’t be making whisky. Instead, the Queen of the Hebrides will be getting its first dedicated rum distillery. Islay Spirits, a subsidiary of independent bottlers the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, has partnered with an Islay startup called The High Road Rum Company to bring the project to life. The project received planning permission in January 2020. The brand has secured a site, the former Hastie’s Lemonade Factory and Dunn’s Depot in Port Ellen. Following some refurbishment, we can expect to see rum flowing from the stills in autumn of this year. If you love a bit of geeky detail, you’ll be interested to know that a pot and twin retort still has been ordered. Ben Inglis, of The High Road Rum Company, will take charge. Excitingly, it sounds like he’ll be making good use of a rum recipe he’s been developing for several years. Andrew Crook, managing director of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, says the project is an opportunity to put some investment back into the “the spiritual home of our company” and that he hopes the local community will “enjoy seeing a business emerge and develop over the years”. Just to be clear, this is Islay’s first dedicated rum distillery. We know that the Laggan Bay Brewery & Distillery promised to create Islay’s first rum back in 2019. This new project, however, is different. Because it won’t be making any beer or whisky. Just rum. Lots of lovely rum. Cool? Don’t make this like that time we wrote about Mexican whisky

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

One of the events invites you to join Stewart Buchanan to discover ‘Benriach’s World of Flavour’

Spirit of Speyside unveils schedule

Tickets for The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival are now on sale! Now in its 21st year, the four-day festival’s (29 April – 2 May 2021) programme features over 60 events. All of which are, of course, online. But there’s still a host of things to do. Festival-goers can speed network with other whisky lovers. Or check out their favourite brands in the exhibition centre. Or even catch up with friends old and new in the social lounge on the virtual platform. Programme highlights include Would I Lie to You?, which pits the likes of Dennis Malcolm, George Grant, Gemma Paterson and whisky writer Blair Bowman against each other to battle it out to become the best storytellers in Speyside. Then there’s Musical Drams, in which special guests including Charles MacLean, Dave Broom and Becky Paskin aim to bring their chosen whisky to life by matching a dram from Speyside to a piece of music. To grab your tickets and learn more, head to the Spirit of Speyside website.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Soon whiskey will join this line-up

Micil distils first Galway whiskey in over a century

Galway’s only operational distillery has revealed that it is producing the Irish city’s first whiskey in over a century. Micil Distillery’s founders Pádraic and Jimín Ó Griallais marked St Patrick’s Day by announcing that it is following in the footsteps of Micil Mac Chearra, their great-great-great-grandfather who began distilling spirits on a hillside in South Connemara over 170 years ago. In an interview with Pádraic back in January 2020, he revealed that whiskey was on the way. Just a year later casks were full of Micil new make. The process draws on the family’s distilling knowledge. This means historic mash bills, as well as Connemara terroir & provenance. The spirit is made with peated Irish barley, which was malted using Connemara turf from the family farm in Inverin. While the new whiskey matures, Micil will launch two independently-bottled Irish whiskeys finished in its own casks this summer. Congratulations guys, we look forward to tasting the whiskey. Until then, you can always enjoy its poitín and gin, while further information on the news, as well as the history of whiskey and distillation, can be found in this excellent post by WhiskeyTalk2U.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Bottles of booze brands produced by Pernod Ricard will updated by the end of the year

Pernod Ricard prioritises age-restriction labelling 

Pernod Ricard is stepping up its commitments to responsible consumption. Notably by ramping up efforts to add age-restriction labelling to all bottles produced by the group’s brands this year. The initial target was to implement the measures by 2024. This means the drinks giant is more than three years ahead of schedule. It’s one of more than 150 initiatives currently being developed. One saw Pernod Ricard take advantage of the lockdown period to accelerate training. More than 80% of employees have taken in-house digital training courses on the risks of excessive or inappropriate consumption and responsible drinking guidelines. Elsewhere, a digital version of the responsible party initiative Pernod Ricard coordinates with ERASMUS (Erasmus Student Network) was a hit. More than 6 million people, primarily isolated and at-risk students watched ‘Sharing Good Vibes’. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s important work. And it’s good to see a leader in the industry pressing ahead with its commitments.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Here’s to 40 years of Glencairn!

Glencairn celebrates 40 years of innovative glassware

The company behind the world’s favourite whisky tasting glass is celebrating its 40th anniversary. With a dram or two from a certain special glass, we imagine. Glencairn Crystal Studio and founder Raymond Davidson have been making innovative glassware since 1981. And it’s still in family hands. Initially, the business focused on decanters before the creation of the famous Glencairn Glass in 2001. Davidson senior commented: “When I started it was my ambition to create the most innovative, creative and impressive crystal decanters. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone at Glencairn and what we have achieved together in the last forty years. Though we have grown to a team of over 70 staff now, our family values and customer relationships are still at the core of everything we do and we continue to lead the world in creating ground-breaking design and developing unique techniques that delight our customers.” His son and new product development director Scott Davidson added: “Last year was an important year for us with the 20th anniversary of our iconic Glencairn Glass for whisky, however this is also a momentous year for us as we pay homage to 40 years of Glencairn Crystal.” The celebrations will take place later in the year with the opening of new expanded premises in East Kilbride, Glasgow.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

The whisky boom just got boomier at Annandale Distillery

VCL Vintners “disrupts the market” with exclusive Annandale Distillery deal

The whisky investment world just got interesting. Lowland distillers Annandale has signed an exclusive five deal with VCL Vintners, a London-based firm of cask brokers. The distillery will offer half of its output, around 276,000 litres of pure alcohol, to VCL for sale to investors. As we’ve reported before, the market for casks has been heating up recently. But this move gives VCL an impressive slice of the whisky cake. Especially from a prestigious award-winning distillery like Annandale. Benjamin Lancaster, director of VCL Vintners, says: “Now that we have secured a consistent supply, our clients can benefit from casks with a high-grade premium product. And an even higher potential for return on investment. VCL Vintners intends to disrupt the market and revolutionise the way whisky investors access this high performing, capital growth alternative asset”. He also reveals plans are in place to work with other distilleries on the same basis in the future. David Thomson, owner of Annandale Distillery adds that VCL Vintners were the most “impressive and businesslike” investment house to approach them. “We only make one grade of whisky, so our customers can be assured of its quality. We’re very pleased to have the expert support of VCL Vintners to communicate the quality of our cask whisky. We’re very hopeful that the next five years of this partnership will bring a lot of success”. It’s certainly a bold move by VCL. It looks like the boom is getting boomier. 

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Come and join The Drinks Community! Everyone will think you’re really cool if you do…

Join The Drinks Community!

A new initiative from industry charity The Drinks Trust goes live this week. It’s called the Drinks Community and it’s a platform for professionals to network, learn and share information. Something particularly important at the moment with the hospitality industry still in lockdown turmoil. Already over 700 people have signed up. Chief executive, Ross Carter commented: “The Drinks Community will be the voice of drinks people, from the point of production to the point of sale. Together, we will create, curate and share the most relevant and exciting resources that will help grow careers and connect more people across our vibrant industry. We will offer the services and opportunities that will help our people become more skilled, ultimately making our sector stronger, smarter, more connected, more resilient and more diverse.” There are different levels of membership from free to £5 and £10 monthly donations. It sounds like such a worthwhile initiative both while the industry gets back on its feet and for the future. So, what are you waiting for? Join up now!

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

We can get behind this kind of response

And finally… American brewery releases troll-inspired beer

Whoever said the customer is always right, clearly doesn’t read reviews on Amazon or TripAdvisor. Unreasonable and unpleasant customers are, sadly, all too common. One American brewery is fighting back, however, the only way it knows how. By making beer. WSLS reports that Beale’s Brewery’s latest release is made in response to someone who refused to wear a mask in the taproom in line with Covid restrictions and later sent an email saying: “Your manager is b**** and your beer tastes like hot old orange juice.” We’re not sure what asterisked word is, perhaps some crazy Appalachian swear word like ‘badgerass.’ Whatever it is, it’s not very nice at all. Head brewer Bryson Foutz says: “The sad thing is it’s expected, but the only thing we can do is snap back.” Beale’s response is an American porter called “Your manager is b*****”. It even has a photo of the manager, the magnificently-named Brittany Canterbury, looking very pleasant and not at all like a badgerass. We can’t comment on the flavour. But we expect it won’t taste like hot old orange juice, or badgerass.

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IWD 2021 interview: Jaega Wise, brewer and broadcaster

Today, our International Women’s Day coverage continues as we talk to Jaega Wise who has not one but two dream jobs: making beer at the Wild Card brewery in London,…

Today, our International Women’s Day coverage continues as we talk to Jaega Wise who has not one but two dream jobs: making beer at the Wild Card brewery in London, and TV and radio presenter. 

It’s hard to believe that back in the mid ‘00s, there were only two breweries in London, Fuller’s in Chiswick and Meantime in Greenwich. Now there are hundreds. Playing her part in this beer renaissance is Jaega Wise at the Wild Card brewery in Walthamstow, East London. She’s seen how the capital has regained its historic role as a beer powerhouse.We started in 2012, and in the late 2000s, I think there were ten breweries in London. To put it into context now there’s about 110 breweries,” she said.

As with many people in the drinks business, she fell into her role accidentally. “I grew up in Nottingham and I was just drinking beer, like a lot of people do in Nottingham”. She studied chemical engineering at Loughborough and in 2012 ended up helping out at a brewery founded by some drinking buddies, Wild Card. “And then I never really left,” she said, “My training is perfect for brewing but I wasn’t doing it consciously.”

Jaega Wise Wild Card Brewery Credit: Miles Willis by empty kegs

Taking a well-earned break

Making beer more inclusive

She’s now head brewer. I asked her how she found being a young woman in what is still a male-dominated profession. “I’m a brewer before I’m a female brewer,” she said. She’s clearly someone who takes no nonsense from anyone. “I’ve been doing this for a long time now and the kind of things that would probably have upset me when I first started in the industry, now I have very short patience for it,” she said, “I’ve had many a slinging match with a driver. If you say something to me, you don’t come back to our site.” But, things are changing: “I think things have improved and we’re seeing lots and lots more women who are coming up and getting into much more senior positions.”

It’s an important thing for Wise to make the industry as welcoming as possible to everyone. “There’s been an active effort in the beer industry in the last few years to try and include those marginalised groups. There is now the International Women’s Day Brew, where we try to encourage as many women as possible. There’s been amazing projects started, like the Queer Brewing Project, so it’s been a trend that hasn’t come about by accident,” she told me.

Beer snobs

As someone who comes from a wine background, I’ve always thought beer was more egalitarian but Wise disabuses me of this notion. “Beer has a kind of hipster snobbery,” she explained, “the only way I would describe it is it’s quite similar to music. It does have that hype factor.” In some ways, this isn’t a bad thing as it gets people enthused: “I would say that beer generates opinion in a way that I don’t think any other sector of the food industry can generate the same level of opinion”. But, it can be alienating for those not in the bubble. “It’s really off-putting for new drinkers. It’s one of the things I think all of us have to be mindful of just being as inclusive as possible to the customer and treating everyone that comes into the bar or the taproom, just treating them all the same and trying not to put those barriers up.” 

Jaega Wise Wild Card Brewery Credit: Miles Willis

Great beer this way

Pandemic problems

Sadly, at the moment the taproom is now closed. Wise admitted that Covid has been hard for the business: “You can’t just switch off production with 48 hours notice. That is what has been the most damaging. If we’d have had more notice then things might have been easier.” So for example, they switched everything to cans last year, luckily they’d just had a new canning line installed, but then things opened up again with  Eat Out to Help Out, and suddenly everyone wanted kegs.

There have been benefits though, she explained: “I can’t believe we didn’t have an online shop before. We’re doing lots of things like same-day deliveries and that sort of thing the customer appreciates.”

The British beer scene

Covid aside, she thinks Britain is one of the most exciting places in the world now for beer. There’s so many breweries, constantly raising the bar. “The standard in the UK brewing scene is just phenomenal. We make some of the best beer in the world. The UK has always been a powerhouse for beer, in terms of traditional cask, there is nowhere else in the world that produces cask beer like we do.”

She thinks, however, the trends for bold hoppy flavours is far from over, despite many beer writers tipping a return to more traditional British styles. “I don’t think the public are done with the hoppy styles,” she said, “we’ve had a period in the UK of an entire year of no cask beer, pretty much. When this is all over, is there going to be a mass swing to people wanting those kinds of beers because they’ve been missing them for a long time?”

Filming the Wine Show with Joe Fattorini in Japan

Filming the Wine Show with Joe Fattorini in Japan

Branching out

Wise juggles work at the brewery with a burgeoning career as a presenter with regular gigs on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme and ITV’s The Wine Show. Again, she rather fell into this career. “I kept being asked to do stuff,” she said, “and it turned out I didn’t totally suck at it and so I got asked again. Learning from the BBC in that environment is just the most humbling of experiences. The whole team is like a juggernaut of experience. Learning how to interview people properly and how to deal with some really tough issues. It’s been really great learning from that crew.” 

She sees her two professions supporting each other. “When I go into pretty much any food manufacturing environment, it means that I know what is going on. I hope when I ask questions it comes from a knowledgeable place. The two are not mutually exclusive.” Having two jobs she loves, getting to travel, her work with The Wine Show has taken her to Japan and Germany, “it’s pretty much a dream come true,” she said. 

All photos credit Miles Willis.

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