Authentic, honest and packed full of flavour: Allow us to introduce you to BrewDog Distilling Company’s latest creation – a botanical spiced rum named Five Hundred Cuts, inspired by 18th…
Authentic, honest and packed full of flavour: Allow us to introduce you to BrewDog Distilling Company’s latest creation – a botanical spiced rum named Five Hundred Cuts, inspired by 18th century botanical illustrator Elizabeth Blackwell…
Twelve years ago Brewdog’s co-founders set about revolutionising the beer industry from a garage in Aberdeenshire. And revolutionise it they did, ruffling countless feathers along the way with 55% ABV beer stuffed inside taxidermy animals, herbal Viagra-spiked American IPA, and the first beer ever brewed on the ocean floor.
It’s of little surprise that this cavalier ethos has been applied to Brewdog’s ever-expanding distilling arm, which recently introduced a botanical spiced rum. The fifth spirit in the core range, named Five Hundred Cuts, is inspired by Elizabeth Blackwell, “a heroine of Aberdeenshire back in the 1730s”, explains Steven Kersley, head of distillation at BrewDog Distilling Company.
Born in Aberdeen in the early 18th century – “a time of huge change,” observes Amanda Edmiston, a self-styled herbal storyteller known as Botanica Fabula – Blackwell went on to create one of the most comprehensive herbals* of her era. Recording a ground-breaking 500 plant engravings (or ‘cuts’), The Curious Herbal was validated by the Royal College of Physicians and made available to both the medical elite and, unusually, a wider public audience.
“Not only was Elizabeth the first woman to publish a herbal; she was the first person to publish one with quite so many plants,” explains Edmiston. “She embraced plants that were coming into the UK from a huge range of countries. There was a real explosion in botany, and it was the first time anyone in the UK had seen cacao and allspice and Tonka beans,” which – spoiler alert – may well feature in the Five Hundred Cuts recipe.
Hand not included
Her botanical creation is also one of the first herbals where the plants are accurately drawn – take mandrake root, for example. “Legend says it transforms into the shape of a person when pulled from the ground,” Edmiston adds, “it screams and the person pulling it up dies. For this reason mandrake root was often drawn as a little person, but she draws the actual plant.”
It’s a story made all the more remarkable when you consider Blackwell’s motivation: to pay off debts owed by her husband Alexander and see him released from Newgate Debtors Prison. Later, he managed to secure a job as an agricultural advisor to the king of Sweden, says Edmiston, but before she could join him, “he gets caught up in a Jacobite-influenced plot to fiddle and tweak the running order for the claim on the Swedish throne – and is promptly executed”. Oh dear.
Beheading aside, it’s a remarkable story that has influenced an equally remarkable rum. Five Hundred Cuts starts out as sugar cane molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refining process – since there aren’t any sugar cane fields in northern Scotland, pressing, distilling and fermenting raw sugar cane isn’t an option for Kersley and the team. “It arrives on-site in tankers, 28 tonnes at once,” he explains. “We unload it one tonne at a time, wearing those white forensic crime scene [scrubs] – it does look like a crime scene after we’re finished – and start the fermentation process by diluting that molasses down with water.”
The team ferments the molasses with a combination of red wine yeast and rum yeast; the former brings out “massive dark fruit flavours and works with the dark burnt sugar flavours coming from the molasses” while the latter “creates a lot of tropical notes like pineapples and mangos”. Yeast, after all, “is a massive source of flavour,” Kersley continues, “it doesn’t just convert sugar into alcohol – it creates a whole host of different esters and flavour profiles”.
Steven Kersley, head of distillation
The mix is fermented for seven days at precisely 28 degrees celsius before it’s double pot distilled. Then, 11 botanicals including tonka bean, clove, lavender, cardamom, orange peel, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, allspice and ginger are brought into the mix using two methods. The more delicate botanicals, such as orange peel, lavender, schezuan peppercorns and cardamom, were re-distilled with the base spirit to “create what is, in essence, a spiced white rum distillate”, he says.
The botanicals which are – as Kersley kindly puts it – “slightly more assertive, slightly more bold”, like cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, tonka bean, ginger, and allspice, are steeped in the remaining white spirit for 14 hours, before the solids are filtered out. Then, the macerated white rum and white rum distillate are brought together, “so we’re getting all the bright, vibrant flavours from the distillate and then a lot of the more spicy, bold characters coming from the macerate,” Kersley says. The team rounds the liquid off with a little muscovado sugar, and then it’s bottled – scroll down for some tasting notes.
So, how to drink it? Five Hundred Cuts “works amazingly across all the classic serves: Rum and Cola, Rum and Ginger Beer, Pina Colada…” Kersley says. “We absolutely love white rum, it tastes incredible, and for me as a distiller it has real potential for layering and developing flavour on top of it. The natural step was to use botanicals. We didn’t just want to create another generic spiced rum with fake colour, fake sweetness and a lot of vanilla typically added. We wanted to create something authentic, honest and packed full of flavour.”
*A ‘herbal’ is a text that contains illustrations and descriptions of plants, their medicinal preparations, and the ailments for which they are used, according to The British Library.
Tasting notes from The Chaps at Master of Malt:
Nose: Coca-cola, dark chocolate, caramel combine with more aromatic notes like ginger, orange peel and cloves.
Palate: Highly aromatic, almost menthol, with assertive cardamom leading balanced by rich dark sugar.
Finish: Fresh and herbal, like upmarket cold cure.
The world of booze doesn’t stop producing news, so we don’t stop rounding it all up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The…
The world of booze doesn’t stop producing news, so we don’t stop rounding it all up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap!
Greetings, friend. I hope you’re sitting uncomfortably, be it on your sofa, armchair, or beanbag if that’s how you choose to live your life. We’ve reached October, and everyone knows October is the scariest month of the year for a variety of reasons. The first Thursday of October is National Poetry Day, meaning all the terrible poems you wrote as a teenager will somehow find their way on to the internet without you knowing. Horrifying. The clocks go back one hour on the last Sunday of October, which means an extra hour for malevolent stripy-jumper-wearing spectres with pointy gloves to run amok in your nightmares. And of course, Halloween. But you know what’s not scary? Your weekly bundle of booze news – The Nightcap!
So, what’s occurred already this week at MoM Towers? Well, it was announced that our beloved Scotch whisky would be hit by US tariffs, a subject that Ian Buxton tackled on his return, who had small distillers on his mind. Adam had some good news to celebrate at least, as he tasted the newly launched Midleton Very Rare 2019 and then previewed the wonderful London Cocktail Week, which starts today! Annie Hayes continued the good vibes by showcasing not one, but three brilliant Balcones bottlings for our New Arrival of the Week before she enjoyed an Aged Botanical Spirit from the fab folk at the lovely (but hard to pronounce) Nc’nean. Henry, meanwhile, was in high spirits as he explored the use the CBD-infused rum from Dead Man’s Fingers as the base for a cocktail, the Hemp Highball. Oh, and Dram Club returned!
Italian-inspired all-day restaurant-bar Dante was victorious!
New York’s Dante named World’s Best Bar at 50 Best
Last night was a glitzy affair for all in the drinks world – The World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony took place in London! And top of the crop for 2019? New York’s Italy-inspired all-day restaurant-bar Dante! The watering hole climbed a huge eight places since last year – enormous congrats to the team, led by Linden Pride, Nathalie Hudson and Naren Young. Second place was London’s sleek, chic Connaught Bar, while Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires’ celebration of all things Argentina, scooped the bronze medal. All in all, there were 17 new entries, with 15 debutants. The UK accounted for 10 of the World’s Best, with the USA fielding seven. In total, bars hailed from 26 cities spanning 21 countries – we highly recommend checking out the full list if you’re making any kind of travel plans. The 50 Best Bars list is decided by a cohort of drinks writers, bartenders and other cocktail aficionados from around the world, who must have visited each of the seven bars they vote for (including three outside their home country) at least once in the past 18 months. “Huge congratulations to all bars that have been included on this year’s list,” said William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Bars. “This list is a reflection of the open and diverse nature of the international bar scene today.” Cheers to that!
New master whisky maker at The Macallan
It’s just been announced that Kirtseen Campbell has landed one of the biggest jobs in Scotch – master whisky maker at The Macallan. She will lead the six-strong ‘whisky mastery team’, as it’s grandly known. Campbell, who is from Thurso, joined Edrington, Macallan’s parent company, in 2007 and has worked on such prestigious brands as Cutty Sark, Famous Grouse and Glenrothes. She holds a diploma in distilling and has also worked at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute. Campbell commented: “I feel a real sense of honour and pride to be entrusted as the custodian of The Macallan. Having been a part of the wider Edrington whisky making team for over a decade, I’m really looking forward to working more closely with the team at The Macallan.” Igor Boyadjian, managing director, The Macallan, said: “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Kirsteen Campbell to the position of master whisky maker at The Macallan. Kirsteen will join the whisky mastery team and together they will use their skills and craft to continue to create and enhance our exceptional portfolio of whiskies.” Congratulations, and we’re looking forward to trying those whiskies.
Welcome back Ardbeg Supernova!
Prepare for a close encounter with Ardbeg Supernova
It’s been four whole years since we’ve seen a bottling of Ardbeg Supernova, a whisky which has elevated the phrase ‘out of this world’ to a whole new level. The Supernova Series is a collection of limited edition Committee bottlings first released in 2009 to celebrate the groundbreaking Ardbeg space experiment. What experiment, you ask? Oh, just that time when Ardbeg sent up a vial of whisky which orbited the earth for three years aboard the International Space Station, making Ardbeg become the first whisky brand in space. Yeah, that experiment. It’s also the peatiest expression to come from the Islay distillery. “The way the flavours build and build and then explode in a burst of pungent peat and smoke is truly astonishing,” says Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks says of the most recent bottling. Supernova 2019 was released to members of the Ardbeg Committee on 2 October, and Mickey Heads, Ardbeg Distillery Manager notes that “Supernova 2019 is the fifth edition in the series, and I’m sure it will be snatched up in no time at all.” All good things must come to an end, and Ardbeg has confirmed that this is the last Supernova expression to land on earth’s shores. Although, the previous Supernova bottling in 2015 was also described as the final expression… Just saying.
The bottling is a tribute to Ian Hunter, the last of the founding Johnston family to run the Laphroaig Distillery
Laphroaig unveils The Ian Hunter series
Exciting news from Laphroaig! This week the Islay distillery announced a new series of whiskies honouring the legacy of Ian Hunter, the last of the founding Johnston family to run the Laphroaig Distillery. Each limited edition annual release will be set into a book that will document a part of Hunter’s legacy. One of Hunter’s most notable successes was managing to sell Laphroaig to America during Prohibition, doing so under the guise of medicine. The inaugural release, Book One: ‘Unique Character’ (its full name) has been revealed, a 30-year-old whisky reflecting the characters of both Hunter and Laphroaig. It’s aged in first-fill American white oak bourbon barrels, a decision which is fairly obvious, as it was Hunter who introduced American oak casks to the Laphroaig maturation process. “If you visit the Laphroaig Distillery today its clear to see the impact of Ian Hunter through the practices and innovations that are still followed. For good reason, Ian is credited as the pioneer and innovator of this incredible whisky,” John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, comments. “Without Ian, the Laphroaig we know today would not exist, so we have much to thank him for. It is this legacy that we celebrate throughout the series.” You can be sure that Book One will be landing on MoM shores very soon, though you’ll have to wait until 2020 for Book Two.
Sustainable surfs up at Old Pulteney
Following in the footsteps of the announcement last week that the Pulteney Distillery has teamed up with acclaimed wildlife cameraman Doug Allan, comes some even more exciting news from mainland Scotland’s second most northern distillery. For the second instalment of Old Pulteney’s ‘Rise with the Tide’ campaign, the distillery has collaborated with Sustainable Surf, a California-based non-profit founded in 2011 by Michael Steward and Kevin Whilden that encourages surfers to be more environmentally aware. You might be surprised from watching Point Break or listening to the Beach Boys, that modern surfboards are not good for the ocean. Steward filled us in: “We’re stoked to be collaborating with Old Pulteney to have this platform for sharing our story. When we first jump-started the movement for building dramatically more ocean-friendly surfboards about a decade ago in California, no one knew what an “Ecoboard” was – now you can buy a certified ‘ECOBOARD’ from over 250 participating brands all around the globe, and the world’s top professional surfers are using them in competition on the world stage and winning!” Malcolm Waring, Pulteney distillery manager, commented: “Kevin and Michael know all about the power and rewards of the sea, and that’s a value we hold dear here at Pulteney. They work tirelessly to harness the power of the global surfing community to protect the future of their ocean playground. They changed the game by recognising that their sport can be used as a platform to encourage a more sustainable, eco-friendly way of life.”
Look, it’s Schofield’s Dry Vermouth!
Asterley Bros team up with Joe Schofield for new vermouth
This week we zipped up to London for the launch of a delish new vermouth – and it was well worth the trip. Joe Schofield, perhaps best known for his time at Singapore’s highly acclaimed Tippling Club bar, has teamed up with the actual brothers at Asterley Bros to create something mighty delicious indeed: Schofield’s Dry Vermouth! It’s a tasty concoction of all things quintessentially English, including a base wine made with English Bacchus, along with botanicals like rose, chamomile, jasmine, coriander and yarrow (and a whole load more, too). “I want to drive the dry vermouth market a little bit – put a bit of an interesting take on that,” Schofield told us as we sat down to enjoy a Four Leaf Clover serve during the event at Three Sheets (50ml of the vermouth, four mint leaves and 10ml elderflower liqueur, stirred in a highball and topped with soda, in case you were wondering). It’s 16% ABV, vegan, and the bottle even comes with a handy QR code so you can access more low(er) ABV serves if you like. We approve – keep an eye on the New Arrivals page and our social channels for more updates!
The spectacular addition will mean more delicious Tequila, including aged expressions!
Patrón adds the Francisco Alcaraz Barrel Room to Hacienda
Hacienda Patrón has a swanky new addition that it’s keen to show off: a state-of-the-art aged barrel room. Two times the size of the present barrel room, it will allow for an increase in production of current expressions and continued innovation of the brand’s aged Tequila portfolio. The 16,850 square foot expansion provides more space to run ageing trials and Hacienda Patrón will store over 20,000 barrels of Tequila between both barrel rooms combined. The new building also features an upstairs tasting room for educational sessions, and an underground private bar, La Cava, an exclusive speakeasy bar, available for select VIP guests featuring a custom cocktail menu developed by head mixologist Oskar Murillo. “At Patrón we don’t cut any corners and we completely understand that aged Tequilas require patience to achieve greatness,” said Antonio Rodriguez, director of production. “The new Francisco Alcaraz Barrel Room gives us the capacity we need not only to increase the production of our current portfolio but to keep experimenting and create new innovations under different conditions. This expansion allows us to increase our Tequila production and provides another opportunity to continue to educate our guests at Hacienda Patrón through guided tastings in the new tasting room. Through a hands-on and interactive experience, guests will have the ability to fully understand the many nuances, variables and complexities of ageing Tequila.” Hacienda Patrón is located in the Highlands (Los Altos) of Jalisco and also features distillery buildings, a liquor facility, environmental areas, gardens, and a luxury 20-room guesthouse. Anyone else suddenly feel like they need a vacation? I hear Mexico is nice…
Any excuse for a rum-based party…
Angostura brings Trinidad to London for one night only
Our job is booze but even we find it hard to keep up with all the various special days, weeks, months and even years of something or other. July was Rum Month, 16 August was National Rum Day and now, according to the House of Angostura, National Rum Week is coming up later this month. Still, any excuse for a party. And what a party the Trinidadian company has for you. It’s turning 640 East at the Arches in Bethnal Green, London into a West Indian Carnival on 17 October and you’re invited. Tickets cost £10 and include two cocktails made with Angostura bitters, rum and/or amaro by top drinks team Wet & Dry. And to get you in the mood there will be calypso, soca and live drumming from Just Vibez. Head over to the Angostura Global Facebook page for more information. Rainy autumn in London suddenly looks a whole lot hotter.
What could be better than cheering on London Irish while enjoying Irish whiskey?
St. Patrick’s Distillery official whiskey of London Irish
There’s a Rugby World Cup on, in case you hadn’t heard, and what better time for St. Patrick’s Distillery to announce a partnership with everyone’s favourite London Irish rugby team, London Irish! The distillery (which we wrote about earlier in the year) is now the official whiskey supplier to the team and will sponsor the Man of the Match award at home games. Afsun Smith from Moonshine Inc Ltd, St. Patrick’s UK distributor, said: “We are proud to be partnering up with London Irish. Their core values mirrors ours: the pursuit of excellence, the love of a sporting life, a dedication to the community, and a superior offering. It’s a perfect match.” Sam Windridge from London Irish added: “We are delighted to be working with St. Patrick’s for this season and look forward to offering our adult supporters their fantastic range of products.” So now you can enjoy a drop of the Irish while you cheer on London Irish.
Not wine. Not gin. Beer reigns supreme still in the UK
And finally… Beer remains the UK’s most popular alcoholic drink
If you’ve heard enough about the gin boom in the last few years to last you a lifetime, then this news may come as a surprise: beer is in fact Britain’s most popular alcoholic drink! Thanks to the British Beer & Pub Association’s (BBPA) latest handbook, we can pour you some boozy facts. As a nation, we enjoyed an eye-watering 8.5 billion pints in 2018, compared to only a measly 7.4 billion glasses of wine. However, the slightly disheartening news from the findings revealed that beer is majorly overtaxed in the UK. Apparently, unwitting Britons are paying 11 times more duty than beer lovers in Germany or Spain! All is not lost though, as the BBPA is backing a campaign calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax. Surely that’s worth raising a pint!
Your order of bite-sized bits of booze news has been filled once again, courtesy of The Nightcap! This week we’ve got stories about beer from 1936, colourful Macallan whisky and…
Your order of bite-sized bits of booze news has been filled once again, courtesy of The Nightcap! This week we’ve got stories about beer from 1936, colourful Macallan whisky and the return of a drink-filled Amazon Prime TV series.
We’ve spent some time in the office this week talking about how Jeff Goldblum is pretty much the perfect person. To be honest, we spend a lot of weeks doing that. In a way, he’s quite like the booze industry. We enjoy what they produce, we’re excited to see what they come out with next and they both make us thirsty. Only one, however, can be the true focus of The Nightcap. Sorry, Jeff. But needs must.
So what’s been going on here on the MoM Blog? Well, we announced winner of our Salcombe Gin competition, so congratulations are in order. Elsewhere, Jess witnessed the journey of a whisky from tree to barrel to glass courtesy of Jura Seven Wood and Henry enjoyed some Rum Punch as this is International Punch Day (happy IPD, folks!). Annie, meanwhile, had an eco-themed week, first dispelling some eco myths and then looking at some the finest eco distilleries. Adam’s theme was more sherry-tastic as he rounded-up some delicious and delightful sherried whiskies and then made an amontillado sherry cask-finished Tomatin single malt Scotch whisky our New Arrival of the Week, before finding time to talk about the new Jameson Caskmates release.
Despite all of that boozy goodness, there’s still more news stories to cover. It’s The Nightcap!
The Macallan Edition No. 5 launches in collaboration with Pantone
Sound the ‘New Macallan‘ alert folks, because the Speyside distillery has just launched a bottling as a “homage to the diversity and complexity of natural colour.” It may sound more Pantene then Pantone, but the expression is supposed to champion the spectrum of natural colour you’ll find across the Macallan range and features a collaboration with the Pantone Color Institute. The company created the shade of purple you’ll see on the label especially for this particular release, which has been named The Macallan Edition Purple. The Macallan Edition No.5 was matured in American oak casks and is said to have notes of caramel, vanilla, lemon basil and fresh fruit combined with oak spices, but more importantly, it’s a colour the brand describes as “sunlit barley” (I’m thinking of having my spare room painted that). “We can find much common ground between whisky making and colour creation and with Edition No.5 we have been able to explore and celebrate these two art forms,” said Sarah Burgess, The Macallan whisky maker. “Whilst colour development starts with mixing basic colours with precision to achieve different shades, for whisky-making, it is the knowledge and understanding of a specific palette of colours from the cask which is the starting point. From here we can craft the desired character and specific colour of the final whisky”. Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, added: “As the rainbow’s most complex colour, purple naturally felt like the ideal shade to highlight the equally complex process involved in The Macallan’s whisky-making”.
The remarkable historical beers
Britain’s earliest surviving canned beers go for £2,250 at auction
We’re used to old bottles of whisky selling for thousands of pounds but with beer less so. Which is why we were surprised when two old cans went for £2,250 at Chiswick Auctions in London yesterday. That’s a lot of bread for beer. But these weren’t just any cans. Oh no, these babies date back to 1936 and come from the Felinfoel Brewery in Llanelli which was the first brewery in Britain and the second in the world to produce a canned beer. Similar cans were shipped out to North Africa to keep General Montgomery’s army aka the Desert Rats refreshed. Handily at the time, the brewery also owned a tinplate works. The cans were lined with wax to stop the beer corroding the metal. It seems to have worked because both the contents of one can are entirely intact, whereas the second has suffered some evaporation. Not bad for 83-year-old beer cans. As for the taste of the beer, we are unlikely to find out whether they are drinkable as the cans were snapped up by the very company that brewed them (still in family hands after all these years) to go into its museum.
Havana Club Tributo 2019, which we can confirm is very tasty
Havana Club brings Tributo 2019 to the UK
At The Churchill Bar & Terrace in Portman Square, London we were treated to live Cuban music, delicious cocktails, a sublime menu and, best of all, the 2019 edition of Havana Club Tributo this week. The fourth bottling in Havana Club’s Tributo range, which was first launched in February 2019 at the Habanos Festival in Havana, Cuba, was created by three generations of masters of Cuban rum (maestros del ron Cubano) including Don José Navarro, Asbel Morales and Salomé Aleman, the first and only female maestra del ron Cubano, who each selected a rare and extra-aged rum base which were first left to mature in the 1970s, 1990s and 2010s respectively. These were then blended together with a rum that was matured for more than 25 years in French oak barrels to form the 2019 edition of Tributo. “Once again, the Havana Club Tributo collection praises the richness and variety of styles that form the base of the authentic Cuban rum category,” said Morales. “Each rum in the Tributo range uniquely focuses on a different element of the production process, from our ancient rum bases to cask experimentation and the 2019 edition continues this story by honouring the craftsmanship of three of the maestros del ron Cubano.” Rich, refined and intense, Havana Club Tributo 2019 possesses notes of dark chocolate, dried fruit, baking spice, coffee, brown sugar and exotic fruit. It certainly earns our seal of approval and will be available at MoM Towers soon…
A delightful cause, courtesy of a delightful beer!
Beer for good! Camden Town Brewery heads to London for UK’s first Can-for-Can Swap with The Felix Project
We’re all lucky enough to be able to enjoy delicious food and mouth-watering drinks on a regular basis, though it’s a harsh reality that that’s not true for everyone. That’s why we were super stoked to hear that Camden Town Brewery has launched a new autumnal seasonal beer, dubbed Harvest Hells Lager, in partnership with The Felix Project, a charity with a mission in raising awareness for food poverty in the UK. This is a problem which affects 8.4 million people nationally. Harvest Hells gets its autumnal notes from darker roasted speciality malts, making for a richer flavour while poetically turning its summery yellow hue to the reddish-brown of autumn leaves. Mmm, autumn leaves… But how does lager help food poverty, you ask? Well, from 24 September there’s going to be a Harvest Hells van gallivanting between London, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool with the UK’s first ‘Can-for-Can’ swap initiative! Bring a can of any tinned food and you’ll secure a can of Harvest Hells lager in return, while your tins will be donated to local food banks in each city. The when and whereabouts of the Harvest Hells Van can be found here. What’s more, Camden Town Brewery is donating 20p from every can of Harvest Hells Lager sold within the first month to The Felix Project. “Food poverty in the UK is a growing problem, with many people struggling to afford fresh and healthy food for themselves and their families,” Mark Curtin, CEO of The Felix Project, says. “We are delighted that Camden is not only helping to raise awareness of these crucial issues and the work we do at The Felix Project to tackle them, but also getting people involved in supporting the cause to help to reduce waste and eradicate food insecurity.” If there was ever a more appropriate time to do the can-can, it would have to be now.
Distillation here will begin in 2021. We’d like all artist’s impressions to include dogs, on another note.
Ardgowan releases Coppersmith malt inspired by the Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage
This week Ardgowan announced the first in a series of limited-editions whiskies. The company has received planning permission for a new distillery to commence operation in 2021 but in the meantime will be selling blended whiskies created by Max McFarlane. CEO Martin McAdam described McFarlane, former whisky maker for Edrington looking after brands such as Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu and Highland Park, as a “whisky legend.” The first release is called Coppersmith and it’s a blend of Speyside and Highland distilleries wholly matured in first-fill oloroso sherry casks. McFarlane, who is from Inverkip on the west coast, said: “Coppersmith is the first in the Clydebuilt series of whiskies which Ardgowan Distillery will release in the years ahead. Each bottle in the series will celebrate the pride shown by generations of workers on the Clyde, who together built some of the world’s most illustrious ships.” He went on to say: “I wanted to produce a top-drawer blended malt and I believe that is what we have achieved.” It will be available from the distillery for £49.99 and from a certain online retailer soon.
The Three Drinkers return to Amazon Prime, and indeed to Scotland!
The Three Drinkers returns to Amazon Prime
The Three Drinkers are back, and this time it’s personal. We were pleased to learn this week that the irreverent boozy Amazon Prime show is back for another series. The Three Drinkers are, for those who don’t know, actress and wine buff Helena Nicklin, journalist and social media sensation Adrian Smith, and whisky writer and photographer Colin Hampden-White. The first series was called The Three Drinkers do Scotch whisky and for the second series they haven’t travelled very far, it’s called The Three Drinkers Return to Scotland. At this rate it’s going to be years before they even leave the British Isles. Anyway, we aren’t complaining as there’s a lot of good booze in Scotland; the dynamic trio will be visiting: Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn, Glen Scotia, Glen Moray, Loch Lomond and Firkin Gin distilleries. “We’ve been blown away by how well the series has done in such a short time,” Nicklin commented. “We’re looking forward to playing up the fun side of our travels with more experimentation with food and drink, eerie ghost stories, ridiculous challenges and all the weird and wonderful tidbits people never knew about Scotland and whisky.” The new series will be available to view on your TV, tablet or one of those computer watches that are all the rage these days from early December.
This is Tails, the downstairs, at what we presume is Harvey Dent’s favourite bar
West Hampstead’s Heads + Tails bar channels two sides of a coin
If you’ve ever flipped a coin to try and decide which bar you should venture to, then Heads + Tails may be just what you’ve been waiting for. The West Hampstead bar was created by London mixologists Will Partridge and Chris Dennis, with the idea of having two complimenting counterparts to the bar: Heads, the top floor, and Tails, the downstairs. Each bar has a different menu, and we started off upstairs in Heads where there are spritzes galore and lighter cocktails, surrounded by light blue decor, filament light bulbs and a marble bar. We went for the Corpse Reviver No. 175, which marries Fords Gin, Dolin Blanc, Italicus and Chocolate & Mace Flower Bitters. Now, we weren’t with any corpses, though if there’s one cocktail that could revive the dead, it may well be this one. Beautifully light and citrussy, with a subtle rich creamy back note from the bitters. Then, there was Smoke on the Water, which takes Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila, mezcal verde, lime and watermelon syrup. Again, wonderfully well balanced, with juicy fruit tempered perfectly by the rich smokiness and grassy notes of the agave spirits. Then, you head downstairs to Tails, covered in dark oak and moodily lit by candles. It’s literally darker down there, and so are the spirits. Here we tried Twist of Fate, comprised of Wild Turkey bourbon, ginger and cinnamon syrup topped off with orange blossom water. Richer without being heavy, you can feel and certainly taste the difference between the two floors. A unique idea and a wonderful spot, and if you can’t decide from the list of delicious drinks you could always… flip a coin.
If it’s good enough for TripAdvisor, it’s good enough for us!
Rum experience comes to Manchester
The Manchester Rum Experience sounds like the most exciting experience to come to Manchester since the Jimi Hendrix Experience played at the Twisted Wheel in 1967. It’s the brainchild of Dave Rigby from the City of Manchester Distillery, the city’s premier attraction according to never-wrong website Tripadvisor. Tell us more Dave! “Our motivation with the new ‘Rum Experience’ was to pay homage to some of the influences which drove us to build the distillery at the outset. As a collective, we have been on an amazing journey over the last few years and as such, we wanted to share some of these incredible experiences, stories and some of the fun we’d had, through a range of new and diverse, interactive events at the distillery”, Rigby said. Tickets have now gone on sale for the experience which consists of a three-hour immersion in all things rum with Dave Marsland from the Manchester Rum Festival including history, cocktails and the opportunity to fill your own min barrel in ‘The Lab’. Best of all, the new experience is being supported by some of our favourite brands including Chairman’s Reserve, Bacardi, Don Q, Appleton Estate, Diplomatico, Pussers, Wray & Nephew, Doorly’s, Plantation and Gosling’s. Beat that Jimi!
Munich comes to London, only without any of the tradition. Still lots of beer, though
Inclusive Oktoberfests arrive in London
Once upon a time, you knew what you were letting yourself in for if you decided to go to the Oktoberfest. There would be men in leather shorts, mile after mile of pork sausages, oceans of beer, oh and you’d have to go to Munich to experience the whole thing. Well not anymore because this autumn there are three London Oktoberfests happening at Doc X in Surrey Quays: a fancy one, a gay one and a spooky one for Hallow’en. Go to http://www.doktoberfest.co.uk for more information. These differ from the original Bavarian festival in other ways: you don’t have to drink beer as there will be Champagne and non-alcoholic drinks served, or indeed eat traditional German sausages as at all three events there will be halal, kosher and vegan options. You don’t even have to wear leather shorts but you must be tolerant of those who choose to.
Asparagus this, Brussels sprouts that… you can’t beat a good ol’ G&T!
And finally… asparagus becomes latest wacky gin flavour
In what has essentially become our, ‘look at this weird gin’ slot, an asparagus-flavoured expression has added to the endless nonsense of novelty-flavoured gins. It’s one of the spirits on offer at the inaugural Malvern Gin Show which showcases “some of the finest spirits from the Three Counties region” and giving visitors the opportunity to sample a wide range of drinks from local and surrounding gin distilleries. A competition will even declare one distillery ‘the people’s champion’. The event, part of the Malvern Autumn Show, runs the weekend of September 28 and 29, and will include a brand new Gin Pod Theatre to host to gin-tastic talks and for visitors to get inspiration for recipe ideas. Some of the confirmed distilleries at the show include Hussingtree Gin (who are responsible for the asparagus gin), Brennan and Brown and Haven Distillery. “The Malvern Gin Show is a new addition and we’re all rather excited about it,” said Richard Heath, show executive responsible for the new classes “We have a rich selection of distilleries which are local to the Three Counties, and what better way to celebrate than to hold a series of classes, and of course give our visitors ample opportunity to do some tasting.” Run in association with Westons Cider Mill, the Malvern Autumn Show will host over 65,000 people at the two-day celebration right in the heart of the beautiful British countryside, and you can get your tickets now at malvernautumn.co.uk.
Jameson has added to its impressive Caskmates range thanks to a collaboration with London brewery Fourpure. First there was Jameson Caskmates, a stout barrel-finished expression. Then there was Jameson Caskmates…
Jameson has added to its impressive Caskmates range thanks to a collaboration with London brewery Fourpure.
First there was Jameson Caskmates, a stout barrel-finished expression. Then there was Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition. Now Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Edition has joined the series, a fruity and fun bottling ideal for mixing, as we found out to our own pleasure at the launch event at the brewery last night.
Among live music, a t-shirt printing machine and more delicious beer than you could shake a stick at, the limited-edition whiskey, which is a UK exclusive, took centre stage. Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Edition was produced by finishing Jameson Irish Whiskey in barrels that were seasoned with the brewery’s Shapeshifter West Coast IPA for three months and bottled at 40% ABV. Its launch is the culmination of a project that has been 18-months in the making according to Ronan Collins, a senior brand ambassador at Pernod Ricard and the man who led the development of this whiskey from the Jameson side of things.
The barrels Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Edition were matured in started life as ex-bourbon casks that then housed Jameson’s triple-distilled Irish whiskey before Fourpure experimented with them. A total of five of its beers were trialed, including Juicebox, which was very nearly chosen. Shapeshifter, however, won out in the end, with Collins commenting that “It came up as the top in aroma, flavour and finish and, for me, it was different than anything I had tasted. It was so fun and fruity.”
The bottling brings together two brilliant booze brands in tasty harmony
“A part of us didn’t want it to be Shapeshifter because Jameson already has a Caskmate IPA, but Shapeshifter’s obviously a very unique beer. It’s got an incredibly powerful hop aroma, it’s quite dry and it’s got a lot of bitterness,” added John Driebergen, head brewer at Fourpure. “We feared it wouldn’t do that well and that it would fight with the whisky, but we were pleasantly surprised. The hops brought all these wonderful, fruity and tropical aromas.”
Fourpure Shapeshifter West Coast IPA was inspired by the travels of Fourpure founders Dan and Tom Lowe (they’re brothers, that’s not just a coincidence) in the Pacific Northwest. Described as a ‘traditional West Coast style-IPA, it combines a selection of hops including Citra, Mosaic, Centennial and a touch of Colombus. The name and design of both Shapeshifter West Coast IPA and Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Edition is a reference to a First Nations tale of a shapeshifting lake monster that lived in the remote lakes of the region called Steve Ogopogo. The playful, colourful art on the whiskey’s label certainly matches the tone of the drink itself.
In terms of enjoying what’s inside the bottle, it’s fair to say Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Whiskey can is perfectly pleasant neat, but for me, it really shines in a highball with soda or in the delightful signature serve, Hop to It. The bright and refreshing cocktail, which was the welcome drink last night, combines 25ml of Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Whiskey, 5ml of sugar syrup and 10ml of Triple Sec, which you then top-up with Fourpure Shapeshifter West Coast IPA, bringing both of the key expressions together in one tasty tipple. If that’s not your speed, however then the classic North American-style Boilermaker is the way to go. “I think it’s the perfect partnership,” said Collins. Having tried the pairing myself, it’s hard to disagree.
Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Edition is exclusive to drinksupermarket.com, and you check out our classic MoM tasting note below as always!
Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Edition
Jameson Caskmates Fourpure Edition Tasting Note:
Nose: A hop-influenced aroma filled with tropical and slightly grassy notes dominates the nose, with fresh orange slices, Rocket ice lolly and pineapple juice bringing plenty of ripe fruitiness to the fore. Things become cakey later with freshly baked gingerbread, vanilla sponge and marzipan.
Palate: The classic Jameson profile makes more of an entrance here with butterscotch, orchard fruits and vanilla. Blackcurrant, a hint of woody warmth and a flashback of tropical fruit appear underneath.
Finish: Long, sweet and mouth-coating, with more notes from the nose making a pleasant return.
Overall: An insanely enjoyable dram that’s very easy to drink and mixes beautifully.
This week may have been shorter, but you’d have never guessed with all the booze news stories in The Nightcap (and because of how long it felt)! Gosh, what a…
This week may have been shorter, but you’d have never guessed with all the booze news stories in The Nightcap (and because of how long it felt)!
Gosh, what a long and tiring year the past few days have been. Monday was a bank holiday, and yet, this week somehow managed to keep going and going. And not simply from a general point of view, but the booze news just kept pouring in (no pun intended… Maybe…). Of course, this means that another edition of our weekly round-up of stories from all corners of the drinks world is very much necessary. Behold, it’s The Nightcap!
Plenty of boozy content to enjoy as always and there’s even more where that came from. On to the news…
An artist’s impression of what the upcoming Ardara Distillery will look like
Sliabh Liag Distillers gets the green light for new Ardara Distillery
Good news this week for Irish whiskey and Sliabh Liag Distillers as the producer of An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin and The Silkie Irish Whiskey has been given planning permission to start work on its new distillery. Construction at the Show Field in Ardara will begin later this year, with distilling operations to scheduled to commence in 2020. The new €6m distillery, which will employ at least 40 people, will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol per annum (approximately 1700 filled casks and over 1.2m bottles of whiskey when the spirit is finally sold). The plan is to create a number of brands, including the Ardara and Sliabh Liag (pronounced something like Slieve League) single malt and pot still whiskeys. Production of An Dúlamán gin will also be moved from its current location in Carrick to the new building, which will also house a tasting bar, shop and a visitor experience that will include a history of poitín. However, there will be no café or restaurant, as visitors will be encouraged to make use of the village’s many offerings instead. “We are really excited to get the go-ahead from Donegal County Council and we look forward to commissioning the distillery and reclaiming the distilling heritage of Donegal,” commented James Doherty, managing director of Sliabh Liag Distillers. “It is important to us that local businesses benefit from the footfall, and if we can get visitors walking in the village, increasing their dwell time, then so much the better for the entire community.”
Just 20ml and this little beauty went for £3,150
Tiny wee bottle of Black Bowmore 50 Year Old goes for £3,150 at auction
Here’s how it works when we receive a sample bottle of whisky at Master of Malt: we open it, we taste it, we scribble some tasting notes, and then we drink it. If there’s any left, we’ll share it around the office. What we don’t do is wait for a few years and then sell it at auction which is just what happened with a press sample from Bowmore. The whisky in question wasn’t just any Bowmore, it was the 50 year old Black Bowmore the Last Cask distilled in 1964 and given out to journalists in a special 20ml wax-sealed vial. On Sunday 18 August one of these tiny samples went for £3,150 at Just Whisky Auction. Graham Crane, director at Just Whisky, said: “At 20ml it isn’t even big enough to serve as a pub measure, however, one buyer was determined to secure this as part of their whisky collection.” Getting out our pocket calculators, the price works out at the equivalent of £110,250 for a 700ml bottle! That’s a lot of money but don’t worry, it isn’t going to stop us tasting and enjoying every sample that comes our way. There will be no squirrelling at MoM!
This is the exactly how we pictured the Kent Life Hops n’ Harvest Beer Festival
Basil Brush to headline Kentish hops festival
Of all England’s counties, Kent might hold the booze crown: there’s a certain online retailer in Tonbridge, innovative distillers, delicious ciders, world-class vineyards and, of course, hops by the acre. Kent and hops have been synonymous since the 16th century. So to celebrate all things hoppy, you should get down to Kent Life Heritage Farm Park in Maidstone on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September for the Kent Life Hops n’ Harvest Beer Festival. You can learn about the history of hop picking and see hops processed in a traditional coal-fired oast (you know, one of those pointy house things you see all over the county). There will be live music, a silent disco and, for nostalgic adults as much as children, 80s TV legend Basil Brush. Boom boom! Oh, and there will be beer, lots and lots of beer from Kentish brewers like Gadds’ The Ramsgate Brewery, Goody Ales and Brew Buddies. Visit Kent Life for tickets and information. But that’s not all, there’s another festival at the same venue on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October celebrating apples and cider. It just doesn’t stop in Kent.
The purchase includes brands like Knappogue Castle, Jefferson’s Bourbon and Goslings rum
Pernod Ricard acquires Castle Brands for $223m
It was announced this week that drinks giant Pernod Ricard has added to its considerable portfolio by reaching an agreement to acquire alcohol manufacturer and marketer Castle Brands for approximately $223 million (about £202m). The deal includes brands such as Gosling’s rum, Brady’s Irish Cream, The Arran Scotch whisky, Clontarf Irish whiskey and Jefferson’s Bourbon, the latter of which was noted as a stand-out performer when Castle Brands published its full-year results in June 2019 which saw its net sales rise to US$95.8m. The purchase follows Pernod Ricard’s recent acquisition of Texas-based Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co, producer of TX whiskey and bourbon just this month. “Through this acquisition, we welcome this great brand portfolio, in particular, Jefferson’s Bourbon, to the Pernod family. Bourbon is a key category in the US, which is our single most important market,” said Pernod Ricard’s CEO, Alexandre Ricard. “This deal aligns well with our consumer-centric strategy to offer the broadest line-up of high-quality premium brands. As with our American whiskies Smooth Ambler, Rabbit Hole and TX, we would provide Jefferson’s a strong route to market and secure its long-term development, while remaining true to its authentic and innovative character,” Castle Brands CEO, Richard J. Lampen, added: “We are very pleased to reach an agreement with Pernod Ricard, which is the result of months of planning and deliberation by our board of directors. We are confident that this transaction will deliver immediate and substantial cash value to our shareholders.”
The Kraken Pennywise: it’s slightly scary and very delicious. Like eating an oyster.
Kraken Rum creates scary IT-themed cocktail
No, not a cocktail inspired by information technology (though that sounds fun), it is, or rather IT is, a new film from Stephen King, IT: Chapter Two, which arrives in cinemas this September. As the name suggests, it’s a sequel to top 80s horror series IT featuring the clown from your nightmares, Pennywise (memorably played by Tim Curry in the original and Bill Skarsgård in the new version). Kraken Rum, probably the scariest rum money can buy, has created this new cocktail called the Kraken Pennywise. Containing Kraken Rum, raspberry puree, lime juice and sage sugar syrup, it’s blood red, served over ice and finished with a red balloon as if an evil clown might be lurking nearby. And the best thing about this special cocktail is. . . it’s free! Won’t cost you a pennywise; all you have to do is buy a ticket to the launch night of the film on 6 September and then take your ticket along to RoadTrip Bar in Old Street, London to claim your free drink. Just don’t bring along your coulrophobic friend.
Happy anniversary guys!
anCnoc whisky unveils limited editions to mark 125th anniversary
Knockdhu Distillery first opened its doors in 1894, which makes it as old as the Blackpool Tower and The Jungle Book. They won’t be able to celebrate their 125th Anniversary by releasing delicious new whisky, however. Not like anCnoc whisky, who have launched two limited edition single malt Scotch whiskies: anCnoc 16 Years Old Cask Strength and a 125 Year Anniversary Peated whisky. The former, which will retail at £99.95, was matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks and bottled at cask strength. It’s said to be a light, elegant expression with notes of sweet vanilla mixed with coconut and butterscotch toffee, green apple and citrus as well as a faint warming spice. The second bottling, anCnoc’s Peated whisky, was made to take the drinker on a “mellow journey from the heart of Banffshire’s rich peatlands”. Matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks, then further matured in a Spanish oak butt, the smoky and sweet dram is said to possess notes of wood smoke mixed with almonds and dried fruit as well as burnt toffee. This one will set you back £79.95. Both limited editions feature collectable packaging illustrated to tell anCnoc’s story, with a celebratory copper lid. Because nothing says ‘happy birthday’ like a copper lid. “To be celebrating 125 years of making exceptional whisky is a real achievement. The traditional methods that make our whisky so special are still in use today, but we’re constantly innovating to offer a fresh take,” said anCnoc distillery manager, Gordon Bruce. “It’s this combination of tried and tested means with a contemporary twist that makes anCnoc, and Knockdhu Distillery, one of the best places in the world to work – we have a lot of fun here. It was really important to mark this special year, we could offer something for everyone, and I think we’ve done just that.” There are only 500 bottles of each, but luckily you will be able to get them both from MoM Towers.
John Varvatos and Nick Jonas, co-founders of Villa One
Nick Jonas launches Tequila with Stoli
Another week, another celebrity trying to get in on the Tequila boom. This time it’s musician and actor Nick Jonas, probably best known for his time in The Jonas Brothers, and menswear designer John Varvatos. The pair have joined forces with Stoli, best known for producing Stolichnaya vodka, to create the new premium Tequila, which they’ve named Villa One. It does sound like a website you’d find a cracking deal on a four-bed in Corfu, but it’s definitely Tequila being sold. In fact, the brand will debut with three expressions as soon as this September: silver, reposado, and añejo bottlings, priced between $45 and $60 a bottle. Clearly somebody’s been keeping a close eye on Bacardi’s Patrón and Diageo’s Casamigos, and wants in on the action. Villa One becomes the second tequila launched by Stoli after it created the Cenote brand last year. The specifics of the deal haven’t been disclosed, however the Stoli Group has briefed that Jonas and Varvatos are co-founders and partners in the brand with an equity stake. No money has been exchanged for their backing of the Villa One brand, although the duo will benefit from profits down the road. Jonas and Varvatos have actually worked together twice before, with Villa One Tequila becoming their third collaboration. “The first was a fashion collaboration and then the fragrance,” said Jonas. “Given our affinity for Tequila, Villa One was the perfect next step.” “The most important thing for us is that we have the best Tequila in the market,” added Varvatos. “It is less about us and all about the product.” Though it is quite a bit about them.
The Bermondsey Bees Knees cocktail from Nine Lives, London
Ketel One introduces One Square Mile initiative to champion local communities
Ketel One wants to challenge bartenders to use ingredients sourced within a one-mile radius of their bar to create cocktail menus that celebrate the local community. Joining forces with bartender competition World Class as well as community partners, local craftsmen and gardening communities, this bartender-led initiative seeks to promote natural ingredients, locally-made vessels and reduced waste in the drinks industry. The One Square Mile initiative will run from 2-8 September; for that week, three-drink Ketel One Vodka menus will be available in cocktail bars across the UK, showcasing the proximity of the ingredients used and vessels sourced to create the serve and championing the partnerships formed within the community through a series of events. One of the cocktails will be something customers can easily recreate at home. Bars joining the initiative include Nine Lives, London, Amico’s Bar, Essex and Terrior Tapas, Southbourne. Nine Lives will be featuring its Bermondsey Bees Knees cocktail in collaboration with local beekeepers and made with produce from local farmers. There will also be an opportunity to join the World Class Global Finals in Glasgow and have their cocktails showcased for a select few of the participating One Square Mile bartenders. “We’re delighted to be launching our One Square Mile initiative – designed to inspire bartenders and local communities to come together to utilise their skills and resources to create something great,” said Kate Jackson, brand ambassador for Ketel One Vodka. “We love to encourage bartenders to explore alternative methods for championing urban flavours. Not only is using seasonal ingredients and local produce to create cocktails sustainable, it really elevates the flavour in cocktails and is a great way to engage with local people.”
Three Little Words will hopefully look something like this
Manchester Gin opens swanky cocktail bar and restaurant
Manchester Gin has announced the imminent opening of a new cocktail bar in. . . . Bolton! We’re joking, it’s in Manchester. The venue called Three Little Words is located in Grade-II-listed brick railway arches in the centre of the city. We wonder what the Three Little Words are? ‘More gin, please’ or ‘waiter, another Martini.” It won’t just offer the classics, there will be specially-designed cocktails themed around the concept of love: “The menu moves through Lust, Rapture, Devotion, Eternity and ends with Ultimatum, creating flavours that evoke every stage of love: from excitement and freshness, through to darker, heavier flavours.” Blimey! As well as cocktails, there will be food from Jimmy Carr. No, not the comedian but former chef at Evelyn’s, one of the city’s best restaurants. Manchester Gin co-founder and master distiller, Seb Heeley, said: “This is the culmination of a life ambition for Jen [Wiggins, co-founder] and I. From the very first day we met, we talked about our dreams to open our own bar, so this feels like a huge milestone for us! We couldn’t have started this venture without the support of Manchester, so to be able to create 45 jobs and give something back to this amazing city means the world to us.” Oh, and those Three Little Words? ‘Drink, dine, distill’. Makes sense, but we still prefer ‘more gin, please.’
A p*ssion fruit liqueur for the perfect P*star Martini
And finally. . . . the Pornstar Martini goes respectable
The Pornstar Martini has to be one of the drinks of the 21st century. Created by bartender Douglas Ankrah at the Townhouse in London back in 2003, it has gone on to become the UK’s favourite cocktail. Now Ankrah has just launched a passion fruit liqueur so you can make the perfect version at home. But rather than label it ‘Pornstar’, Ankrah thinks that it is time for a rebrand. The name with its louche connotations might be fine for the on-trade but isn’t going to fly off the shelves, or even make it onto the shelves, at Waitrose. So the new liqueur is labelled P*Star. Ankrah explained the logic to us: “It has changed as I wanted to bring the brand in line to the current climate.” He went on to say: “I feel customers who loved the cocktail when I first created it are now parents to children and would not want a cocktail like Pornstar in the house.” The new name certainly gets round the problem of having to explain what a pornstar is to your ten year old daughter. So, there you have it: the Pornstar is dead, long live the P*star!
Venture out to your local bar and you’ll soon stumble across a self-appointed ‘expert’ eager to unload their personal drinks rulebook on lesser mortals. With the greatest respect, those guys…
Venture out to your local bar and you’ll soon stumble across a self-appointed ‘expert’ eager to unload their personal drinks rulebook on lesser mortals. With the greatest respect, those guys suck. It’s time to do away with life-limiting traditions – as they say, rules are made to be broken…
When it comes to sharing knowledge about the spirit world, there’s a fine line between enthusiasm and snobbery. At MoM, we’re a staunch proponent of the drink-it-however-you-want movement, which naturally has no place for haughtiness.
If Scotch and coconut water is your go-to serve, that’s great. Should you prefer to make Mimosas with sparkling cider instead of Champagne, go for it. When your favourite gin only tastes right mixed with a can of Mountain Dew, well, more power to you.
Thankfully, there are plenty of forward-thinking producers out there who are equally keen on liberalising our libations. Here, we look at five persistent stereotypes surrounding beer, Tequila, rum and more, and shine a light on the brands seeking to dispel them…
The Singleton of Dufftown is as happy in a Highball as on its own
They say: Never mix single malt Scotch
We say: It’s single and ready to mingle
Devout single malt fans may hiss and wail, but they’re missing a trick. As Ervin Trykowski, global brand ambassador for The Singleton, posited so succinctly on this very blog: Nobody wants to drink cask-strength Scotch in Marbella at 11AM. However, pop that same Scotch in a long, vibrant, possibly citrusy highball? Hey, now we’re talking. Obviously, it pays to do a little research beforehand – bulldozing your spirit’s complexities with reckless mixing will leave a sour taste in your mouth both figuratively and literally – but in diversifying our collective approach, the category doors open ever wider to Scotch newcomers. And that’s only going to be a good thing.
They say: Rum is *only* for mixing
We say: Rum is neat. Let’s drink it that way, too.
Listen, we enjoy a Mai Tai as much as the next person, but it’s high time we showed rum the same reverence as its grain-based barrel-aged counterpart (i.e. whisky). Historically the category has struggled to shrug off its party image, mostly because of the sweetened, flavoured, spiced or almost-flavourless white rums that have ruled the roost in speed rails the world over. But peer beyond the big-name bottlings and you’ll find premium liquid, artisanally distilled and lovingly aged by the barrelful, such as that made by Foursquare Distillery in Barbados and Hampden Estate in Jamaica.
They say: Alcohol-free beer has no flavour
We say: Good beer knows no ABV
With the greatest respect, “alcohol-free beer has no flavour” sounds suspiciously like something a person who has never tried alcohol-free beer might say. In the same way that not all beers are created equally, nor are all booze-free brews – if you turn up your nose at Wetherspoons’ taps, chances are you won’t like their zero-alcohol offering either – but specialist breweries like Big Drop Brewing Company and dedicated brands like Lucky Saint have made it their mission to create flavourful, complex and truly excellent alternatives to the full-strength stuff.
Tequila Fortaleza isn’t for shooting
They say: Tequila = shots
We say: The long-reigning salt and lemon ritual has been dethroned
Frankly we could write a soliloquy condemning shot culture, but that isn’t why you’re here. Tequila, one of the few drinks categories to be governed by strict geographical rules that seek to preserve the quality of its liquid, somehow volunteered itself to this bizarre ritual – and lost itself along the way. Fast-forward to now, and there are a bevy of super-premium alternatives to the industrial agave that sits patiently in Britain’s speed rails until 11pm onwards. And the makers of these fine liquids – Fortaleza, Ocho, Tapatio, El Rayo – implore you to sip and savour or better yet: stir into T&T (Tequila and tonic). And don’t say, “but I like doing shots”. No one likes doing shots.
They say: Cocktails are too sweet
We say: Have you heard of the Negroni, or…
Good lord, is it 1980? Are we drinking layered shots and lurid green Grasshoppers? Sure, there was a time when ‘cocktails’ meant fruit juice from concentrate and packet sour mix, but that was almost four decades ago. Just like the Walkman made way for Spotify, and the Atari console made way for virtual reality gaming, so too have cocktail ingredients evolved and refined. Take environmentally-conscious liqueurs range Muyu, launched this year by bar luminaries Alex Kratena, Monica Berg and Simone Caporale. To capture flavours for their remarkably low-sugar range, the team harnesses techniques like steam distillation, C02 extraction, enfleurage and more.
Ever had a crappy cocktail at an airport, a piss-poor pint at a festival or a glass of watery wine at the theatre? Then this one’s for you. Nate Brown…
Ever had a crappy cocktail at an airport, a piss-poor pint at a festival or a glass of watery wine at the theatre? Then this one’s for you. Nate Brown asks why drinks have to be so hellish when bars have a captive audience.
Here’s a classical depiction of Hell. Numerous descending circles, each floor a deepening depiction of depravity and retribution, hot pokers and all that jazz. However, at the bottom is no lake of fire, no burning pits. Instead, the devil is a three-headed monster encased in ice, frozen and incapacitated.
I have a different interpretation of Hell. It is about an hour south from St Pancras station. It is a place where frivolous hope comes to die. At least in a hellish fire pit, you could cook sausages. At least among the ice, you could make a decent Dry Martini. In Gatwick airport, however, such simple pleasures are forever out of reach.
Imagine getting a Dry Martini like this at the airport, you’d want your flight to be delayed
On my latest adventure, I found myself thirsty, peckish and soon to be depressed in the departures hall. Bacchus and the other gods of food and drink have certainly never blessed this land. This is a place of hunger and want of every kind. Foolishly, I thought that a visit to one of the last remaining Jamie’s Italians would at least be mediocre. But my safe bet was a mule. Immediately, I became aware that the hostess’s lack of lust for life is contagious. Boy, if terrorists could bottle that, they could be done with us all by lunch.
There’s an irony in this one remaining smouldering ember of an empire being the worst of the bunch, like a cockroach that just won’t die. I was sent to the bar to order. I watch the bartender (and I use that term loosely) make a deplorable Bloody Mary: a single of Smirnoff, visibly fizzy tomato juice, bubbling like a witch’s cauldron, a single dash each of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, two ice cubes and a withered, malnourished lemon slice. I prayed for her to add more Tabasco to save whatever wretched soul was about to be served this crap. Mind you, all the hot sauce in the world would not be enough. The whole thing was put together at a snail’s pace, with absolute zero fucks given to the drink, or the guests impatiently waiting at the bar. She stops halfway through to complain about Barney the manger to her colleague, how he’s always hiding in the office. He’s hiding from you, Medusa.
The presence of a captive audience should stimulate the bars and restaurants that feed and water the endless arrival of inquisitive travellers. The hardest part of operating a venue is getting willing punters through the doors. Not focusing on that means more energy spent on perfecting the product. If only! Instead, the absence of a need to draw in punters transforms these venues into cesspits of hospitality excrement. What does it matter to them if the beer smells like cheese, or the mixed drinks are watered down with decomposing ice, or if the fruit garnish was cut last week? There’ll still be another wave of suckers to inflict this torture upon.
Nate Brown showing us how to make a proper drink
The lounges are no better, stocked with horrendous spirits. Nor is there any relief to be found after boarding. Why is the journey a penance and not part of the pleasure? I think about becoming teetotal when I travel. Or hijacking the plane. And airports are not the only criminals. All arenas of captivity are the same. Theatres offer (bizarrely) acidic Merlot, bought by the bar for £5 a bottle and flogged for £30 to mugs like me. No, I do not want a Bell’s while watching Pinter. I’m close enough to the edge as it is. I’d kill for a Redbreast. Literally. On trains, it’s a choice between tins of London Pride or Carling? Give me strength. Why is there not a Beavertown? Or some partnership with one of the thousand independent breweries this country supposedly has to offer? Instead, I’m left with a choice between having my throat burned or my stomach assaulted. It’s part of the reason why I don’t go to festivals, either. I do not want to have to pay £9 for a horrific Heineken in a plastic pint. I don’t want to pay an extortionate amount for the worst Bacardi and faux-fruit slushy imaginable. Why is it so hard to offer a decent Highball? Is this why people take drugs?
There’s a certain destitute acceptance of being in a captive audience, one that will consume any old crap at any old price, and one that I refuse to partake in. When the demon Mephistopheles in Marlow’s Doctor Faustus is asked why aren’t you in Hell, he responds, “Why this is Hell, nor am I out of it.” I know what he means.
Nate Brown has owned and operated spirit specialist cocktail bars in London for the better part of a decade. He’s a regular speaker on industry panels, a judge for various spirit awards and has been known to harbour an opinion or two.
Britain’s pioneering brewers have made it possible to enjoy a flavourful sip without unfavourable ill-effects the following morning. But how, exactly, is alcohol-free beer made? We chatted to the brains…
Britain’s pioneering brewers have made it possible to enjoy a flavourful sip without unfavourable ill-effects the following morning. But how, exactly, is alcohol-free beer made? We chatted to the brains behind a handful of innovative booze-free breweries…
Let’s get right into it. There are two ways to brew an alcohol-free beer. “Firstly you can brew to a very low alcohol – using a small amount of malt, extracting a small amount of fermentable sugar, and therefore creating a small amount of alcohol,” explains Luke Boase, creator of alcohol-free lager Lucky Saint. “Secondly, you can brew a full strength beer and remove the alcohol at the end of the process.”
Made with Bavarian spring water, Pilsner malt, Hallertau hops and a bespoke strain of yeast, Lucky Saint is brewed according to the latter. Rather than use a single-infusion mash, the team has opted for a more labour-intensive step-mash, whereby the temperature is progressively increased through 60 to 75 degrees celsius. “This gives us greater control over the creation of fermentable sugars and, importantly, allows us to produce a wort with minimal non-fermentable sugars,” Boase outlines.
Lucky Saint bottles cast long shadows
Then, the beer is fermented and conditioned for six weeks, during which time any sediment naturally separates, allowing the team to “retain as much flavour, body and character as possible”. The final stage before bottling is vacuum-distillation. “There are a couple of technologies available,” he continues. “We selected vacuum distillation, which changes the atmospheric pressure and reduces the evaporation point of the alcohol.
“Typically, alcohol evaporates at almost 80 degrees Celsius, but beer doesn’t survive those kinds of temperatures too well,” Boase explains. “Within the vacuum, we can lower the evaporation point to around 40 degrees Celsius, removing the alcohol without affecting any of the delicate flavours of the beer.”
Beer alchemy at its finest, you’ll agree. But while the team has spent time honing the process, they aren’t precious about experimenting when it comes to future bottlings. “Different technologies can work better for different products,” Boase says. So, what about the alternative? How exactly do you go about brewing a beer that barely registers above 0.5% ABV at full strength?
To find out, we tapped up the folks at Big Drop Brewing Company.“We use a ‘lazy yeast’, which is bad at converting sugars to alcohol; a smaller-than-usual mash bill, which has fewer sugars to convert; and we control the temperatures at various points to control how quickly everything ferments,” explains director Nick Worthington. “We use a wider variety of grain, up to 20 different kinds – everything from wheat, oats, barley, rye – to give that depth of flavour and pack a punch.”
Just some of the delicious Big Drop range
Of course, for every craftsman there’s a multinational conglomerate willing to cut corners and make a buck from the masses. It’s worth noting that the bigger breweries – the household names on the periphery of alcohol-free alchemy – are often more economical, shall we say, in their endeavours, opting to add a malt extract after brewing and chemically extracting the booze to boost certain flavour notes, for example. Still, for the most part, the burgeoning industry remains a hotbed of authentic innovation balanced with reverence for the wider beer category.
“It’s a really interesting and exciting challenge for brewers,” says Chris Hannaway, who co-founded Infinite Session brewery with his brother Tom, “to create a great tasting beer without the main ‘ingredient’ that usually helps them to do this. It takes more precision, more research and more skill to make a great alcohol-free beer.”
When brewing their beer, the duo uses a variety of different malts to achieve the desired mouthfeel, complexity, sweetness, colour and head for each bottling. So far as alcohol-free brewing is concerned, “this really is only the start,” he continues. “As the taste and quality improves across the board, any stigma that remains will become almost non-existent.”
Ultimately, breweries are trying to offer more choice, adds Worthington, and that can only be a good thing. “Many brewers now offer a variation of one of their most popular styles in an alcohol-free format,” he says. “They recognise people might not want to drink beer all the time but may still want to drink one of their products. They still want an adult-tasting drink.” There’s plenty of chatter about Generation Z eschewing alcohol and staying sober in the age of social media, but Worthington believes booze-free beer is beloved by a different demographic. “People say one in three 18 to 25 year olds aren’t drinking, but it’s not necessarily them – we don’t think they’ve ever drank beer, so they’re unlikely to pick up an alcohol-free one,” he says. “It tends to be the generations above who are looking to put some balance back in their lives. They like the taste of beer, but they don’t necessarily want the alcohol with it.”
From brooding dark ales to crisp, refreshing lagers, beer is just as complex and compelling as its distilled and barrel-aged cousin, whisky. We chat with Lex Spasic of London bar…
From brooding dark ales to crisp, refreshing lagers, beer is just as complex and compelling as its distilled and barrel-aged cousin, whisky. We chat with Lex Spasic of London bar Beer Rebellion to uncover the innovations, trends and transformative movements bubbling away in the beer industry…
Beer is booming the world over, and craft beer especially so. There are now more than 19,000 breweries worldwide, according to data assembled by global biotechnology company Alltech, of which 94% are classified as craft*. While the US is home to the most sites – a whopping 4,750 craft breweries in total – the UK boasts the most craft breweries per capita, with 25 breweries per million people.
With so much brewing going on across the globe, there’s plenty of activity to wet your whistle. Here Lex Spasic, operations manager at London-based craft beer bar Beer Rebellion, reveals the five key beer trends currently shaping what – and how – you drink…
Beer Rebellion – it’s where beers happen
Going back to basics
While there’s no shortage of maverick brewers playing mad scientist with wild yeasts and Brut IPAs, many breweries have arrived at a simpler conclusion: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Some breweries still specialise in using wild yeasts, but from what I understand strains such as Brettanomyces can be difficult to use as they are extremely aggressive – meaning even a residual amount left in a tank can infect a whole brew,” says Spasic. “The use of these yeasts and ingredients tends to reflect the experimental and restless nature of many small brewers, rather than any permanent changes.” In fact, if anything the movement has birthed the rise of an anti-trend – “a move towards producing lagers, helles, and pilsners,” says Spasic. “This may be either commercial necessity or as a reaction to the more experimental varieties, or both.” Instead, many sites have created dedicated barrel-ageing projects “as a more premium, longer term way of experimenting with ingredients and flavours”, such as Beavertown’s Tempus Project taproom and London Beer Factory’s barrel ageing site.
Producing beer requires a lot of water, gas and energy, and it creates a hell of a lot of waste. Over the last few years, breweries large and small have been exploring ways to reduce their environmental impact, be it through striving to reduce their resources, trialling creative methods for repurposing production byproducts, introducing recycled materials into their packaging or taproom, or exploring solar energy. Other breweries are philanthropic in their waste-reduction efforts. “We have recently started stocking Toast Ales on draft,” says Spasic. “They produce a range of beers brewed using leftover bread from bakeries and then donate the profits to charity.”
Always knew tinnies were the future, but it’s good to have confirmation
Style and substance
The industry has also largely shifted from bottles to cans, “touting the infinite recyclability of metal cans as one of the key benefits”, Spasic says; a move that has, perhaps inadvertently, modernised the category. “The rise of cans has also offered greater scope for design and artwork – this appears to be one of the biggest industry shifts in recent years,” Spasic adds. After Beer Rebellion fridges switched to exclusively stocking cans, they team noticed something interesting: the brightest cans sold the quickest, since they “offer far more options for bold and colourful branding than bottles”. Perhaps we’re not as immune to advertising witchcraft as we like to think. As for the next trend in beer marketing? Augmented reality, Spasic predicts. From can labels to supermarket displays, brands and breweries have already started dabbling with AR technology to create a more interactive and entertaining experience for the imbiber. Watch this space.
Low ABV = the new gluten-free
Purists might scoff, but non-alcoholic beer and low ABV beer appears to be on the rise everywhere at the moment, says Spasic. “Low abv seems to have a better variety at the moment, probably because brewers can still retain more of the flavour profile,” Spasic says – but don’t sleep on alcohol-free, which looks set to seriously take off over the next couple of years. “Gluten-free beers seemed like a real compromise for a long time, then all of a sudden it seemed that brewers cracked the magic formula, so hopefully this will happen with zero alcohol beers too.”
Fancy snapping up a brewery?
Breweries buying breweries
As long as craft breweries innovate, there’ll always be a conglomerate with deep pockets casting a watchful eye over the industry – whether they’re “buying up smaller breweries or producing their own versions of popular beers, as Guinness is doing, in order to get a piece of the market,” says Spasic. Ultimately, what does this all mean for the hops enthusiast? “The upside of this will hopefully be that breweries are forced to be even more inventive with their products in order to stand out,” says Spasic. Delicious innovation that drips down to your local? We can get on board with that.
*For the purposes of the survey, if a brewery had less than 30 staff or produced less than 5,000 hectolitres per year, or more than 50% of the business was privately owned, it was deemed ‘craft’.
Well, it feels like summer might finally be here to stay. We were up in Edinburgh this week and the city was bathed in sunlight. Everybody seemed a bit surprised….
Well, it feels like summer might finally be here to stay. We were up in Edinburgh this week and the city was bathed in sunlight. Everybody seemed a bit surprised. This weekend the lidos, paddling pools and beaches of Britain will be full of cheery people eating ice cream and sipping cold drinks. And the main topic of conversation among those over 18 will be… booze, of course! You thought it would be something else beginning with ‘b’ didn’t you? And so, to make you king of the conversation, we’ve rounded up the most interesting stories of the week. Simply read, learn and regurgitate to your friends and they will be amazed at how ‘with it’ you are. Though perhaps don’t use the phrase ‘with it’.
You can carry this on Eurostar, but you can’t drink it
Eurostar booze crisis resolved
There was panic among Britain’s booze enthusiasts this week when it was discovered that Eurostar had changed the policy on carrying bottles on its trains. Previously travellers were free, unlike on planes, to carry wine, spirits or beer in their hand luggage, but the new rules limited passengers to one bottle of wine, four bottles of beer and no spirits whatsoever. The drinks world was up in arms. Joe Fattorini from The Wine Show said: “This new rule fromEurostar officially ends the whole point of Eurostar for any wine producer coming to the UK.” When people asked for clarification, Eurostar commented the rules had changed to “maintain a pleasant environment on board for all our travellers”, and that passengers could pay to have their baggage checked, at £30 per item. Suddenly all the money you have saved on that bottle of Cognac has disappeared. But thanks to a concerted effort from, among others, travel writer and campaigner Mark Smith, aka. the Man in Seat 61, Eurostar clarified its rules: passengers are only allowed one bottle of wine, four beers and no large spirit bottles, to drink on the train, but “we are happy for customers to bring unopened bottles of alcohol to take on to their destination”, it now says on the site. Problem solved. Thank you, Eurostar, for listening to your passengers.
This Laphroaig 1995 could be yours via new online auction site, Cask 88
New online auction site launches for whisky in cask
There can be few whisky lovers who haven’t dreamed of owning their own cask of the good stuff. Now acquiring your dream barrel has got that bit easier with the launch of a new online auction site especially for whisky in casks, called Cask 88. Just register with the site and you’re ready to go. Casks are listed with a photo and information about distillery, age, cask type, ABV and roughly how many bottles you could get out of it. So, for example there’s currently a cask of Laphroaig at £25,000 which was distilled in 1995. It weighs in at 55.4% ABV and you should be able to get 186 bottles of delicious smoky goodness. The site takes a 10% commission and offers two years storage free, after that it will cost £50 per year. And when the time comes to bottle your cask, you will have to pay VAT and duty. Auctions will take place monthly, including valuable old whiskies like that Laphroaig as well as young casks that should, hopefully, grow in value. And of course, don’t forget that even if you don’t make any money, you do have whisky. Which you can drink.
One day this will be whisky
Yorkshire’s self-built distillery begins whisky production
The wonderful Cooper King Distillery over in Yorkshire has officially announced the start of distillation of its inaugural single malt whisky! Clearly everyone is just as excited as we are, as the distillery sold out of its pre-order whisky casks after just 10 days. Locally-grown Yorkshire barley will be traditionally floor-malted in England’s oldest working maltings, before it is mashed and fermented at the distillery itself. It will be distilled in a unique Tasmanian copper pot still, and matured on-site. “We may be one of the smallest whisky distilleries in England, but what matters to us is not the quantity of whisky produced, but the flavour of that whisky, its provenance, and the story behind the spirit,” co-founder Abbie Neilson commented. “Sourcing great barley, working with a superb master cooper, and carrying out mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation under one roof allows us to truly celebrate terroir.” The new spirit will be “robust, flavourful, and unlike any other in the country”, and influenced by the founders’ work with award-winning Tasmanian whisky distilleries. “Five years ago Abbie and I quit our jobs, flew to Australia, and fell in love with the Tasmanian way of making whisky,” added fellow co-founder, Chris Jaume. “Since then we have worked incredibly hard to realise our dream of distilling an English whisky underpinned by craftsmanship, honesty and adventure. We are thrilled that the day has come, and malt spirit is flowing at the distillery.” We, along with many others, eagerly await the day that the spirit will come of age, and be enjoyed as whisky. May the countdown begin!
There’s no added sugar in Pinkster gin (though there is in the tonic)
Tabloids take aim at sugar content in gins
Gin fans have been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride the last few days. Yes, we’re in the midst of Negroni Week (more on that shortly). That’s always a winner. But we’ve also seen a raft of press coverage around the unexpectedly high sugar content in gin – with contemporary pink gins very much highlighted (just have a search on social if you want to see the article(s)). Whether you would just rather not know, or reckon that being well-informed is the best course of action (the side we come down on), there was a WHOLE load of chatter. Pinkster Gin even weighed in. “The report on sugar levels in flavoured gins makes for disturbing reading as many gin-lovers will simply have no idea that they’re playing sugar roulette,” said MD Stephen Marsh, stressing that there’s no added sugar in its production. That Boutique-y Gin Company was also in the social spotlight for its ‘no added sugar’ claim when Chocolate Orange Gin went viral. Do you care whether or not your gin has added sugar? What about your tonic water? Or would you just rather kick back with a refreshing G&T and forget about all the nutritional deets? Let us know on social or in the comments below.
Circolo Popolare is Italian booze heaven
Circolo Popolare throws open its doors
We love a good shindig at MoM Towers, so when we were invited to the launch night of new Italian bar and restaurant Circolo Popolare, we knew we were in for a treat. The save-the-date said there was 400 litres of spritz to get through, for goodness sake! What we weren’t quite prepped for was the exuberance of the flower-filled space, the chandeliers, the general opulence. This is a Sicilian embassy in the middle of Fitzrovia, complete with a terrace! The banquet was incredible – if the initial impression of the burrata, pizza and gelato is anything to go by, one could happily feast there for days. And there was a Negroni bar (a tip-top way to celebrate Negroni week). AND the alabaster walls were lined with 20,000 bottles of Italian spirits! No need for a passport, Circolo Popolare brings all the celebratory summer vibes we need. London folk: get in there quick.
This is what’s known as a ‘cookout’
Smooth Ambler Cookout comes to London
Diaries out, folks – 4 July is approaching, and US whiskey brand Smooth Ambler is determined to get Londoners in the mood for all things Americana. On Sunday, the Smooth Ambler Cookout is coming to East London! Strongroom Bar’s outdoor terrace is playing host, and guests can expect bourbon, bluegrass and barbeque food aplenty. So what is a ‘cookout’? Basically it’s the word for the whole event – we Brits might refer to the whole shebang a ‘barbeque’, but in Smooth Amber’s West Virginia, a ‘cookout’ encompasses it all. Want in? Tickets are £10, and include a Smooth Ambler cocktail, and unlimited access (mmmmmm, unlimited access) to the barbeque from 3-5pm. More info is available here. Time to start working up an appetite!
Kraken’s Perfect Storm, frankly it looks terrifying
Kraken Rum launches restaurant inside a thunderstorm! (Literally)
You’ve heard of 4D cinemas, but how about a 4D dining experience? The Kraken Black Spiced Rum has taken the phrase ‘cooking up a storm’ quite literally to the next level, with a brand new immersive 4D restaurant where you are, indeed, inside a storm. It’s called ‘Dining in a Perfect Storm’, inspired by the tumultuous waters home to the mythical Kraken. You’ll be subjected to state-of-the-art technology, recreating extreme stormy weather indoors. Expect real rainfall (1,000 litres of rain will fall from the ceiling every minute), howling cyclonic winds, flashes of lightning and booming thunder. You’ll be given a raincoat, though perhaps skip on the blow-dry for this dinner date. It all sounds rather intense, though we’ve been assured that The Kraken cocktails are best without a hefty serving of rain water, so perhaps it’s not as bad as it sounds. After the worst of the (indoor) weather, slightly damp diners will enter the ‘eye of the storm’, where the winds drop and the rains subside. Luckily it’s during this time that dinner is served, with a jet-black menu of dishes crafted using naturally black ingredients and natural black food colouring, with options such as squid ink linguini or even The Kraken black ice cream. Better be snappy though, it’s only running for two days on 12 and 13 July.
Tokyo Mule at Kurabu
Cocktails at Chelsea’s Kurabu
There’s a new addition to Chelsea’s plethora of cocktail bars and restaurants; we headed over to Kurabu (which means clubhouse in Japanese) at Dinings SW3. Up on the mezzanine, it’s cosy and modern while still retaining a somewhat traditional feel. We started the evening with the super floral and delicate Kurabu Spritz, containing Umeshu plum sake, Tio Pepe Fino sherry, rhubarb, cardamom and R de Ruinart Brut. Quite literally perfect for a summer’s evening. Then there was the super zesty Haru Gimlet, with Roku Gin, lemongrass, elderflower, ginger and fresh lime. It must be said, the food was also exquisite. The standout dishes for us were the fabulously innovative Crispy Rice, deep fried sushi rice with fish tartare alongside, and the deliciously decadent Mini Buns, homemade and soft steamed burger buns filled with either teriyaki wagyu beef or shrimp tempura dressed with spicy sweet chilli and sesame. Truly mouthwatering. We then finished with a Kurabu Negroni (well, it is Negroni week after all) and a delicious Tsuyo Old Fashioned with Nikka From Barrel, chocolate bitters and fig leaf liqueur. Truly outstanding drinks, and while the Tokyo Mule also caught our eye, with Hennessy VSOP, MUYU Vetiver Gris and blueberry shrubs, topped up with ginger beer, you can’t have ‘em all. We’ll try them all one day!
In exciting whiskey news, four fabulous new bottlings have been announced, the products of a partnership between the wonderfully experimental Balcones Distilling in Texas and That Boutique-y Whisky Company. As you would expect, they’re wonderfully experimental. Firstly, there’s the first batch of Balcones Two Year Old, a two-year-old single malt finished in a Balcones brimstone cask, said to have notes of smoky bacon, hickory, mesquite and camp fires. Then, Balcones Three Year Old, and this single malt that has been part-aged in a Tequila cask for 24 months. Super exciting and interesting stuff. Finally, there’s Balcones Two Year Old, another single malt spirit, though this one has been finished in an oloroso sherry cask, making it the third sherry cask matured single malt from Balcones. Dave Worthington, That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s brand ambassador stated, “Balcones has a special place in my heart as the first ever whisky festival I worked was for Balcones, so I’m so happy to see some of their Texan spirits wrapped up in our Boutique-y labels. Y’all gonna love this y’all (in my best Texas accent).” Finally, there’s also a mysterious fourth spirit which has yet to be released, made exclusively from Balcones’ signature corn grain, blue corn. You’ll have to wait until September for this one, though, which has been finished in Pedro Ximénez casks. “We are delighted to partner with our friends at That Boutique-y Whisky Company to release these rare and special spirits, all of which are a nod to our passion for exploration and testing the waters of what’s possible,” said Balcones’ head distiller, Jared Himstedt. “We wanted to share some single casks that showcase some of our fun experiments and finishes, alongside the versatility of our blue corn spirit, which we’ve not release in sherry casks before.” Oh, and would you look at that, the first three bottlings are available at your favourite online retailer right now! (That’s us, by the way.)
And finally. . . Moretti launches Deliver-A-Nonna, an Italian grandmother delivered to your door
Wouldn’t it be great if you when you were hungry an Italian grandmother would turn up at your house and cook for you? So much better than Deliveroo. Well, dream no longer because next month Birra Moretti is launching ‘Deliver-A-Nonna’. This will operate between 22 and 27 July in Brighton and London. Izabela Glodek from the Italian beer company said: “Our team of nonne will be ready and waiting to jump in to their Moretti motors and head to people’s houses to cook up a storm this July. Our knowledgeable nonne will not only provide a delicious feast but also pass on valuable skills and recipes that have been around for generations – inspiring people to get together for home cooked meals around the dinner table more often.” I wonder if they’ll do the washing up as well. You will be able to sign up from 7 July for a chance to have a real Italian grandmother delivered to your door. Mamma mia! Or maybe that should be nonna mia!