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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Beer

Hops and grass, a match made in heaven?

As various Conservative politicians tumble over themselves to admit their early experiences with drugs of varying illegality, but within limits naturally, it seems as good as time as any for…

As various Conservative politicians tumble over themselves to admit their early experiences with drugs of varying illegality, but within limits naturally, it seems as good as time as any for Ian Buxton to look into the drinks industry’s flirtation with weed.

Yes, cannabis.  Or dope, grass, bhang or pot – call it what you will, it’s currently taking up a great deal of the time, attention and budget of the drinks industry’s senior executives.  Not that they’re smoking the stuff or baking it into their lunchtime snacks, you understand, but a lot of money is changing hands. Cannabis is shaping up to be the next big thing after alcohol.

Much of the activity currently takes place in North America. Canada has liberalised its laws on cannabis and a number of US states are poised to follow. Cannabis-infused drinks are under active development with brewers leading the way. As just one example, giant Canadian brewer Molson Coors took a majority stake in August 2018 in a joint venture with cannabis producer, The Hydropothecary Corporation. It’s taken the resulting Hexo Molson company less than a year to develop their first products, which will go on sale this December as soon as they become legal in Canada.

And what happens in Canada crosses the border to the US fast though currently Federal law prohibits brewers from using marijuana in beer. That hardly presented a problem to the noted craft brewer Keith Villa, the man behind Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer. His Ceria Grainwave Belgian-Style White Ale has no alcohol and but includes 5 milligrams of THC, the high-producing ingredient found in cannabis plants. It’s currently available in Colorado, with further distribution planned.

Ceria Brewing

Image courtesy of Ceria Brewing Company

Likewise San Diego’s Two Roots Brewing Co. which has five styles of non-alcoholic THC beer available in California and Nevada. Other craft brewers are piling in, and this hybrid category is rapidly gathering momentum. Apart from the obvious attraction, drinkers seem to be motivated by the wellness trend that is attracting younger US consumers – an alcohol-free buzz definitely fits with the millennial zeitgeist.

A few craft brewers doing funky things is all very well, however, but what about the big boys.  Well, they won’t all fess up to their plans but, behind the scenes, work is definitely going on.  After all, as Spiros Malandrakis, Euromonitor’s senior alcoholic drinks analyst explains, the industry needs to realise that it can’t stop cannabis’ inexorable rise. The management “can complain”, he says, “but this is going to happen. They can either sit in their offices and say: ‘Oh my God, our industry’s going to die,’ or they can do something and evolve alongside it.”

And, of course, they are. Heineken, for example, owns California’s Lagunitas Brewing, maker of Hi-Fi Hops.  According to their ‘Brewmonster’ Jeremy Marshall, “We’ve often dreamed of hops and their cannabis cousin partying together at the family reunion. We wanted to bring this party to life in a beverage. It’s high-time that good beer inspired a provocative, yet refreshing non-alcoholic alternative. With a smidge of California sun-grown cannabis in every sip.”

For the moment, Diageo has yet to make a move.  Though rumoured last year to be in talks with three Canadian cannabis producers the official line is that they are “watching” the market but that cannabis-infused alternative drinks have yet to make any discernible impact on their North American sales. “I wouldn’t call them a threat,” says their North American chief Deirdre Mahlan.  

Cannabis, coming soon to a bar near you (if you live in Canada or Colorado)

Pernod Ricard take much the same line.  According to CEO Alexandre Ricard: “We’re seriously monitoring the situation and starting to consider if it (cannabis) would or would not fit in our portfolio.” He went on to say: “We’re not there yet, we’re currently just analysing the data and observing the market from a consumer point of view in a number of US states and Canada. At this stage, and let me be very clear, we have no evidence whatsoever that cannabis legalisation may have an impact on premium spirits consumption.”

Well, perhaps not.  But others don’t agree. Legal marijuana in the US is predicted to reach a value of $23bn by 2022 and that’s too lucrative a market to ignore. Step forward Constellation Brands, a major US drinks business (products include Corona Extra lager; Casa Noble Tequila; High West whiskey and strategic investments in a number of craft distillers), who last year pumped almost $4bn into Canopy Growth, a Canadian cannabis group. This followed a previous smaller investment which made Constellation the first Fortune 500 company and the first major alcoholic beverage maker to take a minority stake in a marijuana business.

Others will surely follow.  Let’s hope their money doesn’t go up in smoke.

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

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Minor celebrity boozes

While we appreciate the George Clooneys and David Beckhams of this industry – and we do, honest – it’s only right to champion less famous celebs, shall we say, who are…

While we appreciate the George Clooneys and David Beckhamof this industry – and we do, honest – it’s only right to champion less famous celebs, shall we say, who are hustling hard on their own booze projects. Here, we present the alcohol brands of ten celebrities you’re more likely to find cutting a supermarket ribbon than walking the red carpet…

Celebrities come in all shapes and sizes. Not everyone is meant to be the most visible, the most talked-about, the highest-earning and the most powerful, there simply isn’t enough space. For every exclusive Ryan Reynolds press junket, we need an X Factor finalist to turn on Christmas lights in Stoke on Trent. C’est la vie.

Looking across TV hosts, soap actors, former pop stars and more, we’ve picked ten lesser-known celebrity faces who are dabbling – or have dabbled – in distilling, winemaking and brewing.

Neat Gin

It’s only Ian Beale!

Neat Gin

Who made it? Adam Woodyatt.

Remind us who he is again? You’ll know him better as Ian Beale from BBC soap opera EastEnders.

What’s the goss? The EastEnders legend launched Neat Gin with wife Beverley back in 2017. The London Dry-style sipper was inspired by a 15th-century recipe which listed botanicals but, crucially, no quantities. Eleven ingredients were refined to just eight, and Neat was born. He’s come a long way since Phil Mitchell flushed his head down the loo.

Graham Norton’s Own Pink Gin

Who made it? Graham Norton, unsurprisingly.

Remind us who he is again? An Irish television and radio presenter, comedian, actor, author, commentator, and the face of comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show.

What’s the goss? Norton has a wine label made by New Zealand producer Invivo, with whom he first teamed up with back in 2014. One Sauvignon Blanc, one rosé, one Shiraz and a Prosecco later, the TV host turned his hand to gin through a partnership with Ireland’s West Cork Distillers.

MMMhops

Mmmhops, you see what they did there?

Mmmhops

Who made it? Hanson.

Remind us who they are again? An American pop band best known for their hit single, Mmmbop. Geddit?

What’s the goss? Since brothers Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson launched craft beer brand Hanson Brothers Beer back in 2013, they’ve created four flavourful brews – Mmmhops, Festive Ale, Redland Amber Ale and Tulsa Tea – plus a further two in collaboration with other breweries. The company’s strapline? Music + beer = awesome. Eh, we can’t argue with that.

Sven The Wine Collection

Who made it? Sven-Göran Eriksson.

Remind us who he is again? The Swedish football manager and former player who took England to the World Cup back in 2006.

What’s the goss? Back in 2014, Göran Eriksson unveiled Sven The Wine Collection, made by Italy’s Casa Girelli with indigenous grape varieties. His white bottling is a blend of Grillo and Fiano grapes, while the red in the collection features Nero d’Avola and Frappato. He released the collection across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland – whether any bottles remain, we don’t know.

Tres Papalote Mezcal

Tres Papalote Mezcal

Tres Papalote Mezcal

Who made it? Cheech Marin.

Remind us who he is again? An American stand-up comedian and actor, best known as part of the comedy act Cheech & Chong.

What’s the goss? Marin is a partner and brand ambassador for Tres Papalote Mezcal, a three-strong range made from Wild Cupreata agave grown on the mountaintops of Guerrero, Mexico. If you’re wondering what he thinks about the smoky spirit, Marin is quoted as saying that mezcal is “like Tequila but with tattoos and piercings”. He’s not wrong.

Ver2 Vodka

Who made it? Shane Lynch.

Remind us who he is again? An Irish singer-songwriter, best known for his time in Boyzone. Apparently, he’s a professional drift driver now.

What’s the goss? Lynch joined forces with caffeine and guarana-infused vodka brand Ver2, which was marketed as ‘Great Britain’s first energy vodka’ – make of that what you will – before industry watchdogs the Portman Group threw the book at them. The brand’s Twitter feed seems to exist solely to retweet questionable political opinions these days, so we’re guessing Ver2 is no more.

 

Ringmaster General Shiraz 2010

Sweet dreams are made of these

Ringmaster General Shiraz 2010

Who made it? Dave Stewart

No seriously, who? He was one half of British pop duo Eurythmics (the other half being Annie Lennox)

What’s the goss? Stewart teamed up with McLaren Vale estate Mollydooker to launch Ringmaster General Shiraz 2010, named after his 2012 album release. The bottling is said to be a version of the Aussie winemakers’ Carnival of Love Shiraz 2010, which is barrel-fermented and matured in 100% new American oak. Suggested food pairing? Kangaroo, obviously.

Angel Alkaline Gin

Who made it? Steven Gerrard.

Remind us who he is again? Liverpool’s former central midfielder and now manager of Scottish Premiership club Rangers.

What’s the goss? The Gers gaffer is reportedly set to add a range of flavoured gins to his alkaline water brand, Angel Alkaline. Described as “a premium contemporary English gin lovingly handcrafted with our natural alkaline water and bottled in England”, the range is pipped to span watermelon, lemon, blueberry and lime flavours. The news only broke in May 2019, so watch this space.

This stout weighs in at 13%

Drew Curtis / Wil Wheaton / Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout

Who made it? Wil Wheaton.

No seriously, who? The American actor best known for portraying Wesley Crusher on TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

What’s the goss? Working with Stone Brewery co-founder Greg Koch and Fark.com creator Drew Curtis, Wil (only one ‘l’ for some reason) Wheaton created a speciality imperial stout made using pecans, wheat, flaked rye and bourbon barrels. A new edition of the 13% ABV bottling is released every year, complete with awesome illustrated label.

Garden Shed Gin

Rugby gin

Garden Shed Gin

Who made it? Ryan Grant,

No seriously, who? A retired British and Irish Lions rugby player.

What’s the goss? The former Scotland international rugby union player swapped rugby balls for botanicals, launching The Garden Shed Drinks Company back in 2017 in partnership with wife Maxine and fellow rugby player Ruaridh Jackson. As well as the London Dry-style Garden Shed Gin bottling, the Glasgow-based team also makes Côte-Rôtie gin, which is aged in a French wine barrel.

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Noteworthy Eurovision-Themed Drinks

The Eurovision Song Contest kicks off next week, with the final on Saturday 18 May, so we’ve selected some super European tipples for your enjoyment. Eurovision is pretty much the…

The Eurovision Song Contest kicks off next week, with the final on Saturday 18 May, so we’ve selected some super European tipples for your enjoyment.

Eurovision is pretty much the best thing in the world. Other people might insist on watching shows with dragons, superheroes or Keeley Hawes, but honestly how could that compare to a night of cheesy, camp fun with an endless array of bangers, ballads and the downright bizarre. From dancing Russian grandmas, Viking corpse costumes, drag queens and Jedward, TWICE somehow, Eurovision really has got everything.

To honour this year’s edition of the world’s biggest music entertainment show, we’ve rounded up some incredible booze from some of the competing countries so you can indulge yourself on an evening of unrivalled entertainment.

From French fancies to exciting English expressions, a couple of stunners from Spain and Switzerland and more, we’ve got some major treats for you. I’d tell you to enjoy, but it’s Eurovision. Of course you’re going to enjoy yourself.

Hepple Gin

The United Kingdom’s hopes this year rest on the shoulders of Michael Rice, a native from Hartlepool, County Durham, England, so it’s fitting that you’d cheer him on with a delicious and wonderfully Northern gin! Distilled by the Moorland Spirit Company using a rather intricate production method, which includes pot stills, vacuum distillation and a super-critical CO2 extraction process, Hepple Gin is full-bodied, balanced and simply begging to be put to good use in a G&T.

What does it taste like?:

Lemon peels, peppery juniper, coriander, pine and sherbet lemon sweeties.

Milk & Honey Young Single Malt Aged Spirit

From this year’s host city of Tel Aviv comes a young single malt spirit which isn’t quite old enough to be called whisky yet from Milk & Honey Distillery. This tipple was matured in ex-red wine, bourbon and ex-Islay whisky casks and boasts a tasty and complex flavour profile.

What does it taste like?:

Floral sweetness followed by smoky peat and maritime notes, orange peel, dried fruit and honeydew melon, with woody notes appearing on the finish.

Maxime Trijol VSOP

For those who enjoy all things French, why not combine the joy of Bilal Hassani’s song ‘Roi’ with this classic VSOP Cognac from Maxime Trijol? The family (the Trijols, not the Hassanis) has been distilling quality Cognac since 1859 and are now one of the largest and most consistent distillers in the region, so you know you won’t be going wrong with this beauty.

What does it taste like?:

Smoke, over-ripe fruits, sandalwood, marmalade, mixed peels, honeyed, peppery finish with sweet spices.

Stork Club Straight Rye Whiskey

What’s this? Rye whiskey from Germany?! That’s right. Eurovision is well known for springing a surprise or two, so we thought we’d follow suit and champion this straight rye whiskey from the wonderful Stork Club. Produced just south of Berlin using German rye, this tipple is a worthy celebration of the country whose hopes are pinned on S!sters this year. I wonder if anyone has let them know they’ve spelt that wrong. Someone really should.

What does it taste like?:

Brown bread with Nutella, cane sugar, punchy black pepper, nutmeg, clove, red apples and blackberries.

Malfy Gin Con Rosa

Perhaps some of you will be enjoying Italian gin witnessing an Italian win on Saturday 18 May? Even if Italy doesn’t bring home the big prize, you can be sure that you’ll be singing this ace gin’s praises, which was built around the delicious Sicilian pink grapefruit and a hint of rhubarb too.

What does it taste like?:

Tangy pink grapefruit at the fore, balanced well by peppery juniper and a touch of thyme.

XECO Fino

While Miki is on a mission to wow Europe’s heart with his entry ‘La Venda’, this Spanish brand on a mission to make sherry accessible again. XECO Fino, which was aged for a minimum of four years in American oak, is a crisp and refreshingly dry fino that makes for a great introduction to fortified wine, so it’s fair to say XECO has succeeded in its goal. It’s really tasty served straight up or over ice with tonic or lemonade.

What does it taste like?:

Dainty and floral on the nose, building to the refreshing umami-esque palate. Thirst-quenching stuff, and ideal for aperitifs.

Säntis 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

The Swiss really do make some delicious single malt, and if you weren’t aware of that than you should immediately familiarise yourself with the wonderful whisky distilled by Säntis. The Swiss brand produced this rich and complex 10-year-old expression which was independently bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Which was a very smart thing to do. This is a very, very tasty whisky.

What does it taste like?:

Toasted brown sugar, sticky treacle, Bramley apple, dried fruit, cacao, macaroons, drying barley, winter spice and brandy snaps.

La Trappe Blond

While Duncan Laurence represents The Netherlands with his song ‘Arcade’, you could show your appreciation for The Netherlands by enjoying some of its delicious beer, namely this excellent Trappist Blond ale from the Dutch La Trappe selection.

What does it taste like?:

Crisp and refreshing, with sliced banana, clove-studded orange and creamy honey. Big yeast influence on this one, too. Hop bitterness stays way in the background, but it certainly is there.

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The Nightcap: 26 April

Another short week, but that has not stopped the deluge of booze news occurring – get ready for another edition of The Nightcap! The super-long weekend continued into this week…

Another short week, but that has not stopped the deluge of booze news occurring – get ready for another edition of The Nightcap!

The super-long weekend continued into this week for us here at MoM Towers, meaning Monday was spent as far away from office desks as possible. However, by Tuesday, we were eager to get back to it – and clearly so was everyone else in the world of booze, as there is plenty of news to go through in The Nightcap! Let’s get to it, shall we?

On the MoM Blog this week, Ian Buxton was back to ask the difficult questions once again, this time concerning investment in whisky, before Adam championed English-made booze to mark St. George’s Day. Then he explored Scotch whiskies from Speyside, as we look forward to the upcoming Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Annie was busy checking out the new Super Lyan bar in Amsterdam, but still made time to acknowledge Earth Day and Patrón Tequila’s contribution to it. Henry looked into how we can tackle the Malaria crisis with gin, while his Cocktail of the Week was The Iceberg Slim. Kristy also demonstrated an affinity to a Compass Box release for our New Arrival of the Week.

That’s a whole lot of news for a shorter week, but hold on to your hats because we’ve got even more – it’s The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Samples are flowing off the stills!

Lagg Distillery kicks off whisky production

Some very exciting news came our way this week via Isle of Arran Distillers. Distillation has begun at Lagg Distillery! The very first middle cut of spirit was recorded back on Tuesday 19 March at 14.35, to be precise. The commissioning phase has now been completed and Cask Number One, a sherry butt reserved exclusively for members of the Lagg Cask Society, was filled on Wednesday 10 April with a heavily-peated (50ppm) spirit at 63.5% ABV. So, what can we expect from the eventual Lagg Single Malt? Well, the distillery hopes it will become a rich, earthy and smoky dram, making it something of a departure from the character of whisky currently produced at the original distillery in Lochranza. James MacTaggart, master distiller, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to be taking the very first steps in producing what will eventually be a magnificent Lagg whisky and something truly unique to anything we’ve produced previously.” The news comes as construction of the new distillery and visitor centre enters its final stages, with the outer structure now complete and many of the elements of internal design starting to come together. Lagg Distillery is expected to open fully in early summer, with the brand projecting that the distillery and visitor centre will increase total visitor numbers at both sites to over 200,000 by 2020. It’s all coming together, folks!

The Winchester Distillery’s range – for now…

Winchester Distillery reveals expansion (and crowdfunding!) details

As fifth birthday celebrations go, this is a pretty exciting one. Winchester Distillery has unveiled plans to expand its Hampshire-based production facilities! There’s a new higher-volume still going in, so the team can continue to explore new categories (it’s already got rum and whisky in the pipeline). It’s also looking into using locally-grown malted barley for its gin, vodka and whisky, too! But these adventures all need money, which is where the new Crowdcube crowdfunding campaign comes in. “With Winchester Distillery’s fifth birthday in May we are delighted to be in the position, with our annual average sales growth of 82% year on year, to take the business to the next level,” said Paul Bowler, the distillery’s managing director. “Having more capacity will mean we can make more of our well-loved spirits so we can enter new markets both here in the UK and overseas. We also intend to upgrade the current space here among the watercress beds in Old Alresford so that we can host more visitors for tours and tastings, and open a gift shop.” Thrilling stuff, indeed!

The mouthwatering result of globe-spanning teamwork

Diageo teams up with baijiu producer for ‘east-meets-west’ whisky

Exciting news if you’re a fan of intriguing whiskies: Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits player, has formed a joint venture with Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery, China’s third-largest baijiu-maker, to launch something brand-new in the country. It’s a whisky called Zhong Shi Ji, and while production details are scarce, it sounds like a curious thing indeed. Diageo’s Scotch master blender, Craig Wallace, and China Alcoholic Drinks Association’s baijiu master, Zhou Xinhu, worked on the project, which included some maturation in Chinese ceramic pots. We’ve not found out much else, except the result is said to be “unique, full-flavoured” and “exceptionally smooth”. “We believe that Zhong Shi Ji can play an important role in the Chinese dining occasion, launching a new era for whisky drinkers in China,” said C.H. Chu, MD at Diageo Greater China. Zhu Wei, vice president of Yanghe, added: “I firmly believe Zhong Shi Ji will quickly become Chinese consumers’ new favourite, with its ultra-smooth taste and superior quality, created through unique processes and craftsmanship from both China and the West.” If you come across it in the wild, let us know what it tastes like!

The Nightcap

It’s about time we got to enjoy whisky on the high seas!

The Dalmore sets sail on Queen Mary 2 cruise ship

Batten down the hatches, this week The Dalmore revealed an exclusive ‘whisky flight at sea’ on board the world’s only ocean liner, Queen Mary 2! This takes whisky to a whole new level (although we suppose it’s only sea level), as the Highlander can be sipped and savoured on board the ship between Southampton and New York. At the same time, an exclusive whisky experience will be offered on board during the Transatlantic crossing. To round off the whisky experience, master distiller Richard Paterson will be giving a presentation on board the ship. “The Dalmore is celebrated in iconic locations around the world,” Paterson said. “We see celebrations of The Dalmore at Baccarat Hotel New York, at 40,000 feet on board Emirates First Class, and now a unique opportunity to savour the Cunard whisky flight at 28 knots.” Also aboard the Queen Mary 2 will be two rare expressions from The Dalmore Constellation Collection, a limited edition collection of individual rare casks released by the distillery. We’ll certainly say ‘aye aye’ to that.

The Nightcap

Delicious booze and a good cause? We’re in!

Hedgepig gives a helping hand to hedgehogs with new gin liqueur

Hedgepig has increased its range of small batch gin liqueurs to four with the launch of a new flavour, Zesty Elderflower. The reveal coincides with and will benefit Hedgehog Awareness Week (5-11 May). By donating 50p for every bottle sold to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the brand is doing its bit to alleviate the plight of the tiny, spiny mammals, who really don’t have it easy. Hedgepig was created by the team behind Pinkster gin, and crafts all its liqueurs from locally-grown or foraged fruits – Zesty Elderflower was made from wild elderflower. It’s said to have a ‘delicate’ flavour with subtle citrus notes and is best enjoyed cold with pudding or as a cocktail topped up with Prosecco. “We’re thrilled to be supporting the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, especially during their awareness week,” said Hedgepig founder, Stephen Marsh. “The plight of the hedgehog makes for desperate reading. In rural areas, numbers have fallen by half over the past two decades. We’re delighted to be supporting the fine work of the unsung heroes at this cracking little charity. Every little counts.” Don’t forget to check out The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which offers help and advice to those with sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs, if you’d like to do your bit to help those snuffly little fellows.

The Nightcap

Congratulations to Nick Savage, the new master distiller of Bladnoch!

Macallan master distiller joins Bladnoch

Lowland distillery Bladnoch has a new master distiller! Nick Savage will join the team from 1 July. This is big news, not only because the brand has replaced Ian MacMillan, who left the distillery to establish his own whisky consultancy firm in January, but because Savage has stepped down as master distiller of The Macallan to work with Bladnoch. Savage, who prior to his three-year tenure at Macallan was a distilling technical leader at Girvan Distillery and had a four-year stint at Diageo, will work alongside newly-appointed distillery manager Neil Bulloch. He explained his decision was down to “the vision and ambition shown by David Prior and the team at Bladnoch distillery”. He continued: “The opportunity also allows me a new challenge in single malt Lowland Scotch whisky from a 200-year-old distillery.” Prior, Bladnoch CEO and owner, added: “It’s a great privilege to welcome Nick Savage to the Bladnoch business. His youthful, positive and energetic approach will add great value to our team and business, as will his technical and operational skills.” As for Macallan, this announcement follows the departures of whisky maker Bob Dalgarno and former creative director Ken Grier to lead the team at Glenturret Distillery. There could be some interesting times ahead for the Speyside brand, which celebrated the opening of a state-of-the-art distillery in 2018 and seems to break numerous auction whisky records on a weekly basis. As of yet, there is no word on who will be replacing Savage in the role of the master distiller, but we’re sure it won’t take them too long to… make the call.

What time is it? It’s time to get tropical!

Laki Kane’s Georgi Radev launches tiki tome

Love tiki cocktails? Then you’ll probably already know of Georgi Radev. After managing London’s tiki outpost Mahiki for more than a decade, he opened his own rum embassy, Laki Kane, in 2018. It’s even got its own rum microdistillery upstairs (head on down and you can even re-distil your own!). Now he’s evangelising about all things rum through the written word with Let’s Get Tropical, a recipe book detailing over 60 delicious serves. The best bit? They’re all curated so we can make them easily at home! It starts with super-easy how-tos, from how to make a sugar syrup to learning to swizzle properly. Then Radev cracks on to the good stuff. He’s packed in the classics (the likes of Daiquiris and Mai Tais, with optional twists and reinventions) and then he’s treated us to some ‘Modern Tropical’ cocktails form his own imagination. There are punches, if you need to impress the masses, and even treats from the current Laki Kane menu, including the mouth-watering watermelon-based Wiki Tiki (we tasted it at the book launch. It was wonderful). If you’re prepping for a summer party, Let’s Get Tropical is essential reading. It’s priced at £9.99, and hits UK shelves in May!

The Nightcap

Introducing: Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 Batch 1

Benromach launches new cask strength expression

We do love a story about more new whisky, and that’s exactly what Benromach Distillery has given us this week. The family-owned distillery has a new addition to its Classic Range, Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 Batch 1. The limited-run single malt whisky was laid down in 2008 and matured in a combination of first-fill sherry and bourbon casks. It was then bottled in 2019 at a cask strength 57.9% ABV with an outturn of 5,500 bottles. According to Benromach, the rich and full-bodied dram has notes of cracked black pepper, fruits and milk chocolate, with a delicate smoky edge on the palate. The bottle itself was created to mirror the shapes and textures of the Speyside distillery and will detail the vintage year, batch number and age. “By offering the opportunity to own and enjoy batch releases, we are able to further showcase the expertise of our distilling team while determining the right time to bottle each batch to take full advantage of the remarkable single malt whiskies we produce,” said Keith Cruickshank, Benromach distillery manager. “We believe this expression will allow Benromach drinkers to understand more about the provenance of the whisky they are drinking.” We’ve got some on the way to MoM Towers so keep an eye out, folks!

The Nightcap

We think it’s safe a bottle of this beauty wouldn’t be Money for Nothing

Sultans of Gin! Former Dire Straits frontman teams up with Portobello Road

London dry gin brand Portobello Road has partnered with the legendary Mark Knopfler OBE (if you haven’t heard of him or Dire Straits, then get your act together) to make a distinctive, special edition ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ gin, Local Heroes No.3. It’s a move that’s as awesome as it was inevitable. (He had a song called Portobello Belle, folks. It was only ever a matter of time.) Local Heroes No.3 was created by Knopfler and Portobello Road Gin’s co-founder, Jake F. Burger using the nine botanicals from its Portobello Road Gin with the addition of lime zest, fresh cucumber peel and olive oil, which were distilled in the 400-litre copper alembic still King Henry, then bottled and labelled by hand. The label design is understandably guitar-themed, and each bottle even comes with a miniature version of Knopfler’s iconic sweatband from his Dire Straits gigs. “As a gin fan, it is a wonderful opportunity to work with a prestigious brand like Portobello Road Gin to craft my own blend,” said Knopfler. “It is robust in flavour and strong in spice – exactly the kind of gin that I enjoy and I hope my fans will too.” Burger added: “It is a huge honour to be able to work with Mark to create a London Dry Gin with a rock n roll edge. As expected, the flavours are totally unique and we believe the result is extremely exciting. So why not mix yourself a cocktail, turn the stereo up and listen to one of Mark’s many classic albums?”

The Nightcap

Founder Annabel Thomas wants to encourage more women to work in whisky

Ncn’ean offers whisky-making internships for women

Scotland’s first 100% organic whisky distillery is offering two women the opportunity to learn to make whisky, from mashing and distilling through to maturation, with two all-expenses-paid summer internships. Ncn’ean Distillery, situated in converted farm steadings on the grounds of the historic Drimnin Estate on the Morvern peninsula, will also teach interns how to forage for the local plants that are used in Ncn’ean’s Botanical Spirit and how to make cocktails. Annabel Thomas, founder of Ncn’ean, launched the initiative to raise the profile of distilling as a career option among women. “I wanted to challenge the outdated views a lot of people still have,” she explained. “The number of times people ask me ‘do you actually like whisky?’ just because I am a woman, and the lack of gender balance in the industry in Scotland, suggests we all still have more work to do.” She said she hopes women from all walks of life will apply. So, if you fancy trying your hand as a distiller then you should probably get applying! The internships are open to all women aged 18 or over and will take place from 15-20 July. All travel, accommodation and food are included. It sounds like it could be the opportunity of a lifetime!

Hannah Lanfear, Phil Duffy, and plenty of Cognac

Culture Cognac champions Cognac cocktails – we approve

This week, we hot-footed it over to East London for an educational Cognac immersion with the UK’s brand of the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac – and it was brilliant! The UK Cognac Bureau put on the Culture Cognac workshop for the trade to highlight the spirit’s role in contemporary cocktails. Phil Duffy and Hannah Lanfear chatted through production choices (think: terroir, grapes, barrels, ageing and more) and how they influence flavour – clearly vital when it comes to cocktails. “It’s so positive to see the Cognac category continuing to grow in popularity, now more than ever, which is of course due to London’s love of cocktails being at an all-time high,” said Duffy. “Cognac is no doubt one of the most versatile spirits and is one of the hottest cocktail ingredients going.” The team from The Devil’s Darling bar helped out with the serves. Feeling inspired? Why not check out the Brandy Sour and give it a go this weekend?

Think about playing Monopoly with your Tequila-loving friends? Maybe think again…

And finally… Science suggests we shouldn’t trust Tequila drinkers

This week a mighty intriguing press release crossed our desks. Apparently, you can tell how likely someone is to cheat by their booze preference. This is from ghost-writing company EduBirdie, and is clearly Highly Scientific. Ahem. Anyway, it surveyed 18-24 year olds in the US and from more than 2,000 responses, somehow concluded that wine drinkers are by far the most reliable: only 16% admitted to cheating at school, with just 8% fessing up to cheating romantically. Whisky drinkers were less angelic; just over a third said they had cheated on a partner, and 78%(!) cheated at school. Beer drinkers were (slightly) more honest academically, with 68% saying they’d cheated at school – but almost half had cheated in a relationship. Then, we have the Tequila fans. While a third said they’d cheated at school, a whopping 81% said they’d cheated on a partner. We’re an office of whisky and agave lovers, and we’re shook.

On that revelatory note – that’s it for The Nightcap this week. Have a great weekend (and if you’ve got a date, give the Tequila a wide berth).

No Comments on The Nightcap: 26 April

The Nightcap: 1 March

Pinch, punch, the first of the month, March is here! Happy St. David’s Day if you’re celebrating, and happy weekend, too! But before you crack on with the festivities, we’ve…

Pinch, punch, the first of the month, March is here! Happy St. David’s Day if you’re celebrating, and happy weekend, too! But before you crack on with the festivities, we’ve got all the booze news stories you need from the week that was.

Spring has sprung! Birds are singing, the daffodils are out… and this week MoM HQ has been sweltering in temperatures most usually seen in July. We’ve cracked out the Highballs, the floral gins, the light mark rums, and we’ve had a lovely time (global warming concerns aside). But it’s not all been high-jinks – there have been news and features aplenty, too!

First up, our Annie met Jim Meehan, co-founder of Banks Rums, and she also checked out Muyu, a new Amazon-inspired liqueur for liquid luminaries Monica Berg, Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale. Then Henry shared an Ardbeg tasting sesh – he put his palate through its paces with Brendan McCarron, who looks after the maturing whisky stocks at both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. But that wasn’t enough for Henry – he then limbered up his nose with The Balvenie’s Alwynne Gwilt. What a week!

But we’re not done yet. Adam travelled to London to get the lowdown on Glen Grant from superfan Jim Murray (yes, the Mr Murray), and Our Cocktail of the Week was the Elderflower Collins. Oh, and we investigated the most delicious gins on the globe following the announcement of the World Gin Awards 2019. And we revealed what this month’s Dram Club members will be discovering in their boxes! We are good to you.

But what else has happened in the world of booze? LOADS, that’s what. Don’t believe us? Just read on, my friend.

We can’t wait to see the transformed Bunnahabhain distillery

Bunnahabhain gets £10.5 million distillery revamp

Islay fans: we have big distillery news. Bunnahabhain, tucked away on the island’s north coast, is in the throes of a significant expansion project! The £10.5 million transformation, funded by parent company Distell International, will see the creation of a ‘brand home’ and visitor centre complete with a shop and café overlooking the stunning Sound of Islay. Also new will be a shiny filling store, while the production building and cottages will be restored, creating on-site holiday accommodation. A number of original distillery buildings will be also be revived, while others, notably old warehouses, will be removed to make room for the new buildings, and improve operational flow. Work is already underway, with an impressive 99% of materials removed already repurposed for use on-site. “The plans aim to make the navigation of the site much easier for the visitor and to, in simple terms, declutter it,” said Derek Scott, Distell’s brand director for malts. He continued: “As the most remote and northerly distillery on the island, our transformation will give those who have made the journey time to pause, forget about the rest of the world and enjoy the serene surroundings.” The visitor centre should be ready in time for the 2020 season – we can’t wait.

Hopefully things will begin to look up for the Gautier Cognac parent

La Martiniquaise owner to take over most of Marie Brizard

French drinks group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits looks likely to be taken over by main shareholder COFEPP, hopefully concluding a troubled couple of years for the Gautier Cognac and Sobieski vodka parent. In a statement, the company said the French authorities had approved the COFEPP bid, as long as certain conditions are met. These include selling off Porto Pitters and Ticaz Tequila to meet competition concerns. It’s an interesting move for COFEPP, which already owns both La Martiniquaise and Bardinet (think: Glen Moray single malt Scotch, Label 5 blended Scotch, Saint James rum and Poliakov vodka). Could France be about to see a new super-power drinks group take shape?

One of Port Ellen’s oldest, and most exciting, releases.

Port Ellen releases a 39 year old single malt

In a move that will get Scotch whisky lovers salivating, Diageo has announced that it will release a 39 year old single malt from Port Ellen in April. This is one of the oldest ever releases from the distillery that closed in 1983 (but is scheduled to start distilling again in 2021). The new release is grandly called Port Ellen: Untold Stories The Spirit Safe, and is the first in a new series of releases called the Untold Stories Series. It has been matured in both American oak ex-bourbon and European oak ex-sherry refill casks. “This release has been selected from a small number of casks, it is very different to other Port Ellen releases,” said Tom Jones, global prestige brand ambassador. It’s being released at 50.9% ABV and only 1,500 bottles have been filled. As you’d expect from perhaps the most in-demand ghost distillery in the world, it’s expensive, weighing in at £4,500 (although something of a bargain compared with some recent Macallan bottlings…).

Too much paperwork means less time to spend on wine

Spare a thought for wine inspectors set to ‘drown in paperwork’

Yep, more Brexit news, folks. The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has issued yet more warnings as part of its #NoToNoDeal campaign. The association is claiming that wine inspectors will be left ‘drowning in paperwork’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with red tape expected to result in 600,000 additional forms. The cost of all this extra admin? £70 million, according to WSTA stats. Why? Importers will need oodles more boxes to be ticked, from laboratory tests to potential tariffs. V1 forms – currently required for wines coming in from outside the EU – cost £20 per form, and must be filled in by hand. Best stock up on ink cartridges, as 55% of wine consumed in the UK comes from the EU. “The additional form filling and laboratory tests required for a no deal scenario will come as a real blow to exporters and importers alike,” said Miles Beale, WSTA chief exec. “Wine inspectors will find themselves drowning in paperwork and – unless they can double their workforce – wine consignments are going to be held up by unnecessary additional red tape. The reality is that if we leave the EU without a deal, wine businesses, big and small, will be facing a catalogue of extra costs which will ultimately be passed onto the British consumer.” But there’s no need to panic – by all accounts, importers are already stocking up. The wine should keep flowing.

Say hello to the wonderful Method and Madness Gin!

First release of Method and Madness Gin

Irish Distillers has unveiled Method and Madness Gin, the micro-distillery’s inaugural gin release! The bottling pays homage to the historic links to gin in Cork, while also pushing the modern boundaries of (g)innovation. The spirit was predominantly based around Irish Distillers’ pot still Cork Crimson Gin in 2005, which also took inspiration from traditional recipes dating back to 1798, found in a notebook kept in the distillery. It is distilled in ‘Mickey’s Belly’, Ireland’s oldest gin still, first commissioned at the site in 1958. The equipment is named after Michael Hurley, who was a distiller at Midleton for 45 years. Both he and the still came from Cork to Midleton, and so it was christened. The earthy citrus gin marries 16 botanicals, and Henry Donnelly, apprentice distiller, commented that to “combine the knowledge and tools of the past with the skills of the present to create a gin for the future has been a real honour”. The range is a fine use of Shakespeare’s iconic line, we’d say. Method and Madness gin is available in Ireland and global travel retail from March, and will be released globally from July.

Campbell Brown, who shouldn’t have any trouble finding a dram to toast this success

Double-win for Brown-Forman at the 2019 Icons of Whisky America Awards

What’s better than one award? Two awards, of course! The Brown-Forman Corporation will know all about that after Whisky Magazine has named the company Distiller of the Year and Juan Merizalde Carrillo of Old Forester Distilling Co. as Distillery Manager of the Year at the 2019 Icons of Whisky America Awards! Brown-Forman will now hope they can repeat the trick at Global Icons of Whisky presented in London this spring, where competition will come from contemporaries in Whisky Magazine’s other regions; Australia, India, Ireland, Rest of World and Scotland. “We are honoured to receive this award in recognition of our almost 150-year history as distillers and for our contributions and commitments to the spirits industry,” said Lawson Whiting, Brown-Forman CEO. “We continue to craft American whiskeys the best way we know how – with care, patience, and pride.” Campbell Brown, president of Old Forester added. “We are proud to celebrate Juan who is a great contributor to the success of Old Forester. Juan’s balance of technical expertise and passion for crafting great bourbon ensures that the Old Forester promise is as it has always been – to produce bourbon of the finest quality and utmost consistency.” Congratulations guys! I think a celebratory dram is in order…

 

Penderyn celebrates Welsh whisky ancestors on St David’s Day

Patriotic Penderyn has made a habit of honouring the patron saint of Wales with great whisky, and that’s not about to stop this year. The first distillery in Wales for 100 years has created a new Penderyn ‘Icons of Wales‘ single malt expression, the sixth edition in the series. Named Penderyn Royal Welsh Whisky as a nod to its distilling predecessors, the previous Welsh Whisky Company, it’s a peated whisky with a port wood finish that was bottled at 43% ABV. It was modelled on an original 19th century bottle that became the Royal Welsh Whisky after it received a royal warrant on 26 July 1895 (Queen Vic was obviously impressed on her 1891 visit). However, the company was wound up in 1903 after period of difficulty and little is now known about the original whisky. Adverts state that it was a five-year-old peated malt and, rather fancifully, was “the most wonderful whisky that ever drove the skeleton from the feast, or painted landscapes in the brain of man”. Little wonder bottles of Royal Welsh Whisky now sell for several thousand pounds! Stephen Davies, managing director of Penderyn, commented: “This is a great chance to celebrate Wales’ whisky heritage and the original Welsh Whisky company at Frongoch. Creating a global brand is a massive challenge, and we are proud to create award-winning whiskies which travel from Wales to the world, and this bottle pays homage to those early Welsh whisky pioneers.” Penderyn Royal Welsh Whisky is priced at £45 and sounds royally delicious – Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, everyone!

Diageo just can’t get enough of this stuff!

Diageo gets taste for baijiu, wants more of Shui Jing Fang

Last year we reported that Diageo wanted in on the baijiu action, upping its stake in producer Shui Jing Fang from 39.7% to 60%. This week, the company confirmed it is after more, and has made an offer to increase its shareholding to 70%. And given baijiu’s popularity, it’s an interesting move. The Chinese white spirit is the most widely-consumed liquor in the world – and is the most valuable (yes, even beating whisky!). According to the 2018 Brand Finance Spirits 50 report, baijiu brand Moutai alone is worth a whopping US$21.2 billion. By comparison, Johnnie Walker, the world’s most valuable Scotch brand, is worth US$4.3bn. The time for baijiu has come!

Books and booze are a brilliant combination

The Bloomsbury Club Bar unveils literary cocktails for World Book Day

A good book plus a delicious dram? We’ve fallen in love all over again with that simple joy recently. So when news reached us that London’s The Bloomsbury Club Bar has created a literary-themed cocktail menu for World Book Day on 7 March, we were all ears. To honour the Bloomsbury Set of writers, philosophers and artists, the bar is encouraging guests to bring in a paperback book which they can trade for a complimentary cocktail. The books will then be donated to a local charitable bookshop! The four cocktails on the special menu include the mysteriously smoking JK Rowling, make with Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, ginger, honey, lemon, and Lapsang tea aroma; and the Roald Dahl, crafted with Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros, peach liqueur, dry vermouth, and grenadine, and comes complete with a giant chocolate ear. Other authors in the line-up include TS Eliot and Charles Dickens. The whole thing was developed by newly-appointed head bartender Scott Gavin in partnership with drinks group Pernod Ricard. Can’t bear to give up a beloved book? You can still enjoy a serve, you’ll just have to part with £12 instead.

BrewDog takes to the skies

And finally… BrewDog Airlines takes off

Not content with making beer, running pubs and launching a hotel, self-effacing Scottish brewer BrewDog has now taken to the skies. This week, the inaugural flight of BrewDog Airlines took off from London Stansted to Columbus, Ohio. On board, a group of paying customers along with a smattering of journalists were treated to a selection of brews, including an IPA especially designed to taste good at altitude. One of the lucky few was award-winning beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones who told us it was a very jolly experience: “everyone was very well behaved. I’ve seen more pissed people on a flight to Tenerife.” The only slight problem was that the lavatory tanks on the Boeing 767 weren’t designed to cope with all the, ahem, liquid produced by 200 British beer lovers. Tierney-Jones tweeted on landing: “Loos had to close two hours before landing such was the volume of micturition…” Apparently there were some serious queues for the toilets when they landed. We can picture the debrief at BrewDog HQ: “We’re going to need a bigger plane.”

Have a marvellous weekend, folks!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 1 March

The Nightcap: 22 February

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap! Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s…

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap!

Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s also National Margarita Day, so if you’re not reading this edition of The Nightcap with a freshly-prepared Margarita, please feel free to prod anyone in arm’s reach and ask them kindly if they’d like to make you one. Or go make one for yourself and the aforementioned person in arm’s reach. Either way, ensure a tasty lime-and-Tequila-based beverage is in-hand before proceeding to read The Nightcap.

So, what’s been happening on the MoM blog this week? Henry taught us how to make a Margarita for our Cocktail of the Week, and hopped over to Ireland to check out the Dublin Liberties Distillery opening. Annie showed us the best time-saving treats for your home bar, and dug into the history of the Rat Pack and its connection to J&B Rare. Adam looked to the west and picked out some terrific Welsh drinks to celebrate St. David’s Day with. Oh, and we launched a gin. And won the Icons of Gin Online Retail of the Year award. As you do.

On with the remainder of the news!

Your love of Jim Beam meant it exceeded 10 million case sales!

Japanese gin and Jim Beam bolster Beam Suntory’s 2018 results

It was Beam Suntory’s turn to unveil those all-important 2018 numbers this week, and they make encouraging reading. Bourbon first, and Jim Beam continued its “strong momentum” to exceed 10 million case sales, while Makers Mark posted “double-digit” gains, passing the two million case-mark for the first time (that’s a lot of bourbon). Cognac brand Courvoisier and Canadian Club whisky contributed “high single-digit growth”, with Hornitos Tequila also performing well. But gin is well and truly in for Beam Suntory. Sipsmith’s growth was in double figures, while ROKU Japanese Craft Gin, which entered 31 new markets, “inspired strong sales”. Overall, Beam Suntory posted “mid-single-digit” sales gains. Cryptic, but clearly all’s well at the American-Japanese drinks group. Looking to future growth, Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings Limited president and CEO, said in the financial results: “The key will be to continue providing high quality products like The Premium Malts and Jim Beam, and creating strong brands that are loved by consumers. In order to do this, we need to develop and grow premium products that have new value, which our rivals cannot offer.” Bring it on!

So this is what the future looks like…

Penderyn gets the green light for its second distillery!

Exciting distillery news alert, especially with St. David’s Day approaching – Welsh whisky producer Penderyn has got the go-ahead to open a second distillery! Planning permission for the new Swansea site was granted earlier this week, meaning work to transform the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site can get under way later this year. “Penderyn is delighted to bring a copper-based industry back to this area,” said Stephen Davies, Penderyn’s chief executive. “Once opened, we hope to see up to 100,000 visitors a year, and it will become one of the major attractions in the area. This all helps us promote our whiskies from Wales to the world.” The Lottery Heritage Foundation awarded £3.75 million to the project, which will comprise an exhibition area detailing the history of the copperworks, shop, tasting bar, conference suite and, of course, the distillery It’s all expected to open in 2022. Llongyfarchiadau, Team Penderyn!

A work of art – and that’s just the whisky!

Compass Box releases Leonardo da Vinci-inspired whisky

Just to remind us that blended whiskies can be seriously swanky comes a new release from the master of mixing, Compass Box. Called Tobias & the Angel, it’s named after a work by Verrocchio-Leonardo (meaning that it was painted at the school of Andrea del Verrocchio by Leonardo) hanging in the National Gallery in London depicting the biblical story of Tobias. The whisky is a blend of 24 year old Clynelish aged in American oak hogsheads and a peated Caol Ila of “considerably older age”, according to Compass Box. Founder John Glaser said: “For nearly 20 years, since we created our malt blend called Eleuthera in 2002, we have held a special reverence for the two distilleries used in Tobias and the Angel. That’s when I first discovered how perfectly these single malts complement each other. When we were recently offered extremely old and special parcels of whiskies from these two distilleries, I was compelled to put them together again.” He went on to say: “For this whisky, the name of the biblical story Tobias & the Angel just felt right; it seemed to reflect the personality of the two whiskies in this recipe. Searching through the many depictions of the story over the centuries, the Verrocchio-Leonardo painting had the beauty and the gravitas we wanted for this special creation.” Only 2,634 bottles will be produced and they will retail for around £450 ($500).

It’s time to party like your distillery manager used to work at a rum distillery in the 60s.

Ardbeg Day 2019: Time to get out your maracas

Well, have we got news for you. It turns out that the Islay-based Ardbeg distillery actually has some old connections to the Caribbean. Hamish Scott, Ardbeg’s distillery manager from 1964 to 1967, used to fill the same role at a rum distillery! Ardbeg Day has quite a reputation, with locals transforming everything from tractors to wheelbarrows into magnificent floats. Hence, on 1 June, during the famed Fèis Ìle Festival, Ardbeg Committee Members from around the world will gather in celebration of this year’s limited edition bottling, Ardbeg Drum. Dubbed a “peaty excuse for a party”, the single malt whisky has been matured in bourbon casks and finished in rum casks from the Americas, which should make for a rather interesting dram. It looks like this bottling will be as flamboyant as the celebrations surrounding it! The Committee release will go on sale from 5 March, though only a limited number of bottles will be released – let the festivities begin!

The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, in all its glory.

The GlenDronach announces limited release 1993 Master Vintage

If you’ve ever enjoyed the pleasures of a Scotch whisky from Highland distillery GlenDronach (if you haven’t you need to correct this ASAP), then you’ll know that the brand specialises in bold, rich and predominantly sherried single malts. The distillery’s new release, The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, is no exception. The liquid in some sherry casks filled in 1993 proved so exceptional that the distillery did the sensible thing and bottled some of it! The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie, personally hand-selected the Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks used in this twenty-five-year-old expression, which was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. “With a quarter of a century slowly maturing in our renowned Andalucían casks, The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 Aged 25 Years has developed profound layers of depth and complexity, leading to an exceedingly long, voluptuous and memorable finish,” said Dr. Barrie. “Fans of The GlenDronach’s traditional Highland Single Malt can expect rich brandy-laced fruitcake on the nose, cocoa-dusted coffee and sultana brioche on the palate and lingering pecan toffee notes in the finish. I hope sherry cask connoisseurs around the world enjoy The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, as an example of the finest sherry cask maturation.” Well, that sounds amazing. Is anyone else salivating a little?

Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

Balcones readies new pot still bourbon

Hang on to your hats, American whiskey fans! Waco-based distillery Balcones has a new addition to its core range. Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon! Made using the brand’s Forsyth pot stills and aged for 24 months in new charred oak barrels, the mash bill features roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye and malted barley. The result? An intriguing straight bourbon bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV). “Texas Pot Still Bourbon is about inclusivity,” said Jared Himstedt, head distiller at Balcones. “We wanted to create something that both long-time Balcones enthusiasts and people who are experiencing us for the first time can appreciate. By delivering flavour complexity within an approachable taste profile, we can introduce more people to the nuance of what we do.” Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon should be with us in the second half of 2019, but if you really can’t wait and fancy a trip to the US, you can get it from Texas, Florida and California now, priced at US$29.99.

The Dalmore and Massimo Bottura Present The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years.

Folks, we have Dalmore news! There’s a new expression on the block, and this one comes with some significant age. The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years was created by master distiller Richard Paterson and Massimo Bottura, owner of three-Michelin starred Osteria Francescana in Modena (voted the best restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2018). 49 years-matured. Michelin-star chef. Dalmore. This should be good. Dalmore L’Anima – meaning soul in Italian – was inspired by Bottura and Paterson’s shared love of creativity, innovation and flavour. The 41.5% ABV cask-strength, natural colour expression is a marriage of Dalmore expressions previously matured in freshly-emptied small batch bourbon barrels; Gonzalez Byass casks which previously held 40 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry; and Graham’s vintage Port pipes. How does it taste? Sunkissed raisins, bitter chocolate, old English marmalade; freshly brewed Java coffee, Demerara sugar, pecan pie and crème brûlée, according to the tasting notes. But the most pleasing aspect of this new expression? It will be auctioned at Sotheby’s later this year raising funds for Bottura’s non-profit Food For Soul, which tackles fight food waste through social inclusion. “Bottura’s approach to deconstructing and reinventing daring food pairings is very similar to the way I approach whisky making,” said Paterson. “The coming together of our passions allowed me to create a whisky that is bold, different, full of warmth and completely unforgettable – it is a true reflection of the love, blood and balsamic that unites us.” Delightful.

The House of Peroni is a fully immersive experience

Introducing The House of Peroni 2019

Peroni Nastro Azzurro has kicked off its House of Peroni 2019 activation! The multi-sensory immersive experience is set London’s Covent Garden and features eight different spaces, inspired by eight emerging fashion designers. For example, the Sicily space focuses on light that recreates the Sicilian sky, the Nature and Maximalism room is full of botanical scents and a wall of man-made flowers, and the Future and Sci Fi area transports visitors to a futuristic time through industrial city sounds. Then there is, of course, the bar! Visitors are invited to sip on a selection of Peroni-infused cocktails crafted by Manchester-based bartender Sam Taylor, who has been mentored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s master of mixology, Simone Caporale. Taylor was scouted from a nationwide search for the best bartending talent, so expect great things from his creations! Each tipple is inspired by each of the eight designers, plus there’s Peroni Libera 0.0%, an alcohol-free serve just as stylish as its boozy counterparts. Just goes to show the Italian beer brand can keep up with current low alcohol trends. 2019 marks the seventh outing for the House of Peroni concept, which runs until 9 March.

Congratulations Scott Gavin!

Scott Gavin appointed bar manager at The Bloomsbury Club Bar

The Bloomsbury Club Bar, London, has a new bar manager. It’s UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin! With over 10 years of international experience in high-end hotels, independent cocktail bars and immersive bar outfits, Gavin began his career in 2006 in sunny Malta at Twentytwo, the island’s most prestigious bar. He returned to the UK in 2012 to become head bartender at the award-winning Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, before spending two years as senior bartender at the sublime Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London. His first managerial role was at industry haunt NOLA, where he helped relaunch the bar. He also frequently collaborates with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. That’s some career, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to The Bloomsbury Club Bar. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team,” said Gavin. “The Bloomsbury Club Bar has been really innovative in the way it works with brands and other bars across the world. This position will be a new challenge for me and I’m excited to help continue raising the profile of the bar in London and worldwide.” Best of luck, Mr. Gavin!

Golden Barrel LeClarc Briant

Behold! The golden barrel!

And finally… For the wine lover who has everything, how about Champagne aged in 24-carat gold?

Winemakers love experimenting with fermentation vessels. Wines can be made in oak casks, concrete tanks, stainless steel vats, and even clay amphora, just like in Roman times. But now one Champagne producer has come up with the blingiest way to make wine yet: in a gold barrel. According to The Drinks Business, Champagne house Leclerc Briant will be releasing a wine fermented and aged in a stainless steel barrel lined with 24-carat gold some time in 2021. When asked what was the point of a gold-plated barrel, winemaker Hervé Jestin talked about “a resonance between solar energy and the wine”. He then went on to say that the gold would “increase the level of solar activity during the first fermentation” and “makes a connection with cosmic activity”. We’ll have what he’s having!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 22 February

Eight beers you have to try in 2019

Explore the endless possibilities found in the brilliant world of beer with this super selection. It boggles the mind why anyone would want to live in a state of booze-based…

Explore the endless possibilities found in the brilliant world of beer with this super selection.

It boggles the mind why anyone would want to live in a state of booze-based monogamy when choices have never been wider and more intriguing in all categories. There’s no excuse to squander the opportunity to taste and explore with so much great stuff just waiting to be appreciated.

Take beer, for example. It’s been produced, sold and enjoyed all over the world for generations and boasts an incredible range of varieties. There are bitters, blondes, APAs, IPAs, fruit beers, low-alcohol bottlings, lagers and pilsners, and porters and stouts among others, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Variety is very much the spice (or should that be hop?) of life, after all.

So, make 2019 all about playing the field. We’ve listed a beer from each of the aforementioned categories so there’s no excuse not to broaden your beer-based horizons. It’s our round-up of eight beers you have to try in 2019!

Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA Can

The Yeastie Boys’ award-winning new world IPA with an old-world influence, Gunnamatta Earl Grey, was inspired by the pale ales that travelled from England to the East Indies but also by all that precious tea that returned on those same ships. That’s why it features a healthy dose of Earl Grey Blue Flower. It was also influenced by the instrumental surf rock opening track of Paul Kelly’s 2004 album ‘Ways and Means’. There’s just so much going on here.

Style:

Indian Pale Ale (IPA).

What does it taste like?:

Jasmine, lots of bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, ice tea, herbal, late overripe tropical fruit and leafiness.

Troubadour Blonde

For some, Belgium is the greatest beer-brewing nation in the world. Many of its styles were copied and modified as part of the craft revolution, and the country is renowned for its vast array of traditional and modern beers. This from the excellent Troubadour range is a classic Belgian Blonde, a subtle, light, and dry style of beer that pairs really with spicy food, cheese and summer days.

Style:

Blonde.

What does it taste like?:

Well balanced, with citrus fruit at the fore (think grapefruit and lemon for this one) and grassy hops playing around in the background. Hearty yeast influence too.

Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale

London-based brewery Beavertown was founded by Logan Plant, the son of legendary Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, but the company has very much forged its own identity with innovative brews and its brightly-coloured, graphic novel-style label designs. This American pale ale was made with best pale, caragold and caramel malts as well as Columbus, Bravo, Amarillo, Citra and Calypso hops (dry-hopped for days). It’s a big, hoppy and fresh beer with a deliciously drinkable juicy, tropical character, and thankfully no radioactive side effects.

Style:

American Pale Ale (APA)

What does it taste like?:

Golden tropical notes, grapefruit, integrated malt and gorgeous hoppiness.

Moritz Can

Moritz is something of an iconic name in beer; the brewery’s first release was way back in 1856. After period of obscurity, the company resurfaced in 2004, thanks to the descendants of the Moritz family, who relaunched the brand to much success. This is its core release, a pale Pilsner made with mineral water from the Font d’Or, pale malts and Saaz hops. It’s a clean, crisp and delightfully malty beer from the brand behind Barcelona’s original beer.

Style:

Lager/Pilsner

What does it taste like?:

Refreshing lemon and crisp grains, with pepper hops coming alongside subtle bready hints.

Wild Beer Sleeping Lemons

You don’t have to travel to Belgium to get your hands on a decent fruit beer anymore. The fun and refreshing take on the classic pint is represented brilliantly here from The Wild Beer Co., who boast quite a range of vibrantly-flavoured beers. Lemons that were first preserved in salt were used here in a beer that packs a tart, acidic bite and pleasant salinity without compromising the character of its malt and hops.

Style:

Fruit beer

What does it taste like?:

Tart lemons, apple and hay before the introduction of the sea salt notes, with a hint of flint too.

Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter

In what is almost certainly the finest way to share Iceland’s amazing water with the world, this toasted porter from Einstök Ölgerð in Iceland was brewed with Icelandic roasted coffee, lager malt, Munich malt, chocolate malt, Bavarian hops and pure Icelandic water. The result is a robust, supple and very drinkable porter.

Style:

Porter

What does it taste like?:

Roasty and toasty with dark mocha and bitter treacle.

Adnams Broadside

Adnams Broadside was first brewed in 1972 to commemorate the battle of Sole Bay fought against the Dutch Republic in 1672 just off the Southwold coast, close to the brewery. There’s not just history to be enjoyed here, however, Broadside is a delightfully dark and rich bitter that was brewed with pale and chocolate malt and First Gold hops. Pair with good, hearty home-cooked food (think stews, pies etc.) to make the most of it.

Style:

Bitter

What does it taste like?:

Full-bodied and rich, notes of fruitcake, red berries, warming malt and dark caramel. A touch of almonds lingers on the finish.

BrewDog Nanny State

Low-alcohol tipples are becoming all the rage, so it’s worth seeing what all the fuss is about. This is Nanny State, BrewDog’s take on the category, weighing in at a mighty 0.5% ABV. However, a hearty helping of hops, including Centennial, Amarillo, Columbus, Cascade and Simcoe, as well as plenty of dry hops means this is still a flavoursome brew.

Style:

Low-Alcohol Beer.

What does it taste like?:

Yep, this is well-hopped indeed – loads of orange, grapefruit, mango and pine, with a little bit of biscuit-y malt shining through.

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The Nightcap: 18 January

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to…

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to drink. Yes, it’s time for… The Nightcap!

This week we went Robert Burns crazy with the launch of our poetry competition. We’ve already been inundated with entries, and the winner will be announced on Burns Night itself (25 January.) Then continuing with the Burns theme, Adam rounded up some Scotch whiskies that would have brought a smile to the Bard’s face. Annie looked at some unusual bottles: rye whiskies from Britain, and peat-smoked spirits from everywhere except Scotland (not sure Burns would have approved.) Our Cocktail of the Week was that tiki classic, the Zombie. Kristy visited the Wolfburn Distillery and spoke to top glass maker Denver Cramer about how to get the most out of your nose.

Lots to get your teeth into! And now it’s time for booze news. Here we go!

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Terrific New Year’s Tipples

A perfect New Year is all about family, friends, and the finest food and booze. This sublime selection of spirits, wines and beers will help you see in 2019 in…

A perfect New Year is all about family, friends, and the finest food and booze. This sublime selection of spirits, wines and beers will help you see in 2019 in style.

Let’s face, a lot of people have turned on New Year’s Eve. The over-priced, watered-down drinks. The insane queues and extortionate entry fees. The overwhelming pressure to have a good time. The dreaded annual Hootenanny …

Well, blow that for a game of soldiers! Put the enjoyment of New Year’s back on your own terms this year, starting with booze. Whether you’ve finally given up on the hype and are settling in for a night on the sofa, going to a house party to enjoy a drink among friends and family or preparing to brave the town, make sure you’ve got a terrific tipple in your hand.

From spectacular spirits, classic Champers and welcome post-Xmas bargains, we’ve got everything you need, right here. Happy New Year everyone!

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What happened when we visited the UK’s first alcohol-free brewery

‘No-alcohol’ is the biggest beer trend since ‘craft’, and the UK’s first alcohol-free brewery, London’s Nirvana Brewery, is proof. We stopped by for a chat with co-founder Steve Dass, to…

‘No-alcohol’ is the biggest beer trend since ‘craft’, and the UK’s first alcohol-free brewery, London’s Nirvana Brewery, is proof. We stopped by for a chat with co-founder Steve Dass, to discover how and why a passionate beer lover would choose to brew sans booze…

If magic happens when barley meets water, hops and yeast, the work of Dass and his team at Nirvana Brewery, the UK’s first alcohol-free brewery – and the only organic brewery in London, as certified by the Soil Association – is entirely cosmic.

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