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The Nightcap: 17 May

It’s Friday, and around these parts, that means one thing – it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap! Imagine the scenario – last Friday evening, you felt a bit…

It’s Friday, and around these parts, that means one thing – it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap!

Imagine the scenario – last Friday evening, you felt a bit tired. You yawned, looking at your watch or at a clock on the wall or at your phone – it doesn’t really matter where you look to find out the time. All that matters is that it was time to go to sleep. However, instead of sleeping in a bed, you decided to go to sleep under a rock. For a week. Imagine that. Now, if you have been under a rock since last week, you’ll want to know what’s happened during said week, and we’ve got all the booze news right here in The Nightcap for you! Wow, that was a pretty far fetched introduction, even for us.

On the blog this week Henry kicked things off on World Cocktail Day (on a Monday, of all days!) with our Cocktail of the Week, The Pornstar Martini, then talked Venezualan rum with The Diplomático Distillery. Guest writer Nate Brown made a passionate plea for bars to prioritise all customers, Annie explored the new range from Sweden’s High Coast Distillery and Kristy indulged our love of Japanese spirits with our New Arrival of the Week, Haku Vodka. Adam meanwhile helped you prep for Fèis Ìle 2019 in the only way we know how, before he and Camden’s Croque Monsieur celebrated absinthe. Oh, and we’ve also launched another incredible competition, where you could win a VIP trip to Mortlach Distillery!

Now, on with the news!

The Nightcap

A classic of the genre returns!

Classic Islay whisky book reissued

One of the best whisky books of the last 20 years was Peat Smoke and Fire by Andrew Jefford which was published in 2004. Jefford, best known as a wine writer, applied a lyrical touch in this hymn to Islay’s culture, history and whiskies which were at the time relatively unknown except by the cognoscenti. Back then, you could pick up a bottle of Port Ellen, for example, for around £100 as opposed to the thousands you’d pay today. Oh, to have saved a few then! Fast forward 15 years and the island is booming with two new distilleries since the book was published, Kilchoman and Ardnahoe, and Fèis Ìle, the island’s annual festival, becoming an international tourist event. So, it’s a good time to republish this classic book now under the slightly less evocative title of Whisky Island, with a forward by Dave Broom. It’s a must read for peatheads everywhere.

The Nightcap

Who wouldn’t want a garden full of gin botanicals?

Kyrö brings first Finnish garden to Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show and Kyrö Distillery have joined forces, with the distillery bringing the first ever Finnish garden to the ‘Space to Grow’ class! The brains behind this stunning show belong to Finnish landscape designer, horticulturist and environmental biologist Taina Suonio. The garden is inspired by Kyrö’s delicious Napue Gin, with plants native to the Finnish meadows and woodlands, while the display will also stress the importance of pollinators with a butterfly garden. “Taina has done excellent work in creating a garden that reflects the Finnish countryside and the botanicals we use to make our gin”, says Kyrö’s Managing Director Miika Lipiäinen. “Out of all of the raw materials presented in the garden, we could actually distil a gin.” Maybe we’ll take our still along to the show…

The Nightcap

Introducing: Ardbeg Drum!

Ardbeg Day and Ardbeg Drum

Look past the busy bank holiday weekend to 1 June, because that’s Ardbeg Day! This year’s celebration ‘Drum Roll Please…’ is taking place in London’s Regent’s Park. What to expect? A fantastic afternoon marrying the best of Islay and Caribbean flavours, games and influences, from steel bands to ceilidh dances, Ardbeg whisky to Caribbean food. Ardbeggians are also encouraged to arrive on the day in Caribbean-meets-Islay finery, and we can’t wait to see how that turns out! All this to celebrate the limited edition Ardbeg Day release, Ardbeg Drum, and you can be sure there’ll be a tasting of that peaty treat at the celebration. This expression is pretty special because for the first time Ardbeg has finished the single malt in rum casks from the Americas. If you say ‘Ardbeg Drum’ really fast, it sort of sounds like ‘Ardbeg rum’… Coincidence?

The Nightcap

Don’t fear the spirits…

Beefeater Gin and The London Dungeon: Partners in crime

In a somewhat unlikely partnership, Beefeater and The London Dungeons have teamed up to present Dungeon LATES. Kicking off on 24 May, these nights are said to be darker, scarier, and definitely more alcoholic, so it goes without saying they’re adult-only. Guests can sip while they’re scared, and in between screams it looks like they’ll be drinking Beefeater Blood Orange. After a tour of the dungeons, you’re then treated to a cocktail with said gin, which will have been wholeheartedly deserved. We’re sure their choice of tipple was no coincidence. Now blood orange takes on a whole different tone.

The Nightcap

Prince Charles was guest of honour at the annual Fortnum & Mason awards

Prince Charles rocks the Fortnum & Mason awards

As we have outlined before on the Nightcap, where there’s fine booze, you are often likely to find Prince Charles. First, it was the distillery visits, and then on Thursday afternoon, he was guest of honour at the annual Fortnum & Mason awards. The awards celebrate the best in food and drink writing, photography and broadcasting in Britain. But he wasn’t just there to knock back the Champagne with Chris Evans and Claudia Winkleman, Prince Charles was presented with a special award for his services to the sustainable food industry. Other winners included Nina Caplan winning Debut Drink Book award for The Wandering Vine; Mary Berry won Personality of the Year; Marina O’ Loughlin from The Sunday Times won restaurant writer of the year; Nadiya Hussein was a popular winner of TV Programme of the Year for her ‘Asian Odyssey’. And finally, we are delighted that Alice Lascelles from the Financial Times won the most important award of all, Drinks Writer of the Year. Everyone partied responsibly long into the night.

The Nightcap

Scenic views, delicious whisky and plenty of local culture will be on show

The first ever Hebridean Whisky Festival begins next week

We hope you’ve kept your diary clear between the 21st and 25th May 2019, because that’s when the first-ever Hebridean Whisky Festival begins! A celebration of the four distilleries along the Hebridean Whisky Trail, the festival will feature free tours, tastings, music, casks and special events at Talisker, Torabhaig, The Isle of Raasay Distillery, Harris distilleries and the Aros Centre, Portree. Proceedings kick off with two days on Skye at Torabhaig Distillery on Tuesday 21st May followed by events at Talisker on Wednesday 22nd. Then it’s across the water to the Isle of Raasay Distillery on Thursday 23rd May 2019, where whisky pilgrims will witness the launch of the exclusive new warehouse and enjoy whisky and chocolate tours. The self-guided whisky trail route up will then lead festival-goers to Isle of Harris Distillery on Friday 24th May. Meanwhile, in Portree, the Aros Centre will showcase the distilleries at a special Hebridean Whisky Festival tasting stand for the duration of the festival. The finale is the ‘Big Day at Slig’, where the four distilleries will come together at the Sligachan Hotel on Saturday 25th May for a day of whisky tastings, Hebridean Whisky cocktails, distillery vehicles, cask displays, craft ales and a visit from the Isle of Skye pipe band. These events are free entry and the choice is yours whether you want to experience part of the festival or follow the full trail over five days by land or sea. We’re sure those who are attending will have a smashing time!

The Nightcap

It’s been a good week for the folks at Winchester Distillery!

Winchester Distillery smashes first crowdfunding target by over 200%

As Winchester Distillery acknowledged its fifth years anniversary this week the English gin brand it quickly found out there was cause for further celebration as the distillery’s crowdfunding campaign had already reached over £240,000 from 94 investors, exceeding its first 30 day target by over 200%. The need for external investment was first made public in April 2019 by Winchester Distillery as it announced plans to increase the production of its premium spirits, install a brewhouse, further develop its whisky & rum, increase marketing activity, pursue export opportunities and open an onsite gift shop. To date, the £375,000 for 8.1% equity campaign has been in ‘private mode’ on Crowdcube, which means it was open only to followers of Winchester Distillery, and the target during this time was to reach 20% of the overall amount. However, at the time of writing, 65% of the funding has been achieved. There’s still a month to go, during which time the Winchester Distillery pitch will go public on the Crowdcube website. Founder Paul Bowler commented: “The news this morning that our supporters have pledged almost a quarter of a million pounds, plus the overwhelming amount of support we’ve received over the last month, has been the best fifth birthday present for Winchester Distillery. We’re really excited that our Crowdcube campaign will be open to all later this week and that we’re another step closer to being able to proceed with our expansion plans.” For more information about Winchester Distillery’s crowdfunding campaign and how to invest from just £10, (rewards are available from £20) then visit http://crowdcube.com/winchesterdistillery.

The Nightcap

Anyone doing lifts to Manchester?

Lucky Manchester diner given £4500 bottle of Bordeaux by mistake

On Thursday night a customer at Hawksmoor in Manchester got rather more than they bargained for when instead of a bottle of bottle of Château Pichon Longueville Contesse de Lalande worth £260, they were accidentally given a bottle of one of the world’s greatest wines, Château Le Pin 2001. The restaurant lists this cult wine from Pomerol at £4500 a bottle! The restaurant tweeted on Friday morning: “To the customer who accidentally got given a bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001, which is £4500 on our menu, last night – hope you enjoyed your evening! To the member of staff who accidentally gave it away, chin up! One-off mistakes happen and we love you anyway”. The customers in question then tried to order another bottle, but it was the only one in the restaurant. What we want to know is, when will this member of staff be working again? There will be queues around the block.

The Nightcap

The Pineapple Daiquiri Slushie, our stand-out serve from the event

Jerk & Beyond Festival

We were lucky enough to head down to Limin’ to grab a sneak peek of the wonderful treats that are going to be on offer at rum and food festival, Jerk & Beyond! Created by Sham Mahabir, a native Trinidadian-turned-Londoner, the late May bank holiday weekend will see Old Spitalfields’ Limin’ bar showcasing the diversity of Caribbean food for three days. Mahabir founded Limin’ and has partnered up with Plantation Rum for the festival, with cocktails including Rumgria (we’re sure you can guess what combo that is), Mai Tai, Limin’s (in)famous Rum Punch and, perhaps our favourite, a Pineapple Daiquiri Slushie, made with Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy. These were accompanied by some delectable Caribbean canapés, including traditional Trinidad street food. Limin’ is an abbreviated version of ‘liming’, a Trinidad expression for ‘hanging out’, which is exactly what this whole-family-friendly festival is encouraging. Surrounded by music, delicious food, fabulous cocktails and even two daily Plantation rum masterclasses, what more could you want?

The Nightcap

This actually happened. And we really want one.

And finally… Lambrini doughnut launched for National Doughnut Week

Doughnuts and Lambrini, you say? That’s right, in honour of National Doughnut Week (11-19 May), Shrewsbury’s Planet Doughnut has launched a new Lambrini doughnut! Freshly cooked, it’s frosted and filled with Lambrini, dusted with edible gold, sprinkled with more gold and finally crowned with a doughnut tiara (where can we get one of those?). Though this launch happens to coincide with Lambrini’s new release, this isn’t merely frivolous fun, oh no. The bakery will donate a portion of each doughnut sold (we assume the money from the doughnut, not the baked good itself) to The Children’s Trust. In case you’ve missed it, National Doughnut Week has been running for 28 years after its launch in 1991, and last year it raised a smashing £33,679. Time to get your Lambrini hats on and contribute to a deliciously good cause.

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When All is Said: A novel told through whiskey

As you may have already guessed, we love whiskey at Master of Malt. We also love reading, that is why we’re head-over-heels with When All is Said, a novel told…

As you may have already guessed, we love whiskey at Master of Malt. We also love reading, that is why we’re head-over-heels with When All is Said, a novel told through Irish whiskey.

When All is Said is Anne Griffin’s debut, but it reads like the work of a master storyteller. No surprise then that it’s been selling like hot cakes in Britain and Ireland (where it was a number one bestseller), and picking up great reviews. Master of Malt has been conducting whiskey tastings at some of her talks, including one at Waterstones Covent Garden, where Griffin used to work. Before the event started, she told us a bit about the inspiration for the book:

“It must have been July of 2014, I happened into a bar in Mayo and here was an old gent standing there having a pint. He came over to talk to us. He said, ‘you know I used to work here when I was a boy’, and then he said the most amazing thing as he walked away, he said, ‘I’m not going to see the morning’. But he was gone before I could pull him back say ‘so exactly what does that mean?!’ What a statement! The next day that sentence stayed in my head and the idea of Maurice Hannigan, this fictional character sitting at a bar, to drink five toasts to the most five most important people in his life, came to me. And that’s where it all started.”

Midleton whiskey

Midleton Very Rare – so rare that we have sold out

Over the course of the evening, he has a few drinks, and he tells us his whole life. The three whiskeys he consumes are Bushmills to his daughter Molly, Jefferson’s Bourbon to his son in America, and finally something old and rare from Midleton to his long-suffering wife Sadie. He also drinks a bottle of stout to his brother Tony and one to his sister-in-law Noreen. We learn about his upbringing in poverty in Ireland, working in service for the brutal local landowners, his marriage, and children. There’s skulduggery involving a rare gold sovereign, family revelations and more than a little tragedy.

When All Is Said

Fiction chart-topper, When All Is Said

Hannigan is not always a likeable man. He can be stubborn, mean and greedy. As a boy, he grew up with nothing and gradually became the richest man in the area, but this success came at the expense of personal relationships. It’s a story about regret: that evening, Hannigan says all the things he should have said in person to the people he is addressing. I read much of it on the plane back from Dublin and found myself welling up more than a few times (though apparently altitude makes people emotional). Reading When All is Said is like meeting an interesting, engaging, amusing and occasionally maddening man in the pub, and listening to his life story. There’s something very believable about this reticent man opening up over a few drinks. This quote from the book, sums him up:

“As for Irish men, I’ve news for you. It’s worse as you get older. It’s like we tunnel ourselves deeper into our aloneness. Solving our problems on our own. Men, sitting alone at bars going over and over the same old territory in their heads.”

Anne Griffin

Anne Griffin

Anne Griffin herself is a keen whiskey drinker: “My family, my mum and dad are teetotallers. But around 25, I began to just have a whiskey after dinner. I loved Bushmills and I adored Midleton. And I just felt that Maurice Hannigan had to be a whiskey drinker.” We’ll drink to that.

Master of Malt will be supporting Anne Griffin at the Cork World Book Festival on Saturday 27th April.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin is published by Sceptre, hardback, £12.99.

 

 

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The Home Bar: Our Henry’s book is here!

Our very own features editor Henry Jeffreys has released a book! The Home Bar is full of all kinds of envy-inducing, Insta-worthy abodes, but also some really rather straightforward cocktail…

Our very own features editor Henry Jeffreys has released a book! The Home Bar is full of all kinds of envy-inducing, Insta-worthy abodes, but also some really rather straightforward cocktail ideas, too. We chat to him about all things at-home drinking.

If you’re anything like us, mixing cocktails for friends at home goes one of two ways. Something miraculous could happen where you actually have the ingredients, ice, enough kit and the time, and the Negroni comes out almost as it’s supposed to. Everyone appreciatively oohs and aahhs, but there’s that lingering, sneaking suspicion that a pre-bottled offering might have been better. Then there’s option 2. The most likely option. It looks like a sticky mess, questionable glassware and a total lack of balance. And that’s the best you can hope for even when you’ve got enough ice in.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Henry’s book The Home Bar presents a third option: cocktail recipes you can actually make at home along with glorious images of other people’s home bars. It balances aspirational with our inherent need for nosiness, while actually giving some top tips for at-home cocktail success. And it looks the part, too. (We also reckon it would make a fabulous last-minute Christmas gift if you’re listening, #WhiskySanta!).

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2018’s best booze books

From exploring beer that smells of bins to evaluating the finest wines known to humanity, this year’s booze books have something for everyone. Here’s what to read this Christmas if…

From exploring beer that smells of bins to evaluating the finest wines known to humanity, this year’s booze books have something for everyone. Here’s what to read this Christmas if you like to drink.

There has been a bumper crop of booze books this year. Ideally, we would have at least three posts to get all of them in. But we just don’t have the time! So as we’ve already covered the excellent Aperitif by Kate Hawkings and Japanese Whisky by Brian Ashcraft, I won’t talk about them again. Then there’s the game-changing Home Bar by, errm, me. Anyway, after that shameless plug, here are my top ten drink books of the year.

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