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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Brewdog

The Nightcap: 22 October

We’ve got plenty of weird and wonderful stories from the world of booze including dog that can fetch gin, Arbeg’s monster ice cream truck, and Glenlivet appears on MTV Cribs….

We’ve got plenty of weird and wonderful stories from the world of booze including dog that can fetch gin, Arbeg’s monster ice cream truck, and Glenlivet appears on MTV Cribs. They’re all in the Nightcap: 22 October edition.

It being the 22 October today means we’re nearly in November. And that means that the year is almost done. It certainly doesn’t feel right that 2021 has almost gone the way of the dinosaurs. But the numbers don’t lie. Here we are, very close to 2022, and not even really feeling like we’ve got our heads round 2020. It’s all a bit much, isn’t it? Better to not think about it, on reflection. Let’s all distract ourselves with some lovely safe Nightcapping. Ahhhh. That’s better, isn’t it?

This week the MoM blog became home to some exciting new competitions, including one that offers you the chance to visit Campbeltown in the company of Glen Scotia and another that promises a boozy bundle from Inverroche Gin. Elsewhere, Henry did his bit to make sure Tomatin whisky gets the spotlight it deserves and made a delicious The Gimlet, while Lauren learned the art of the cooper. On-hand to report on the big news that Johnnie Walker has a new master blender was Adam, who also explained why he still dreams of Bertie’s whisky bar and then put a torch to his face to tell some spooky whisky ghost stories

But we ain’t afraid of no ghosts. So we’re cracking on with The Nightcap: 22 October edition!

Premium-Gin-Advent-Calendar-Horizontal

The ultimate gin advent calendar

Which? reveals the best gin advent calendars 

UK’s consumer champion Which? magazine has just revealed the results of its latest test, finding the best Advent calendars on the market. Taking in three categories, chocolate, toys, or gin, 23 calendars were marked by a panel to reveal which are worth your money and which are better avoided. Hotel Chocolat and the Playmobil Pirate Island were both highly rated but what you’re really interested in is gin, isn’t it? Of the five gin advent calendars tested, the Drinks by the Dram Premium Gin Advent Calendar (that’s us) came out on top. Huzzah! It received high praise for its packaging and variety of gins – featuring bottles from around the world and small niche distilleries. That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Advent Calendar (that’s us too) was also awarded an Editor’s Choice and was the second favourite of the panel, receiving praise for its selection of UK craft distilleries, and mix of sweet and dry gins. The other calendars tested did not score as highly, partly because they contained several cheaper-to-produce gin liqueurs with much lower ABVs, which did not provide the same value for money. “Our research shows it pays to do your homework when looking for an advent calendar this Christmas, as the difference in quality and value for money between the best and worst examples in our tests was huge,” says Ele Clark, Which? retail editor. Which is basically a corporate way of saying we kick ass. Get your Advent calendars here folks. They’re officially the best around, after all.

ArdbegIceScreamTruck Halloween

We scream for Ardbeg

Ardbeg creates monster ‘Ice Scream’ truck 

Whisky lovers are in for a treat this Halloween as Arbeg has specially commissioned an ‘ice scream’ horror truck as a homage to classic B-Movie beasts. The vehicle, which took three months and 12 people to build and comes complete with horns, tentacles and beady eyes. It will serve exclusive ice cream creations made in collaboration with top ice cream maker Ruby Viole featuring Ardbeg’s smoky single malt Scotch whisky. These include: Cookies & Scream, with Ardbeg Wee Beastie ice cream sandwiched between charcoal cookies, coated in (optional) crunchy mealworms; the Ahhh, No! Bar, made with Lapsang Souchong ice cream with an Ardbeg An Oa caramel centre coated in white chocolate; and Ice Cream Groan, a charcoal cone, filled with Ardbeg Ten smoky blackcurrant ice cream, topped with sour cherries and a brittle insect-flecked shard. The ice creams are free for Ardbeg Committee Members and are also available to buy from Ruby Violet’s King’s Cross Coal Drops Yard outlet in London from Friday 22nd October until stocks last. Visitors to the Ice Scream truck can also book an exclusive 45-minute slot in a scary Monsters of Smoke ‘cage’ and indulge in ice and cocktails. The ‘cage’ is an extension of the Ice Scream horror truck and allows visitors to experience squeamishly smoky cocktails. The Ice Scream truck will visit London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh between 26 and 31 October. Go here to purchase tickets.

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It’s Alexander Reid, founder of the Macallan and notorious ginger

Macallan launches Red Collection

It literally never stops at The Macallan. Seemingly every week, the marketing department gets in touch to tell us about another amazing rare whisky or collection of whiskies from this famous distillery. In the past month, we’ve reported on the 71 Year Old Tales of Macallan, a rather more affordable chocolate-inspired whisky, and the 30 Year Old Double Cask. You’d think the team would be off with the Macallan caravan to Hunstanton for some well-earned R&R. But no, there’s more, and it’s pretty special. Called the Red Collection, it’s inspired by the colour that runs throughout Macallan’s history. The distillery’s founder Alexander Reid’s surname means ‘the red one’, The Macallan’s Choice Old range launched in 1903 had red print on the boxes and there was the red ribbon tied around bottles of The Macallan 40 Year Old in 1980. It consists of a 40 year old, 50 year old, and a scarcely believable 78 year old, the oldest ever release from The Macallan to date. What’s more, they’re coming soon to Master of Malt! But seriously, a plea to the big wigs at The Macallan, give your staff some time off. They’ve really earned it. 

Millie SCOTY 3Award Winner-10_3

Millie Milliken (left), spirits communicator. The spirits you drink, not the spooky kind

Millie Milliken wins IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year

We are delighted that one of Master of Malt’s writers has won one of the biggest awards in the British drinks industry. Last night at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Millie Milliken fought off stiff competition to be crowned IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year. It was quite the shortlist with ex-Master of Malt editor Kristiane Sherry, Moa Nilsson aka ‘Swedish Whisky Girl’, Felipe Schrieberg of ‘The Rhythm and Booze’ project and Forbes fame, and Billy Abbot from the Whisky Exchange all in the running. The year, however, didn’t begin so well for Milliken, as Imbibe magazine where she was deputy editor closed its doors, but since then she has gone from strength to strength, launching the Drinks Community with the Drinks Trust, and writing for a huge variety of publications including the Master of Malt blog (read her stuff here). She told us: “Winning this award is a huge honour. Looking back at the previous winners, it’s unbelievable to think I am now the latest to hold this accolade. The world of spirits communication has never been more exciting thanks to incredible people making incredible liquids. I hope I can help bring a new wave of thirsty drinks writers through the ranks with the plans I have over the next year – and beyond.” Congratulations Millie!

a bottle and a glass of whiskey on a black background with space for text

Enjoy a dram from your Glencairn glass while composing a crime story

Glencairn Glass launches crime short story competition

Did you know that for the past two years Glencairn Glass has been a headline sponsor of the McIlvanney and Bloody Scotland Debut crime-writing prizes? Yep, the whisky glass experts have been helping to celebrate the finest in Scottish crime writing talent and now it’s building on this creative collaboration by launching its very own crime short story competition, in partnership with Scottish Field Magazine. The competition opened for entries on 20 October and runs until 31 December, inviting all budding crime writers to build their stories around the theme: ‘A Crystal-Clear Crime’ in no more than 2,000 words. Prizes for the winning trio of authors includes £1,000 for first place, whilst the two runners up will each receive £250. All three winners will also get a set of six engraved Glencairn glasses. The overall winning entry will be published in Scottish Field and the Glencairn website in spring after the winners are announced in March 2022. The judges include Scottish Field’s drinks columnist and author of the historical thriller Hare, Peter Ranscombe, the 2020 winner of the Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Novel of the Year for her book Hold Your Tongue, Deborah Masson, as well as Glencairn’s marketing director Gordon Brown, who has written eight crime novels and is one of the founding directors of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival. So, if you fancy yourself to be the new Ian Rankin, then make sure you submit your short story entries here before midnight on the Friday 31 December 2021.

Brewdog gold can

It’s only gold-plated

Brewdog’s solid gold beer can ad misleading, ASA says

Cast your mind back to the balmy days of July, we ran a story on how some customers were up in arms about a misleading gold can of Brewdog beer. The maverick brewers ran a promotion which said customers could win ‘solid gold’ beer cans. Now advertising watchdog (so many dogs in this story) the ASA says the claim was misleading, as some winners complained after discovering the cans were not solid gold, but were gold-plated instead. The ASA received 25 complaints in relation to three social media adverts and in its ruling said it “understood the prize consisted of 24 carat gold-plated replica cans,” but added “because the ads stated that the prize included a solid gold can when that was not the case, we concluded the ads were misleading”. In response, James Watt, co-founder and chief executive at Brewdog, said: “We hold our hands up, we got the first gold can campaign wrong.” Brewdog said its social media posts which contained the words “solid gold” did so in error due to miscommunication, which also claimed the can’s value was £15,000. The ruling comes amid heavy criticism of Brewdog in recent months, with a letter from ex-workers stating former staff had “suffered mental illness” as a result of working for the craft beer brewer. Perhaps a period of quiet reflection might be in order for the bad dogs of brewing.

Glenlivet Iain Stirling MTVH78A3396x

Iain Stirling gives Glenlivet the MTV Cribs treatment

The Glenlivet gets the MTV Cribs treatment

Trading Beverly Hills for Speyside, The Glenlivet and comedian Iain Stirling have released a new episode of the hit show, MTV Cribs. Offering an exclusive tour of the Glenlivet’s new Speyside home and tapping into some premium noughties nostalgia, there might not be sports cars or entourage-packed jacuzzis, but the distillery does have an interactive barley field. Take that, Snoop Dogg. The episode – available to view here – features the classic MTV Cribs peek inside the fridge, which is filled top-to-bottom with the Glenlivet Capsule Collection. There’s also a glimpse at some of the other exciting experiences on offer, which could even tempt Mariah to pop down and jump in a bath of cocktail capsules sometime soon. Taking cues from the original episodes, Stirling even introduces viewers to a few friends along the way, including the oracle of The Glenlivet and master distiller, Alan Winchester, who he attempts to catch out in a quick fire round of questions. If you’d like to check out Speyside’s finest crib, then you’ll be pleased to know that it is now open to the public and you can book here.

Dog gin

Who’s a good boy then?

And finally…  dog taught to fetch gin

More canine-based news: it has been revealed this week that a woman has managed to teach her dog to fetch her a drink when she says ‘it’s gin o’clock!’ Somerset residents Janice, and her husband Dave, first realised their dog had the capacity for exceptional customer service after taking a break from gardening. Janice turned to their labrador Bear and said, ‘ooh, it’s gin o’ clock’ and off he went to the kitchen to retrieve a premixed can of Gin and Tonic with his mouth. Bravo, Bear. It does make us wonder what the implications of this news is. Might this be the answer to staff shortage in the hospitality industry? Can we expect to see dogs working the back bar? And have dogs secretly always wanted to be involved in the drinks industry? There’s a lot of questions to answer. But what’s not in doubt is who’s a good boy then. It’s Bear. What a good dog.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 22 October

The Nightcap: 8 October

A new Islay distillery, Diageo splurging half a billion dollars on Tequila, and Gary Barlow launching his own wine are just some of the intriguing news stories that made a…

A new Islay distillery, Diageo splurging half a billion dollars on Tequila, and Gary Barlow launching his own wine are just some of the intriguing news stories that made a bumper Nightcap this week.

Right. What the hell are we wearing for Halloween this year then, folks? You’d think having the first real spooky time party in two years would mean we’d have all kinds of ideas. But, the reality is very different. How about we strike a deal, you suggest some cracking outfits, and we’ll give you another delightful dollop of Friday Nightcap goodness. Are we square? We’ll assume it’s a yes and deliver our end of the bargain. Here it is.

This week on the MoM blog, Henry tasted the Diageo Special Releases 2021, picked out ten Scotch whiskies perfect for autumn, celebrated the 100th anniversary of The Sidecar, and heard why Mezcal Amores is on a mission to persuade customers to try agave spirits neat. Elsewhere, Jess tasted new Compass Box whisky with John Glaser, while Adam we got the reaction to Bunnahabhain becoming our first MoM Whisky Icon champion, picked out some of the most entertaining events to see during London Cocktail Week 2021, made some non-boozy cocktails perfect for Sober October, and got the story behind The Spirit of Manchester Distillery. Another corker of a week.

But, it’s not over yet. Here is The Nightcap: 8 October edition!

The Nightcap: 8 October

You’d think Islay would be full of distilleries already, but people keep finding space

Islay to get new sustainable Scotch whisky distillery

A proposal for a new low-carbon whisky distillery on Islay is in the pipeline. IIi Distillery will be located at Gearach Farm near Port Charlotte and is named after an old name for Islay. The brainchild of landowner Bertram Nesselrode and farmer Scott McLellan, they plan to ensure the site is powered with renewable energy, with a hydrogen plant, solar panels, battery storage, and wind turbine, ensuring the venture is not only green, but almost off-grid. The cylindrical distillery, which will also have a separate warehouse, a grain store, a visitor centre, and plenty of parking, is their attempt to help to ensure that Islay’s whisky legacy “can continue well into the future,” as revealed in their proposal to Argyll & Bute Council. “The vision for the site is bold and different; not just another distillery on Islay, but an Islay-native project, serving and benefiting the local community with jobs, sustainability, and growth,” their application explained. “Physically, the built form of the distillery will also represent a point of difference: it will respect the built vernacular of the island and complement the natural form of its spectacular surroundings”. The proposal is awaiting feedback from the council and will go through by 14 October. Once approved, construction will begin next summer.

The Nightcap: 8 October

The Glenlivet has a pretty remarkable history

Illicit whisky site discovered in Glenlivet dig

Archaeologists have discovered the floor of an illicit whisky distillery that dates back to the 19th century in a recent dig at the former site of The Glenlivet Distillery. The newly discovered site is where Glenlivet’s founder, George Smith, made whisky in 1824 in Upper Drumin, about half a mile from the current distillery. Fragments of bottle glass and ceramics believed to have been used in whisky production were also uncovered. Mr. Smith became the first illicit producer to get his licence, and Glenlivet was one of Scotland’s first whisky distilleries to become licensed after the 1823 Excise Act. Derek Alexander, the National Trust for Scotland’s head of archaeology, has a long association with the location and conducted a survey of the distillery remains in the 1990s and said that “returning to this place after nearly 25 years to finally uncover the remains of this special place is really inspiring,” adding that what’s really interesting is that “this is where the illicit production of whisky and the transition towards larger-scale industrial production meet; a formative part of the whisky industry becoming one of Scotland’s biggest and most successful”. The site where the dig is being carried out as part of the Pioneering Spirit project – a partnership between conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland and The Glenlivet – is marked by an inscribed monument marking its role in whisky history. Investigations at the site began on 4 October and will run until 9 October.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Trying… to… resist… making… Take That… wine… puns…

Gary Barlow launches his own wine range 

Music man Gary Barlow has introduced his own range of organic wines, imaginatively called ‘Gary Barlow Organic’, fulfilling what has apparently been his dream “for as long as he can remember”. He spent the past two years collaborating with the Benchmark Drinks, who have also made wines with Kylie Minogue and Ian Botham. The wines are said to be “carefully crafted and developed” by the man himself. Which must have been taxing. The packaging features a piano key design, for reasons completely oblivious to us. The wines themselves come from Castilla in Spain and are produced by Peninsula Wines which is run by two masters of wine Andreas Kubach and Sam Harrop, who are known for their sustainability and approach to making wine with as little intervention as possible. So far the range consists Gary Barlow Organic RED made a juicy unoaked wine made with Tempranillo and Syrah, and The Gary Barlow Organic WHITE a refreshing blend of Viura and Verdejo. We are sorry to report that there is as yet no Jason Orange wine. Both are available online at garybarlowwines.com from 9 October. So have a little patience. 

The Nightcap: 8 October

Diageo has big agave-based plans

Diageo to spend half a billion dollars on Tequila plant

Drinks giant Diageo revealed this week it’s about to step up its Tequila-based efforts by investing half a billion dollars in the spirit (that sentence  reads best if you do a Dr. Evil impression). Work on a $500m Tequila distillery in Jalisco will begin this year in the town of La Barca, with the company saying it would support Diageo’s 10-year sustainability plan by incorporating environment-friendly technologies, and would create around 1,000 jobs. The move was motivated by the rapid growth in US Tequila consumption. Apparently Covid-19 lockdown led to a surge in online buying and the making of summer cocktails at home. Álvaro Cárdenas, president of the company’s Latin America and Caribbean operations, commented that its Tequila sales had risen 79% in the past financial year.  He also commented that this is “the most significant investment we have made in Latin America and the Caribbean in the past 10 years.” In 2019, the company completed another Tequila facility in Atotonilco El Alto, in the southern state of Guanajuato and spent a big chunk of change adding Tequila Casamigos, a brand created by actor George Clooney and other partners, to its portfolio in 2017. So if Diageo’s movements are anything to go by, the future looks very bright for Tequila.

Brewdog vodka

Coming soon… Brewdog vodka

Brewdog reveals new distillery and spirits

Brewdog is about to launch a new range of spirits that were produced at its new distillery in Ellon, Scotland. The site was built because the original location was not fit for expansion and there were capacity constraints on the whisky and rum side, according to Steven Kersley, head of distillation at Brewdog Distilling, who was quoted in an interview with The Spirits Business. The equipment from the original distillery has been moved to the new site, which will also boast a 10,000-litre triple bubble still that’s three times bigger than the original still. There’s also two 3,000-litre pot stills, one of which will become a full-time spirit still for whisky production, as well as Brewdog’s 19m-tall rectification column. Before, Brewdog could only manage eight to nine casks a week, when demand required 30-35 casks. This move should reset the balance a little and allow innovation. The new site sits next to the Brewdog brewery but will operate as its own standalone distillery. There will be a visitor experience, a gift shop, and a tasting room that will be able to accommodate upwards of 30-40 people, and will look out over the distillery so guests can see the still house. In addition, Brewdog Distilling has created a new range of vodkas: Seven Day Vodka, named as a nod to the seven days it takes Brewdog to make its vodka from scratch. Alongside the original, there’s three flavoured expressions: Passionfruit and Vanilla (which tastes like Um Bongo for grown-ups), Rhubarb and Lemon, and Raspberry and Lime (deliciously refreshing). An RTD range is also in the works. It’s all go at Brewdog at the moment.

The Nightcap: 8 October

One of the finest drops around, by our reckoning

Last Drop releases stunning 100-year-old Pineau des Charentes

We tried one of the most stunning old drinks we’ve ever tasted last week. No, it wasn’t a whisky or Cognac, or even a Port or sherry. It was a Pineau des Charentes. For those who don’t know, this is a blend of unfermented grape juice and Cognac much enjoyed in the Charente region of France. Very tasty it is too, usually, but this special one was over 100 years old. It was discovered and bottled by The Last Drop, the people behind such dazzling spirits as a 1947 Cognac and 1870 Port. The firm is so exclusive that it has only released 22 bottlings in its history. The cask was discovered alongside a barrel of 1925 Grande Champagne Cognac, hidden behind a wall of rubble before the second world war. One sniff and the Last Drop team knew they had something special on their hands. The freshness is quite incredible meaning that despite its incredible complexity and concentration – the balance is just perfect. The nearest comparison would be an old Madeira but really we have never tasted anything like this. Only 382 bottles have been filled and the price considering the quality and rarity is a very reasonable £600. We’re hoping to get some in at Master of Malt later in the year. If you’re looking for something really really special, then this should be on your list.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Tiempo is on its way to Master of Malt now!

Tiempo Tequila launches after six years development

After six years of patience, Tiempo Tequila (meaning ‘time’ in Spanish, fitting), will launch its first batch of Reposado Cristalino Tequila in the UK. Each of the 1,320 limited edition bottles is made from 100% mature blue weber agave, grown and harvested in the Altos and Valley regions of Jalisco by master distiller, Augustin Sanchez Rodriguez to create a liquid that is additive-free, and does not use any chemical intervention. Working alongside a fifth-generation family of distillers, Tiempo is slow-cooked for 48 hours before being fermented using natural yeast for a further 60 hours. It is then twice distilled before spending up to one year aging in American oak whiskey casks. The liquid is then filtered before being housed in recycled glass with sustainably printed and inked labels as well as natural cork and a wooden stopper.  Latin American illustrator Alan Berry Rhys has depicted a surrealist journey through the Mexican jungle on the packaging. Tiempo is working towards ensuring its practices are sustainable by providing living wages for its growing and production team, focusing on sustainable agave farming in the fields, cutting CO2 emissions, reusing agave waste, and packaging with recycled glass and materials wherever possible. And it’s on its way to Master of Malt.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Not whiskey. Or particularly Malaysian. A bit of a swing and a miss, this one

We sample ‘Malaysia’s best whiskey’

We were very excited earlier this year when we received an email entitled: “EXCLUSIVE INVITATION – LAUNCH OF MALAYSIAN BEST WHISKEY.” We’re big world whisky fans but we’ve yet to have anything from Malaysia. We were even more excited when a bottle arrived at MoM Towers. It’s called Timah and on the label it says ‘1871 the legend of Captain Speedy’ and promises to be a ‘Double Peated Blended Whiskey’. It’s made by Winepack corporation who apparently have a “30 years history-making high-quality alcoholic drinks.” We were leafing through the bumf which came with the sample bottle and it states: “Timah’s fine balance of malt and sugarcane molasses imparts a unique peat-infused character.” So sadly this isn’t technically whisky (by EU and British regulations). The bottle says it’s “distilled, blended and bottled in Malaysia” but according to the PR contact, that’s not entirely true. He commented: “The peated whiskey components are imported which is (sic) then blended by our master blender in Malaysia.” He didn’t say exactly where they came from but Ruben from Whisky Notes has information that one of the malts is from Caol Ila. It certainly smells like an Islay, albeit one sniffed across a crowded bar. It’s a bit dilute on the palate but made a refreshing tasty drink with ginger ale and a slice of lime. So if you’re in Malaysia, look out for Timah. But you’re unlikely to ever find it at Master of Malt unless the labeling is changed.

The Nightcap: 8 October

We tried these two Calvados expressions and vouch for how sublime they are

… And delicious Calvados at Coupette

We had a tremendous time at London’s Coupette cocktail bar this week, celebrating the launch of Maison Sassy X Coupette Calvados! It’s fair to say that the two know their apples. Coupette with its famous array of Calvados and its expert bartenders who know exactly when it’s right to rustle up a russet or grab a Granny Smith. Meanwhile, SASSY has grafted to bring the delights of Norman cider to us all, and with deep roots in the orchards of the region, it seems only right for a Calvados to join the ranks! We were treated to a tasting of the two new bottlings, Calvados Fine and Calvados XO (which is aged for six years in rum casks!), and were immensely impressed by both. The Coupette team did not disappoint, with a special cocktail menu for the evening, showcasing the two expressions. Every serve was a stunner, the Pan American Clipper, made with SASSY x Coupette Fine, grenadine, lime, and absinthe was exceptional. We were also blown away by another collab between the two brands. A collab within a collab if you will – a canned, ready-to-drink expression of Coupette’s unofficial signature cocktail Apples, also made with SASSY x Coupette Fine. We’re still wondering if they actually shrunk one of their bar people and hid them inside the can to mix it – it was that tasty.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Lyons will provide the drinks expertise

Will Lyons and Charlie Bigham’s host virtual charity banquet

Award-winning wine writer Will Lyons has teamed up with independent food brand Charlie Bigham’s to co-host its upcoming virtual charity banquet tomorrow, offering drink pairing suggestions across a four-course cook along. Featuring top chefs Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca and MasterChef champion; Vivek Singh, founder and executive chef at The Cinnamon Collection; Theo Randall, chef proprietor at Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, and Ping Coombes, MasterChef champion, who will offer their expertise across each course. And you can cook along at home thanks to recipe boxes delivered straight to your door. The aim is to raise £30,000 for pioneering charity Chefs in Schools, allowing 2,400 more children to enjoy delicious and nourishing food at school every day. Tickets went on sale here, and included a £5 donation that Charlie Bigham’s will match. Will Lyons’ pairings will be one to watch for drinks fans, he’s The Sunday Times wine critic, and a winner of both the Glenfiddich and Roederer wine writing awards. We’re a fan of a good cause and if it helps further people’s drinks knowledge in the process then that’s a welcome bonus.

MENTZENDORFF KUMMEL Small

We want to reassure Britain’s golfers that there’s plenty of kümmel to go round

And finally… Don’t panic, there is no kümmel shortage

First, there was last year’s toilet paper shortage, then the recent brawls at petrol stations among people queuing to fill up their cars, now it looks like there will be fisticuffs at golf clubs around the country as there are rumours of a kummel drought. For those who don’t know, kümmel is a caraway-flavoured schnapps that is particularly popular among the vibrant golfing community. But it seems that one of the principal brands, Wolfschmidt, has ceased production. Blog Cookie Jar Golf reported: “In recent weeks, reports have been coming into us from all corners of the U.K. that clubs are unable to secure orders on further stock of Wolfschmidt, amid rumours that the Danish company has ceased production. Despite a lot of phone calls and various efforts to establish contact with the brand, no official statement has been received however we can confirm that future orders on the product are no longer possible.” But there is no need to panic, repeat DO NOT PANIC, Andrew Hawes, MD of rival brand Mentzendorff reassured us. “We’ve been keeping kümmel enthusiasts well-stocked for over 150 years and have no plans to stop any time soon!” he commented. And there’s plenty of stock left at Master of Malt. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 8 October

The Nightcap: 2 July

UFOs, gold beer cans, and a bourbon heist – they are all in our weekly round-up of the news from the world of booze. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition!…

UFOs, gold beer cans, and a bourbon heist – they are all in our weekly round-up of the news from the world of booze. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition!

What is going on with the weather? Sorry, we should be more specific, what is going on with the British weather? Readers in Burkina Faso or Wirra Wirra will probably have their own takes on the local weather. Earlier this week at MoM Towers at a secret location just off the A26 in Tonbridge, we had our slippers on and were seriously considering building a fire out of old pallets. Luckily we’ve got plenty of booze so when we get the shivers, we get the Chivas, if you know what we mean. And then today, the sun’s out and we’re lounging around in muscle vests sipping Tio Pepe. Anyway, whether it’s hot, cold or indifferent where you are, pour yourself a weather-appropriate drink, put your feet up and enjoy our weekly round-up of booze news. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition! 

On the blog this week

We had a fun-packed blog this week: Lucy Britner looked at big booze companies hoovering up smaller brands for pots of cash; talking of cash, Ian Buxton cast a sceptical eye over some extremely old whisky releases; while Millie Milliken went completely bananas. Our New Arrival was a new rum brand, Saint Benevolence, making a difference to the people of Haiti, while Henry claimed to have invented our Cocktail of the Week, the Blood Orange Margarita. But that’s not all – Jess visited Quaglino’s, we got in the spirit of the 4th of July with some delicious American whiskies, and even launched a competition that could see you head to Islay as a guest of Kilchoman. Pretty fun-packed, eh?

Meanwhile over on the Clubhouse App this week we’re talking all things low-and-no alcohol while enjoying the usual Nightcap goodness with guests Kristy Sherry, Camille Vidal, and Claire Warner. Be sure to join us if you’re on the app.

Now on with the Nightcap!

Glenglassaugh releases 50 year old “coastal treasure”

Look, it’s by the coast. It’s coastal treasure!

Glenglassaugh releases 50-year-old “coastal treasure” 

Well, it seems to be the season for very old Scotch whisky. Hot on the heels of Dufftown’s 54-year-old release and Gordon & MacPhail 80 year old Glenlivet, comes a venerable bottling from Glenglassaugh. It’s a 50-year-old from this fascinating little distillery that was silent from 1986 to 2008. The whisky comes from a single Pedro Ximénez sherry cask and only 264 bottles have been filled at 40.1% ABV. Looks like they caught that cask in the nick of time, if they’d left it another couple of years, it would no longer be legally classed as whisky. The PR company is really going for the maritime angle with this one describing it as a “coastal treasure” with lots of stuff about North Sea air and even a reference to Dr Rachel Barrie learning to surf near the distillery as a child. There’s a video about it here. The master blender herself commented on the flavour: “Offering a deep and seductive sweetness, the 50 Year Old’s flavour profile ranges from caramelised pear to soft exotic cherries; almond and refined oak beautifully intertwine to present a symphony of tropical notes on a gentle ocean breeze with rolling waves of flavour, which intensify and evolve with each sip.” But don’t take her word for it, the judges at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition were impressed too, awarding it a double gold. And our whisky sage Ian Buxton, who was involved with the distillery’s revival, thinks that these old Glenglassaughs are usually superb (full story to come.) All this for £5,500, or roughly six times cheaper than the 54 year old Singleton of Dufftown. Bargain!

Foursquare Shibboleth

Foursquare Shibboleth – not likely to hang about

Foursquare’s latest limited release rum, Shibboleth, is here! 

We always get a bit hot and bothered by a new Exceptional Cask Selection from Foursquare. The Barbados distillery’s core range is pretty tasty, but when the team pulls all the stops out, the effect is sensational. And MoM customers clearly agree because these often bafflingly-named (‘Empery’?, ‘Détente??’) rums don’t hang about. In fact, by the time you read this, the latest may well be gone. It’s called Shibboleth, and for once the name makes a bit of sense. You’ll certainly recognise that someone is in your tribe if they profess a love of Foursquare rum. It’s a 16-year-old blend of column and pot still spirits, aged in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 56% ABV with none of that filtering, colouring or sweetening. Just pure Barbados goodness. And blimey it is good. We were sent a little sample by Foursquare’s Peter Holland, and we spent a good ten minutes just smelling it. The aroma is heady with toffee, buttered popcorn, and banana bread with cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and refreshing menthol notes. Taking a sip, it carries it’s alcohol beautifully, exploding in the mouth with black pepper, tropical fruit, fudge and chocolate. The finish is extremely long. Shibboleth goes live today, but as we said, it may already be gone. It’s gone

Pappy van Winkle bourbon

Pappy van Winkle bourbon – tempted?

Bourbon crime documentary ‘Heist’ coming to Netflix soon

There’s a new whiskey documentary coming. Don’t worry, it’s not called The Golden Mist or something, featuring Jim McEwan and Dave Broom wandering around Islay. This is a whiskey film with an ‘e’, and melds two of America’s greatest exports, bourbon and organised crime. It’s part of a new true crime series starting 14 July on Netflix called Heist. Two programmes will be devoted to the theft of some seriously expensive Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Dubbed ‘Pappygate’ by the US press, it took place in 2013 when Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger, a Buffalo Trace employee, stole rare whiskeys valued at $26,000 from the distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. It took until 2015 before he was finally apprehended by Sheriff Pat Melton. Cutsinger was sentenced to 15 years, though only served 90 days. The story is further complicated by Cutsinger claiming in this article that although he had stolen barrels of bourbon from the distillery, he did not steal the rare bottles of Pappy Van Winkle. The documentary includes interviews with both Cutsinger and Melton. Director Nick Drew commented: “We all worked together and said, ‘let’s make this a roller coaster ride. Let’s make every beat of it live and sing and match the other stories.’ It was a fun challenge… We leaned into a sort of Coen Brothers, slightly absurd vibe….” It sounds like it’s going to be unmissable for fans of bourbon and crime capers.

Beavertown UFO

Keep watching the sky

Beavertown Brewery teams up with UFO expert for World UFO Day ‘Ask Me Anything’

We don’t know about you, but World UFO Day (2 July) has been in our diaries for months – and it’s finally here! Thought beer would have no place during World UFO Day? Think again, folks. With its zany, out-of-this-world illustrations (Gamma Ray American Pale Ale being a prime example), Beavertown Brewery clearly has an affinity with outer space, too. Today at 4pm, you can catch Nick Dwyer, Beavertown’s creative director and illustrator, and self-confessed space-obsessive, chatting to UFO expert (also known as a ufologist – we want that job title!) Nick Pope on Instagram Live (@BeavertownBeer). The event was appropriately named ‘Nick on Nick, Ask Me Anything’. You don’t have to be called Nick to join, but a zest for beer and the extraterrestrial would probably be handy. Pope isn’t just any ol’ ufologist – he was the former head of UFO investigation at the Ministry of Defence, no less. So gather your thoughts, grab a can of your favourite Beavertown beer, and get ready to question everything you thought you knew. The truth is out there.

St James Bar London

Spot the unicorn cordial

St James Bar launches ‘Imagination’ cocktail menu 

When we last visited St James Bar at Sofitel St James in January 2020, life was very different. We tried the (then new) Passport cocktail menu, which was created unironically, back when our passports hadn’t been gathering dust for nearly 18 months. Anyway, that’s enough dwelling on the past – now it’s out with the old and in with the new for the zazzy London bar, because later this month it’s launching a brand new cocktail menu: Imagination. The talented team used molecular techniques and sustainable processes to create this one, looking to challenge our senses and drive into our olfactory bulb with these new drinks. Inspiration has been drawn from impressionism, dragons, Iron Man comics, and even Elton John lyrics, while big words like spherication, carbonation, and foaming are all processes being used. But we’re not scientists, we’re cocktail lovers, so let’s get to the good stuff. We’re rather intrigued by the serve named ‘Van Gogh’, a combination of Tanqueray No.Ten, yuzu butter, Italicus, white Port, effervescence, husk ash, and something called unicorn cordial. In keeping with the times, sustainability is also a big consideration for the bar, which is using lemon husks in multiple ways and even producing its own honey from hives located at the top of the hotel. We’ll see you there on 29 July to find out how these unicorns are making their own cordial… 

Ardbeg 8 Committee release.png RS

Join the Committee and you can join the discussion

Join the Ardbeg Committee to taste latest 8-year-old sherry cask release

Sound the smoky whisky klaxon! There’s a new Ardbeg on the loose this week. It’s an eight-year-old bottling dubbed ‘For Discussion.’ Master distiller Dr Bill Lumsden explained: “I like to think of it as the ‘alternative universe’ version of Ardbeg Ten Years Old. An aged ex-sherry whisky is new territory for us, so naturally, we want some thoughts! We’re sharing this with the Committee’s experienced palates to help us find that smoky sweet spot. With notes of bold peat smoke, creosote, charcoal and salted caramel, it’s more than guaranteed to provoke discussion among those privileged enough to taste it.” It’s bottled at 50.8% ABV, costs £57 and is only available to members of the Committee – a global organisation of Ardbeg nuts. So if you love Ardbeg, and you’re not a member, what are you thinking? It’s free to join. Distillery manager Colin Gordon will host a live tasting for members on 30 July 2021. He urged: “We look forward to hearing their thoughts on our latest expression.  And, to anybody not already part of the family, we invite you to join the Ardbeg Committee… and join in the conversation!” 

Beavertown Gold Can

Probably not worth £15,000

And finally… all that glitters is not gold for Brewdog

Spare a thought for the PR department at Brewdog who have been working overtime recently. First there was the letter from disgruntled former employees and the resultant media frenzy. Now, just when they were beginning to stop twitching every time the phone rings, another story hits the news. The brewer had hidden 10 special cans in cases of beer for lucky customers. Each can was said to be worth £15,000 and came with £10,000 worth of Brewdog shares. Pretty tasty, eh? The problem is that someone at Brewdog said on social media that the cans were “solid gold” but when one winner, Adam Dean from Shrewsbury, took his to a jeweller to be valued, it turned out the can was actual gold-plated brass and only worth £500. Though the brewer has apologised to one unhappy winner, Mark Craig, it is still claiming that though the can isn’t solid gold, it is still worth £15,000 adding that the value: “somewhat detached from the cost of materials”. Looks like it’s going to be another week of late nights for the Brewdog comms team. 

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The Nightcap: 11 June

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

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

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

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

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

BrewDog carbon negative

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

Ex-Brewdog staff allege “culture of fear”

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

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

Rare Samaroli whiskies head to auction

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

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

Lochlea whisky prepares for first bottling

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

We can’t wait to see you all again!

Imbibe Live to return this September

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

It’s a bumper year for the Fiona Beckett

Fortnum & Mason awards 2021 shortlist announced

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

Tom Hurst rocking the dragons

Rockstar Spirits rock Dragons’ Den

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

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

The English Whisky Show is back

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

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

Guinness launches world-first ‘microdraught’

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

The swanky, new-look Talisker is more sustainable

New sustainable packaging upgrade for Talisker 10 Year Old

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

The Nightcap: 11 June

Shit.

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

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

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The Nightcap: 8 January

We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings! Well, we’re…

We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings!

Well, we’re one week into 2021 and it wasn’t exactly the turnaround we might have hoped for. But, while you might be inclined to cancel your subscription to the new year after a pretty underwhelming 7-day free trial, we’re optimistic here at MoM Towers. Why? Well, if there’s one thing The Nightcap demonstrates is that each week is filled with something that will make you laugh or get you excited and 2020 proved that nothing can stop the influx of brilliant and bonkers boozy stories. So, assuming aliens don’t invade or a chunky asteroid doesn’t land in Speyside, we think there’s cause for optimism. And if you don’t believe, wait until you read this week’s And Finally…

On the MoM blog, we saw off the last of that wretched year by acknowledging some of the better aspects of it, including our most-read and personal favourite posts, before casting an eye towards 2021 and predicting what it might bring. The new year on the blog, meanwhile, kicked off with our ongoing auction for The Macallan’s incredible Red Collection, which will raise money for Hospitality Action and some delightful new arrivals, including an apple brandy that was aged in Japanese whisky casks and bourbon which is made from four grains. There’s also been plenty of cocktail coverage from Annie, who made the underappreciated Vieux Carré and the real star of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, The Gibson, championed the humble muddler and put together 10 classic cocktail recipes, presented with both boozy ingredients and non-alc alternative and Henry put together a list of splendidly affordable red wines. Elsewhere we found time to run the rule on Tomatin’s core range, look inside the English Spirit Distillery, find out how Irish mead is making its mark in the 21st century and why you should know all about Maidstone gin

The Nightcap

The US will finally allow 700ml bottles, hurrah!

US to allow 700ml bottles for the first time

You’ll be pleased to know that 2020 ended with a rare bit of good news for the drinks industry as it was announced that the law regarding wine and distilled spirits containers in the US were amended to allow the importation of European 700ml bottles. The Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcoholic beverages at the federal level, published new regulations on 29 December 2020 which updated the so-called “standards of fill” for wine (355ml, 250ml and 200ml) and spirits (1.8L, 900ml, 720ml and 700ml), which means that brands will no longer have the burden of spending time and money making unique US size bottles, granting producers greater flexibility and consumers with more choice. Previously drinks makers were forced to produce 700ml bottlings for the European market and special 750ml bottlings to sell in the US, which led to many small independent producers opting to avoid the extra costs by not exporting their tasty goods to the US. While there’s still some work to be done (allowing for  3+ litre sizes for spirits to save on packaging, for example) it’s a welcome bit of economic and logistical relief after a torrid year for the industry. Now wouldn’t it be great if we could reciprocate by allowing 750ml in the UK which would help a lot of small US distillers?

The Nightcap

The Walking Man’s impressive new home edges ever closer to opening…

Johnnie Walker offers glimpse inside Princes Street

If you’re a Nightcap regular you’ll have read all about Johnnie Walker’s exciting new whisky visitor experience in Princes Street, Edinburgh, which is set to open in the summer of 2021. But now, for the first time, the Scotch whisky giant has revealed a glimpse of the eagerly anticipated attraction to fans, which will feature rooftop bars, private dining areas, modern sensory tasting rooms, personalised tour and tasting experiences, and live performance areas. The interior of the building, a closely-guarded secret, is on show, as is The 1820 bar, a cocktail bar and outdoor terrace with views of the Edinburgh famous skyline, The Explorers’ Bothy, a whisky bar that will stock over 150 rare bottles and one-of-a-kind cask editions, and the Johnnie Walker Label Studio, a performance space that will host live events and performances. For more info, click here. The Johnnie Walker Princes Street visitor attraction is at the centre of Diageo’s £185m investment into the transformation of its Scotch whisky tourism, having already revamped Glenkinchie Distillery, while further investment into the remainder of Diageo’s 11 Scotch whisky brand homes as well as the revival of lost distilleries Port Ellen and Brora is also in the works. So there’s something to look forward to in 2021!

Water of Life film to launch among virtual festivities 

The Water of Life, a new feature documentary that focuses on those at the heart of the Scotch whisky revolution that turned the industry of the 1980s into the titan it is today, is on the way. Which is exciting. Even more thrilling, however, is that the film won’t launch with an ordinary premiere, but instead a week-long Burns Night Celebration that you can take part in! Kicking off on the 22nd January and running through the 27th January, the virtual online program includes a screening of the film followed each night by a unique hour-long session featuring the stars of the film. There will also be an option to purchase tasting kits specifically curated to accompany the film and take viewers on a taste journey. “Our biggest challenge, as with any food or drink film, is you can’t taste the screen. When putting this event together it was important that we found a way to bring not just the story to the screen but to engage the audience in a way whisky does,” said director Greg Swartz. “Our Burns Night  Celebration will bring all the senses together through watching the movie, pairing that with the tasting kits, and offering the opportunity to join the stars to hear them talk more about their passions.”  For tickets, tasting kits and more info just click here and if you’d like to see a trailer for The Water of Life, featuring Bruichladdich legends Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier as well as Billy Walker, Dr Rachel Barrie, David Stewart, Kelsey McKechnie, Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison and more, then simply click on the video above!

The Nightcap

Could bars and pubs switch from dispensing beer to dispensing vaccines?

Brewers offer their pubs as vaccination centres. 

Like many things in the modern age, it began with a tweet. Keir Shiels, consultant paediatrician at the Great Ormond Street hospital in London, suggested on the 31 December: “Pubs could be turned into vaccination hubs. There’s space. There’s staff. There’s fridges. There’s refreshment facilities. There’s one in every village.” Since then things have snowballed with both Brewdog and Shepherd Neame pledging their help. Jonathan Neame CEO at Shepherd Neame commented: “We have offered up some of our pubs to act as vaccination hubs, in target areas, in the main they are well located, spacious and with large refrigeration capacity.” Nothing has happened yet though James Watt from Brewdog announced that he is in talks with the Government. Let’s hope something comes off this as it would really help speed up distribution of the vaccine especially if brewers could offer a pint to enjoy while you wait. We’d be first in the queue.

The Nightcap

Some good news from 2020 was that fortified wine got some well-deserved love

A bumper year for fortified wine 

Port and sherry have been rocking this year. There was an article on the BBC website about the so-called ‘tapas effect’ as people unable to travel recreated their summer trips at home with a bottle of sherry. Meanwhile, we reported back in October that Taylor’s Port sales had grown despite, or maybe because of lockdown. Figures just released by the WSTA bear this out: the fortified wine category has seen an increase in sales of nearly 10% in 2020, a remarkable feat considering the impact lockdown has had on on-trade sales. Despite on-trade orders being down 42% (by volume), the category grew from £270 million in 2019 to £303 million last year. This increase was coupled with the category’s best quarter for five years, giving hope that despite such a tough year, Christmas traditions remained as strong as ever in 2020. Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “In such a difficult year, the news that we have been enjoying more Ports and sherries at home recently to arrest slow stagnation in the category is welcome… Santa loves his sherry, and in 2020 many consumers will also be rekindling their festive love affairs with fortifieds!” But as we always say, fortified wine is not just for Christmas and if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got some great wines right here.

The Nightcap

Nightcap favourite Miles Beale is back for 2021

WSTA reacts to Brexit deal

It’s a very special Nightcap this week as we have two stories featuring everyone’s favourite chief executive Mr Miles Beale from the WSTA. Beale has been one of the most vocal voices standing up for the drinks industry and warning of the perils of a no-deal Brexit, so he more than most was relieved that the EU and the British government managed to come to an agreement at the end of last year. Doesn’t it seem like a long time ago? Anyway, here’s what Beale had to say: “Today’s announcement will be a welcome relief to the UK’s wine and spirit sector. We look forward to seeing the detail and to its swift ratification. The threat of the introduction of wine tariffs and the uncertainty over the ability to move goods into and out of the EU were weighing heavy on the minds of businesses already reeling from the effect of Covid restrictions, while also having to prepare for the end of the transition period in a week’s time.” But it wasn’t all good, Beale added: “Businesses have been working hard to prepare for the introduction of new customs processes and systems, new labelling rules, new import certification rules for wine all of which will add to the cost of importing and exporting wine and spirits. And yet, astonishingly, those businesses are still waiting for the government to grip the reins and confirm some of the details to allow trade with Ireland and the rest of the EU to continue next year.” So plenty more work to be done, we haven’t heard the last of Miles Beale in 2021.

The Nightcap

Richard Paterson was one of the drinks industry figures honoured

Richard Paterson and Kate Nicholls honoured by Queen 

The New Year’s Honours list had plenty of interesting names as usual on it for 2021 (although nothing for Sam Smith yet. Give the people what they want, your majesty), including some drinks industry giants such as UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls and The Dalmore whisky blender Richard Paterson. Nicholls, who was appointed an OBE for service to the hospitality, was singled out for her tireless support of the beleaguered hospitality industry during the ongoing Covid crisis, while Paterson was also appointed an OBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry, including over a half a century at Whyte & Mackay. It caps quite a year for the legendary master blender, aka ‘The Nose’, who made the move to step back from some of his Whyte & Mackay duties and also lend his expertise to the exciting Wolfcraig Distillery project. Other members of the hospitality industry recognised included Michelin-starred chef Fergus Henderson and Richard Curtis, the landlord of the Portsmouth Arms in Basingstoke (not the director of Notting Hill and Love Actually) was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) after raising over £52,500 for local charities by holding weekly virtual quizzes in his pub after it was closed in March. Given what a rough time this industry is having at the moment, it is at least nice to see these efforts being appreciated.

The Nightcap

American whiskey lost one of its greats this week

Michter’s master distiller Willie Pratt dies at 78

We were sad to hear this week about the death of an American whisky legend, Willie Pratt, master distiller at Michter’s. Born in Kentucky in 1942, he began his career with Brown-Forman where he worked in all aspects of the business before retiring at the age of 65. But in 2007 he was lured out of retirement and took up the role of head distiller at Michter’s where he became known as Dr No for his refusal to bottle any whiskey until he thought it was ready. Here he oversaw the design and building of Michter’s ultra-modern new Shively Distillery. In 2017 he was inducted into The Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. Michter’s president Joseph J. Magliocco commented: “To work with Willie and to have him as a friend was a tremendous gift. When the challenges seemed overwhelming, that’s when Willie’s leadership would shine through. He was a paradigm of strength and courage.” Distilling is now in the safe hands of Dan McKee who added: “Times like this make me realise how fortunate I was to be able to learn from one of the greats in the industry. I’m going to miss standing back in the distillery with Willie, talking about making whiskey and listening to his life stories.”  Thank you Willie, we’re raising a tumbler of Michter’s Rye to you now. 

And finally… Gin flavoured with car?

We’ve had some pretty strange gins on the Nightcap: gin infused with Brussel sprouts, gin made from peas, we even stock a gin that has been into space, but gin flavoured with car? Sounds like something from the fevered imagination of Jeremy Clarkson but Piston distillery in Worcester has come up with just such a spirit. It’s infused with leftovers from the production of Morgan cars in nearby Malvern. If you had images of bits of oily steel steeping in neutral grain alcohol then think again because Morgan produces gorgeous cars that in many ways haven’t changed much since the 1930s. Part of the car is made from wood, ash to be specific, and it’s these ash shavings that are used to flavour the gin (which is available from Morgan’s online shop for £45). Toby Blythe from the Morgan Motor Company explained: “Ash wood forms one of Morgan’s three core materials, alongside aluminium and leather, and as such is intrinsic to our coachbuilding identity. When we worked with the expert distillers at Piston Gin, we were curious to find out how this material could be infused with their acclaimed gins. The result, we believe, speaks for itself.” Grace Stringer, distillery manager at Piston Distillery, explained to us how the gin was made: ash is distilled with the company’s London dry gin with a little apple to sweeten it, and then some ash is added at the end for colour and mouthfeel. Apple and ash-infused gin, not so barmy after all.

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How to buy (a bit of) your own drinks brand

This week Ian Buxton explores how you can own a little bit of your own booze business through the magic of crowdfunding. You might even get in on the ground…

This week Ian Buxton explores how you can own a little bit of your own booze business through the magic of crowdfunding. You might even get in on the ground floor of the new Brewdog and get rich! But you probably won’t.

Did you get any Brewdog? Not pints of the eponymous beer but a bit of the company. The self-styled bad boys of brewing raised capital through crowdfunding. If you picked Brewdog as an investment in 2010 then well done – early backers saw huge returns. As James Watt, BrewDog’s co-founder, explained in 2017 when a US private equity company took a 22% share: “Shares purchased in Equity for Punks I are now worth 2,765 percent of their original value. Even craft beer fans that invested in Equity for Punks IV, which closed in April 2016, have seen the value of their shares increase by 177 percent in just one year.”

If you’d invested in Brewdog in 2010, you’d be rich. RICH!

Unlike schemes such as Kickstarter where your cash is effectively a pre-order for a product and you don’t own a share in the company, crowdfunding means you are buying equity and become a shareholder – a co-owner of the business.

Now, you can buy shares in the large publicly-quoted drinks businesses, such as Diageo. In fact, if you have any kind of formal pension fund you quite probably already do. But crowdfunding is different: it allows you to get in at an early stage of the development of a new company. It’s interesting, fun, and potentially more profitable than investing in a well-established company but – pay particular attention to this bit – carries considerable risk that you can lose all your money.

So why do it? Well, several reasons. You may know the founders or principals of the fledgling concern and be prepared to back their judgement; you might agree that they’ve spotted a genuine gap in the market; in the case of a community-based enterprise you might take an essentially philanthropic view or you might just fancy a flutter.

You’ve missed out on Brewdog but, on the basis that you’re reading this on a drinks site I’ll assume you’re interested in booze, so what opportunities are out there right now? I’ve taken a look at Seedrs.com, a UK crowdfunding site, and WeFunder.com based in the USA. Note that these sites operate by providing you with information on the company, funds to be raised, intended use of the cash and details on what percentage of the business is being offered. There will be a fundraising target and a date when the offer will close. Read all this information VERY carefully before you commit.

Burleighs gin raised over £100,000 through crowdfunding this year

No one can have missed the gin craze of the last few years. If you think it can carry on for a while yet, then £10 will buy you a piece of Burleighs Gin – they’ve already raised over £100,000 on Seedrs.com.   

On the other hand, you might consider that gin is already a little passé and have heard of the hard seltzer boom in the USA. In that case, premium non-alcoholic and alcoholic seltzer brand Something & Nothing could be a good fit for your portfolio. Investment, also on Seedrs.com starts at £20, but one bold backer has already pledged £96,000 so evidently someone believes in the proposition.

Perhaps something on the huge US drinks scene will appeal. Turning to WeFunder.com there are a number of opportunities, ranging from flavoured malt beverage HoopTea (a $1,000 minimum commitment though) to Kokoro Spirits ($100 and up). Starting with Tequila it aims to build a “collection of premium spirits and a brand that celebrates communities and cultures from around the world”.

It’s always a good idea to spread your risk by diversifying investments. With that in mind, Drifter Spirits is creating a portfolio of craft spirits for the US market, starting with cachaça and aquavit brands. The company has been trading for some seven years with an experienced management team  $500 gets you a place on its share register.

There are many more opportunities arising on a regular basis and there are other crowdfunding sites. These are simply examples of an interesting new trend.  Any of these companies could be the next Brewdog or all might crash and burn, taking your hard-earned with them. Caveat emptor!

IMPORTANT: Nothing in the foregoing constitutes investment advice or a recommendation. As with any investment consider the risk factors, do not invest more than you can afford to lose and seek appropriate professional advice. Disclosure: Ian Buxton may be an active investor in one or more of the businesses mentioned here.

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BrewDog becomes the first carbon negative beer company 

We have mega news from Scotland’s ever-awesome BrewDog – it’s now officially carbon negative across the entire business! That’s right, not even carbon neutral, but negative. Talk about setting an…

We have mega news from Scotland’s ever-awesome BrewDog – it’s now officially carbon negative across the entire business! That’s right, not even carbon neutral, but negative. Talk about setting an example…

We’ve long been saying that companies need to take more accountability for their carbon footprint, and distilleries and breweries are far from exempt. While news surrounding the environment and climate change can seem like a barrage of negativity, every so often something miraculous comes along. Like the news that BrewDog is carbon negative! Seeing as CO2 levels are nearly at the highest record in human history, this news couldn’t come quick enough. 

BrewDog carbon negative

BrewDog is planning on planting an entire woodland

It’s easy for companies to make a small contribution to the cause of climate change, sit back and be happy with their performative eco-initiatives. Which is what BrewDog was doing, with its total carbon footprint coming to 67,951 tonnes CO2 in 2019. “And then it hit us,” write James Watt and Martin Dickie, co-founders of BrewDog, “the blindingly stark realisation that we were not doing anything like enough. And in fact, we were massively contributing to the current existential problem that our planet and our species are facing.”

This news from BrewDog is far from performative. “We double offset our scope 1, 2 and upstream scope 3 carbon,” the duo continue. That all sounds rather technical, but what it actually means is that BrewDog offsets the carbon in its supply chain as well as just in its production processes. This is true commitment. 

From 22 August 2020, the company pledged to remove twice as much carbon from the air each year as it emits. So, how is BrewDog achieving this improbable task? Firstly, by 2022 the company is planning to have planted one million trees in the Scottish Highlands in a 2,050-acre plot of land it bought. We’re not talking about a monoculture here, but actual biodiversity! The ecosystem will be built with the Woodland Carbon Code accreditation program. It’s also dedicating 550 acres to peatland restoration because peatlands are ridiculously effective carbon sinks. 

This is all very impressive, but you may be thinking that action isn’t enough in itself. Education is crucial too. BrewDog thought of this and is also planning an educational campsite at the site which will run sustainability retreats and workshops in what will be known as the BrewDog Forest. Give a man a fish, and all that.

BrewDog carbon negative

Local wind turbines will power all of BrewDogs UK breweries

This is also all well and good, but why work so hard on removing carbon from the atmosphere if you’re just going to keep contributing to the emissions? BrewDog thought of this too, and it has a multifaceted 24-month plan to reduce its carbon footprint. Waste malted barley will be turned into biomethane, relieving the dependence on fossil fuels. All of the electricity used to brew BrewDog beer in the UK will come directly from local wind turbines, while all of its vehicles will eventually be electric. By 2021, an anaerobic digester bio-plant will be in use, turning waste brewery water into H2O that can be reused in production. And last but certainly not least, perhaps the most creative out of all the initiatives, CO2 produced during fermentation will be captured and, hopefully, used to carbonate BrewDog beers!

Much of these initiatives are simply reducing and repurposing what was previously perceived as a waste product into something useful. Surplus beer is turned into vodka. Spent spelt is turned into dog biscuits. The brand’s MEGA (Make Earth Great Again) lager is made by replacing 20% of the barley with surplus fresh bread.  But, unfortunately, once the beer is produced there’s even more scope for waste. BrewDog reported that every year, almost one billion drinks cans in perfect condition aren’t even used, due to changes in branding or production errors. So, what did they do? Repurposed those cans with new labels! This seems like a logical solution, but time and effort are often prized over reducing waste. With a little bit of creativity, dedicated time and an open mind, waste almost ceases to exist! 

BrewDog carbon negative

All parts of BrewDog’s business are carbon negative

What is really inspiring here is not only BrewDog’s dedication and achievements but its transparency. An entire page was dedicated to its carbon footprint breakdown in the press release, all of its secrets laid bare. “We will regularly update and refine these numbers and share the latest estimates in each edition of our sustainability report,” BrewDog has pledged. Transparency has always been needed in the industry, but particularly when it comes to sustainability. 

Because of this hard work, BrewDog can now proudly say that all parts of its business are carbon negative. That encompasses its beers, bars, spirits, e-commerce and breweries across the world. “It has been a joy to work with BrewDog on these first big steps of their transition. Going forwards they won’t be perfect,” writes professor Mike Berners-Lee, lead scientific advisor at BrewDog. “They’ll make mistakes and they’ll need to be honest about them. They won’t need to beat themselves up but they mustn’t let themselves off the hook either. The message they send to the rest of the business world is that if they can say it like it is, everyone else had better do likewise.” This is crucial – there is always more to be done. It’s better to try and make mistakes, though there is never a time to sit back and rest.

“We want to make BrewDog a catalyst for change in our industry and beyond,” state the co-founders. We can only hope that this is the case. This is truly fabulous news, but the industry still has so far to go.

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The Nightcap and virtual pub quiz: 20 March

For fans of our weekly update on all matters boozy and brilliant, you might notice that things are looking a little different on this edition of The Nightcap… This week…

For fans of our weekly update on all matters boozy and brilliant, you might notice that things are looking a little different on this edition of The Nightcap…

This week it’s an abridged Nightcap, a Nightcapini, if you will, as there aren’t any launches, activations or gins with amusing botanicals to report on because of that other thing that is dominating the news. Instead, we have five stories looking at how the drinks industry is dealing with this unprecedented crisis, and then on a lighter note, we have a fiendishly difficult booze quiz (scroll to the end).  Answer the questions (pub quiz rules, ie. no looking at Google), send in your answers to us and we’ll give you a discount voucher to spend on selected drinks at Master of Malt with one lucky winner receiving a £25 voucher. The answers will be published next Friday.

But first, this is what was on the blog this week: Beer Hawk and ourselves announced the ‘Save the Pubs’ Alliance, while our CEO sent out a short message about the measures we’re taking to protect staff and continue trading throughout the current Coronavirus crisis. Adam then sadly had to report that Fèis Ìle 2020 and other whisky festivals were cancelled in response to the pandemic before he rounded-up some delicious boozes to keep your spirits up at home. Annie then recommended some places to visit in L.A. when we’re allowed out of the house again and introduced Martini’s new alcohol-free aperitivo. Henry, meanwhile, enjoyed a rather refreshing gin-based cocktail while he cast a spotlight on an often under-appreciated Scotch whisky distillery: Glen Elgin. We also launched a new competition and have two whole bundles full of wonderful spirits from The Lakes Distillery to give away, so get your entries in!

Right, on with the Nightcapini!

The Nightcap

Chief executive and Nightcap regular Miles Beale says that the government needs to go further

WSTA calls for duty suspension to save hospitality industry

Pubs, bars and restaurants still haven’t been formally closed, the government has just advised us to avoid them, but the hospitality industry is already taking a hammering with millions of jobs at risk. To help, the WSTA (Wine and Spirit Trade Association) has proposed the suspension of taxes for at least six months. Chief executive and Nightcap regular Miles Beale welcomes what the government has done already but says that it needs to go further: “On 25 March UK wine and spirit companies will be landed with their duty bills, followed six days later on 31st March with their VAT demands. Swift government action to waive excise duty payments for at least six months, starting from next week, would have an immediate impact and can make a real difference. This would allow all hospitality businesses to keep back vital company cash and support their efforts to pay employees and stay afloat.” Alex Wolpert, the founder of East London Liquor Company, added: “Around 40% of the money paid for a bottle of our spirits goes on duty. If the government agreed to put a stop to these tax burdens, for at least six months, it would free up vital cash and give businesses like ours some breathing space and a chance of survival.” 

The Nightcap

You can now click and collect beer, food and spirits from your nearest UK BrewDog

BrewDog Drive Thru and Pub in a Box helping keep self-isolators well-stocked

Pubs are doing everything they can right now to keep morale up and helping us enjoy a good brew. Firstly, BrewDog has launched BrewDog Drive Thru, so you can click and collect beer, food and spirits from your nearest UK BrewDog either by car, bike or on foot. You’ll need the Hop Drop app to order, and there’s a 30% discount for everyone using it (with a 50% discount for NHS workers). “These are uncertain times. But we are committed to looking after our crew, our customers and our company,” said James Watt from BrewDog. “BrewDog Drive Thru is a way in which you can keep fully stocked with the beer you love but in the best way possible. At the moment the only thing we can do is batten down the hatches and get through the storm together.” Obviously wait until you get home to consume your delicious brews (don’t drink and drive/ cycle/ skateboard, folks). What’s more, East London brewery Signature Brew is tackling two problems at once with Pub in a Box, delivered by musicians who have had their tours cancelled. To quote Brad Pitt: what’s in the box? You’ll find a delightful selection of beers with glassware, snacks, beer mats (for the full pub experience), a music quiz and even playlists curated by music journalists to accompany the beers themselves! A big thanks to all the pubs making self-isolation that little bit more bearable.

The Nightcap

#TheVirtualHappyHour partakers are encouraged to grab a drink and virtually catch-up with friends

#TheVirtualHappyHour, pub quizzes and whisky festivals

The hospitality industry is going virtual! Here are just a few ways you can get involved. Alcohol-free beer aficionado Big Drop Brewing Co is hosting a mega virtual pub quiz on Tuesday 24 March from 7.30pm to 10.30pm. Big Drop’s quizmasters will ask questions live on YouTube and at the end of each round, the answers will be revealed. Obviously this is relying on good ol’ honest fun, no cheating! It’s totally free, just tune in on YouTube Live. There are no prizes, though if you stay tuned then there may be a giveaway or two via the live chat… Meanwhile, Australia is holding an entire whisky festival online! Melbourne-based Whiskey! The Show will now send ticket holders a box of whisky samples for them to all taste together (virtually), encouraging them to share their tasting notes and reviews through an app. Additionally, in a bid to provide some social stimulation as well as supporting the hospitality industry financially, a group of friends have launched #TheVirtualHappyHour campaign. Partakers are encouraged to grab a drink, (virtually) link up with friends and have a catch-up. The idea is that at the end, everyone in the group will donate the price of a drink to their favourite bar, to help see it through these tough times. Each venue will have different donation preferences, so a group ‘leader’ will liaise with the bar after the happy hour to discuss how to best donate. “#TheVirtualHappyHour team want to encourage people to reconnect safely, whilst ensuring we are doing as much as we can to help the bars, pubs & restaurants we love, survive the next few weeks and months ahead,” says Steph DiCamillo May, part of the team behind the concept. Let’s do the best we can to pub from our own homes, folks! 

The Nightcap

Dayalan Nayager says we all need to come together to support the drinks trade

Industry rallies to support bar and pub workers

With many bar staff facing an uncertain future, Diageo has pledged £1 million to help. The fund will help British bars and pubs to pay their staff wages during the measures designed to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. “The British drinks trade is facing one of its most challenging times ever and we want to help our communities when they need us most,” said Dayalan Nayager, Diageo managing director, Great Britain, Ireland and France. “We all need to come together to support the trade and I would urge all my fellow drinks producers to do what they can to help our British pubs, bars and retailers and restaurants over the next few months.” The company is also offering free online Diageo Bar Academy training courses to anyone in the industry. Meanwhile, the Drinks Trust (the charity formerly known as The Benevolent) is looking to raise money to help members of the trade through these difficult times. As well as financial assistance the charity is planning to increase the capacity of its helpline fivefold to help those suffering mentally. To find out more go to the Drinks Trust website. It’s a worthwhile cause. 

The Nightcap

Psychopomp has raised about £800 for Bristol’s Children’s Hospital

Distilleries make and donate hand sanitiser

In these difficult and troubling times where goods such as toilet paper, pasta and hand sanitiser have been in short supply due to panic buying relating to the spreading Covid-19 pandemic, distilleries across the globe have stepped up to do their bit. After all, hand sanitiser is essentially high strength alcohol plus moisturiser. LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) led the way by retooling its perfume and cosmetic factories to make hydroalcoholic gel to be distributed to health authorities and hospitals free of charge, while Bristol’s Psychopomp has asked for donations for 100ml of hand sanitiser and this week has raised about £800 for Bristol’s Children’s Hospital. Pernod Ricard, Bacardi and Absolut Vodka have pitched in with similar efforts, as well as BrewDog, 58 Gin, Beinn an Tuirc, Cairngorm Gin, Deeside Distillery, Dunnet Bay Distillers, Loch Ness Spirits, Redcastle Spirits, Fen Spirits, Forest Distillery and Silent Pool Distillers in the UK. However, these good intentions are complicated by tax laws. Currently, British distillers have to pay £23 of duty on each litre of pure alcohol making the production of hand sanitiser prohibitively expensive. The WSTA has called on the British government to allow distilleries to turn waste alcohol into hand sanitiser without going through a complex technical and bureaucratic process. HMRC says it is prioritising applications to produce denatured alcohol, a type of spirit that is not for human consumption and exempt from excise duty. We at Master of Malt are getting requests from local organisations to provide hand sanitiser and we’re currently blocked from doing so by HMRC. We’ve applied for permission to denature alcohol and are waiting for their response.

The Nightcap

MoM virtual pub quiz 20 March 2020

That’s enough booze news, pour yourself a drink and let’s get on with the quiz. Remember, no cheating. To enter simply email your answers to [email protected]. Don’t comment below. All entrants will receive a voucher offering 10% off certain products and there will be one winner who will get a £25 voucher. 

1) Which much-admired Islay distillery manager announced his retirement last week?

2) How many distilleries are there on Skye?

3) How many times is Mortlach single malt distilled?

4) Where would you find boisé? 

5) Which cocktail does the Polish agent drink in John Le Carre’s The Looking Glass War?

6) What’s bigger, a British pint or an American?

7) What sport is the carraway-flavoured schnapps kümmel commonly associated with?

8) What whiskey does Sylvester Stallone’s character Jimmy Bobo request in the 2012 movie Bullet to the Head?

9) What do both the glass Gatsby raises and Tom Buchanan’s car have in common in The Great Gatsby film? 

10) Which bourbon whiskey brand inspired a Billy Idol single?

11) Evan Williams originally hailed from which country?

12) Which drink brand did the first-ever cinema advert?

13) There are more barrels of bourbon than people in the state of Kentucky, true or false?

14) In which wine region would you find ‘the dogs’ teeth’?

15) How many monkeys are there on a bottle of Monkey Shoulder?

MoM Competition 2020 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 20 March to 26 March 2020. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details.

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The Nightcap: 10 January

The Nightcap has returned for 2020, and with it a fresh batch of boozy news, including an alcohol-free bar, a £1m crowd-funding campaign, and the UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery. After…

The Nightcap has returned for 2020, and with it a fresh batch of boozy news, including an alcohol-free bar, a £1m crowd-funding campaign, and the UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery.

After a few weeks in a regenerative cocoon made out of Stilton and Yule log, The Nightcap has emerged with wings and those weird bug antlers that are actually eyes, ready to chow down on all the news from the booze world. That was a long-winded way to say that The Nightcap is back after a bit of a Christmas break, but the enthusiasm remains the same. We’re excited to see what drinks news this new year (and new decade) will behold – and it all kicks off… Now!

The blog was still full of fabulous features even throughout the festive period. We announced the winner of our Where’s #WhiskySanta 2019 competition the same week our supernatural, omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded sadly went on his holibobs. We then looked back at 2019: the delightful drinks we enjoyed (bartenders also had their say), the most read posts on our blog and an honest review of our trend predictions, before cracking out the crystal ball and to do it all again for 2020. Not always that seriously.

Our Dry January coverage kicked off at the Small Beer Brew Co., before Fiona Beckett and Claire Warner dropped by for a chat. Annie then explored the world of no-ABV cocktails, embraced #veganuary and the use of plant milk in cocktails and even looked to the future of AI in booze. Elsewhere, Adam enjoyed some warming rums, cast a spotlight on Micil and then Luxardo Distillery, while Jess brushed up on her Armagnac knowledge, and Henry reported on the developments at Port Ellen Distillery. Even among all that content, there was still time for a couple of new arrivals, including Bob Dylan’s own whiskey and a single malt from Yorkshire, as well as a fruity little number for Cocktail of the Week. Oh, and Dram Club returned for 2020.

Phew, talk about blog-mageddon! Now, for the first time in 2020, let’s enjoy the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

The Cat and Fiddle Inn opened in 1813 and is 1,689 ft (515m) above sea level

Funding secured for UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery

There’s another new distillery on the way, folks! This one’s got a pretty cool story, too. Take one historic pub, The Cat & Fiddle, situated 1,689ft above sea level in the Peak District. It’s beautiful but didn’t do so well as a pub (the whole driving a long way to it thing wasn’t really working…). It opened in 1813, but ‘reluctantly’ closed its doors in 2015. Business was far from booming. But step in the Forest Distillery team! Eager to expand production, and to find a space for casks to mature, it teamed up with the pub’s Robinson family to kick off a crowdfunder to refurbish and transform the pub into a whisky distillery. An initial crowdfunding exercise raised £55,000, and now the team says it’s well on the way to reaching its eventual £250,000 goal. The site will be renamed The Cat & Fiddle & Weasel, after the adorable motif on the Forest Gin bottle. As well as the pub and distillery, there will also be an onsite shop with takeaway options for picnics and a visitor centre. And the best bit? The Forest Distillery team reckon the new site will be ready to open come August! We’re VERY excited. Wondering the elevation of the current highest whisky distillery in the UK? That title goes to Dalwhinnie, perched at an altitude of 1,164ft. The only way is up!

The Nightcap

The AF Bar features 15 taps of pure draft zero-ABV goodness

BrewDog launches ‘world’s first’ alcohol-free beer bar

Sound the ‘Dry January’ sirens, folks, we’ve got a big one here. BrewDog has launched a bar dedicated to alcohol-free beer. A whole bar. 15 taps of pure draft zero-ABV goodness. Launched this week in Old Street, London, it’s the first time the independent Scottish craft brewer has featured a line-up solely devoted to drinks without alcohol at a bar where visitors will be able to enjoy activities such as Hip Hop Karaoke, Dabbers Bingo, Famous First Words, and more. But, perhaps most excitingly for the thrifty among us, BrewDog will also be running the ‘Drink All You Can Jan’ programme across all its bars, which will offer drinkers unlimited refills of its alcohol-free beers for the entire month. BrewDog previously dipped its toes into low-ABV waters with the release of Nanny State in August 2009, which is now the UK’s best-selling alcohol-free craft beer. It followed that up with an alcohol-free version of the flagship Punk IPA, Punk AF, and two new additions, Wake Up Call, a coffee stout, and Hazy AF, an alcohol-free take on its existing New England IPA, Hazy Jane. BrewDog referenced a UK Beer Market Report from Mintel in 2018 that said that 24% of beer drinkers are choosing more low- or no-alcohol options, and that 28% of beer drinkers are cutting back on consumption because of health concerns, so the brand clearly feels this is a timely initiative. “Drinkers opting for low- or no-alcohol are in danger of compromising on quality, taste and experience. And that’s just the beer – forget about places in which to enjoy it,” said James Watt, who is apparently the ‘captain’ of BrewDog (lame). “We are going to change that. We exist to be a point of difference, and our first BrewDog AF Bar is just that. It is a beacon for anyone in London after an alcohol-free alternative. Alcohol-free does not need to be synonymous with taste-free. ‘Drink all you can Jan’ is our anti-Dry January. Whether you have cut alcohol out or are cutting back, we want to show that alcohol-free doesn’t mean compromising on quality or taste.”

The Nightcap

The new-look Powers range

Powers Irish Whiskey unveils new look

Powers Irish Whiskey has revealed a new bottle design for its range of premium Irish whiskeys, which will debut on core expression Powers Gold Label in the USA from March 2020. The makeover was undertaken to reach a new generation of drinkers to the classic Irish whiskey brand, which is made by Irish Distillers at Midleton Distillery, and follows the launch of Powers Old Fashioned, the brand’s first-ever pre-mixed cocktail and the Powers Quarter initiative, a collaboration between six Dublin bars to tell the story of Powers and its history. The updated design for the bottle shape is inspired by the distinctive pot still silhouette from the brand’s historical home at John’s Lane Distillery and the label is styled on the Powers ‘diamond P’, which was one of the first-ever trademarks registered in Ireland. Each whiskey will also have a different colour label, with Powers Gold Label in red as an homage to the original red Powers diamond marque, Powers Three Swallow in blue as a nod to the bird’s feathers and Powers John’s Lane Release in metallic ink, to reflect the industrial nature of the original distillery established in 1791 on John’s Lane, Dublin. “Powers sense of identity has always focused on the diamond P; that became very clear to me as I worked my way through the historical archive. The diamond P was everywhere; on the casks, stationery, on bills and receipts, emblazoned on everything that left the distillery, and notably on the wonderful Powers mirrors that still hang in Ireland’s pubs today,” says Carol Quinn, archivist at Irish Distillers. “Workers at the old John’s Lane distillery even took to wearing a diamond P pin on their lapel, such was their pride to be part of the Powers family.  For me it’s wonderful to see the diamond P front and centre on this new label, symbolising all the history of this great whiskey since 1791.” Conor McQuaid, chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers, added: “We are excited to introduce this new look to the world and inspire a new generation with the unique history and personality of Powers.”

The Nightcap

The future is bright in the Cotswolds

Cotswolds Distillery raises £1m in crowdfunding campaign

The award-winning Cotswolds Distillery has been feeling the love this week at it delightedly reported that its recent fundraising had already raised £1 million. In early December 2019, the producer of delicious English spirits (we’re big fans of its whisky) launched the campaign through its Angel’s Share 2 fundraising platform in order to “maximise whisky production and continue its brand-building programme”. It’s little surprise that the initiative attracted such interest from investors, as back in 2018 the distillery successfully raised £3m of equity which was subsequently invested in building the brand and senior management team. “We pride ourselves on creating award-winning English whiskies that are enjoyed across the world, and, are always looking for new investors to join us on this journey,” says Dan Szor, founder and CEO of the Cotswolds Distillery. “It is a very exciting time for them to be involved with the company and we’re hoping that this new investment will carry us through the next chapter in the distillery’s evolution and help support us in creating even more delicious whisky!” If you fancy investing yourself, you can do so here before 13 January 2020.  

It’s Alissa!

The Balvenie kicks off Stories tour

Single malt Scotch whisky brand The Balvenie is poised to take its Stories tour of bar takeovers on the road, with stops including London’s Lyaness (Sunday 12 January) and The Artesian (13 January), as well as Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Café (15 January). And there’s an antipodean twist: six of Australia’s leading bartenders are coming along for the ride. Alicia Clarke of Jangling Jack’s in Sydney; Jessica Arnott of Foxtrot Unicorn in Perth; Nicola Dean of Maybe Mae in Adelaide; Kayla Reid of Nick and Norah’s in Melbourne; Chelsea Catherine of The Black Pearl in Melbourne; and, Alissa Gabriel of Mjolner in Sydney will all make drinks using The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 Year Old. Serves have been based on stories shared with the group of bartenders by Kelsey McKechnie, The Balvenie’s apprentice malt master, and creator of the expression. “I’m thrilled to be welcoming such an incredible cohort of bartenders onto UK shores to share stories and these special drinks with UK consumers,” said Alwynne Gwilt, UK ambassador. “Our new whisky series, The Balvenie Stories, is all about connecting through storytelling and I’ve no doubt this latest event series at these leading bars will give us some great tales to tell as the year goes on!” It’s not just about the booze – 10% of drinks sales from the tour will be donated to charities fighting the devastating bushfires in Australia. So what are you waiting for? If you’re in London or Glasgow, head on down!

The Nightcap

The Impact Fund is a commendable cause

Symington Port launches environmental initiative 

2020 has seen Port producer Symington Family Estates off to a flying start, celebrating some rather impressive milestones with the 200th anniversary of Graham’s Port and the 350th anniversary of Warre’s Port. To celebrate, the Symington family didn’t just throw a massive party and sip on the delicious fruits of their own labour (who wouldn’t?), but created a force for good in the world! The family has created a new Impact Fund with an initial pledge of a whopping €1 million euros. The purpose of the fund? It’s threefold: community wellbeing and health, environmental protection and conservation, and cultural heritage and education, all in the Douro and Greater Porto regions as well as the Alto Alentejo. They’re currently working with Volunteer Emergency Services of the Douro region (they’ve donated 13 ambulances so far) and Bagos d’Ouro, a charity that provides education and opportunities for underprivileged children in the Douro. “We have always sought to run our family business in a way that benefits people – be they our employees or the wider community. We are also committed to protecting the beautiful natural environments where we produce our wines,” said Rupert Symington, CEO of Symington Family Estates. “We have consistently reinvested in the Douro region and have a long history of supporting social initiatives in the areas where we work. The Symington Impact Fund is a way of formalising this commitment and ensuring we support projects which are most aligned with our values and where we can have the maximum positive impact.” What a way to celebrate! 

The Nightcap

George Duboeuf, the man who turned Beaujolais into an international sensation, died this week at 86.

The King of Beaujolais dies at 86

This week the wine world lost one of its greats: George Duboeuf, known as the King of Beaujolais. Duboeuf was a marketing genius who took the annual release of the young wine, generally enjoyed only in local bars, and made it a global news story in the 1970s and ‘80s. On the day the wine was released, always the third Thursday of November, there were races to be the first to bring that year’s vintage back where it was sold with the slogan: ‘Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!’. At a time when in Britain wine was still seen as something elitist, Duboeuf made it unpretentious and fun. He was born in 1933 into a vine-growing family in Burgundy and set up his own merchant business in 1964. It came to dominate the region through its own-label wines, with the pretty flowery labels, and by producing wines for retailers. Dominique Piron, head of Inter Beaujolais, commented: “Through his vision and his work, he gave life, colour, aromas and joy to the wines of Beaujolais. He was a catalyst, taking with him other merchants and other winemakers which made Beaujolais the first vineyard in France to make the headlines in newspapers and televisions, in France and around the world.” He went on to say: “The family business is in good hands with his son, Franck Duboeuf, at the helm and the adventure will continue.” Au revoir, Monsieur Duboeuf, and thank you for all the wine.

The Nightcap

Congratulations to WASE!

English start-up chosen for final of $1m Chivas Venture Fund

A London-based company WASE, which makes wastewater treatment systems, has won the England & Wales heat of this year’s Chivas Ventures. This annual competition run by the Scotch whisky company gives away $1 million to help with worthwhile businesses around the world. So far, Chivas has given away $5 million and, according to its figures, benefited over two million lives. WASE will now compete with 25 other companies in the global final in June. Before that, all 26 competitors will go to London for an intensive three-day training programme with experts and industry professionals. Founder Thomas Fudge commented: “I’m super excited and honoured to be representing England and Wales in The Chivas Venture global finals. Can’t wait to show the rest of the world what WASE has to offer and fight for my spot in the finals. Watch this space!” According to the press release: “WASE develops decentralised wastewater treatment systems that embrace a circular economy to recover energy, nutrients and water in wastewater  providing sanitation and energy in under-served communities.” Sounds very worthwhile. Good luck to WASE for the grand final in June!

The Nightcap

The Calming Coral cocktail

The Coral Room and MEDA kick-off 2020 with CBD-infused zero-alcohol cocktails

The Coral Room is getting its zeitgeist on in 2020 by kicking off the new year with a range of cocktails made by head mixologist Stefan Pohlod that are CBD-infused and non-alcoholic. The core ingredient in each serve is a drink from lifestyle brand MEDA’s range, GLOW, CALM, RECOVER and Espresso Medatini SKUs, which were created by blending of 5-15mg of liposomal CBD (cannabidiol) with synergistic ingredients. The offerings include the Glow Spritz which combines lime juice, cardamom bitter and elderflower syrup, the Calming Coral which features lemon juice, peppermint cordial and strawberry purée, the Recover & Revive which mixes Seedlip grove with grapefruit and lime shrub and the Wake Up Call which sees caramel cream, chilli bitters and coffee tonic paired together. The cocktails are priced at £10 each and the brand claims that they are “the perfect way to detox after the prolonged festive celebrations whilst restoring the balance of both body and mind through the inimitable benefits that CBD has to offer”. Apparently. Essentially they should appeal to anybody partaking in an alcohol-free start to the new year and those who are buzzed about CBD cocktails.

 

And finally…  Tottenham Hotspur and Beavertown launch collaboration beer

Tottenham Hotspur’s ‘Official Craft Beer Supplier’ (I didn’t even know that was a thing. Is this a thing now?) Beavertown has launched a new beer in collaboration with the club just in time for the first home game of 2020. Fans of the club (ok, my dad) have described the development as “much needed”, given the team’s performance so far this season. The beer is called One Of Our Own, a name chosen by Tom Rainsford, a Spurs fan who recently joined Beavertown as marketing director, presumably inspired by the North London side’s chant for star player Harry Kane. A Tottenham fan (again, my dad) has described the timing as “typical”. Jokes aside, One Of Our Own is a significant launch as the classic British IPA was crafted with purely European hops (Callista, Mandarina Bavaria and Barbe Rouge) in the microbrewery operated by Tottenham-based Beavertown inside the Club’s new home – a world-first for any football stadium. The beer is said to have notes of stone fruit and malt-sweetness, matching the flavours thirsty supporters have favoured since the stadium opened last April. “Beavertown’s Neck Oil is already a half-time favourite, and we wanted to add to this by offering something new at the start of 2020,” says Rainsford. “Supporting a club is in your bones, and this beer feels the same. It’s familiar, yet distinct. A satisfying pint that makes you feel at home. We see Spurs as the beating heart of the Tottenham community, a central hub for football fans and residents alike. We both share values of bringing people together, creating revolutionary experiences and even world firsts like our microbrewery inside the stadium.”  One Of Our Own will be sold exclusively at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and will be available at tomorrow’s huge Premier League clash against Liverpool. Will it bring them luck?!

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10 deliciously warming rums

They’re warming. They’re delicious. And they’re not just for Christmas. But they are particularly delicious this time of year. Rum is a go-to for many who want a good winter warmer….

They’re warming. They’re delicious. And they’re not just for Christmas. But they are particularly delicious this time of year.

Rum is a go-to for many who want a good winter warmer. It’s versatile in cocktails, it’s often full of festive spices and it tends to satisfy those with a sweeter tooth. But there are so many expressions around now, it can be hard to narrow down which bottling you should go for. 

That’s why we’ve done the hard part for you and created this collection of some of the most sublime spirits we have at MoM Towers. Enjoy!

Rumbullion! Chilli & Chocolate

Chilli and chocolate is a winning combination, as we all know. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise when Abelforth’s decided to add that delicious duo to its already sublime Rumbullion! Criollo cocoa nibs, chipotle chillies and jalapeño chillies were used to create the profile that we reckon would be smashing in a deluxe hot chocolate…

What does it taste like?:

Intense bittersweet dark chocolate leads with earthy red chilli warmth, creamy vanilla. coffee beans, nutmeg, red cola cubes and orange zest in support. 

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23, a sensational Guatemalan rum that’s won more awards than Meryl Streep, was blended using the solera system and matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. It’s a firm favourite of ours for good reason and a real show-stopper at social occasions.

What does it taste like?:

Very sweet and nutty with honey, chocolate, dark brown sugar, pipe tobacco, molasses and gentle smoke.

Foursquare Spiced Rum 

Foursquare is one of the best spiced rums on the market from one of the best rum distilleries around. The actual recipe is a family secret passed down through five generations, but you should be able to detect cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, which are gently blended among other ingredients at the centuries-old site.

What does it taste like?:

Spicy and sweet with notes of peppermint, nutmeg, toffee apples, gingerbread, Christmas cake, marmalade and parsley. 

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend

Appleton is one of the finest rum distilleries in the world and if you haven’t experienced any of its delightful expressions, then Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend is a great place to start. Plus it was made by the wonderful Joy Spence, who were big fans of here at MoM Towers.

What does it taste like?:

A thick, nutty and spicy expression with notes of vanilla, salted butter, rich molasses and toasted oak.

Pineapple Grenade Spiced Rum 

Pineapple Grenade is a spicy, fruity and fun expression made with 100% molasses rum from the sublime Diamond Distillery in Guyana. The spirit is then imported into the UK where it was infused with a secret spice mix as well as a blend of pineapple and salted caramel. This is perfect for those who love a bit of Tiki in their lives.

What does it taste like?:

Tangy mango and pineapple, layers of caramel and a touch of ginger.

Five Hundred Cuts Botanical Rum

One of the more intriguing trends of 2019 was the emergence of botanical rum, such as this from bottling from the distilling arm of BrewDog. Five Hundred Cuts was distilled from sugar cane molasses, which was fermented with red wine yeast and rum yeast for seven days before it was then double pot distilled. Then botanicals, including orange peel, lavender, schezuan peppercorns and cardamom were then re-distilled in the spirit, while cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, tonka bean, ginger, and allspice, were steeped in the spirit for 14 hours. The two spirits were finally blended and finished off with a touch of muscovado sugar. It’s quite the process and the resulting rum is suitably delicious.

What does it taste like?:

Coca-cola, dark chocolate, caramel, cardamom and rich dark sugar combine with more aromatic notes like ginger, orange peel and cloves.

Cut Smoked Rum 

A rum that should appeal to fans of peated whisky is not something that’s usually readily available. However, those who prefer the smokier side of things should be satisfied with this tasty rum. The base of Jamaican rum was smoked using oak chips to impart that signature flavour.

What does it taste like?:

Struck match, coffee bean bitterness balanced by vanilla.

El Dorado 12 Year Old

Any fan of rum will have good things to say about the Demerara Distillers Limited distillery, Guyana, who produce the fantastic El Dorado rums. The 12 Year Old is the perfect introduction to its range, a rich, complex and downright delicious tipple.

What does it taste like?:

Sweet vanilla, dark chocolate and brown sugar, then some syrupy dried fruit, zesty notes of marmalade and rich spice.

Ron Izalco 10 Year Old

Ron Izalco 10 Year Old is a delightful blend of Central American rums produced from volcanic sugar cane molasses which were aged in ex-bourbon barrels oak casks for a decade. This is one to be sipped and enjoyed.

What does it taste like?:

Fresh red chilli heat balanced by sweeter tropical flavours and citrus, alongside creamy caramel and fragrant honey, with a pinch of tobacco and a handful of raisins.

Caroni 20 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company) 

As independent bottlings of rum go, Caroni 20 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company) might just be the finest you’ll ever have the pleasure of tasting. It’s hard to get your hands on spirit from the legendary closed distillery, such is the popularity of its rums, but thankfully That Boutique-y Rum Company managed to squirrel some away and it’s every bit as fantastic as you would imagine.

What does it taste like?:

Medicinal smoke, warm rubber, homemade blackcurrant and raspberry jam, ripe banana, manuka honey, muscovado sugar, rich vanilla, game meat, coffee beans, rancio truffles, drying wood spice and bread and butter pudding. 

 

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