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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Celebrity

The Nightcap: 18 March

Shedloads of valuable American whisky goes under the hammer, racing driver Jenson Button releases blended Scotch, and a vodka to raise money for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. All this…

Shedloads of valuable American whisky goes under the hammer, racing driver Jenson Button releases blended Scotch, and a vodka to raise money for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. All this and more in the Nightcap: 18 March edition. 

The first rays of spring sun have reminded of a story about David Hockney’s mother travelling from her home in Yorkshire to meet her son, now a famous artist, at his home in Los Angeles. Her response to the glories of California was simply: “all this sunshine and not a washing line in sight!” Not sure what connection this has to drinks, but it always makes me laugh. 

Anyway…. On the blog this week we looked at a Limited Edition Slane Whiskey and gave customers the chance to win a trip to Slane Castle in Ireland. We also announced the three lucky winners of our Howler Head competition to the UFC in London on 19 March. The Irish theme continued with a round-up of St. Patrick’s Day cocktails, a look at the great Redbreast 12 Year Old, and Millie Milliken showed us how to make a Black Velvet, a blend of Guinness and Champagne. Then Henry headed to old Kentucky for a taste of the delicious Four Roses Small Batch Select, Nick Morgan asked whether you can hurry the ageing process in whiskey, while James Evans conducted some cask experiments of his own on a rather smaller scale. We finished the week with a round-up of some delicious mother-pleasing fizz because there’s a special day coming soon. 

Right, on with the Nightcap: 18 March edition!

Staritsky-levitsky-private-cellar-martini-temp1

Tastes good and does good too

Raise money for Ukraine with Staritsky Levitsky vodka

To help raise money for the British Red Cross Ukrainian Appeal, spirits importer Emporia has donated 40 cases of Staritsky Levitsky Private Cellar vodka. The vodka is distilled near Lviv in the west of Ukraine, and will be available to buy from Master of Malt for £50 a bottle from today (18 March) while stocks last, with all net proceeds going to the Appeal. In addition, bars including the London Cocktail Club at its venues, and various Scottish bars such as the Nightcap, Panda & Sons, Hey Palu, The Voyage of Buck and Draffens will be offering Staritsky Levitsky cocktails with proceeds going to the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. There will also be an industry fundraiser on 20 March at The Covent Garden Social Club. Emporia CEO James Rackham’s wife Lyubov is Ukrainian and they have family still in the country. He commented: “Like everyone else, we are feeling helpless at the situation unfolding in Ukraine and my wife and I want to support in any way we can. With Staritsky Levitsky vodka we have a way to help here in the UK, which is very important to us.” 

IWSC 2022 Seaweed

‘Outstanding’, not my words but the words of the IWSC

Atom’s whisky gold haul at IWSC

Brrr brrr brrr!” – that’s the sound of various people blowing their own trumpets here at Master of Malt towers. That’s because our in-house drinks boffins, Atom Brands, have done rather well at the IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition) this week. We don’t tend to cover awards here at the Nightcap, mainly because there are so many of them, but when it’s the home team, how could we resist? And what a haul of medals it was: Bathtub Gin, Bathtub Gin Grapefruit & Rosemary and Rumbullion! all picked up silvers; Darkness 8 Year Old, Green Isle, and Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old scored golds, while Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire was awarded a ‘gold outstanding.’ Outstanding! Head of whisky Sam Simmons commented: “In a fiercely competitive set, we have not just one but TWO of the top 10 highest scoring 10 Year Old Islay whiskies Aerolite Lyndsay (Gold 97 points) and Seaweed (98 Gold Outstanding). Only one other product achieved this level of praise, Laphroaig Sherry Oak Finish 10 Year Old, and that is absolutely massive recognition.” The other sound heard reverberating around the streets of Tonbridge was the popping of Champagne corks as the Atom team partied responsibly long into the night. 

Sotherby's rare American whiskeys

What a haul!

Sotheby’s announces “most valuable auction of American whiskey ever” 

American whiskey fans, it’s time to cash in your Premium Bonds and have a look down the back of the sofa because Sotheby’s in New York has just unveiled a mouth-watering collection of rare American whiskeys which will go under the hammer on 19 March at 10am EDT. The 750-lot auction has an estimate of $825,000-1.2 million. Sotheby’s is billing it “the most valuable auction of American whiskey ever staged.” It is based on two collections: the American Muscle Collection put together by muscle car enthusiast Rich “RJ” Gottlieb; and The Three Continents Collection Part III, the final part of a massive collection of 5,000 bottles. Highlights include Pappy Van Winkle Double Vertical 2020 & 2021 (estimate $16,000-24,000), Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon 21 Year Old “The Wheated Patriot” 1993, ($8,000-12,000) and Michter’s Single Barrel Rye 25 Year Old NV ($5,000-6,000). Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist, commented: “American Whiskey stands apart owing to its strength of character, and over the last two years has shown the beginnings of a meteoric rise in the secondary market.” If all this is too much for you, we highly recommend taking a look at Four Roses Small Batch Select, a snip at under £60 a bottle. 

Jenson Button Coachbuilt whisky

Blending a whisky is a lot like building a car, apparently

Racing driver Jenson Button launches his own whisky

Watch out Johnnie Walker, there’s a new blended Scotch whisky in town and it comes with a celebrity endorsement. Called Coachbuilt, it’s a collaboration between amusingly-named motor racing driver Jenson Button and top whisky expert George Koutsakis. Apparently it’s inspired by the similarities between whisky blending and coachbuilding, ie. making a bespoke motorcar. Mr Button explained: “The timing was brilliant – I was in the middle of launching our coachbuilding company Radford when I got introduced to George as he was on a mission to create the ultimate blended whisky. I’ve always loved my whisky but didn’t know a huge amount about the blending world, however the more we talked the parallels between blending and coachbuilding became pretty apparent. He then sent me an early sample of what he was working on and that was that, I asked how I could get involved and two years later here we are!” Koutsakis added: “Coachbuilt began from a realisation that blended Scotch whisky does not receive the praise it deserves worldwide. With our whisky we cast the spotlight on the immense skill required to take components from dozens of distilleries across the country, and piece them together, to create a liquid defined by balance and complexity.” Coachbuilt costs £42 and is bottled at 46% ABV. At the moment it’s only available from www.coachbuiltwhisky.com but we will let you know if we get some in.

The latest bottle from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is from… Ireland

SMWS celebrates release of 150th bottling – and it’s not a Scotch

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has gone rogue with its 150th distillery bottling because…. Prepare yourself… It’s not from Scotland! Instead it comes from a mystery distillery in south west Ireland. Named Cask 150.1 ‘Let’s Go West!’, what we do know is that whiskey from this distillery has never before been bottled as a single cask, so that’s exciting. And they’ve released it just in time for St Patrick’s Day (which was yesterday) – what lucky timing! Specifically, the whiskey is seven years old, having spent the first three years in a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel before being transferred to a first-fill ex-rye whiskey barrel. It boasts a spicy and sweet flavour profile, specifically ‘chocolate and physalis cupcake made with muscovado sugar and a pinch of pepper’ according to the press bumf. “For our landmark 150th bottling, we wanted to showcase the journey of our never-ending quest for quality and flavour,” said Kai Ivalo, spirits director. “Choosing an Irish distillery to mark this milestone occasion truly shows the adventurous spirit of the Society – celebrating our vibrant spirit no matter its source.” It’s available to members via ballot entry at £75.

Jacine and Paul Rutasikwa - MATUGGA DISTILLERS 10

Look at all that lovely rum

UK’s first black female-owned distillery Matugga launches crowdfunding campaign

Have you tried rum from the Matugga Distillery? It doesn’t just make exceptional drinks like Matugga and Liv rums, but happens to be the UK’s first black female-owned distillery, founded by Jacine Rutasikwa and her husband, Ugandan-born head distiller Paul Rutasikwa, based in Scotland. Oh, and it’s just launched a £300,000 equity crowdfunding campaign so that they can take over the world prepare for global expansion and increase output eight-fold. It aims to become a ‘cane to cask’ producer, with Paul hoping to develop and work on a sugarcane plantation in Uganda. Clearly there’s a thirst for it, as the UK rum market grew by 37% in just two years from 2019, amounting to £1.3bn last year. Now rum-lovers can actually own part of this unique rum distillery thanks to the campaign. “When starting a business, black entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs and particularly black female entrepreneurs face huge barriers and often struggle to get to the next phase for a number of reasons – whether its access to finance, networks, education or mentorship,” says MD Jacine. “It’s not very often that you see black-owned businesses on equity-based crowdfunding platforms, and we’re looking forward to launching our campaign to the general public.  It’s an exciting time for our distillery and we’re inviting rum lovers to back our business and help us take Scottish rum worldwide.” Want a slice of the pie? You can invest in the campaign here.

Snakes in wine

Pint of snakebite anyone?

And finally… Snake preserved in wine bites man

In Britain we have a drink that’s particularly popular among students called ‘snakebite’ – a mixture of beer and cider. In China, though, they do things more literally. It was reported this week that a man in Heilongjiang opened a jar of wine in which three snakes had been preserved, and one of them came back to life and bit him. According to Newsweek, he was trying to treat his son – snake wine is a popular remedy in traditional Chinese medicine. The production process involves sealing live snakes in a jar of wine. But if the jar isn’t filled to the top, then the snakes can survive on tiny quantities of air and being cold-blooded can shut down their bodies so they appear to be dead. Then when you open the jar, snakes alive! Quite literally. The man, apparently, has recovered from the incident though we have not been told what happened to the snake. The moral of the story is don’t drown snakes in a jar of wine. 

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The Nightcap: 21 January

Which bar has the world’s biggest whisky selection? Where can you get free pints – or even pull your own? Can hamsters outdrink elephants? All these questions and more are…

Which bar has the world’s biggest whisky selection? Where can you get free pints – or even pull your own? Can hamsters outdrink elephants? All these questions and more are answered here. It’s The Nightcap: 21 January edition!

It’s Friday afternoon, which means we’ve all made it through another week of January and are closer to brighter, warmer days. Although we do love being tucked up warm with a good dram and a fresh edition of The Nightcap on a winter’s evening. Good thing we’ve whipped up another one then, isn’t it? Let’s crack on.

This week on the blog we had a £20,000 50-year-old GlenDronach whisky, which frankly is exciting enough to have been the sole feature, but then we also got to see how Diageo is reviving Brora and picked out some top Scotch to enjoy on Burns Night. A gin from Lebanon called GinBey also arrived at our doors, as Lauren took a look at the inexorable rise of the non-alcoholic apéritif and Millie bemoaned the dying of the dive bar, before we whipped up a Bobby Burns especially for Burns Night.

Now, onwards to The Nightcap: 21 January edition!

The Nightcap: 21 January

The release celebrates a broken boiler and a fermentation that went on for three weeks!

Ardbeg limited release celebrates a fermentation that went wrong

We tend to think of single malt distilleries as well-oiled machines, turning out consistently excellent whisky. But sometimes things go wrong. Very wrong. One such time was in November 2007 when the boiler broke at Ardbeg and refused to get going. This could have spelled disaster for the washbacks which would have been too cool to do the normal ferment. Where most would have seen a crisis, Dr Bill Lumsden saw a crisitunity. He instructed the team to open the washbacks and expose them to the air. He explained: “I’ve always wanted to experiment with longer fermentations, so I think an unintentional boiler breakdown was the best thing that could have happened! For context, most Ardbeg is only fermented for 72 hours, making three weeks uncharted territory for us. The outcome is a dram that tastes like pure science fiction. Peat and smoke meld beautifully with fresh, floral flavours, while sharp, more malty notes give Ardbeg Fermutation a uniquely zingy profile.” It was aged in a mixture of first-fill and refill bourbon casks and bottled at 49.4% ABV. This very unusual 13-year-old Islay malt will set you back £150 and is only available to Ardbeg Committee members from 1 February. It’s likely to be a collector’s item of the future. 

The Nightcap: 21 January

We say goodbye to a great man, Anthony Barton

Legendary Bordeaux owner Anthony Barton dies 

Sad news from Bordeaux as the wine world lost one of its greats in the form of Anthony Barton who died on Wednesday at the age of 91. Barton was one of the last of a breed of Irishmen who used to dominate the Bordeaux wine trade up until the 1970s when the multinationals moved in. He was descended from Tom “French Tom” Barton from Enniskillen who came to Bordeaux in 1722, Despite being in Bordeaux ever since, the family retained its Anglo-Irish roots. Anthony was born in Ireland in 1930, educated in England, and at the age of 21 came to work with his uncle Ronald Barton at Chateau Langoa-Barton. When his uncle died, Anthony took over in 1983 and under his watch, the wines of Langoa-Barton and Leoville-Barton went from strength to strength to become some of the most highly-prized in Bordeaux. He had been ill for a number of years but we are pleased to hear that he was able to attend his granddaughter’s wedding recently. Following news of his death, tributes poured in from around the world, with people remembering his warmth, kindness, and generosity. The term ‘proper gentleman’ was used a lot. We would like to offer our condolences to his wife Eva, and daughter Lilian Barton-Sartorius, who is involved with the business. The Barton family legacy is safe in her hands. 

The Nightcap: 21 January

Brewdog in trouble again

Brewdog shipped not legally-approved beers to US

It just gets worse for the self-styled punks of the beer world. A BBC investigation has discovered that Brewdog shipped beer including Elvis Juice to the USA that contained ingredients that had not been legally approved. One former worker who spoke to the BBC stated: “The pressure was enormous. ‘Just make it happen’, that was the culture. It was clear to us this was coming from the top – from James [Watt].” There is evidence that Brewdog deliberately deceived the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in America by giving them false information on at least five occasions. It would have been the importer who would be liable had the TTB decided to take action. One importer Daniel Shelton commented: “We believed what we were told and we weren’t told what was actually going on. They [Brewdog] did lead somebody in my company to falsify documents. And, of course, I’m not happy about that; I don’t respect that, I don’t like it.” James Watt, Brewdog’s founder responded on Linkedin: “We made some mistakes with the paperwork on the first few shipments.” He continued, “all taxes were paid in full, but the paperwork was not always correct.” He also said that he has come clean to the TTB which has decided not to take action. All this and more will be in a forthcoming BBC Scotland investigative programme about the craft beer behemoth which will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland on Monday 24 January at 19:00, and available on the BBC website soon after. Sounds like required viewing.

The Nightcap: 21 January

The new record breakers?

World’s biggest whisky selection in Lanarkshire?

A Scots chef claims his bar has the world’s biggest whisky selection beating ‘record holders’ in the USA. Derek Mather has more than 3,000 different drams behind the bar at the Artisan Restaurant in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, and believes his collection topples that of a pub in California that holds the official Guinness Book of Records title. The Whiskey House in San Diego – run by Alex Minaev – says it has the most, with 2,467 on offer, and was awarded the prestigious title in January 2019. It will hold it until it is officially contested, but Mather is doing just that, saying “If 2,467 whiskies is the current world record then we know we’ve topped it. We have over 3,000 whiskies here”. Minaev, who claims he now has more than 4,000 different drams, responded in kind, however, saying “Well, you can claim you are the fastest runner at 100m but, until you register that record at the Olympics, it is no more than just a claim.” Sounds like fighting talk. So, who actually has the most whisky? We won’t know from the Guinness Book of Records unless Mather formally registers his selection. Seems like it’s pretty obvious what should happen next… dram off!

The Nightcap: 21 January

Just make sure you know how to pour your Guinness or you’ll end up on @shitlondonguinness

A 500-year-old pub on Airbnb lets you pull your own pints

If pulling your own pints in a 500-year-old pub with your mates sounds like the dream, then you’ll be delighted to learn about a new staycation opportunity in Lincolnshire. The White Hart Inn, located in Horncastle has been listed on Airbnb at £667 per night and sleeps 14 guests. Or a bargain £47 per person per night. There are six bedrooms (and a sofa bed), seven bathrooms, pool tables, plenty of room to host meals, and beautiful surrounding countryside to explore. But the main attraction is the fully functioning bar, where you can even hook up the beer of your choice if you order in advance. Unsurprisingly, customers are already leaving rave reviews for the venue on Airbnb. What’s not to love about enjoying your favourite pints on draught with your friends and family in a space that’s all your own. Unless, of course, you’re like us and are friends with a lot of bartenders. Then it might feel like a busman’s holiday…

The Nightcap: 21 January

Jezza’s getting the round in

Jeremy Clarkson offers fans free beer at his brewery

And if you don’t want to pull your own pints, then let Jeremy Clarkson do it for you. Well, not quite him personally, but the TV presenter is offering fans the chance to enjoy free beer at his new brewery. The Top Gear, Grand Tour, and Clarkson’s Farm star has revealed that the Cotswold Brewing Company in Gloucestershire, home to his Hawkstone Lager, is in the process of developing a new 4% ABV session lager and has sought input from beer lovers who are willing to participate in the recipe testing this week. Two free samples of the two session front-running recipes, as well as a free half pint of his Hawkstone 4.8% ABV lager, are on offer, both made using Clarkson’s own barley from Diddly Squat farm. Clarkson’s farm shop has had some bad news recently, having been forced to close and been refused planning permission for a restaurant, but the bar is still going strong. “The Hawkstone master brewers have been working tirelessly on the new session lager but we’ve reached a bit of a deadlock with these two recipes,” says Clarkson. “We’re calling on all beer lovers to come down to the brewery and help us decide which goes into production.” Some people might find Clarkson disagreeable, but you can’t argue with free beer.

The Nightcap: 21 January

If this goes right for Scotch the results will be huge

Scotch whisky on the table in trade talks with India

Trade talks between the UK and India are now underway, with Scotch whisky on the table as one product with huge potential gains. Scotch is only one product among many that Britain wants to export, but cracking the world’s biggest whisky market has plenty of obstacles. A bottle arriving in the port of Mumbai faces a colossal 150% import tariff, in part because domestic distillers have lobbied fiercely and successfully to limit Scottish imports. Yet it hasn’t stopped Indians from being enthusiastic drinkers of Scotch whisky. To further complicate matters, some Indian states don’t allow alcohol sales at all, except for those who know how to get around the rules. Scotch makes up only 2% of India’s market, yet the value of Scotch whisky sales to India has risen from below £60m in 2011 to more than £150m in 2019. Oxford Economics calculated that if import tariffs come down to around 25% it would lead to £1.2bn more exports within five years, potentially generating 1,300 jobs in the UK. And part of the pitch to the Indian government is that such trade liberalisation would only take Scotch from 2% to around 6% of the nation’s consumption while boosting Delhi’s government revenues by more than £3bn. That way, everyone wins. If only it was that simple. Still, if progress could be made, it would mean a great deal to Scotch whisky.

The Nightcap: 21 January

Congratulations, Angelo!

St James Bar appoints Angelo Sparvoli head bartender

St James Bar has a new head bartender: Angelo Sparvoli. Taking the reins at the establishment within the five-star Sofitel hotel, Sparvoli joins with an impressive résumé. The 28-year-old Italian- native began his foray into the industry in 2013, in the Le Marche region of central Italy. He worked several bars in Italy and Portugal before joining the prestigious American Bar at The Savoy in 2016. There he progressed from barback to bartender under the tutelage of bar manager Declan McGurk and head bartender Erik Lorincz, during which the bar garnered a multitude of awards including World’s Best Bar at the Spirited Awards in 2018 and in the World’s 50 Best in 2017. In January 2020, Sparvoli joined Lorincz at the award-winning Kwānt, but has now got his own space to show us what he’s got. “I am very excited to welcome Angelo at St James bar in Sofitel London St James,” says Kostas Bardas, bar manager at St James Bar. “His passion and vision for bartending, alongside his well-established experience in prestigious bars will elevate our five-star offering even more.”

The Nightcap: 21 January

These are hot property

No-and-low alcohol category value nears $10bn

It’s more than just Dry January, interest in no- and low-alcohol drinks is fast becoming a year-round trend. A new report from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis shows just how much the category has to celebrate, after examining 10 core markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and the US. Based on its findings, the IWSR forecasts that no- and low-alcohol volume will rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 8% between 2021 and 2025, outpacing alcohol volume growth by more than 0.7% CAGR over the four-year period. The market value of the no-and-low sector in 2021 in the 10 markets reached just under US$10 billion, up by 6% from US$7.8bn in 2018. The category now has a 3.5% volume share of the drinks sector. “While January has become a popular month for people to cut back or abstain from alcohol, interest in no- and low-alcohol drinks has increasingly become a year-round trend among consumers across the world,” says Emily Neill, chief operating officer of IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. The question is, how does a new brand in the sector stand out as companies rush to make their mark? Neil says that the brands that will ultimately dominate in the no/low space are those that are “successful in navigating the barriers of taste, price, pack format, availability and overall consumer education.”

The Nightcap: 21 January

“Another round!”

And finally… Hamsters handle booze better than elephants

You have no idea how hard it is to get a hamster drunk”. Not a sentence I ever thought I’d write, but that quote from The Atlantic concerns a story I don’t think any of us could have possibly expected. Then again, 2022 has seemingly no interest in relenting from the chaotic energy that has engulfed life in recent years, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that humans spent time and money finding out that hamsters have a really high tolerance for strong alcohol. They score low on a special scale of falling over sideways no matter how much they consume and, when given the choice between water and alcohol, regularly go for the latter. In fact, Gwen Lupfer, a psychologist at the University of Alaska Anchorage, was even quoted as saying “you just put a bottle of unsweetened Everclear [a high strength brand of grain alcohol] on the cage and they love it.” PLEASE don’t test this theory at home, though. What’s craziest about this story is that it’s not technically news, hamsters’ ability to handle their drink has been known to scientists for some time. They have been observed hoarding fruit in the wild and consuming them as they ferment throughout winter. What isn’t clear is why nobody told us until now. Bonobos, chimpanzees, and bats can also apparently hold their drink, while bigger animals like cows, horses, and elephants struggle. We’re not sure whose feeding all these animals booze, but all we’re saying is that Attenborough has means, even if we’re not clear on motive.

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The Nightcap: 14 January

In the news this week: celebrate Burns Night with Batman, Guinness goes green, Marky Mark gets into Tequila, and, not to be outdone, Katy Perry, crashes the world of zero…

In the news this week: celebrate Burns Night with Batman, Guinness goes green, Marky Mark gets into Tequila, and, not to be outdone, Katy Perry, crashes the world of zero ABV drinks. All this and more in The Nightcap: 14 January edition!

Well, time continues to march on so now we’re at the weekend before Blue Monday, supposedly the worst day of the year because it’s cold, dark, and we’re all broke and guilty thanks to Christmas indulgence. The Irish have a saying that we think is quite a fitting response to this sort of thinking: what a load of ol’ shite. There’s lots to enjoy in January. Like leftovers. New presents. The FA Cup. And, of course, The Nightcap. What a treat. Let’s crack on with today’s edition.

On the blog, our Dry January coverage continued with cracking cocktails from High Point, and you can still win some goodies from them thanks to the second part of our competition. Dr. Nick Morgan returned to ask bartenders to go easy on the ice, while folks from all over MoM chipped in to recommend some of our favourite places for lunch. Elsewhere, our New Arrival was a very special rum from Guatemala, our Cocktail of the Week was inspired by one of the legends of the jazz age, and we got familiar with the weird and wonderful Pussanga as well as an Australian winery that turned its hand to whisky.

Now, onwards to The Nightcap: 14 January edition!

The Nightcap: 14 January

What is it with celebs and Tequila?

Mark Wahlberg launches a Tequila

George Clooney, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kendall Jenner… are there any celebrities left who don’t have a stake in a Tequila brand? Well, we strike Mark Wahlberg off the list anyway as he’s invested in Flecha Azul, co-founded by Mexican PGA golfer Abraham Ancer and entrepreneur Aron Marquez. Wahlberg actually initially turned down the proposal, saying “you have all these other people out there claiming to have gone to Mexico and created Tequila and cultivated agave and all this stuff”, but was persuaded that this time was different. A visit to the brand’s distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, which has been owned and operated by a local family since 1840, surely helped. Flecha Azul has five types of expressions: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Cristalino and Extra Añejo, but is currently only sold in California, Texas, Nevada, and Georgia, although it plans to launch nationwide later this year. Despite every celeb and their granny having an agave brand, Wahlberg is unfazed by the competition. “The space is growing thanks to guys like Dwayne who have created a lot of awareness and excitement,” he told CNN. “We’re coming for everybody’s spot… We plan on being the best.” The Departed actor added that he’s down to host a Tequila-off with Johnson and Clooney. “I’ve tasted their product, they haven’t tasted mine! Those guys know me very well, they know my competitive spirit!'”

The Nightcap: 14 January

The portmanteaus need to stop. Please.

Meanwhile, Katy Perry launches zero ABV drinks for ‘Soberuary’ 

If you’re sick of irritating portmanteau words like ‘veganuary’, ‘staycation’, and ‘brosé’, then look away now because top pop star Katy Perry has just created the world’s worst word – ‘soberuary’. Yes, it’s a juxtaposition of January (or perhaps February) and sober. You probably won’t be surprised as to the reason behind this word crime is that the Californian singer has recently launched her own range of zero ABV drinks. Called De Soi, they are made in conjunction with, as Perry put it on Twitter, “my fellow new mama/ botany babe Morgan McLachlan.” De Soi will come in three varieties: Golden Hour made with citrus and lemongrass, Champignon Dreams with strawberries and grapefruit (and we presume mushrooms), and Purple Lune flavoured blackberry nectar, vanilla oak, and rose petals. McLachlan is the lady behind Amass, a company that makes all kinds of botanical-based goods including skincare products, gin, and non-alcoholic drinks, so she probably knows what she’s doing. And it does make a nice change from another celeb Tequila brand, we’re looking at you Marky Mark, but please no more portmanteau words.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Fifty Cheyne is one of several capital establishments marking Burns Night with Aberfeldy

Celebrate Burns Night with Aberfeldy

And if you’re on the lookout for Burns Night ideas, Aberfeldy has options across London. The Cadogan Arms, The Sitwell Supper Club, Boisdale Belgravia and Canary Wharf, and American steakhouse Smith & Wollensky will all be hosting Burns Night feasts on 25 January with traditional food and a selection of signature Aberfeldy serves. Meanwhile, No. Fifty Cheyne has an extravagant five-course set menu and whisky tasting flight and Mr. Fogg’s Society of Exploration is making three limited-edition cocktails. There’s the Burns and the Bees, a mix of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, spiced oat milk, honey, and walnut bitters, served with an oat tuile; the Sae the Lord Be Thankit, a combination of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old combined with cold brew Lady Grey tea, shortbread syrup, and rhubarb bitters; and the Golden Ratio, a blend of tablet-washed Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, Moët N.V. Champagne and orange bitters. You can click the links to each establishment to find where to book your tickets. Sounds like there’s going to be some truly cracking Burns Night celebrations this year.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Batman is Scottish. This is canon. And he probably loves Glenfiddich

Or you could Celebrate Burns Night Batman style

Ah, Burns Night! A celebration of all things Scottish, and Batman. Wait, what? If you head down on Tuesday 25 January to Park Row restaurant, you’ll be able to take part in ‘The Wayne Family Burns Night Supper’. Yes, apparently all along Batman was Scottish. Who knew? Well, according to the press release, everyone did. The evening will draw on “Bruce Wayne’s Scottish heritage, well-known to readers of the comics”, and consists of a traditional Burns Night supper with whiskies and cocktails by Glenfiddich, followed by a ceilidh band so you can dance the night away. Tickets cost from £55 per person, with whisky pairings extra. The Soho restaurant, that’s Soho London, not SoHo New York, is billed as “the UK’s first DC-inspired restaurant,” which we initially thought was something to do with the capital of the USA but it actually refers to the comic book company behind Batman, Superman et al. A restaurant inspired by superheroes, imagine being at lunch when they came up with that one.

The Nightcap: 14 January

No emissions from this big boy

Guinness goes green with zero emissions transport

Diageo has been really stepping up its environmental commitments of late thanks to its 10-year sustainability action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, and the latest development it’s made is to introduce the first zero-emissions vehicles into Guinness’ fleet from this summer. The aim is to cut transport emissions by 70% by the end of 2025, and by 100% before 2030. There’s actually already one zero-emission vehicle already in use exclusively at the brewery, which was used in a trial to transport bulk beer in the Guinness tankers from St James’s Gate to Dublin Port, helping to determine if it can be used to transport heavy goods beyond the brewery. Four zero-emission trucks will also be tested later this year to deliver kegs to the hospitality trade in Dublin City, with an ambition to extend further if successful. “We are only 263 years into our 9,000-year lease on the St. James’s Gate Brewery, and we are in it for the long haul – for our people, our products, and our planet, and we will never settle in pursuit of a better, more sustainable future for everyone,” Barry O’Sullivan, managing director, Diageo Ireland.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Are you intimidated by the ‘rules’ of wine?

75% people think ‘rules of wine’ intimidating

Woodbridge Wines recently sought the help of OnePoll to conduct research into how people respond to the world of wine and the response was… less than ideal. According to the findings, three out of four of people find wine etiquette intimidating, while 67% of respondents believe that there are right and wrong ways to drink wine and eight out of 10 respondents said they did not always follow the so-called “rules of wine”. A total of 2,000 U.S. respondents aged 21 and older participated in the survey, and just 22% of them said that following traditional wine etiquette greatly enhanced their experience of drinking. The good news was that seven out of 10 respondents said they drink wine more than any other type of alcohol over the winter, and a pleasant surprise was found in the research that showed 62% of men and 50% of women would choose wine over beer while watching sports. So not all bad then. We’d personally be very intrigued to see how people would respond to a similar survey about whisky.

The Nightcap: 14 January

For two days this summer, Portugal is coming to London!

Portuguese FESTA coming to London in June 

This sounds brilliant. Portugal will be coming to London for two days this summer. London’s Bar Douro has teamed up with wine expert Sarah Ahmed to put on FESTA, a two-day festival devoted to all kinds of Portuguese deliciousness at Tobacco Dock in London on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June. There will be wines from 50 of the country’s best producers to sip as you munch on delicious Portuguese snacks like croquette de bacalhau. Max Graham, from the noted Port family and Bar Douro founder, had the original idea to “introduce wine, food and travel lovers to the Portuguese producers and products.” He continued: “I’m thrilled to be able to do this through a unique cultural event, with art and live music.” With Sarah Ahmed’s involvement, the wines are likely to be superb. She explained: “the wines have gone from strength to strength as Portugal’s dynamic producers have developed an ever-deeper understanding and respect for their country’s distinctive grape varieties, wine traditions, and terroir.” It sounds like the next best thing to actually visiting the country. And you won’t have to take a lateral flow test. We hope. 

The Nightcap: 14 January

Tax deductible wine? It’s about damn time (phone courtesy of @Trump_ton)

And finally… is wine now tax deductible?

For the self-employed, the arrival of January only means one thing. It’s tax time. The end of the month is the deadline to get your returns in so people are frantically going through their receipts trying to work out what is and isn’t tax-deductible. Printer ink is, sadly drinks aren’t. Or are they? Online funny man @mikedicks aka @Trump_ton spotted something in his local Waitrose which will provide hope to impoverished freelancers everywhere, wine classed as an office supply. This means that all those bottles you’ve been knocking back over the year are actually tax-deductible. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

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The Nightcap: 3 September

It’s Friday, The Nightcap is back and the Tequila is on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his doppelgänger, unless us Brits spill it all coming back from the bar of…

It’s Friday, The Nightcap is back and the Tequila is on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his doppelgänger, unless us Brits spill it all coming back from the bar of course… What are we talking about? Read on to find out…

How hard is it to get a saying going, do you think? For example, if we wanted to replace ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ (or TGI Friday if you’re rad/a restaurant chain) with ‘Thank God it’s The Nightcap’, how long would it take to popularise the new and improved version? We know we can count on everyone who reads this to get on board, and that must be at least six people. We just need a weekly round-up of boozy news to become so synonymous with the beginning of the weekend and Friday itself that it’s a natural move for people. It can’t be that hard. Hoover is synonymous with the vacuum cleaner and I don’t know anyone who owns a Hoover. Let’s aim for Christmas.

Anyway, those of you who take a gander at our lovely little blog every now and then will have noticed there were some very exciting things happening this week. Like us celebrating Boutique-y Whisky’s birthday by shouting all about the Home Nations Series, or reviewing the very first Benriach Malting Season release. Elsewhere, Adam had a taste of some intriguing Irish whiskey, Lauren spoke to the remarkable woman behind Montanya Rum, and Millie uncovered the world of whisky auctions. Oh, and if you’re in the mood to whip something up tonight, then perhaps try our Cocktail of the Week: The Dominican Double!

And yet there’s still even more drinks stories to tell this week. So let’s get on with it. Here’s The Nightcap: 3 September edition!

The Nightcap: 3 September

Jameson is the toast of 2021 for Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard “rebounding very strongly” from Covid

Pernod Ricard announced some very promising results this week with organic sales up 9.7% on pre-Covid levels and profits up by 18.3%. “The business rebounded very strongly during FY21 to exceed FY19 levels,” said CEO Alexandre Ricard. Much of this success was driven by the irresistible rise of Jameson, seeing a 15% growth globally. The Irish whiskey brand is now bigger than Absolut in the US. Looking at other brands in the portfolio there was a strong performance from the Chivas Brothers side of the business with Glenlivet, Chivas, and Ballantine’s all enjoying growth, as well as Martell and Malibu. On the other hand Royal Salute, Beefeater, and Havana Club all lost ground. Looking at markets individually: Europe was up 4%, with the UK, Germany, and Eastern Europe all performing strongly, in contrast to Spain and Ireland. Globally, China (up a massive 34%), Russia, India, and the US (up 6%) all performed well. As expected, travel retail was a disaster, down 50%. Ricard continued: “I would like to take this opportunity to praise the exceptional commitment of our teams during this difficult time and express my support to those who have been or continue to be impacted by this pandemic. We will stay the strategic course, accelerating our digital transformation and our ambitious sustainability & responsibility roadmap. Thanks to our solid fundamentals, our teams, and our brand portfolio, we are emerging from this crisis stronger.” Trebles all around!

The Nightcap: 3 September

Congratulations, Kirsten!

Brown-Forman Scotland welcomes new assistant blender, Kirsten Ainslie

Congratulations to Kirsten Ainslie who has just landed the job of assistant blender for Brown-Forman’s Scotch distilleries, working with the master herself, Dr. Rachel Barrie. Ainslie, who spent three years as distiller at Edinburgh’s John Crabbie & Co, will join Barrie looking after Benriach, The GlenDronach, and Glenglassaugh. The job will involve new product development, cask management, and assessing spirit quality. As you can imagine she’s quite pleased: “I feel very privileged to be taking on the role of assistant blender and working alongside Rachel Barrie who is renowned in the whisky industry. Working closely with Rachel, I hope to build on the legacy of maturing and marrying different casks, and crafting whiskies to be enjoyed by newcomers and connoisseurs alike,” she commented. Barrie added. “Kirsten will be a great addition to the team. Nurturing young talent is an important part of what we do at Brown-Forman and Kirsten has certainly proven she has the best nose for the job.” Sounds like she’s going to be a Scotch whisky star of the future. 

The Nightcap: 3 September

Real talk. The new-look Chivas is no cap. Yas queen. That’s how young people talk, right?

Chivas Bros gets down with the kids

My 10-year-old daughter has come up with a portmanteau word, ‘dadbarrassing.’ It’s for those moments when fathers try to get down with the kids. This new word sprang to mind when we received a press release announcing a redesign for Chivas 12 Year Old. Apparently the biggest in the brand’s 112-year history. Global marketing director of Chivas, Nick Blacknell explained (if that’s the right word) the thinking behind the change: “Social media has introduced a new, broader audience to the wonder of whisky – ‘flex’ consumers with a hustle-first ethos that seek out upmarket brands to align themselves with.” We’re not quite sure what this means but the colour scheme has changed to “vibrant burgundy” and the packaging has changed to be more environmentally friendly with a new lighter bottle that will apparently save 1,000 tonnes of glass annually. Meanwhile, the liquid will remain the same. Blacknell continued: “I’m particularly proud of the central role sustainability has played in reconceptualising Chivas 12 for a new generation. With this redesign, we have once again reinforced our belief that sustainable luxury is not an oxymoron.” Expect to see the hip cats drinking Chivas 12 in fashionable discotheques this autumn.

The Nightcap: 3 September

Free whisky cocktails is a deal we’ll never turn down

Whisky pop-up giving out free drinks

London pubs The Culpeper and The Duke of Cambridge are doing the Lord’s work, it has been revealed this week, by launching ‘Whisky Six Wednesday’. This means that to celebrate the teaming up of Nc’nean and the sustainable pubs, a pop-up is being made that will give out free whisky, soda, and mint cocktails every Wednesday throughout September from 6-7pm at the two locations. The Scotch whisky distillery and eco-conscious London establishments will offer the former’s signature Whisky Six serve free of charge for anyone who can make a pledge for what they’re going to do differently in life, via Nc’nean’s website here. Whether it’s going zero waste for a month, cycling to work, or simply not checking emails outside work hours – this partnership wants to encourage positive change. The Whisky Six is intended to be a fresh take on a G&T (as in, it’s a Highball) and mirrors the approach the partnership encourages, which celebrates the ‘golden hour’, an early evening moment to reflect and encourage new experiences and fresh takes on old ones. If you want to make the serve yourself, just combine 50ml of Nc’nean Organic Single Malt Whisky and 100ml of soda water in a glass filled with ice. Gently stir then garnish with a fresh sprig of mint. Otherwise, you can get it at all four Culpeper venues across London outside of the promotion. But you’ll have to pay. Our advice would be to get the free ones if you can.

The Nightcap: 3 September

The distillery is looking to harness its environment to become more sustainable

Bruichladdich Distillery aims for net-zero whisky

Great whisky doesn’t come without cost. It’s estimated that Islay’s nine distilleries burn 15 million litres of oil each year, which means a lot of CO2 emissions. Good thing a lot of effort has been made by various distilleries and companies to recognise the importance of sustainability, with Bruichladdich Distillery becoming the latest to make a commitment. The Islay maker says that, by 2025, its distillation process will be net-zero. The production of malted barley and the hot mash to create the wort, whisky’s source fluid, will follow. Innovative types of green hydrogen production using green electricity and water electrolysis are planned, but for now, Bruichladdich is depending on a green tariff. Renewables will hopefully be installed over the next few years with Douglas Taylor, Bruichladdich’s chief executive, hoping that the technique could then be applied to Islay’s other distilleries, businesses, and homes, transforming the island, which is also the site of experimental tidal energy pilot projects, from fossil fuel dependency into renewables self-sufficiency. “We have this view of ‘think big, start small, but start today’,” Taylor says. “And that’s one of the things you need in the industry: to take a brave and courageous step to represent what change could look like,” he said. “What you have to do is start with what you can control.” For more info on Scotch whisky’s quest for sustainability, this Guardian article goes into some great detail.

The Nightcap: 3 September

This is a distillery we’re very excited by

Aber Falls releases its latest whisky

Aber Falls continues to show off its whisky prowess following the launch of its Single Malt Inaugural Release in May, with a new 2021 bottling. The three-year-old expression was made using 100% Welsh malted barley and rock-filtered water taken from the Aber Falls Waterfall, so it’s delightfully local for those who love a bit of provenance. Whisky fans who like intriguing processes will also appreciate that the bottling was distilled in an intriguing mix of copper pot and stainless-steel stills before being matured in a mix of ex-Oloroso and PX sherry casks, ex-bourbon casks, and virgin oak casks, before being bottled at 40% ABV. The Welsh distillery says to expect an aroma of sweet fruits with a hint of clove and delivers a rich and full-bodied palate, with sweet sherry notes, dark chocolate and espresso. It stimulates a long and lingering finish of dried fruit and subtle spice. Welsh bartender Alex Mills has also made a signature serve, an Old Fashioned with a Welsh twist that’s loosely based on the flavours of a Bara Brith, a spiced tea cake common in North Wales. The signature serve consists of ingredients from the four corners of Wales, including 15ml of honey from Nature’s Little Helpers in Cardiff, a pinch of black Welsh tea from Tea Traders in Carmarthen, five drops of coffee bitters from Dyfi Coffee in Machynlleth and, of course, 50ml of Welsh whisky. The 2021 bottling is on its way to MoM Towers and you’ll be delighted to know the price point is insanely reasonable (the RRP is £26). Lots to like about this distillery, folks.

The Nightcap: 3 September

Apparently, one of these isn’t Dwayne Johnson.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson wants to drink Tequila with his doppelgänger

The man who is definitely, totally and unequivocally most famous for owning Teremana Tequila, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, wants to share some of his greatest work with police officer Eric Fields, who happens to be the most remarkable doppelgänger. A picture of patrol lieutenant Fields’ was posted by the sheriff’s office on Facebook with the caption: “This gentlemen recently ran into Sgt. Mason and informed him he wanted to meet our Deputy that people say looks like “The Rock”. Sgt. Mason passed that along and Lieutenant Fields was happy to swing by the Hartselle Wal-mart to see him. Tyler is one of their many hard workers and it was great to meet him and some of his coworkers!” On Monday, the movie star responded by reposting a tweet comparing the two men side-by-side along with the caption: “Oh s**t! Wow. Guy on the left is way cooler. Stay safe brother and thank you for your service. One day we’ll drink @Teremana and I need to hear all your ‘Rock stories’ because I KNOW you got ’em #ericfields.” As for Fields himself, he’s surprisingly taken the news he looks like an international star and sex symbol in good spirits, telling AL.com “I’ve been called The Rock and Vin Diesel’s love child. I go along with it. It’s humorous. It’s flattering. It could be worse people, I guess.” 

The Nightcap: 3 September

RIP to all the lost pints.

And finally… data reveals Brits spill 11m pints per round

The return to busy bars and pubs means the old challenges are back. Getting the attention of bar staff. Nabbing a table that isn’t by the kitchen door. And trying to not spill everything you’ve just bought to huge ironic cheers from the other punters (this is actually a strangely loving response if you’re not from the UK and Ireland). According to hospitality app, OrderPay, Britons collectively spill an average of 11 million pints per round, and with the average pint in the UK costing £3.94 that’s the equivalent of over £43,340,000 each time! A whopping 40% of Brits confess to regularly dropping their drinks, with the average amount spilled per round just under a quarter of a pint. Disparities inevitably exist across the regions and the different age groups. The obviously lying over 55’s painted a cautious picture, with only 30% saying they lost beer to the floor, compared to 55% of honest 25 to 34-year-olds. Londoners typically seem to be in a rush the whole time as spillages were most prevalent in the capital, with almost half of people (49%) saying they regularly lost beer en-route. This perhaps is a good time to take stock and rethink. It’s an awful lot of drink wasted, folks. Our beloved booze deserves better. 

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The Nightcap: 25 June

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

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

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

On the blog this week

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

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

Now on with the Nightcap: 25 June edition!

The Nightcap: 25 June

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

‘End these tariffs!’ says the Bourbon Alliance

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

Champagne film featuring Stephen Fry released

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

The humble Espresso Martini. Who would have thought it?

Espresso Martini is named the nation’s favourite cocktail

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

It’s an inauspicious start for Jordan’s brand

Michael B Jordan renames rum after accusations of cultural appropriation

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

You can tune in now!

Irish Distillers launches ‘A Perfect Blend’ podcast

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

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

BrewLDN is back!

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

Global travel retail needs big hitters like this right now

Jim Beam’s Lineage arrives in travel retail

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

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

Chivas Bros. pay dispute settled

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

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

Milroy’s’ new Soho whisky terrace is open

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

The Nightcap: 25 June

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

And finally…. Beer ice cream is coming

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

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Booze by musicians, perfect for Father’s Day!

Want to really spoil dad this year? Get him something boozy and brilliant by a band or artist he loves. Booze by musicians is the perfect gift for Father’s Day. Fathers….

Want to really spoil dad this year? Get him something boozy and brilliant by a band or artist he loves. Booze by musicians is the perfect gift for Father’s Day.

Fathers. Where would we be without them? Literally non-existent. That’s science. We have a lot to thank them for. Not the gift of existence, of course, because none of us asked for this and it’s a mixed bag at best, but for making the whole experience more palatable by being there for us and showing love in that understated manner dads have.

And after a particularly tough time of it recently, all their efforts and support really deserve a good gesture of gratitude. Given there’s not many dads who don’t enjoy a tipple or two, you can’t really go wrong with a bottle of booze. But if you want to really impress your old man, you should go for a bottle with an association he’ll appreciate. 

Something by his favourite musician, for example, is guaranteed to ramp up the meaning and a pleasant dose of nostalgia and novelty to your gift. What you don’t want to do, however, is trawl through the internet finding out which star owns what brand. So we’ve done the hard work for you and picked some of our favourite bottles by musicians perfect to gift this Father’s Day.

Booze by musicians

KISS Black Diamond Rum 

If your dad is the kind who loves to rock and roll all nite, particularly with a good rum, then look no further than this beauty from the legendary and heavily made-up KISS. Black Diamond Rum, which references the closing song on the band’s 1974 eponymous debut album, features some classic band imagery on the label. But it’s no gimmick. The liquid in this bottle is quality Caribbean rum aged for up to 15 years. Sip it, mix it, hold the bottle aloft while wagging your tongue. This one can do it all.

Why your dad will like it: Because it’s a delicious, quality rum with notes of vanilla, citrus peels, mature oak, cinnamon and a touch of caraway spiciness underneath it all. Oh, and because it’s KISS. Who wouldn’t love this?

Booze by musicians

Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon

It’s a pretty good bet that if Bob Dylan’s involved in something it’s going to be a) brilliant and b) something your dad is interested in. Recently the legendary singer-songwriter decided to create a range of whiskey with Marc Bushala (founder of Angel’s Envy Bourbon) and it truly ticks both boxes. Named after one of his most famous tunes, Heaven’s Door Tennessee Bourbon is made with spirit aged for at least eight years in American oak barrels and has lots of the sweet vanilla, aromatic spice and toasty warmth you expect from a good bourbon. Plus that design is from Dylan’s own wrought ironwork. How cool is that?

Why your dad will like it: Because it looks great, it tastes amazing and it will make him want to get his old records out and pair his dram with some classic Dylan. 

Booze by musicians

Cîroc French Vanilla

If your dad is more of a hip-hop fan then he’s sure to know that singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs has been involved in the CÎROC Vodka brand since 2007. This particular bottling, made from fine Ugni Blanc grapes from the French Gaillac region which are five times distilled and infused with vanilla cream and vanilla bean, comes with two stars for the price of one, however, as none other than French Montana is the official face of French Vanilla. A French Montana sounds a bit like a cocktail you’d get in the Alps, doesn’t it?

Why your dad will like it: It’s a rich, creamy and moreish drink that he can mix till his heart’s content while enjoying the street cred this bottle’s associations bring. It will probably lead to some tragic dad rapping, however. You’ve been warned.

Booze by musicians

The Pogues Single Malt Whiskey 

An Irish whiskey made by West Cork Distillers, this single malt, was aged in bourbon oak casks before it was bottled up at 40% ABV. It is highly versatile for either sipping, or mixing in a cocktail. But best of all, it’s the official whiskey of the legendary band The Pogues, who are so much more than just a Christmas number one. As your dad is sure to tell you when you hand him a bottle of this. For his sake, do act like you’re interested.

Why your dad will like it: It’s a reliable, great value and terrific looking single malt with flavours of caramelised nuts, chocolate salted caramel, dry oak spice, peanut butter, s’mores and floral malt. It will probably lead to some tragic dad drunken signing/poetry, however. You’ve been warned.

Booze by musicians

Crystal Head Vodka Aurora Gift Pack with 4x Glasses

Ok, so this one might be a bit cheeky. Crystal Head was co-founded by Dan Aykroyd, as in the star of Ghostbusters. But given he’s probably best known for his Blues Brothers role, we’re considering him to be a musical icon. No arguments. If you’ve seen it you’ll understand. Anyway, this is a perfect gift because, well, it’s a gift set. Also, look at it. Skulls are cool. We all know that. 

Why your dad will like it: He’ll love remarking on the fact that the glasses look like the bottle. He’ll show his friends and say things like, “that’s cool, isn’t it?” and they’ll agree. Because skulls are cool.

Booze by musicians

Manchester Gin FAC51 The Haçienda

One for the dads who like to look longingly into the distance and remember the good ol’ days. This gin was made to celebrate Manchester’s music, culture and, more specifically, iconic nightclub The Haçienda. It looks fantastic and has a beautiful profile of citrus, liquorice and earthy sweetness. Should make some fab Father’s Day G&Ts. Oh and be sure to let him know that Joy Division and New Order legend Peter Hook was involved in the creation of this one.

Why your dad will like it: He’ll appreciate yellow-and-black-striped dance floor columns being recreated on the bottle’s label and the fact that the bottle has Hook’s signature. You could say he’ll be mad for it. But I don’t want the people of Manchester to boo me, so let’s not go there.

Booze by musicians

Slipknot No.9 Whiskey

Shawn “Clown” Crahan from much-loved heavy metal band Slipknot actually blended this whiskey himself with Cedar Ridge Distillery. Which is neat. As is the fact that It was made with a helping of rye and plenty of Iowa corn, as both Slipknot and Cedar Ridge hail from Iowa. Double neat.

Why your dad will like it: It’s toasty, sweet and smooth whiskey that goes down really easy with Slipknot’s Iowa album on in the background.

Booze by musicians

Armand de Brignac Blanc Ace of Spades Gold

Armand de Brignac welcomed Jay-Z into its brand officially in 2014 after years of him being something of a brand ambassador and he’s brought him a sense of swagger and style that should appeal to the dads who either are a) legitimately quite cool or b) tragically think they are. Either way, both deserve to be spoiled (option b is trying their best) and Armand de Brignac’s Ace of Spades is the kind of swanky showstopper of a bubbly they’ll love.

Why your dad will like it: Because he’s got options. Either he pops it open like a Formula One driver and lets whats left of his hair down. Or go classy and appreciate a fine, aromatic and silky sipper. He might even put on a suit.

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A history of celebrity-endorsed drinks 

From Sean Connery advertising Suntory in the ’90s, to David Beckham with Haig Club, Ian Buxton looks into the history of celebrity-endorsed drinks. Nowadays you’re nowhere in celeb world unless…

From Sean Connery advertising Suntory in the ’90s, to David Beckham with Haig Club, Ian Buxton looks into the history of celebrity-endorsed drinks. Nowadays you’re nowhere in celeb world unless you’ve got your very own Tequila, whisky, gin or Prosecco.

I couldn’t help but notice that Sir Ranulph Fiennes is flogging rum these days. Celebrity-endorsed drinks adverts have been a long-standing fixture since, well, since there were celebrities and advertisements in which to feature them but looking into Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum, it seems that those relationships are now more than skin deep.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes with Dr John Waters

Sir Ranulph Fiennes with Dr John Waters from English Spirit

Celebrity-endorsed drinks through the ages

Sometimes, the celebrity juxtapositions seem bizarre– hard to believe that even in 1949 actress Doris Day was the best salesperson for Harvester road rollers, for example. In alcohol, today’s audiences might look askance at Woody Allen promoting vodka (assuming any brand would think it a great idea) but, in 1966, he was apparently the ideal choice for Smirnoff to appeal to trendy young drinkers.

Fortunately for Smirnoff, its association with Mr Allen was long forgotten (except for this blog’s keen eye for gossip) before recent adverse publicity reflected badly on the brand. But in fact, the possibility of the celebrity turning toxic and damaging the partner is a real danger of celebrity endorsements.

That’s something probably well remembered by Bacardi’s marketing team who, in late 2003, had to withdraw TV commercials featuring ex-footballer turned thespian Vinnie Jones hastily following his involvement in an unfortunate air-rage incident. Unfortunate for both parties as he lost what was clearly a lucrative gig, and Bacardi had to dump at least one expensive advert that had yet to air.  

Once upon a time, it was simpler to use dead celebrities, as at least they could be relied on not to misbehave. Mark Twain (died 1910) and Rudyard Kipling (1936), were both disinterred to promote Old Crow bourbon in American press adverts in the early 1950s based on Twain’s reputed fondness for the brand. He could hardly argue the point or ask for a fee.

Old Crow Whisky

Just Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain enjoying a glass of bourbon

Take the money and run

Some years later, a fashion developed for publicity-shy but impecunious celebrities to endorse Japanese brands, confident that the association would not be picked up in the West, a trend wonderfully satirised by Bill Murray in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation. Murray stars as Bob Harris, a fading American movie star who is having a midlife crisis when he travels to Tokyo to promote Suntory whisky.

Who could he have been thinking of? Surely [surely shurely? Ed.] not Sean Connery’s 1991 promotion of Suntory Crest? Surely one of the world’s greatest Scotsmen would want to promote a fine single malt? Well, no single malt could afford his rumoured fee of $1 million but Dewar’s stepped up in 2004 with some digital magic in which Connery meets his younger self and advises ‘Some age, others mature’.

Doubtless Connery’s agent was happy with that deal and by the turn of the millennium any coyness about an association with alcohol had long been abandoned as more celebrities began to cash in. In fact, coy hardly describes Sharon Stone’s promotion of the William Lawson’s blended Scotch whisky, a sister brand to Dewar’s that’s popular in European markets. 

Leveraging the brand

But soon an even more astute generation of celebrities with a keen sense of their commercial value began looking for more than a lucrative payday, linking their personality uniquely closely with the brand by seeking first a royalty payment based on sales and, even more recently, taking an ownership position with equity in the brand itself.

This is a new development and demonstrates our continuing fascination with celebrity.  Never mind seeking out some obscure, artisan product – as consumers we’re proving little more than biddable sheep, anxious to secure the reflected glory of a well-known face and name.

The trend setters have been US hip-hop* artists such as Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy, Puff, etc) with his 2007 partnership with Diageo’s Ciroc Vodka. Fellow rappers had worked previously with various Cognac brands, such as Jay-Z with Chateau de Cognac’s D’USSE and Nas has been working as a brand ambassador for Hennessy since 2012. 

But P. Diddy changed the rules, treating the French vodka like a trainer brand and insisting on a 50/50 profit split and creative control of US marketing. Did it work? Ask Diageo, which when it acquired DeLeón Tequila was quick to cut a similar deal with Combs.

George Clooney Casamigos

The two amigos, George Clooney and Rande Gerber

In fact, this appears to be a particularly effective strategy for star-struck Diageo which has form in celebrity tie-ins with their brands – think David Beckham with Haig Club and George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila, both following in Combs’ Ciroc footsteps.

Cashing in

The amounts of money are staggering. Casamigos changed hands for a reputed $1 billion if all the longer term targets are met, and August 2020 Diageo was back in business, having ponied up a cool $335m to buy Aviation American gin, with another $275m to follow if sales live up to expectations.

The fortunate celebrity here is Ryan Reynolds who we may safely assume will be able to stand his round for many years to come.

* For the avoidance of doubt the editor has suggested I confirm that I am unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Messrs. P. Diddy, Jay-Z and Nas though, full disclosure, I did once watch a James Bond film.

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The Nightcap: 26 February

The Nightcap makes its final February appearance for 2021 with news on record-breaking whisky, a host of new releases and the life-affirming effects of gin-soaked raisins. Happy Friday, folks. If…

The Nightcap makes its final February appearance for 2021 with news on record-breaking whisky, a host of new releases and the life-affirming effects of gin-soaked raisins.

Happy Friday, folks. If you’re in England, you’re no doubt excited or anxious about the roadmap to end the country’s lockdown measures. It makes you think that at some point all this will just be a bizarre collective memory we share. But while we wait for normality to return, we still need to find ways to pass the time. And thankfully there’s always enough going on in the drinks industry to keep us entertained. Just look at this week’s Nightcap, for example. It’s bursting at the seams with boozy happenings.

As was the MoM blog this week, as Kristy revelled in her good fortune at tasting the remarkable Bowmore 27 Year Old – Timeless Series, Ian Buxton returned to unmask a mysterious billionaire Scooby-Doo-style while Lucy sat down with Adnams head distiller John McCarthy to hear his thoughts on all kinds of boozy business. Mille then made a cocktail that made us all realise how much we love Maryland turtles before Henry showcased ten of our favourite vermouths and put forward a contender for best image to ever feature on our blog after speaking to Kathy Caton, the founder of Brighton Gin. Elsewhere, Adam had a wonderfully whisky-soaked week, going around the globe in a tasting glass to find out why Peerless whiskey is making waves, how the Dartmoor whisky distillery has unlocked Devon’s potential as a home for great drams and what the confusing but charming new Starward bottling is all about.

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 26 February

This one bottle alone fetched £1m

Whisky collection sells for almost £6.7m at auction

The record books are going to need some significant revising following a recent auction. You might recall the ‘The Perfect Collection’ was tipped to make headlines and now the nearly 3,900 bottle-strong hoard of whisky has lived up to the hype. The group took a hammer price of £6,675,000, attracting 1,557 distinct bidders from 54 countries. While a bottle of Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60-year-old, sold for £1 million, making it the first single bottle of whisky to be sold at an online-only auction for one million pounds (looks at the camera with Dr Evil face). The collection, which was built up by the late American private collector Richard Gooding, has become the highest-value hoard ever to sell on the secondary market at an auction dedicated to one single collector’s whisky. “This auction was solely dedicated to one collector’s magnificent library of whisky – a man who was dedicated to building the perfect collection. As enthusiasts of whisky ourselves, we knew that this collection deserved its own spotlight to allow us to truly convey the rarity and sheer scale of something so historic,” Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctioneer, said​. “With so many incredible bottles attracting the attention of high-value investors and passionate collectors across the world, the sale is one for the record books.” The whole affair is an absolute gem for those who love eye-watering sums being traded for incredible booze that will almost certainly never be drunk. Which is a shame.

The Nightcap: 26 February

Campbeltown Harbour, back in the good ol’ days

Old Campbeltown photos sought by Glen Scotia distillery

Campbeltown was once the whisky capital of the world, containing over 30 distilleries in the 19th century. There are only three left today. Now that rich history is being celebrated by one of the three, Glen Scotia, in a new initiative to find old photos of the town’s whisky heyday. So if you have any tucked away in your loft, you can email them in to [email protected] or do it the old fashioned way and send them by post to the distillery. More information on the website. The deadline is 31 March this year. Chosen images will be used as part of Glen Scotia Whisky Festival. Iain McAlister, master distiller at Glen Scotia, said: “Whisky was a way of life in our coastal town for over 100 years and over time, all that experience, craft and passion has been poured into Glen Scotia. Now we are looking for photography that will help us uncover what makes Campbeltown the ‘whiskiest place in the world’.” To whet your appetite, Glen Scotia has published some evocative old photographs like the one above. Ah, it really takes you back.

The Nightcap: 26 February

The smoky-sweet high strength dream of a dram will be here soon

Benriach releases Smoke Season

There’s a new small-batch smoky Benriach on the horizon and we’ve just had a little taste. It’s the aptly-named Smoke Season and pays tribute to the old days of Speyside when the region’s whiskies would have been peated. The peat used is from the mainland which comes from trees and heather and has a quite different character to the seaweed-scented Islay variety. According to the press bumf it’s “the most intensely smoked whisky to be released by the distillery” and yet because of its cask maturation, the smoke is beautifully balanced by layers of chocolatey sweet spicy oak. Master blender Dr Rachel Barrie explained: “With intensely peated spirit batch distilled every year, at Benriach we never stop exploring how the fruit and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in a range of eclectic oak casks, either amplifying or transforming the perception of peat.” The barrels include “a high proportion of charred and toasted American Virgin oak casks.” Despite being bottled at a punchy 52.8% ABV, we reckon it’s best without any dilution, all the better to enjoy the rich sweet salted caramel, tobacco and cinnamon notes. RRP is a very reasonable £53, roughly a £1 per percentage of alcohol, and we should be getting some in soon. 

The Nightcap: 26 February

If you’re a fan of white rum this is definitely one to check out

Equiano Rum reveals new white rum 

In a category as diverse and brilliant as rum, it can be difficult to stand out. However, when Equiano, the world’s first African & Caribbean rum, was launched by global rum ambassador Ian Burrell and Foursquare master distiller Richard Seale back in October 2019, it received plenty of headlines. Probably because of the world first thing. And the fact that Burrell and Seale were involved. Also, it’s a blend of molasses rums from Foursquare and Mauritius-based Gray’s Distillery. It really had a lot going for it. As does Equiano Light, the brand’s first line extension. Made from a blend of liquids from the same distilleries, namely lightly aged molasses Foursquare rum and fresh sugar cane juice rum from Gray’s, the spirit is said to have “subtle notes of ripe sugarcane and hints of natural vanilla and citrus” meaning it should be perfect for classic rum cocktails such as The Daiquiri. The brand has also said that Equiano Light was created to offer a “contemporary alternative to traditional pouring rums” and to “enrich the taste profile of an often-underrated spirit” while “silencing any notion that white rums lack the sophistication of their darker counterparts”. Equiano Rum, named after African-born writer, entrepreneur, abolitionist and freedom fighter Olaudah Equiano, will also continue to grant 5% of global company profits and £/$2 from every bottle sold through equianorum.com to ground level freedom and equality projects annually. The brand has also recently teamed up with Anti-Slavery International, the oldest international human rights organisation in the world, to fund their vital work to eliminate all forms of modern slavery across the globe.

The Nightcap: 26 February

Missing the hubbub of nightlife, this Mexican bar has the solution

‘I miss my bar’ recreates those nightlife noises we miss so much

Do you miss your bar? We certainly miss ours which is why we loved an initiative from Monterrey bar, Maverick (sent to me by wife’s father who lives in LA. Shout out to you Mr Lemkin! We have a very informal relationship). That’s Monterrey Mexico, not Monterrey California. It’s a website called ‘I miss my bar’ that lets you recreate the noises of your favourite bar with sliders controlling elements such as rain noise, music, background chatter, traffic and drinks being made. Every week there’s a new playlist put together by staff. All you need to provide are the drinks. Wouldn’t it be great if you could really just turn down that loud group in the corner, though? What are we saying? We are that loud group in the corner. As well as being great fun, it serves a serious purpose, to encourage people to buy vouchers to be redeemed when the bar opens. If you don’t live near Monterrey, then think about helping out your local bar, pub or restaurant, or it might not be there when the lockdown lifts.

The Nightcap: 26 February

This would make one hell of a birthday present, as Jay-Z knows all too well

Sotheby’s to sell Jay-Z’s 1969 D’Ussé Cognac 

We don’t know if any of our dear readers got something special for their 50th birthday, but we would wager that few got a one-of-a-kind bottle of Cognac. But that’s exactly what Shawn Carter, or Jay-Z as you probably know him best, got when he celebrated the big 5-0 in December 2019. D’USSÉ surprised him with the first-ever bottle of its 1969 Anniversaire Limited Edition Grande Champagne Cognac. The bottling was taken from a single barrel-aged in a two-hundred-year-old cellar at Château de Cognac. It’s also housed in a diamond-shaped cut crystal bottle and is adorned with 24 karat gold leaf wrapping on the neck, so it’s suitably swanky. A limited run of the Cognac will be made available for consumer purchase in the spring. Before that, however, a bottle carrying Mr Carter’s engraved signature will be presented for sale at Sotheby’s and is estimated to fetch between $25,000-75,000. That money won’t be lining the legendary hip-hop star’s pocket, however, as the proceeds will go to the Shawn Carter Foundation, which aims to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships further their education at institutions of higher learning. There is no reserve for bids in this auction lot, so Bottle No. 1 will open at just $1 at 2pm GMT on 1 March and the winning bid will be announced at 2pm GMT on 13 March 2021. Fancy your chances?

Jung & Wulff Barbados rum No.3

It’s just like being in Barbados

Sazerac releases Jung & Wulff Caribbean rum range

More exciting rum news! Sazerac, the New Orleans-based drinks company, has just launched a new range of rums and we have to say they look brilliant. Consisting of spirits from Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana, we are particularly taken with the snazzy retro travel posters on the labels. At a time when we can’t travel, they are just the tonic we need. The Trinidad Rum No.1 features steel drum players in front of an ocean liner, Guyana Rum No.2 a tropical jungle scene and the Barbados Rum No. 3 label, a cricket match set against palm trees. The contents are pretty tasty too. All are limited edition blends of pot and column still rums from undisclosed distilleries – though you’ll probably be able to guess the origins of the Trinidad and Guyana bottlings. As with all Sazerac brands, there’s a good bit of history here too as Liam Sparks from importer Hi-Spirits explained: “Jung & Wulff were early importers of rum, distributing to cafés and bars across New Orleans and beyond. Strictly limited, our Jung & Wulff rums celebrate three influential places: Trinidad, Guyana and Barbados. I believe these rums are a true interpretation of each island’s style and brilliantly showcases the different terroirs that are available throughout the Caribbean.” And they’ve just arrived at Master of Malt.

The Nightcap: 26 February

Nine gin-soaked-raisins a day keeps the doctor away… supposedly. (It won’t. But they sure are tasty)

And finally…  105-year-old woman claims gin-soaked raisins helped her overcome Covid

Forget cross country running, meditation and salad, if you want to lead a long life one American lady has the answer, gin-soaked raisins. 105-year-old Lucia DeClerk from New Jersey contracted Covid in her nursing home despite being vaccinated but managed to fight off the virus. The New York Times reported that she had very few symptoms and was back to her best after two weeks. She attributed her robust old age to eating nine gin-soaked raisins a day: “Fill a jar, nine raisins a day after it sits for nine days,” she said. She didn’t specify which brand of gin but it seems that this special diet gave her a raisin to live. 

Sorry.

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The Nightcap: 19 February

This week we tried to keep up with fancy new booze from Midleton, Macallan, and Kendall Jenner. It’s The Nightcap! Man, where is the time going? Before you know it…

This week we tried to keep up with fancy new booze from Midleton, Macallan, and Kendall Jenner. It’s The Nightcap!

Man, where is the time going? Before you know it we’ll be in March and the clocks will be going forward and we might even start to live a life that resembles the Before Times. The only thing that’s really helping us keep track of things at the moment is the weekly familiarity of The Nightcap. Especially because our calendar has pictures of kittens on it. How are you supposed to know what day it is when there’s something distracting right next to the key information? It’s a design flaw. Fortunately, there’s no such issue with The Nightcap. All you’ll find here is the biggest boozy news from this week. Speaking of which, let’s get on with the Nightcap: 19 February edition. 

It was full-on blog-maggedon this week as the news flooded in and the features rolled out. First, we learned that the standards you need to meet to call your product Japanese whisky was becoming tighter than simply bottling booze from elsewhere and singing The Vapors classic tune at your product. Then a peer-reviewed paper (no need to ask who funded it) claimed there’s definitely terroir in whisky. So much was happening you could be forgiven for not realising tomorrow is World Pangolin Day, but luckily we have a new competition to jog your memory. We also launched a bottle lottery for Torabhaig Distillery’s first whisky and told you what to expect, made ourselves a royally good drink, wished That Boutique-y Gin Company a happy fourth birthday, marked the return of one of the grand old names of Scotch whisky, looked into the history of a gin giant and got the lowdown on why absinthe is a category is on the rise. And we did all that while doing the public service of reminding you that Mother’s Day is in a few weeks and suggesting some ideal pressies. Phew! Now, onto The Nightcap!

On The Nightcap this week we've got fancy Macallan!

An Estate, A Community and A Distillery will arrive at MoM Towers soon…

Macallan launches The Anecdotes of Ages collection

If there’s one thing The Macallan does exceptionally well, it’s put together fancy collections featuring incredible sounding whiskies we know deep down we’ll never taste. Still, it’s nice to look at them and dream, and in this case, they make for particularly good viewing. The latest series, The Anecdotes of Ages, is the Macallan’s third collaboration with iconic pop artist Sir Peter Blake and each individual bottle features an original Blake collage art on the label. Blake, as we are sure you know, created the artwork for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and that should be enough for anyone, frankly. Back to the whisky, there are 13 one-of-a-kind bottles in total, each from 1967, and every label tells a different story. It could be about The Macallan’s history, community, estate or that advert. Ok, so we made the last one up. Jokes aside, collectors will be pleased to know the bottles have been signed by Blake and come in a European oak case with photography that shows Blake’s journey with The Macallan, along with a leather-bound book and a certificate of authenticity. Price is likely to be in the region of £50,000. For those who don’t think they’ll get their hands on a bottle, you can always check out this  360-degree virtual art exhibit. The brand has also revealed that one of the bottles will be auctioned next month by Sotheby’s to raise funds to benefit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Additionally, The Macallan will soon be releasing a new more affordable whisky, a snip at £750, called An Estate, A Community and A Distillery, to commemorate Blake’s visit to the distillery. This reminds us of our favourite palindrome: a man, a plan, a canal, Panama. Anyway, this more affordable expression, will be displayed in a custom box inspired by Blake’s art and available from Master of Malt soon. Yep, you read that right. So keep those eyes peeled…

On The Nightcap this week we've got Kendall Jenner!

Jenner’s brand has attracted a lot of attention already, but not all of it is positive

Kendall Jenner creates Tequila brand 818

Keeping up with the Kardashians star and model Kendall Jenner has revealed on Instagram that her latest project is a Tequila brand called ‘818’, and quickly found out this particular boozy bandwagon isn’t always pleasant. “For almost four years I’ve been on a journey to create the best tasting Tequila. After dozens of blind taste tests, trips to our distillery, entering into world tasting competitions anonymously and WINNING (🥳). 3.5 years later I think we’ve done it”, the post’s caption read. “This is all we’ve been drinking for the last year and I can’t wait for everyone else to get their hands on this to enjoy it as much as we do! @drinks818 coming soon 🥃🤤.” But the reality star has faced backlash after being accused of cultural appropriation and “exploiting Mexican culture”, the former of which is not a new concern for her family. Although, oddly the same charges were not levelled at other celebrity Tequila hawkers like George Clooney or The Rock. Nothing to read into there. It’s fair to say we’re not exactly cheerily raising a glass to another famous person helping themselves to a bundle of precious agave and as we were writing this story we learned that American comedian Kevin Hart is doing the same thing (other spirits do exist, people). But it’s also worth noting that it’s fairly common for a Tequila distillery to sell its booze to various brands and few can honestly claim to truly represent Mexico in any deep or meaningful way. In fact, you can look up the product’s NOM number (Norma Oficial Mexicana) and it will tell you where the Tequila is made and assure you that production meets the required certification standards of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT). You’ll find that the distillery (which 818 hasn’t disclosed, so we won’t either) makes booze for a number of brands is made so 818 really isn’t doing anything new. For anyone who actually cares about the Tequila, the range features a blanco, a reposado and an añejo made from 100% Agave Azul in Jalisco, Mexico and bottled at 40% ABV.

On The Nightcap this week we've got fancy Midleton!

Keep your eyes peeled for more reaction to this beauty on this MoM blog

Kevin O’ Gorman blends his first Midleton Very Rare

In the past, only two master distillers have blended Midleton Very Rare, Barry Crockett and Brian Nation. Now, there’s a new signature on the bottle: Kevin O’Gorman stepped into Nation’s enormous shoes last year and has now released the 38th edition of possibly Ireland’s greatest whisky. We have to be honest, it’s a belter. As usual, it’s a blend of long-aged pot still and grain whiskies aged entirely in ex-bourbon casks. We spoke with O’ Gorman at a press conference last night and he told us that he narrowed the blend down to two samples and then spent a night agonising over them. The one he chose is heavier on the grain than last year’s pot still-dominated blend. It’s more like the Very Rare from the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, he said. It majors on the sweet chocolate, caramel and vanilla notes but still with plenty of pot still spice. O’ Gorman revealed that the Very Rare 2021 contains a cask of pot still laid down by Barry Crockett in 1984. He was on ebullient form describing it as “the pinnacle of my career presenting the pinnacle of Irish whiskey.” We’ll have the full story including a closer look at the component parts when we get stock in a couple of weeks.

Tim Ashley VCL

VCL director Tim Ashley says invest in cask whisky… or else

Whisky investors getting younger says cask broker

Business is booming for whisky cask broker VCL Vintners. Apparently, sales are up 300% in January 2021 compared to the previous year. Not only that, but its customers are getting younger. No, this isn’t because of the magical age-defying properties of whisky, what the company means is that the average age of whisky investors is decreasing. The PR team sent us some figures that showed that the largest category, 26% of business, is people between the ages of 25 and 34. While well over half their investors are under 44. Casks start from around £5,000 but most of the trade is in the £10-30,000 range so some young people are clearly doing well despite the panny (as we’re calling the pandemic). Stuart Thom, director at VCL Vintners, commented: “It’s encouraging that the demographic is becoming a smarter, younger City audience with longer investment horizons.” He went on to explain exactly why there is so much interest, something we have reported on before: “With the markets going sideways for now and a tech bubble being rumoured in the States, whisky is being seen more and more as a stable long-term investment.” The great thing about investing in whisky is even if you don’t make any money, and there’s no guarantee the market will keep going up, at the end of the day, you have a barrel of single malt.

On The Nightcap this week we've got a big clock!

This story has everything: history, romance, and an enormous clock.

Johnnie Walker restores romantic Edinburgh landmark clock

Since 1960, Edinburgh’s lovers, young and old, have been meeting under a colourful clock on the corner of Hope Street and Princes Street. Known as the Binns Clock after the now disappeared department store that installed it. In its prime, the clock would play ‘Caller Herrin’ and ‘Scotland the Brave’ at seven and 37 minutes past the hour as kilted Highland figures would jig about. Sadly, in recent years the clock had fallen into disrepair and the Highlanders danced no more. Now, as part of Diageo’s plans for a swanky Johnnie Walker HQ which is due to open this year in Scotland’s capital, it was restored by the Cumbria Clock Company which has also worked on some pretty impressive clocks such as the Royal Liver Building and the big one, Big Ben. Bong! Restorer Mark Crangle described the laborious process: “We had to delicately strip back worn paintwork to source and match the clock’s original colours and gold trimmings, and we spent a great amount of time on the speed and timings of the bells, tunes and pipers to ensure it all matched perfectly.” Happily, Crangle and the team managed to get it all done for Valentine’s Day last Sunday, just in time for Edinburgh’s lovers to meet. 

On The Nightcap this week we've even more cask investment news!

Casks are all the rage this week it seems

Caskshare unveils new cask-buying platform

It must be the week of casks, as we have even more oak-scented news for you. Last Friday, we joined David Nicol, co-founder of the new venture, Alasdair Day from Isle of Raasay Distillery, plus Thom Solberg of Little Bat for a bit of a Zoom-based whisky extravaganza. The celebrations were to mark the launch of Caskshare, an initiative to make single cask whisky, and by extension buying shares in casks, more accessible. For mature whisky, customers can simply snap up a share (which equates to a bottle), and once all those shares have been snapped up, everyone gets their booze! For spirit yet to come of age, whisky fans can buy a share and the bottles will be sent when its ready. To demonstrate some of the whiskies available, Day shared samples from Raasay, and talked us through Tullibardine single malt and Cambus expressions. And, as it was Valentine’s Day Eve-Eve, Solberg treated us to a demo of a 14 February-appropriate serve. We all made Glen Moray-based (from Caskshare, natch) Roffignacs: the whisky, plus pomegranate syrup, cider vinegar, and ginger ale all built in a glass with ice. Delish! For more Caskshare deets, check out Caskshare.com – and what an evening of whisky love!

And finally… we need a G&T emoji now

Whether you’re fluent in emoji language like Kendall Jenner or the sort of person who gets in trouble for misjudged aubergines in the company Slack channels, here’s an emoji that we can all use without embarrassment, especially on a Friday at 6pm: a G&T emoji. Sadly, amazingly, it doesn’t exist yet! And so tonic water and mixer business Lixir Drinks has launched a petition to persuade Unicode to create an emoji for one of Britain’s favourite drinks. Yes, it’s a PR stunt, but a useful one. The company is hoping to get 10,000 signatures, so what are you waiting for, sign here and you’ll never have to write out the words Gin & Tonic again. Which reminds us, it’s getting on for 6pm now, G&T anyone? See wouldn’t that have been so much easier with an emoji?

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The Nightcap: 12 February

It’s a celeb-packed Nightcap: 12 February edition featuring Ryan Reynolds (twice), David Beckham, Diddy and even the European Brand Director of Casamigos. No, really. The European Brand Director. Talk about…

It’s a celeb-packed Nightcap: 12 February edition featuring Ryan Reynolds (twice), David Beckham, Diddy and even the European Brand Director of Casamigos. No, really. The European Brand Director. Talk about A-list.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome the weekend. And what a weekend this is. There’s so much on! Valentine’s Day, which is apparently still a thing, is on Sunday. While today is Chinese New Year (shout out to all you rad Metal Oxes). If you’re in the UK, however, this week has been all about Storm Darcy (cold, beautiful, makes things difficult for people around them. The name actually makes a lot of sense). The freezing temperatures have brought heavy snowfall and the usual British response: State disbelief there’s snow. Say how beautiful it looks. Moan that it didn’t happen in December. Enjoy Christmas card scenes. Moan about the disruption. Get a second wind and take photos. Moan it’s not going away. Finally, moan again when it is gone. It’s comforting how familiar this pattern is. As assured as every new edition of The Nightcap landing at 4pm on Friday. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

This week on the MoM blog we launched a new competition with 1826 cocktails, so if getting bar-quality serves sent straight to your door for free sounds like something you’re interested in, be sure to enter before the deadline on Sunday night. We kept the batched cocktail vibe going by welcoming the Myatt’s Fields range to our site before enjoying a Rusty Nail and then some of the best value new world drams you can get your hands on for bargain prices. There was time to also show off our swanky masterclass videos of the 2020 Diageo Special Releases, hear from Millie about the brands putting real flavour into vodka and do some learnin’ with Lucy on how to pair whisky with cheese.

On this week's Nightcap we remember Brett Ferencz

We’re raising a dram to a galaxy far, far away for this man tonight.

Brett Ferencz, aka Scotch Trooper, dies

We start this week’s Nightcap with some really sad news: Brett Ferencz, known by many whisky lovers as Scotch Trooper, passed away on 11 February following a battle with cancer. He brought joy to so many by bringing together two of his passions: whisky and Star Wars. The worlds collided in the most enchanting of ways, and his posts depicting bottles, cocktail kit, casks and more were always accompanied by a Star Wars character and a warm, often witty note. One of the most remarkable things about Brett – although none of MoM HQ’s editorial team met him offline – was how his love for whisky shone in a way that always welcomed new drinkers into the fold. Of course, you can’t measure a person by their follower count, but the community he built is significant in size and passion, both for Scotch and each other. It’s a sad day for many. His family posted on Instagram: “I didn’t lose my battle with cancer. At best it was a tie. I took the Death Star down with me.” We’ll be raising a dram to Brett and his family this weekend. 

This week's Nightcap stars Ryan Reynolds, twice!

Bet you never thought you’d see Wrexham AFC’s logo on a bottle of internationally renowned gin…

Ryan Reynolds launches Wrexham AFC Aviation Gin 

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have celebrated their takeover of Wrexham AFC by launching a limited-edition Aviation Gin. In a move that has slightly baffled but mostly delighted football fans, the Deadpool actor and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia co-creator have taken 100% control of Wrexham AFC Limited from the Wrexham Supporters Trust. To mark the occasion, one of Reynolds’ other businesses, Aviation Gin, has launched 6,000 bottles with a new design for fans to order from the official Wrexham AFC webshop. “Rob and I are ecstatic to have won the approval of the Wrexham fans and the League and this bottle is for them,” Reynolds said. “It’s a small first step on what will hopefully be a legendary underdog story.” It raises the question: which A-lister will invest in the local football club of a post-industrial North Wales town next? Maybe Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will buy Gresford Athletic and establish a new major football rivalry…

… and donates $1m with Diddy, Becks and Diageo 

Not content with making just one headline this week, Reynolds also appeared in a video with Sean “Diddy” Combs, and David Beckham, the co-owners of DeLeón Tequila, and Haig Club respectively, to show their support to the bartending community, which has been majorly affected by COVID-19. The comedic clip shows the trio making drinks featuring their products and ingredients from Tampa Bay, Florida, and Kansas City, Missouri (in honour of the Super Bowl) which inevitably turns out to be undrinkable and disgusting. So they instead announce that Diageo, the company which produces all three of these brands, will donate $1 million between Drinks Trust UK, the Bartender’s Benevolent Fund and Another Round, Another Rally

On this week's Nightcap we learn that the UK's distillery numbers continue to rise

Even a pandemic and lockdown couldn’t stop the likes of Maidstone Distillery from opening

Covid-19 fails to halt UK’s distillery boom

Remarkable and uplifting news came from HMRC figures, of all places, this week. The data showed that a record number of distilleries were registered in the UK in 2020. The stats, as reported by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, are really something. The number of distilleries grew by over 100 in 12 months for the first time. There’s more than 300 in England (311) for the first time. And the total number registered in 2020 grew to over 560, up from over 440 in 2019. All this occurred despite the many restrictions and implications of the pandemic, including the shutdown of the hospitality sector. However, it should be noted that 2020 was still a phenomenally hard year for many of the UK’s distillers, the majority of whom are small, independently-owned businesses. That’s why the WSTA is urging the government to back distillers. “With such a difficult 2020 behind us and a daunting challenge to recover in 2021, our distillers need the support of the chancellor at the upcoming budget. A freeze at the last budget certainly helped distillers to invest and grow, but we need the chancellor to go further this time, with both a duty cut and an extension of the VAT reduction in hospitality venues, until at least March 2022 – and including alcoholic drinks,” says chief executive of the WSTA and Nightcap legend Miles Beale. “Distillers across the UK will play a vital role in 2021 and beyond as hospitality begins to open up again, and by showing his support for distillers at the Budget the Chancellor can also promote the hospitality industry as it rebounds from Covid-19 restrictions.”

This week in The Nightcap we welcome another new Islay distillery

An artist’s impression of how the distillery will look.

Elixir Distillers’ Islay distillery gets green light

We’re one step closer to seeing another new distillery on Islay. Elixir Distillers has revealed this week that the Argyll & Bute council planning committee has granted planning permission to them to go ahead with its project. The brand, which first announced its intentions in 2018, should break ground in 2021 and will reveal the name of the distillery soon. What we know for now is that it will be located in the southeast of Islay next to the town of Port Ellen, not far from Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg. The distillery will produce 1 million litres of alcohol a year and will use floor maltings to process just over half of the barley needed. Which is neat. You don’t see much of that anymore. There will also be on-site housing for distillery workers, a visitor’s centre and a multipurpose educational facility, with further initiatives to support the local community and an apprentice programme for aspiring distillers to be pursued further down the line. “We’ve worked closely with the Argyll & Bute planning committee to create plans for a distillery that fits into the landscape and supports the community,” said Sukhinder Singh, who co-founded Elixir Distillers with his brother Rajbir (where else do we know these guys from?). “We want to create whiskies that inspire both the people of Islay and Islay whisky fans world-wide, enhancing the already glowing reputation of Islay whiskies, while also becoming an integral part of the community.” Once it and the previously closed Port Ellen (which is undergoing reconstruction) open, Islay will have 11 working distilleries. Sounds like things are getting pretty cramped. There’s plenty of room in Tonbridge if anyone wants to build a distillery next to us…

On this week's Nightcap we gaze lovingly at a 50-year-old Glenrothes

Somebody very lucky will be adding this to their collection soon.

Glenrothes auctions last of 50-Year-Old with Royal Warrant jeweller

It’s not quite as fancy as the Irish whiskey Faberge craziness we reported on last week. Nevertheless, a Glenrothes that’s going under the hammer at Bonhams on 19 February sounds pretty tasty. It’s the 50th and last bottle of the distillery 50-year-old single malt. Naturally, it’s not going to be housed in any old bottle. Oh no. Royal Warrant jeweller Hamilton & Inches has created a one-off decanter with a 22-carat gold label.  And it’s not just any gold as Victoria Houghton from Hamilton & Inches explained: “The decanter will feature the first gold from the Cononish gold mine with Hamilton & Inches being the only fine jeweller to have access to this Scottish treasure.” Exclusive. Kerr Arthur, director of The Glenrothes brand, added: “This collaboration with Hamilton & Inches unites the exceptional craft and commitment of a Master Whisky Maker and Goldsmith to ensure that our last decanter to be released, ‘The 50th of 50’ will be very special and offer whisky lovers from around the world the opportunity to acquire a unique combination: single malt Scotch whisky and single mine Scottish gold.” Best of all, proceeds generated from the sale will go to a charity chosen by the winning bidder. The auction begins at 13:00 GMT on 19 February. Last year a bottle of Glenrothes 50 Year Old sold for £30,000 through Bonhams in Hong Kong. Time to get saving. 

On this week's Nightcap we learn Chapel Down is focusing on wine and spirits from now on.

Chapel Down is focusing on wine and spirits from now on.

Chapel Down quits beer and cider 

Our Kent neighbours Chapel Down has become the country’s biggest and best-known wine producer while also making delicious gin, vodka, beer and cider too. Sadly, the brand has been forced into parting ways with its beer and cider arm Curious Drinks after a strategic review found it had suffered greatly during the pandemic and lockdown. Chapel Down made the difficult decision of putting Curious Drinks into administration, which has allowed the private equity firm Risk Capital Partners RCP to acquire it. RCP will establish a new company to run the business and take on its assets, including the new 2,900hl brewery in Ashford and its on-site restaurant. Chapel Down will receive no payment for the business but will be cleared of its net debt in Curious Drinks. The good news is that there will be no job losses as a result of the deal and that Chapel Down’s wine and spirits division achieved 38% volume growth last year despite the hospitality sector shutdowns. “We see a significant opportunity and a very bright future for Chapel Down,” Frazer Thompson, CEO of Chapel Down Group commented. “We certainly won’t be abandoning the hospitality business – we love it – and will support its return vigorously with our wines and spirits”.

On this week's Nightcap we report on a good vintage for Port

Port continues to thrive despite the difficulties the drinks trade faces at the moment

Port market looking strong as Taylor’s releases its third vintage in a row

We were fortunate to be given a little taste of the 2018 vintage of vintage Ports from the Fladgate stable. This is the unprecedented third year in a row that the company behind Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft, has declared a vintage. CEO Adrian Bridge described it as somewhere in style between the fragrant 2016s and the sturdier 2017s. He added that the decision to declare was “all about the quality of the vintage” rather than about commercial considerations. Because of Covid, however, they delayed the release to this year, despite clamouring from the American market. The wines were on top form: Croft Quitna da Roeda was exotic and fragrant; Fonseca Guimaraens was spicy and packed with dark fruit; while the Taylor’s was weighty and structured, and promises great things for the future. Meanwhile, the Symington Group, Taylor’s great rivals, announced a strong performance in 2020 with sales up 37.3% in the last quarter compared with 2019. Johnny Symington commented: “With pubs, bars and restaurants closed for much of the year and people confined to their homes, 2020 was devastating for our on-trade customers. We were fortunate, however, that demand for port soared in the rest of the UK wine trade. We were extremely proud of our importers, Fells, who decided in September 2020 to return all of the furlough money provided to them by the UK government in response to better than expected trading.” Taylor’s too reported a strong performance. It seems when times are tough, people turn to Port.

On this week's Nightcap we learn about the difficult year Pernod Ricard has had

The results look pretty grim, but Coutures is proud of how the company handled the crisis

Challenging times as Pernod Ricard posts 2020 results

Well, we knew it was going to be tough, and Pernod Ricard’s second half of 2020 results that were announced this morning in a press conference showed how difficult it’s been. The shocker is Beefeater down 20% on the previous year. This is due to the disappearance of the on-trade in the all-important Spanish market. Other big brands struggling are Ballantine’s, down 12%, Chivas Regal, down 12% and Royal Salute, down 28%. Overall sales decreased by 3.9% with profits down by 2.4%. Much of this decline is because of the lack of travel retail sales. Despite the malt tariffs on US imports, Glenlivet was in growth by 2%. There are more grounds for optimism as the UK off-trade is up by 31% with online sales increasing by 138%. Overall UK sales up by 13% with Jameson, Malfy Gin, and Absolut looking particularly strong. Furthermore, CEO of Chivas Brothers Jean-Christophe Coutures said that there had been no incidence of Covid in distilleries. He commented: “I am proud of what we achieved. 100% of staff and salaries have been kept,” and the company has even been recruiting. It also seems that the earlier rift with the Scottish government has been healed. He said that the industry had suffered doubly from loss of export business and closure of visitor centres. The priority was now ending the tariffs to the US on Scotch whisky and he looked forward to potential trade deals with New Zealand, Australia and, most exciting of all, India. David Haworth, CEO of Pernod Ricard UK spoke for everyone when he hoped for a massive boom to the on-trade when lockdowns are lifted and said: “we’ve all been missing the pub.”

On this week's Nightcap we have European Brand Director of Casamigos Tequila Jack Brooksbank.

Congratulations on the baby Jack (right), whoops! We mean European Brand Director…

And finally… Casamigos insists media use correct title for Princess Eugenie’s husband

It can be hard work meeting royalty knowing when to bow or courtesy, whether to call them ‘your highness’, or ‘your majesty, or ‘big Phil.’ Now there’s an added complication as Casamigos, George Clooney’s Tequila brand, is insisting that Jack Brooksbank, husband of HRH (we got that bit right) Princess Eugenie, be referred to by his proper title. The PR missive reported in the Daily Mail stated: Due to the recent news surrounding the arrival of the Royal Baby from HRH Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, we wanted to drop you a note to ask if you are to mention any further details about Jack Brooksbank that you use his official title: European Brand Director of Casamigos Tequila.” Now the happy news about the birth of the royal baby has been overshadowed in the media by this bit of clumsy corporate overreach. Not for us though, we want to offer our congratulations to HRH Princess Eugenie and EBDCT Jack Brooksbank!

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