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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Champagne

New Arrival of the Week: Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013

Our New Arrival, Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013, shows how even at the biggest producer in Champagne, there’s room to do something a bit different. We talk to chef de…

Our New Arrival, Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013, shows how even at the biggest producer in Champagne, there’s room to do something a bit different. We talk to chef de cave Benoît Gouez to find out more.

There can be few brands as ubiquitous as Moët & Chandon. Almost every off-licence, supermarket or wine merchant in the world will stock it. Production is around 30 million bottles annually. To put that in perspective, that is about double the entire production of England in 2018, which was a bumper crop.

It’s ‘Moe wet’, actually

As such there’s a certain amount of snobbery around the brand. I remember this from my days working in a wine merchant. We’d recommend anything but Moët, and we’d laugh at customers who pronounced the ‘t’ sound. Well, we were wrong about the pronunciation  – it’s not ‘Moe way’, it’s ‘Moe wet.’ Like a lot of Champagne houses such Bollinger, Charles Heidsieck and Krug, the Moët family were of German origin, which explains the pronunciation and the umlaut.

But were we wrong about the wine? There was a perception in the trade 15/20 years ago that Moët NV wasn’t quite as good as it could be. It was a little green and oversweet. Well, those days are well and truly over. According to Benoît Gouez, chef de cave who we spoke with on Zoom recently, Moët has raised the percentage of mature reserve wines in the non-vintage and at the same time reduced dosage, the amount of sugar added post bottle fermentation, from 13-14g per litre in 1998, to just 7g today.

Today’s Brut Imperial is a far cry from the Moët of old; it’s still lean but with racy lemony fruit and rich biscuity finish. I’d say it’s one of the best from the big brands. With the non-vintage, Gouez’s job is to maintain a consistent style, but “with vintage we start from scratch, one is rational, one is more emotional, more personal decision. We’re not looking for consistency.” The firm has only made 75 vintages in its long history.

A challenging vintage

He certainly had his work cut out with 2013. He described it as “unusually cold, one of the coldest of the last 30 years”. It was the first harvest in October since 1991 and he was worried about rot and “we had no idea what we could expect in terms of aromas.” Despite worries, they had a good size crop with, importantly, high sugar levels but also unusually high acidity. Gouez saw it as the perfect opportunity to make a “style of vintage we had from the ‘60s to the middle of the ‘80s,” before the climate warmed.

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013_Beauty shot vertical

It’s autumnal, innit

With vintage wines, “I’m looking for charisma, individuality, looking for something a bit different,” he explained, which is just what he got from the 2013. The blend was made up of 41% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir and 21% Meunier. He described the resulting wine as “autumnal, energetic and chiselled. We don’t have apricot and peach, or ripe citrus. It’s all about apples with white autumnal fruit.” He went on to say that it has: “very classic balance, fine for maturity.”

It’s certainly different to the opulent 2012. Just as Gouez said, it’s lean with green apple and still very very young. Gouez described it as having a “reductive profile with no oxidative character; the ageing hasn’t really started yet.” But there’s plenty of nutty and biscuity notes on the finish and a grapefruit flavour that develops with time. It’s not a wine to throw back at parties, rather something to be sipped slowly with shellfish. Or put away for a couple of years to mature. 

This Grand Vintage 2013 shows that even with a company as big as Moët et Chandon, there is room to create something a little bit individual. 

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Strong appley notes on the nose, spiced cooked apple.

Palate: Lean with sharp green apple, lean but ripe, mouth-watering acidity. With time it fills out bringing in grapefruit.

Finish: Biscuity and long.

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013 is available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy.

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The Nightcap: 9 July

It’s Friday, work is over (or nearly), which means it’s time for another round-up of all the news from the world of booze. We’ve got sustainable cocktails, sustainable Bentleys, and…

It’s Friday, work is over (or nearly), which means it’s time for another round-up of all the news from the world of booze. We’ve got sustainable cocktails, sustainable Bentleys, and a row over Russian Champagne. They’re all in the Nightcap: 9 July edition!

Apparently there’s some sort of sporting jamboree going on this weekend. Something about football coming home?? So we imagine that many of our readers will be glued to the telly on Sunday night. Luckily, there’s still time to order a selection of tasty beverages to heighten your viewing pleasure. For those with no interest in the Euros, there’s always Wimbledon, the Tour de France, and cricket. Or if you don’t like sport, you could go for a walk, read a book, learn a foreign language, or just pour yourself a drink and settle in with another edition of the Nightcap.

On the blog this week

It was another rocking week on the Master of Malt blog. First off, we got very excited about the arrival of a new exclusive whisky from the Lakes Distillery called Miramar. And so did you, seemingly, as it all sold out in under an hour. Whoosh! Then Lucy Britner looked at what you can do with white Port beyond adding tonic water. Ian Buxton gleefully looked at great whisky marketing disasters like the ill-fated launch of Bailey’s whiskey and Cardhu Pure Malt. Meanwhile, Millie Milliken screamed ‘spring break!’ and showed us to make the Sex on the Beach cocktail. We enjoyed a candid chat with Stephen Davies from Penderyn about Jim Swan, Jim Murray, and how everyone laughed when he wanted to make whisky in Wales. They’re not laughing now. And finally, because getting abroad is far from easy at the moment, we rounded up the 10 best drinks to transport you to faraway lands. 

Meanwhile over on Clubhouse

If you’re a fan of Tequila and mezcal, then head over to the Clubhouse app on your portable telephone device at 3pm today, Friday 9 July. Kristy Sherry, Alejandro Aispuro, Richard Legg, and Michael Ballantyne will be discussing whether 2021 is going to be the year of agave. What do you think? Yes? No? A little bit?

Now, it’s on with the Nightcap: 13 July edition!

The Macallan X Bentley Motors - Image 4[13]

Macallan and Bentley team up for some reason which will become clear at some point, probably

Macallan announces “sustainable” partnership with Bentley

First Bowmore teamed up with Aston Martin, and now there’s more whisky/ automotive synergy as this week Macallan announced a new collaboration with Bentley. Because cars and booze go so well together. It’s all a bit vague at the moment but according to the press bumf, the two companies share more than rich histories and even richer customers. Both are, apparently, big on sustainability and are going to help each other become carbon neutral. MD at Macallan Igor Boyadjian explained: “A key focus of the partnership will be our commitment to a more sustainable future. The breath-taking natural landscape at The Macallan Estate provides the perfect platform for us to embark together on this exciting and extraordinary journey.” Bentley’s chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark added: “Transforming Bentley into the world’s most sustainable luxury car company is an exciting journey, and I’m delighted to be working with The Macallan with one common goal – to both lead our fields as we work towards a more sustainable future.” We’ll let you know when there are more specifics but from this week’s press release, it’s clear that neither brand is short of wind power. 

Taittinger Cork

The famous Taittinger cork

Taittinger cork sold as NFT for 69 Bitcoin SV, or £6,200 in old money

If you thought the worlds of Taittinger and Bitcoin wouldn’t collide, then you clearly weren’t at the CoinGeek conference in Zurich a few weeks ago. A bottle of the Champagne was popped by Kurt Wuckert Jr, CoinGeek’s chief bitcoin historian (a real job title, we’ll have you know) at the closing of the conference live on CoinGeek TV – rather handily, it was caught on film. The NFT (non-fungible token) version of this cork (which is basically just a photo, as far as we can tell) then sold for 69 Bitcoin SV. Oh, you don’t know what that means in legal tender? Thank goodness, neither did we – it equals around $8,500. That’s also known as around £6,200, which is how we measure things over here at MoM Towers. Yes, that’s a lot of money for a digital file of a photo of a cork, but the net proceeds are being donated to PROPEL, a charity which helps support children’s education. That’s all rather heartwarming, except now the new owner of ‘The Cork’ (as it’s now known) is trying to resell it here for 2,180 Bitcoin SV. We’ll leave you to work out the inflation on that… Alternatively, if you don’t have big money to blow, you could just treat yourself to a bottle of the good stuff right here!

north-point-distillery-banner

You could win a cask of rum from North Point Distillery in Scotland

Win a whole cask of rum with CaskShare

It’s World Rum Day on 10 July. It’s also Piña Colada day and Teddy Bear Picnic Day. Why not combine the three by making Piña Coladas for your teddies and serving them on a blanket al fresco? And soon, if you take part in Caskshare’s new competition, you could have plenty of rum to share with all your bears. The online spirits marketplace has teamed up with Scotland’s North Point Distillery to offer a whole cask of rum for one lucky customer. All you need is purchase a share of rum (prices start from £40) between 7-31 July, and then bang on about it on social media (full details here). You’ll be entered into a draw to win a one year old firkin of rum containing about 72 bottles worth £2,400. Think how many Piña Coladas you could make with that. And if you’ve got any left over, it’s National Mojito Day on 11 July. So much to celebrate!

The Beaufort Bar (Bar) Lewis Wilkinson.jpg RS

Swanky

The Savoy launches eco-friendly Co-Naissance cocktail

Drinks are often shouting about which far-flung corners of the world their ingredients are from, but the newest cocktail from The Savoy does the opposite. The Co-Naissance cocktail, developed by senior mixologist Cristian Silenzi, is all about local flavours and ingredients, and we were lucky enough to give it a taste at the Beaufort Bar (above). A combination of Portobello Road Gin, and locally-foraged elderflower from Little Venice and fig leaves from Embankment Gardens, is topped off with re-carbonated Champagne that would otherwise have gone down the drain. These local ingredients don’t just show off London’s flora – the cocktail eliminates packaging and waste, and removes single use glass, thus eliminating more than 1.8kg of C02 emissions per cocktail through both waste reduction and reforestation. The Savoy is also planting one native tree in the endangered Kalimantan rainforests of Borneo for each Co-Naissance cocktail served. Needless to say there’s no garnish, though the sublime glassware hardly needs it. As you’d expect from The Savoy, the cocktail itself is a delight, and much more herbaceous than we expected it to be, carried on waves of light florals. If you find yourself on the Strand and fancy doing some good while enjoying a delicious drink, you know where to head.

BBR-SPIRITS-SUMMER_Label_BBR-Small-Batch-Linkwood-2.jpg RS

Snazzy

Berry Bros. & Rudd unveils its first ever bespoke spirits bottle 

London-based Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain’s oldest family-owned wine and spirits merchant, has launched its summer 2021 spirit range, revealing its first ever bespoke bottle in its 323 years! Designed by Stranger & Stranger, the new bottle will be used across the entire range moving forward. Indeed, some new bottles have already landed at Master of Malt. So, what’s new? The shop windows at its home in No.3 St. James’s Street are the inspiration for the label design – easy enough to recognise if you’ve been lucky enough to visit the charming shop. What’s more, each label boasts different levels of detail as customers move through (well, up) the price range. Lizzy Rudd, Berry Bros & Rudd chairperson commented “I’m delighted that after over 300 years, we are opening another new chapter for our prestigious spirits range. The new packaging and advertising draws upon and respects our heritage, whilst celebrating who we are and what we stand for today.” A snazzy new campaign full of lifestyle films and images accompany the launch as the brand looks towards world domination expanding its appeal in the China, Germany, USA, and UK markets.

The Churchill Arms, Notting Hill

Churchill Arms in Notting Hill, hopefully there will be some free nibbles on 18 September

Inaugural National Hospitality Day to run on 18 September 

Here’s a good idea to help Britain’s pubs, bars and, restaurants which have been having a hell of time recently: A National Hospitality Day. Rather like Record Store Day but with more booze. It’s taking place on 18 September and those taking part will put on special events, menus, entertainment and even free nibbles. Free nibbles? We are there. Hospitality Action is the force behind this new initiative. Chief executive of the charity, Mark Lewis explained: “On one amazing day, we’re going to spark the mother of all parties – and all to help the businesses that have been thrown to their knees by Covid-19, and the people who work in them.” Go to the National Hospitality Day website for more information. By supporting, you’ll not only be helping your local, but also raising money for four charities: The Drinks Trust, Hospitality Action, The Licensed Trade Charity, and The Springboard Charity. Let’s hope some of Britain’s brewers get behind this worthwhile initiative and, most importantly, it gets people back down their local. Though remember, a pub isn’t just for National Hospitality Day, it’s for life, so make sure you keep going back, even when there aren’t any free nibbles. 

sovetskoje-shampanskoje-polusladkoje-soviet-champagne-semi-sweet

Proper Russian Champagne, none of that French muck

And finally… Real Champagne comes from Russia 

You might think Champagne (the wine) comes only from Champagne (the place in France) but the Russians have other ideas. A new law passed by Vladamir Putin’s government says only Russian producers can label their products ‘shampanskoye’ (worth reading this explainer on the background to the story). Makers of the original French stuff can keep the word ‘Champagne’ on the front label but on the back can only call their product ‘sparkling wine.’ As you can imagine, the French are not happy with protests from French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie and, at one point Moët Hennessy, announced it was suspending exports to Russia. However, someone high up in the company, probably, pointed out how lucrative the Russian market is because the (French) Champagne giant changed its mind and announced: “The Moët Hennessy Champagne houses have always respected the law in place wherever they operate and will restart deliveries.” Money talks, that’s one thing they can agree on in Moscow and Paris. 

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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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New Arrival of the Week: Pol Roger Winston Churchill 2012

Today, we’re raising a glass to resilience in the face of adversity, with the latest vintage of a great Champagne, Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2012. We talk to James…

Today, we’re raising a glass to resilience in the face of adversity, with the latest vintage of a great Champagne, Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2012. We talk to James Simpson MD of Pol Roger UK about thriving during a pandemic, Pol’s high tech new winery and how he’s terrified of running out of stock as the restaurants reopen. 

Moët & Chandon first released its prestige label Dom Perignon in 1935, and the first commercial releases of Louis Roederer’s Cristal was in 1945 but Pol Roger was rather late to the fancy Champagne party with the launch of Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill in 1984. 

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, he really liked Pol Roger Champagne

Pol Roger’s biggest fan

As the world’s most famous drinker of Pol Roger Champagne, Churchill was the natural choice to be honoured in this way. The company has an invoice in its archives from 1908 for the purchase of the 1895 vintage. Following the liberation of France, Churchill met with Odette Pol-Roger where they apparently got through plenty of the great 1928 vintage. It was the start of a great friendship. In the last ten years of his life, he bought 500 cases of his favourite Champagne, and on his death in 1965, Pol Roger edged its label in black.

Whereas Dom Perignon is associated with James Bond, and Cristal with rappers and film stars, Winston Churchill has a more sedate image. It tends to be drunk just by people who fancy a really really good glass of fizz rather than making a splash in the nightclubs of Dubai.

Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is only made in exceptional vintages. We were fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of the 2008 way back in 2012.  There was a bash in London attended by members of the Churchill and Pol Roger families. Sadly, because of the pandemic, the launch for the 2012, had to be a more low key affair ie. there wasn’t one. Or if there was, we weren’t invited. 

2012 – an excellent vintage

2008 was a superb vintage but 2012 might be even better. Some are comparing it to the legendary 1996. James Simpson from Pol UK said it’s “as good a young Churchill as I have tasted, ever.” But it wasn’t just the weather that was good, serious upgrades to production were completed in time for the vintage. “It’s a combination of a great year and the fact that Pol is now a state of the art modern winery allowing for each parcel of grapes to be fermented separately,” Simpson explained.

“There’s not a lot to Churchill,” he said, “just take the best grapes from best vineyards.” It’s always a big meaty wine made with a high percentage of Pinot Noir with the rest Chardonnay, both from Grand Cru vineyards. The exact blend is, according to Simpson, “a closely guarded family secret.”

He went on to say that it’s “a smallish vintage” so there’s not going to be much to go around. “We could have sold our allocation two or three times over,” Simpson said. Unlike Dom Perignon which measures its production in millions, Winston Churchill can be measured in the ten of thousands. Though Simpson is cagey about exact quantities. For a brand with such a strong image, you might be surprised to hear how tiny Pol is making around 1.7 million bottles per year compared with Moët’s 30 million. 

Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 2012

Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 2012, don’t mind if we do

A mild panic

Simpson thinks that this strong image and Pol’s loyal customers were a godsend during the pandemic. While overall UK Champagne sales were down around 20%, Pol was only down 0.5%. 

In fact, Simpson admitted to being in a “mild panic” that he might run out of stock now that the country is opening up, “London is heaving at the moment. You can’t get a table anywhere,” he said. 

Delicious now, even better if you can wait

Unlike with almost any other premium wine, prestige cuvée Champagne can be enjoyed on release. Simpson compared it with grand cru white Burgundy where you have to pay double the amount and wait at least five years before you can drink it. Even then, there’s no guarantee that your pricey Burgundy will be any good. Compare that with this latest Winston Churchill: “We’ve sat on it and looked after it for 10 years, “ he said. 

But if you can keep it longer, you’re in for a treat. Wine lovers are increasingly waking up to the joys of ageing the best Champagne. Simpson reckons you should wait five years to enjoy Winston Churchill at its best. Or longer in magnum.

So, if you’re planning to wait, may we recommend buying some of the standard 2012 Pol Roger which is exceptionally good to drink while you wait for your Churchill to mature? Both wines are a fine way to celebrate the slow return to normality. 

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Delightful hints of macadamia and cashew nuts, floral honey, lemon rind, sweet, ripe apples and squishy fresh brioche. Bold and full-bodied with a gently dry finish this has a wonderful depth and character, exquisite!

Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2012 is available from Master of Malt.

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New Arrival of the Week: Dom Perignon 2006 Rosé

Today’s we’re toasting the arrival of a new week, a new month, and possibly a new beginning, with a quite fabulous Champagne, Dom Perignon 2006 Rosé. Dom Perignon is the…

Today’s we’re toasting the arrival of a new week, a new month, and possibly a new beginning, with a quite fabulous Champagne, Dom Perignon 2006 Rosé.

Dom Perignon is the granddaddy of ‘prestigious cuvée’ Champagnes. It was launched by Moët et Chandon in 1935 with the 1921 vintage. The name comes from the Benedictine friar who was one of the first people to look at viticulture and wine making from a scientific perspective, though he almost certainly didn’t invent sparkling Champagne. His statue stands proudly outside Moet HQ in Epernay. The Dom was an exact contemporary of Louis XIV, both were born in 1638 and died in 1715. 

Dom Perignon

The statue of the Dom himself outside Moët HQ

An even more fancy Champagne brand was such a good idea that the other houses decided that they too needed their own. And lo, Louis Roederer created Cristal, Taittinger launched Comte de Champagne and Pol Roger honoured its most famous customer with Cuvée Winston Churchill. 

But what exactly is a prestige cuvée?

You might be forgiven for thinking that these wines are all about bling and separating the wealthy from their money. To some extent they are, the packaging is lavish, prices are high and loudly ordering a magnum of Cristal in a trendy restaurant sends out a statement to those around you.

They are also usually exceptional wines. Dom Perignon has the might of LVMH behind it which means it can buy up the finest grapes, from the best and most expensive vineyards in Champagne. It means that the chef de cave (cellar master) has an exceptional palate of wines to choose from when making up his blends

They are not, however, rare. Every year journalists ask Vincent Chaperon how many bottles he producers and he bats away the question diplomatically but with a degree of irritation. It’s always the same journalists who ask the same question and the answer is alway the same, he’s not saying. The answer is probably in the millions rather than the thousands.

What wines like DP offer is something quite unusual in the wine world: a fine wine that is reliable and needs no further ageing, though will last for decades. Compare this with Burgundy which can be a lottery or Bordeaux where you need to keep the finest stuff for 15 years minimum before opening. With DP, and indeed Cristal et al, you should never be disappointed. It’s a wine for when you want to celebrate with complete confidence.

Dom Perignon 2006 rose

Dom Perignon Rosé 2006 – superfancy

The 2006 vintage

Yes, DP is reliable but it should also reflect the vintage. Some years will be better than others and if the quality isn’t there, DP doesn’t release a wine. 

The first rosé vintage was 1959. It’s only made in the right years, this 2006 was the first time the house had released five rosé vintages in a row, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. In an interview with the Buyer, Chaperon described the vintage as “consistently warm throughout the vegetative period, the only exception to this was a cool and moist August. But the sun came back in September and we had four weeks of beautiful weather.” 

It’s made by blending a white wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with about 20% red wine which is made entirely from Pinot Noir.  Overall it contains 56% Pinot Noir and 44% Chardonnay. It’s sweetened with 6 grams of sugar per litre which is low for Champagne.

I’ve been fortunate enough to try this wine a couple of times and it’s a wine that reveals itself slowly. It repays tasting at a leisurely pace, not too chilled and ideally with food. The colour is a sort of orangey pink, very pale and fashionable. The palate is quite different, you can really taste the red wine. It’s tangy, meaty and full of red fruit along with orange peel and notes of biscuit and salted caramel. 

If you’re looking for something fancy to toast the reopening of the world, then look no further. 

Dom Perignon 2006 Rosé is available from Master of Malt

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What we’re treating our mums to this Mother’s Day

We know our mums are awesome all year round – but we still want to make them feel loved on Mother’s Day! This is what Team MoM is picking up…

We know our mums are awesome all year round – but we still want to make them feel loved on Mother’s Day! This is what Team MoM is picking up for their mas this 14 March.

Mum, mother, mom, mam, mama, amma, ma, The Mothership…  We all call our mums different things here at MoM Towers (heck, it’s even almost in our own name!). The mothers either in or represented across the building (ok, we’re largely working remotely right now) come in all forms, too: single mothers, adoptive mothers, working mothers, working-plus-homeschooling mothers, mothers raising children together, step mothers, cat mothers, dog mothers, even plant mothers. Maybe we’re desperately missing our mothers. Motherhood looks different for everyone, and we want to celebrate it all year round, not just on Mother’s Day (14 March, if you still need to mark the diary!).

This year we thought we’d widen the conversation around motherhood. We asked people from across Team MoM to pick out a pressie for their ma. But we also asked people for their favourite quotes about motherhood, from books and poetry to TV and film. Read on, enjoy, get some inspiration, but most of all, let’s celebrate mothers!

Mother’s Day gifts from Team MoM

Lauren Cremin, Fulfilment Assistant: Mór Irish Gin

Lauren and her Mother's Day recommendation, Mór Irish Gin

This Mother’s Day, I’ll be treating my mum to a bottle of Mór Irish Gin. My mum LOVES a good G&T, especially one that gives a nod to her Irish heritage and that she can sip whilst reminiscing about her own mum who was actually from Abbeydorney, also in County Kerry! 🥰 Luckily, we have been surviving lockdown together so I’m sure if I ask nicely she’ll let me have a glass or two!

“I’m not a regular mom, i’m a cool mom, right, Regina?” – June George, Mean Girls

Emma Symons, Customer Relations Advisor: Hermitage 2005 Chez Richon Grande Champagne Cognac

Emma and her Mother's Day recommendation, Hermitage Cognac

Mum’s not a big spirits drinker, but a few Christmases ago, I bought myself a bottle of Hermitage to open after dinner. Feeling festive, Mum had a taste and discovered out she absolutely loved it! She ended up buying a bottle herself to share with dinner guests, which I know went down very well and wrapped up many a successful gathering – so well that it ran out a long time ago. I think this will be a lovely reminder of happy get-togethers and something to look forward to sharing around a table again one day in the not too distant future!

Henry Jeffreys, Features Editor: Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus

Henry's mum (plus his daughter), who looks likely to get  Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus for Mother's Day!

My mother loves a glass of bubbly so I think she’s going to enjoy this Kentish sparkler. It’s made from Bacchus, a grape that when grown in England tastes distinctly of elderflowers, another one of my mother’s favourite things. Here’s to you mum, let’s hope you get to play with your grandchildren again soon.

“A good mother loves fiercely but ultimately brings up her children to thrive without her. They must be the most important thing in her life, but if she is the most important thing in theirs, she has failed.” – Erin Kelly, The Burning Air

Holly Perchard, Customer Relations Advisor: Gin Mare Gift Pack with Lantern

Holly, her mum, and her Mother's Day gift recommendation, Gin Mare Gift Pack with Lantern

This Mother’s Day I’m definitely going to be getting my mum the Gin Mare gift pack with the gorgeous white lantern. Not only will the gin go down a treat, but we also get a nice lantern to put around the house! Daughter of the Year?

Kristiane Sherry, Editor: J.J. Corry The Sonas

Kristiane, her mother and Grandma with JJ Corry The Sonas for Mother's Day

I’m going to treat my mum to a bottle of The Sonas. It’s really deliciously soft Irish whiskey and its name means ‘happiness’ – which seems fitting for Mother’s Day! She’s in a bubble with my grandma too, so hopefully they can share a dram of happiness together.

“Anyone who ever wondered how much they could love a child who did not spring from their own loins, know this: it is the same. The feeling of love is so profound, it’s incredible and surprising.” – Nia Vardalos, Instant Mom 

James Ashby, Stock Control and Replenishment Coordinator: Lind & Lime Gin

James, his mum, and a Lind & Lime Mother's Day treat

I’ll probably get my mother a bottle of gin, like Lind & Lime, Twisted Nose or Mermaid Gin. She’ll enjoy the gin and then add some bottle lights to them to use as a lamp.

Abbie Green, Customer Relations Advisor: Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label

Abbie and her mum will toast Mother's Day with Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label

For Mother’s Day this year, I am going to buy my mum her absolute favourite bottle of Champagne: Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label. I chose it because this Champagne brings joy to everyone, just like my mum! It’s the perfect gift for any occasion.

“Mothers are all slightly insane” – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Jess Williamson, Content Assistant: Bathtub Gin

Jess, her mum and a Mother's Day treat in the form of Bathtub Gin!

My mum adores Bathtub Gin, even more so after we both became obsessed with Negronis together! It’s the gin she always ends up going back to no matter what, so it’s a failsafe pressie that she’ll definitely love. I won’t be able to share a G&T (or Negroni) with her this year, but at least I’ll know she’ll be enjoying whatever she makes!

Guy Hodcroft, Buyer: Foursquare Spiced Rum

Mother Hodcroft will get Foursquare Spiced Rum for Mother's Day

During a trip to Barbados in the late 1990s (a trip to which, I should add, my brother and I were NOT invited), my mother developed a taste for the excellent spiced rum produced by Foursquare. Used as a tot in coffee for a winter warmer or a base for tropical cocktails in summer, it has become a firm favourite.

Whether you’re a mum yourself or celebrating yours (or both!), Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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LVMH launches premium Cuban rum brand, Eminente 

We were given an early taste of the latest spirit in the Moët Hennessy portfolio. As you might expect from this luxury goods giant, it’s a little bit special. Introducing…

We were given an early taste of the latest spirit in the Moët Hennessy portfolio. As you might expect from this luxury goods giant, it’s a little bit special. Introducing from Cuba, Eminente Reserva Rum…

Moët Hennessy is famous for its Champagne bands such as Ruinart, Krug, and Veuve Clicquot but now, according to brand manager Max Helm, “spirits are the way forward” because there’s not much room to expand in Champagne, both in terms of production and sales. So, joining such illustrious names as Belvedere, Ardbeg and Glenmorangie in the company’s portfolio comes a new rum from Cuba. 

The company had been looking to produce, in Helm’s words “a very versatile style of rum” about three years ago and so some of the team met with the Cuban government which controls the industry. It was serendipitous timing as the state monopoly, Ron Cuba, had been preparing the groundwork for a premium product, laying down stocks of mature rum. “They really wanted to showcase one end of the spectrum. Something you don’t see coming from Cuban rum and to show off their expertise,” Helm said. We’ve heard from other brands that the Cuban government isn’t that easy to deal with but this rum took only three years from inception to bottling. 

It’s maestro ronero Cesar Marti!

It’s a good fit, a Cognac company working with a Spanish rum company as Helm explained: “It’s about working with eau-de-vie, ageing, blending, different barrels sizes.” It was clearly a meeting of minds when the Hennessy team were introduced to the youngest ever Cuban maestro ronero, Cesar Marti. Helm explained: “Cesar Marti is the beating heart behind this. He’s a bit of a prodigy. His family worked in the industry so he understands sugar and soil. But he’s also done a chemical degree so he has expertise in all areas.” His face and signature adorn every bottle. 

The production process behind the rum is fascinating and worth explaining in detail. It all starts with 100% Cuban sugar cane. This is grown slowly and only harvested when it has reached “maximum potential” ie. a high sugar content. Sometimes it is allowed to grow for as much as 22 months. It’s then processed using, as is normal in Cuba, somewhat antiquated machinery. This leaves molasses behind with around 54-64% sugar rather than 45% using more modern equipment so you have “a rich base,” as Helm puts it. It’s then fermented quickly for 25-30 hours to give a clean fruity wash.

Then it’s on to distillation which takes place at various facilities around the island. Rum master Marti produces two spirits: a high strength rum of about 95% ABV, and what is known as an aguardiente of around 75% ABV. A good way to think of these two spirits is the first as a grain whisky providing alcohol and helping bring components together, and the second as the more full-flavoured single malt. The aguardiente is aged for two-to-three years in ex-Scotch and Irish whisky ex-bourbon barrels as the Cuban industry cannot buy casks directly from the US. Marti blends the aged aguardiente with fresh high ABV spirit. This blend is then aged for seven years with increasingly older aguardiente added slowly during this time. According to Helm, there are 14 blending processes overseen by Marti. The result has an age statement of seven years, as in Scotch whisky the age of the youngest component, but contains older spirits. The final blend is about 70% aguardiente, most aged Cuban rum is around 18%. Five grams of sugar per litre is added before bottling.

Where it all begins, in the sugar can fields

The result is an extremely appealing rum (full tasting note below). It’s very much in the classic Spanish style of being clean, fruity and fragrant but also complex, like Santa Teresa from Venezuela. It will appeal in particular to Cognac drinkers. The sweetness is just right. It has a great depth of flavour mixing fresh fruit like cherries with dark chocolate, coffee and tobacco. It’s a great sipper, but also good in simple cocktails like an Old Fashioned, an El Presidente or Palmetto (mixed half and half with vermouth and served straight up with a dash of orange bitters.) 

As you’d expect from LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), the packaging is pretty snazzy too, with the bottle ribbed to resemble the skin of a crocodile and on the label a drawing of the island of Cuba in the form of a crocodile. Helm told me that Cuba has its own unique species of crocodile and the locals refer to the island as ‘el crocodillo.’

Eminente is aimed at spirits lovers rather than rum nerds. Helm thinks it will appeal to whisky drinkers but also to “people who try new gins every week and people during lockdown, who thought I’m not spending money in other ways, I’ll upgrade and spend money on a bottle.” 

Moët Hennessy doesn’t always get it right. The company dipped its toe in rum back in 2005 with a product called 10 Cane which was, oddly enough, an agricole-style rum from Trinidad. It seemed to confused consumers at the time because it was “made for sipping but the consumer preference in the US was for mixing,” Helm told me. He also joked that it didn’t taste good mixed with coke which was how most Americans drank their rum. 10 Cane flopped but the market globally has become a lot more sophisticated since then and Eminente is clearly a much better thought-out proposition. Also, I reckon it’ll have no problems with coke. So far though, the launch is quite low key with limited quantities going into the UK, France, Germany and the Czech Republic. There’s also an on-trade only three year old ‘claro’ expression. 

Fancy packaging, as you’d expect from LVMH. The contents are good too

It’s not just rum, the LVMH spirits portfolio is expanding in other areas too: a new Tequila brand called Volcan de mi Tierra Blanc has just been launched in the US and Mexico; and in 2017, it bought a bourbon distillery in Washington state, Woodinville, But what about gin? Helm, who has been with the company since 2006, told me that when he joined, “there were all sorts of rumours about Hendrick’s but the gin train left and somehow we didn’t have a ticket!” But now that spirits are such an important focus for the group, Helm said: “There will have to be a gin coming somewhere, but when, how or in what form, I don’t know.” So expect a gin from LVMH in the not too distant future.

Eminente Reserva 7 year old tasting note:

Nose: Lots of cinnamon spice with fresh cherries and a little dried fruit plus followed by dark chocolate, coffee and tobacco.

Palate: Fresh, fragrant and floral, light body, just a touch of sweetness, some pepper, then toffee, chocolate and coffee swing in. With a little smokiness in the background. 

Finish: Long and layered with sweet dark chocolate. 

Eminente Reserva is now available from Master of Malt.

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The Nightcap: 21 August

Ryan Reynolds, free rosé, a gin-based streaming service and a world-record breaking whisky. All on this week’s Nightcap.  It’s now raining and grey and miserable again at MoM Towers, which…

Ryan Reynolds, free rosé, a gin-based streaming service and a world-record breaking whisky. All on this week’s Nightcap. 

It’s now raining and grey and miserable again at MoM Towers, which means the quintessential British summer is officially back on. This is good news for those of us who loathe sun cream and sand and instead prefer large woolly jumpers, hot drinks and just generally being indoors. But there is one thing that unites the introverts and extroverts of this world and that’s a love of the weekend, which are especially good when they begin with another cracking edition of The Nightcap. Which is exactly what we have here, so read on!

This week on the blog we launched a new series called MoM Loves which featured NÜTRL’s shiny new range of vodka sodas. Lucy then threw a pisco disco, Henry enjoyed a Champagne that tells the story behind the wines and Annie spoke with Julieann Fernandez about all things Deanston. Before she grabbed five minutes with the Highland distillery’s master blender Annie concluded her series on Icelandic spirits, while Adam learnt all about the groundbreaking story behind a brotherly bourbon and then made himself a Blood and Sand. Because if you could make a Blood and Sand, why wouldn’t you? Oh, and the virtual whisky spectacular Scotch and Sofa is just a fortnight away so if you still need to pick up a tasting set do so now! Onwards to The Nightcap! 

Diageo buys Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin 

Diageo has had a busy week once again, this time adding Aviation Gin, the brand co-owned by Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds, to its already considerable portfolio. The drinks giant’s new acquisition of Aviation parent, Davos Brands is reportedly worth £466m (£271 million immediately and up to £210 million more in performance-based incentives over the next decade) and includes its other signature brands, Astral Tequila, Sombra Mezcal and TYKU Sake, which means a greater share of those fast-growing agave and sake markets. The owner of Johnnie Walker and Guinness loves splashing the cash on drinks companies associated with a handsome leading man it seems, after it also purchased the Tequila brand Casamigos, which was co-founded by George Clooney, for $1bn in 2017. While the value of the deal to the actor was not disclosed, we do know that Reynolds will stay onboard as a stakeholder and public face for the brand moving forward. Which makes sense. The guy is phenomenally good at marketing his own brand. Seriously. “A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit. What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring. Growing the brand with my company, Maximum Effort Marketing, has been among the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever been involved with,” said Reynolds. “I want to thank Diageo for their incredible team and passion. We’re so excited for the next chapter of Aviation Gin, which, I promise, will require just as little reading”. 

The Nightcap

The doc will explore the “alchemy of a brand and what it takes to create an icon”

Johnnie Walker releases limited edition bottles and news of a documentary

It’s been a big week for Johnnie Walker, that’s for sure! First came the announcement that the brand released not one, but three new snazzy limited edition bottlings. Now you can get rare, colourful bottles of the Red Label, Black Label and Gold Label Reserve whiskies, all in honour of its 200th anniversary. Gone are the transparent glass bottles of yore, these new designs are looking bold in block colours. “These limited edition bottles give a bold new look to our most iconic whiskies and perfectly celebrate Johnnie Walker’s depth of character as we celebrate this incredible 200-year milestone,” said brand ambassador Ali Reynolds. Well, it’ll certainly make for a colourful drinks cabinet, and you can grab the limited edition Black Label from MoM right now! The other snippet of news that came our way this week was that award-winning film director Anthony Wonke is making a film about Johnnie Walker! The Man Who Walked Around the World will be a feature documentary, exploring the success of Johnnie Walker over 200 years. “The story of Johnnie Walker is fascinating. It explores the alchemy of a brand and what it takes to create an icon,” said Wonke. “It has punch and depth – a brilliant history packed with intrigue and romanticism. Dig deeper and we find it has the potential to be so much more – a story about what makes us human, the things we can achieve and what keeps pushing us forward.” It’ll premiere later this year (the exact date is currently unknown), and we know what we’ll be drinking when we sit down to watch that! 

The Nightcap

The Champagne region has been faced with climate change, a global pandemic and economic uncertainty

Champagne announces earliest ever harvest

In an unprecedented move, the Champagne region began its earliest ever harvest on record this week. It’s a direct result of climate change as warmer temperatures have fuelled early ripening of the prized grapes. The Champagne industry has been aware of the battle it faces against global warming for some time and was the first wine-growing region to carry out a carbon footprint assessment and identify the main sources of emissions back in 2002. Already 24% of the area has environmental certification and by 2030 the aim is that number will be 100%. The region also plans to be herbicide free by 2025 and reduce its carbon footprint by 75% per bottle by 2050, having already reduced it over the last 15 years by 20%. “Unprecedented year calls for unprecedented measures. Faced with climate change, a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, the Champagne region, not immune but ever-ready has agreed on a yield reduction (8,000 kilos/hectare vs 10,200 last year), a degree of deferred bottling and grape payment, united by an unflinchingly long-term commitment to sustainability,” says Francoise Peretti, director of Champagne Bureau UK and spokesperson for the Champagne industry in the UK, “Pragmatism, resilience and optimism reign over the 2020 harvest which is showing the signs of being one of the most qualitative year, reminiscent of 1988, 1989, 1990, 2018 and 2019”.

The Nightcap

Congratulations to Colin Gordon!

Ardbeg welcomes new distillery manager Colin Gordon

You might remember a while back we reported that Mickey Heads, Ardbeg’s distillery manager, was planning to retire after 13 years at the helm leaving big boots (as well as casks) to fill at the Islay distillery. Now Ardbeg has announced his successor: the wonderful Colin Gordon! You’ll almost certainly know Gordon from his time as distillery manager at Lagavulin Distillery and the former Diageo man also worked as the site operations manager at the Port Ellen Maltings, which provides barley to eight of the 10 Islay distilleries. Heads, meanwhile, has agreed to continue in his role as Chair of the Ardbeg Committee, the worldwide army of Ardbeg fans. “Ardbeg is an iconic name in whisky with an immense reputation. I’m absolutely delighted to be joining an experienced team producing such an exceptional dram”, says Colin Gordon. “Ardbeg has built a reputation for producing amazing whiskies with Mickey Heads at the helm. He is a huge name in the industry and will be a very hard act to follow. It’s a privilege to be chosen to take over the reins from him. Islay has been our home for five years and to be given the honour of overseeing the running of Ardbeg is very special indeed. I will do my very best to protect and enhance the reputation of the distillery and ensure it keeps producing the world-class spirit of Ardbeg.”

The Nightcap

You’re looking at a record-breaker, folks

Nc’nean’s first whisky sets world record at £41,004

Nc’nean has broken a world record after the first bottle of its inaugural single malt whisky sold for £41,004 during an online auction. Bottle number one of the Highland distillery’s expression Ainnir, an unpeated no-age-statement whisky made from organic Scottish barley and matured a combination of five casks before it was bottled at natural cask strength (60.3% ABV), quadrupled the previous record and all 1,320 bottles of the inaugural whisky sold out within 36 hours. The first 10 bottles of Ainnir single malt were sold on Whisky Auctioneer in August to raise money for five charities and attracted more than 852 bids from 13 countries. In total, the auction raised more than £92,000 and all proceeds from the auction will be split between charities including Trees for Life, The Drinks Trust, The Ben, The Scottish Farm Land Trust and Morvern Community Trust. “We could not be happier with the success of this auction,” said Nc’nean founder Annabel Thomas. “I’m really proud that Nc’nean has been able to give something back to support charities and the hospitality industry that has been particularly hard hit recently.” Thomas also said to watch this space for the next chapter in the Nc’nean story and that the brand has some exciting announcements ahead…

The Nightcap

The £10 million fund will help the UK’s distilleries become more environmentally sustainable

£10m eco funding aims to turn Scotch whisky green

Drinks lovers will soon be able to enjoy a dram in the knowledge that they are helping to cut carbon emissions and support new green jobs. That’s because Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, announced the opening of a £10 million fund to be used to kick-start green innovation across the UK’s distillery industry. The move gives backing to distilleries across the UK to harness energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste to power their operations. Furthermore, enabling technology such as fuel conversion, transportation or storage will also be considered. Essentially, government funding will help distilleries continue to produce tasty tipples while contributing to taking pollution equivalent to emissions from 100,000 cars out of the atmosphere. “We want to harness the tremendous innovation of our distilleries so customers can enjoy their favourite tipple in the knowledge they are helping us to tackle climate change”, says Kwarteng. “In 2019, the UK distilleries industry grew by 20%, demonstrating the opportunity for the sector to be at the heart of a clean and resilient recovery.”

The Nightcap

It’s coming home, it’s coming home, Select Aperitivo is coming home. . . to Venice.

Select Aperitivo is coming home to Venice

If you want to make a proper Venetian spritz, do as the locals do and reach for a bottle of Select Aperitvo. This classic drink was originally produced in the Castello district but production had moved out of the city. But now, like football once did, it’s coming home! Parent company Montenegro has announced the plans for the ‘Ca’ Select’ (House of Select) housed in a former industrial laboratory in the Cannaregio district. The maceration of Select’s botanicals will take place at the new facility which has been revamped by Marcante-Testa studio alongside a tasting area and events space. Marco Ferrari, CEO of Gruppo Montenegro commented:We have chosen to build an experiential site that brings the heart of the production process back to Venice and allows us to share it with the city and its inhabitants. We want to communicate, in a widespread way, the quality and tradition but also the research and innovation of our brand.” Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, added: “The City of Venice and I am proud that an important brand, such as  Select,  is  returning  to  produce  in  the  place  that  saw  its  birth  100  years  ago.” Great news, we’re going to celebrate with a Select Bicycletta

The Nightcap

#thefutureisrosé

Free rosé at restaurants around the country

It’s definitely been the summer of rosé. And COVID, of course, but we like to accentuate the positive here at Master of Malt. All that lovely weather had us reaching for the rosé bottle again and again. Now, to encourage people to eat out once more, everyone’s favourite rosé-focused industry body Vins de Provence has teamed up with independent restaurants and wine bars around the country offering various rosé-tinted special offers. For example, in London Lady of the Grapes in Covent Garden is offering a free glass with three plates per person, and Blandford Comptoir will serve you a free glass of AIX rosé with a two-course lunch menu; while down in Eastbourne the first 50 diners through the door at The Grand Hotel get a free glass. Offer runs during August and September, go to Instagram for more information. But that’s not all, share your rosé photos @vinsdeprovenceuk and #thefutureisrosé, and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a case of Provence’s finest. 

The Nightcap

Face masks made out of milk. Yes, we’re serious.

Discarded makes face masks out of milk

In case you hadn’t noticed, face masks (and not the cleansing clay type) have become the next big compulsory pandemic accessory. But the plight of single use face masks is a nightmare, harming marine life and adding to the hoard of single use waste. The clever folks behind Discarded have once again engaged their crafty brains and figured out a way to reuse waste products to make something wonderful – it’s not a vermouth or rum this time, but face masks! Discarded teamed up with Mi Terro, a company that extracts the casein protein molecules from the bacteria found in milk that’s past its best. Then, using something very complicated called dynamic flow shear spinning, it creates sustainable fibres, and these fibres are used to create the masks. That’s not all, because these catchily-named Milk Masks are being distributed by Discarded to London bars for free, while furlough staff from the hospitality sector were employed to make the face masks. We love all this positive news! “Typically, face masks are single use and have been named the new plastic bottle as they contribute to marine debris with a 450-year lifespan,” said Shana Gujral, William Grant & Sons marketing executive. “So in true Discarded Spirits fashion, we sourced fabric, which uses biotechnology to turn wasted milk into cotton fibres.” When life gives you sour milk, what else is there to do but make face masks?

The Nightcap

Yep. That’s a squirrel in a top hat eating a cucumber and watching a waterfall

And finally…Hendrick’s Gin launches unusual streaming service

If there ever was one, 2020 has been the summer of streaming, which goes some way to explaining the onslaught of subscription-based programming recently. Fortunately, Hendrick’s Gin has embraced its self-appointed moniker as the ‘world’s most unusual gin’ and decided to respond by creating its own streaming service. No, really. It’s available free of charge. There’s no subscription necessary to the 21+ audience. Oh, and it’s entirely made up of footage of three serene streams: The Brook that Dared, Cucumber Creek, and Little Falls with Rosy Dreams. This is not an April Fools prank. We swear. Look, check the link. See? It’s all real. The brand says round-the-clock access of bodies of water should offer a tranquil alternative to the ever-expanding maelstrom of choices of conventional streaming platforms. “Quite honestly, we find the array of films and shows available on conventional streaming to be quite mind-numbing,” states Vance Henderson, U.S. Ambassador for the Scottish-based gin maker. “Our stream-focused streaming service will provide a leisurely alternative, coupled with insights into how best to sip Hendrick’s cocktails while you watch”. For maximum stream gazing enjoyment (I can’t believe I’m writing this. I wanted to write the next great American novel, what happened?) Hendrick’s recommends going for either Hendrick’s Rickey, the Cucumber Lemonade or the delightful Floradora as your streamside cocktail.

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New Arrival of the Week: Bollinger PN VZ15

We’re toasting the start of the week with a brand new Champagne from Bollinger. Don’t worry about the baffling-sounding name, everything will become clear shortly. ‘PN VZ15’, it doesn’t quite…

We’re toasting the start of the week with a brand new Champagne from Bollinger. Don’t worry about the baffling-sounding name, everything will become clear shortly.

‘PN VZ15’, it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like Special Cuvée or Grande Année. Can you imagine ordering a glass of PN VZ15 in a restaurant? Well it might sound like a form you fill in when you want to sell your car but it actually provides lots of information about the make-up of this special Bollinger cuvée. We’ll explain shortly.

Champagne is something of an anomaly in wine because for the majority of bottles, the only information you get on the label is the name of the producer plus an indication of how sweet it is, normally brut meaning bone dry. Just take a look at the label for the classic Bollinger Special Cuvée, there’s nothing about a vintage, grape variety, where it was grown etc. Compare that with Burgundy, a region that mostly uses the same grapes as Champagne, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There the label will be increasingly specific depending on the quality level of the wine; from the region, eg. Côte de Nuits, to a village, Gevrey Chambertin, and right at the top, a specific vineyard such as Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Even the greatest Champagnes, in contrast, will usually just say ‘Champagne’ on the label and will be blended from all over this large and disparate region. 

The idea is that it’s the same consistent quality year in year out. Champagne is great for people who just want excellence without disappearing down the rabbit hole of wine geekery. You don’t need to know anything about wine to order a bottle of Bolly in a restaurant whereas ordering Burgundy and Bordeaux it helps to have a bit of knowledge. But now Champagne producers are waking up to the fact that some of their customers are interested in the story behind the wines.

Increasingly on labels you are seeing names of regions within Champagne and even specific vineyards. As with most French AOCs, producers are not allowed to put the grape varieties on the front (but if you see ‘Blanc de Blancs’, it means it’s all Chardonnay, while ‘Blanc des Noirs’ means it’s made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier). Which is where the cryptic name of today’s New Arrival of the Week comes from. The PN stands for Pinot Noir. The VZ refers to Verzenay, a commune within Champagne (rather like Pauillac is a commune within Bordeaux) and the 2015 refers to the harvest. So that’s a lot more information already than on a standard Champagne label. 

But this isn’t a vintage wine. Those who want to dig further, can learn that in addition to 2015, it contains about 20% reserve wines mainly from the 2009 and ‘10 vintages from famous red grape communes including Aÿ, Bouzy and Tauxières. The idea is to celebrate Pinot Noir, the backbone of Bollinger’s wines. Of the 178 ha of vineyards owned by Bollinger, 104 ha are planted with Pinot Noir, but along with the super pricey Vieilles Vignes Françaises cuvée (yours for about £650 a bottle if you can find it), this is the only all Pinot Noir offering. Charles-Armand de Belenet, general manager of Champagne Bollinger, commented: “ This cuvée made entirely from Pinot Noir is ingrained in what has become the very essence, the DNA of our House – an inimitable vision of an iconic grape variety and uncompromising efforts to fulfil the mission we started in 1829 as creators of taste.”

It’s the first in what will be an annual series focussing on Bollinger’s Pinot Noir crus. Like all the company’s wines, it’s fermented in oak. Not that it tastes oaky, it just gives the wine a richness. There’s 7g of sugar added post-disgorgement so it tastes completely dry. Not only is it a delicious wine but it’s ideal for those who want to dig a bit deeper into this fascinating region. Practise saying: ‘I’ll have a bottle of  PN VZ15’, or just order it from Master of Malt

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt:

Fig, cherry and orange zest, with a hint of rose jelly sweetness too. Toasted almonds, spring blossom and just a smidge of buttered brioche.

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Top 5 drinks songs

The true perfect pairing to a delicious drink? A catchy song about said drink! Here’s our top five boozy tunes. We’ve chosen our top five drinks-related films, books and TV…

The true perfect pairing to a delicious drink? A catchy song about said drink! Here’s our top five boozy tunes.

We’ve chosen our top five drinks-related films, books and TV shows, so it was only a matter of time before we moved on to…. Music! The plethora of songs written about the plethora of boozes means it was a pretty big choice, but we managed to whittle it down to five. Let us know in the comments or on social which ones you would have included. We know one way to beat the quarantine blues; grab a drink, whack on these tracks and have a boogie.

Behold, the quarantunes!

As always, these may not always feature the most responsible booze consumption. Let’s keep it in the songs!

Whiskey in the Jar – Thin Lizzy

An iconic Irish folk song that’s been covered more times than you can shake a stick at, but Thin Lizzy’s version has perhaps been the most influential (bar The Dubliners’ 15 years prior). The Irish rock band took the traditional ballad and added a bit of oomph. Pour yourself your favourite dram and settle down for a good ol’ listening session, tale of an outlaw highwayman from the comforts of your sofa.

Gin & Juice – Snoop Dogg

We’re taking it back to the ‘90s with this one, Snoop D-O-double-G knew what was up before the gin boom in his debut album. Oh, and he’s not just sipping on any old juniper goodness, he even specifies Seagram’s gin and Tanqueray! This song is in no way stuck in the past, in May 2018, Snoop Dogg even set the world record for the largest Gin and Juice at 500 litres! Needless to say, don’t try that at home… 

Red Red Wine – UB40

The ultimate song to sway around your kitchen to with a glass of said red wine in your hand, this is a true classic from UB40, even though the original was recorded by Neil Diamond. Who knew? Well, not even UB40 it turns out. When they recorded the song they thought that the writing credit ‘N Diamond’ was a Jamaican artist called Negus Diamond. That’s enough history, time to sit back, relax and enjoy the grooves. Even if you think that red wine isn’t for you, this is sure to convince you to give it another try!

Tequila – The Champs

Can you believe that this awesome little tune has been around since 1958?! Who doesn’t want to dance when this song comes on? Go on, get your Margarita and have a little quarantine boogie. Maybe even go all out and make a dance routine, it’s that kind of jig (though perhaps put your drink down for that one). Plus, it’s an easy one to learn the lyrics to… Tequila!

While it’s not the best quality, here is an absolutely stellar video of the band playing the song live on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show in May 1958.

Champagne Supernova – Oasis

Anyway, here’s… Champagne Supernova! Love or hate Oasis, whatever you feel about the Gallagher brothers, Champagne Supernova is the anthem of a generation (just behind Wonderwall, obviously). One for when you’re feeling a little fancy, pour yourself a glass of the fizzy stuff (we’re sure Prosecco would do as well) and contemplate whether the brothers will get back together. Or whether they should. Oasis may be gone, but Champagne Supernova is forever.

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