fbpx
£

We're just loading our login box for you, hang on!

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Chivas Regal

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. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 3 September

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love!

From an Islay single malt whisky to Jaffa Cake Rum, here’s a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at Master of Malt. We think there’s something here…

From an Islay single malt whisky to Jaffa Cake Rum, here’s a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at Master of Malt. We think there’s something here for everyone. As long as you want booze, that is.   

Here at MoM Towers, we’ve spent plenty of time tasting, sampling and mixing our way through some of the world’s finest drinks over the years so that we can pass on our knowledge and share our passion with you lovely people. Naturally, we develop favourites and so we thought it would be fun to round-up some staff standouts and recommend them to you, from beautiful blended whisky to innovative rum and more.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company with Enamel Mug

We’re always going to love a delightful, versatile and award-winning (Islay Single Malt 12 Years and Under at the World Whiskies Awards 2020, don’t you know) single malt from Islay but the fact that this beauty comes with a charming enamel mug perfect for enjoying a Hot Toddy in just makes it all the better. Oh, and if you need a recipe, Tammy Jackson (of @forcocktailsake fame) makes a particularly good one, which you can see her doing here.

What does it taste like?

Maritime peat, iodine, honey sweetness, paprika, salted caramel, old bookshelves, mint dark chocolate, espresso, new leather, soy sauce, liquorice allsorts, bonfire smoke and toffee penny, with a pinch of salt.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Kyrö x Ki No Bi Gin

Kyrö Distillery has launched a neat little series where it teams up with other brands to create something tasty, which is an idea we’re very much in favour of! For the first of its Kyrö x Friends releases the Finnish spirit-makers partnered with Kyoto Distillery over in Japan to celebrate 100 years of diplomacy between Japan and Finland, and created a gin that combines the best of each distillery’s local botanicals in one trans-continental treat.

What does it taste like?

A touch of berry fruit and red florals, with distinctive yuzu citrus and oily, piney juniper, leading into peppery spice and a smidge of savoury seaweed.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Jaffa Cake Rum

Combining two wonderful things doesn’t always work (my hamster never accepted that damn tiny sombrero) but this combination of Jaffa Cakes and rum is an absolute winner that we can’t help but talk about. It’s made with actual Jaffa Cakes, folks, which are blended alongside oranges, fresh orange peel and cocoa powder with Caribbean rum to create this expression, which makes for a mean Daiquiri or Rum Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?

Rich hot chocolate, zesty orange, subtle ginger heat, vanilla pod earthiness, subtly grassy rum, cakey sweetness and a tangy hint of tropical fruit.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Aberlour 10 Year Old

There’s always going to room for vibrant, fruity and rewarding drams in our drinks cabinet, which is why it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a bottle like Aberlour 10 Year Old on-hand. Plus it represents outstanding bang for your buck. What’s not to love?

What does it taste like?

Sherried raisins, toffee, spicy rich fruitcake, foam bananas, honey, sweet spices and a pleasant nuttiness.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Eleventh Hour Gin

The Derbyshire Distillery made this dry gin by combining botanicals including juniper, angelica, cassia, ginger, coriander, orris, lemon, sour cherry and poppy seeds. The last ingredient is something of a symbolic choice, as £3 of each bottle of Eleventh Hour that’s sold will aid The Royal British Legion to make a difference. Tasty gin is one thing, but when you know that every bottle you purchase will support who served in the armed forces past and present, it’s really something.

What does it taste like?

Softly fruity, with cherry and lemon standing out amongst the angelica, spicy juniper and anise notes.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old

A favourite of critics, an absolute bargain, a versatile option and an all-round tasty blend, there’s no secret as to why we enjoy Chivas Regal 12 Year Old. The world-famous Scotch blend was first made in the early 20th century by Chivas Brothers and continues to charm us to this day.

What does it taste like?

A creamy, aromatic melange of vanilla custard, hints of aniseed, lemon curd, butter toffee, dried banana chips, barley malt, ground walnut, caramel and cereal sweetness.

Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 

A deep, dark and rich twist on the delightful Woodford Reserve, Double Oaked is made using the same process as its classic sister expression but is then further matured in barrels which have been heavily toasted and lightly charred. Why do we like this one so much? Two words: Old. Fashioneds.

What does it taste like?

Lots of sweet oaken character, as well as rich fruit, vanilla and caramel notes.

No Comments on Fantastic staff favourites we think you’ll love!

The history of Chivas Regal

When Chivas Regal made its debut as a 25 year old whisky in 1909, not only was it the oldest blended Scotch whisky of its era, but it was also…

When Chivas Regal made its debut as a 25 year old whisky in 1909, not only was it the oldest blended Scotch whisky of its era, but it was also the world’s first luxury whisky. Navigating a tumultuous geopolitical landscape in the years that followed, Chivas weathered the storm, establishing its home in Strathisla, Speyside, from where it continues to influence and shape the Scotch whisky industry today. Chris Brousseau, archivist at Chivas Brothers, talks us through the brand’s fascinating history…

Chivas Regal may have hit the market at the turn of the 20th century, but its history can be traced back to a grocery business established in Aberdeen back in 1801, which sold “quality provisions, wine and spirits” – and also with the birth of brothers James and John Chivas. Born into a family of tenant farmers in 1810 and 1814 respectively, they left their rural home in 1836 to work in the city; James as a partner in the grocery business, John at a wholesale firm. 

“A royal warrant was granted by Queen Victoria to James Chivas in 1843, as Purveyor of Grocery to Her Majesty,” says Brousseau. It would be the first of many. “They were supplying the Queen of Balmoral with food, with spirits, with wine – just about anything,” he says. “She even asked for a quiet donkey that she could have to pull her around the ground.”

James Chivas outside King Street shop in 1862 (only existing pic of him)

When James’ business partner Charles Stewart left the grocery in 1867, John took his place, and Chivas Brothers was born. Three years later, the Spirit Act of 1860 came into force, allowing whisky from different distilleries to be blended without payment of duty. “That allowed people like Chivas Brothers to start buying from different distilleries – both grain whisky and malt whisky – and start blending for the first time,” says Brousseau. “It really opened the door. And this is when we think James and John started creating what we’d call branded whiskies.”

Their first blended malt Scotch whisky was a no age statement (NAS) bottling called the Royal Glen Dee. It would be followed by six others over the course of the next 40 years, including Royal Strathythan, a 10 year old whisky, and Royal Loch Nevis, a 25 year old. Over the course of their whisky career, the brothers had amassed extensive knowledge on ageing and blended whiskies, and they’d also built up vast stocks of maturing whisky.

Fast-forward to 1895, and both James, John, and James’ son Alexander – the last of the Chivas lineage – had died. Chivas Brothers was bought by Alexander Smith, said to be the ‘right-hand man of Alexander Chivas’ and then-master blender, Charles Stewart Howard. “The youngest whisky that they were producing in 1895 was five years of age, which is quite amazing when you didn’t have to age whisky until some 20 years later,” says Brousseau. 

Chivas Brothers price list front cover 1890s

Howard decided to pay tribute to the founding brothers with a malt-heavy recipe and launched Chivas Regal as a 25 year old whisky in 1909, primarily for the North American market. “We call this the world’s first luxury whisky, because when you look at what was going on in the market at that time, there was nothing like it; nothing of that age,” says Brousseau. “There were a few branded whiskies, maybe 10 years old, something like that. This was really something very special.”

Just five years later, World War I begins, signalling the beginning of a global downturn that would last decades. Few distilleries would emerge on the other side. “We had Prohibition in the US and Canada,” says Brousseau. “We had the Great Depression for several years. Then World War II comes along, which had a huge impact on the Scotch whisky industry. Chivas Regal went from 25 years, to ‘of great age’ on the label. Then it went to NAS for a while, until it was resurrected in the 1950s,” joining Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, which had launched in 1939.

In 1949, Canadian businessman Samuel Bronfman, head of Seagrams, took a trip to Scotland. He left as the owner of Chivas Brothers, having bought the business from whisky brokers Morrison & Lundie for £85,000. “He always had this vision that there would always be a special market for aged Scotch whiskies,” says Brousseau. “One of the reasons some people think he bought Chivas Brothers as opposed to other companies was not only because it was a great company with great whisky stocks, but because he was a keen royalist.”

Bottling whisky – mid to late 1800s

When Queen Elizabeth II succeeded her father George IV on 2 June 1953, Bronfman launched Royal Salute blended Scotch whisky in tribute on the same day. He was even invited to the coronation. Shortly after taking over Chivas Brothers, Bronfman hired Charles Julian – “the best Scotch whisky master blender at the time,” says Brousseau – and paid £71,000 for Milton distillery, renaming it Strathisla, which remains the home of Chivas Regal to this day and produces a key malt component of a blend.

When it comes to telling the story of Chivas Regal, Strathisla is the final piece of the puzzle. Built in 1786 at Keith, Moray in Speyside, it’s the oldest continuously operating distillery in the Highlands. “Just recently, we found an accounts book for the very first year,” says Brousseau. “Because it was built by two people, they listed everything they bought and how much it cost, so at the end of the year they could split it 50/50.” 

What would you buy if you were going to start a distillery in the late 1700s? “On June 22nd 1786,” he reads, “two shovels, a wheelbarrow, a sand harp – which is a sieve – some advice, and some stones. It began operation with a 40 gallon still, and a capacity of 28 tonnes of malted barley per year. They were licensed on the amount of barley they could use. Grain lorries today hold 29 tonnes, so we do in a day what we used to do in a year.”

Chivas Brothers price list inside 1890s

Today, the core range comprises Chivas Regal 12, Chivas Regal 18, and Chivas Regal 25. There’s also Chivas Regal Extra, which contains a higher proportion of sherry casks; Chivas Regal Ultis, a blended malt containing no grain whisky; Chivas Regal Mizunara, which is the world’s first Scotch whisky to be aged in Japanese oak; plus a wealth of limited editions and market exclusives – for example Chivas Regal XV, a 15 year old blend finished in casks that previously held Grande Champagne Cognac.

From a small Aberdeen grocery to the pride of high-end back bars across the globe, the story of Chivas Regal is a lesson in weathering adversity. Now owned by Pernod Ricard, the brand sells more than 4.2 million cases every year, and has retained the sense of grandeur Howard instilled when he launched the world’s first luxury whisky back in 1909. In the words of his business partner Smith, writing in 1904: “The name Chivas may be carried down to posterity as meaning the best service, the best quality, the best value – in short, the name Chivas shall be the equivalent to the hallmark of excellence.”

The Chivas Regal range is available from Master of Malt.

No Comments on The history of Chivas Regal

The Nightcap: 4 September

There’s a whole smorgasbord of big Scotch whisky news in this week’s Nightcap, as well as reports on new celebrity booze and Whisky Tea. Yes, really! Intrigued? Then read on……

There’s a whole smorgasbord of big Scotch whisky news in this week’s Nightcap, as well as reports on new celebrity booze and Whisky Tea. Yes, really! Intrigued? Then read on…

We hope you all enjoyed your Bank Holiday weekend. Whether you set off on an adventure, popped down to your local or enjoyed some well-earned R&R indoors, we’re sure you made the most of the opportunity to take a breath and enjoy a break. Fortunately for us, the world of booze never seems to stop churning out new products, projects and passions for us all to get all geeky and gleeful about so The Nightcap this week isn’t any lighter even with a day off. Take a look and see for yourself.

The MoM blog this week was also as busy as ever, and almost turned green thanks to the number of stories we had on Irish whiskey. First Ian Buxton examined its growing pains, then Annie learned why the progress of Sliabh Liag Distillers is proving cause for excitement. Certified organic distilleries also caught Annie’s eye, as Henry gave us a lesson in fortified wines casks to mark the arrival of The Epicurean Rivesaltes Finish. Elsewhere, Adam enjoyed a gin-based delight and one of the finest prohibition-era cocktails in The Southside, before wishing That Boutique-y Whisky Company a happy birthday by announcing another terrific new MoM sale.

Arguably the biggest news of all, however, was our announcement of the launch of Pour & Sip, our all-new, kick-ass whisky subscription service. Check out the blog post for more details. We’re also issuing one last call for you to tune in to our virtual whisky extravaganza Scotch & Sofa, which is taking place tomorrow. Oh, and don’t forget, Drinks by the Dram’s incredible booze-filled Advent Calendars are available to pre-order now!

Right, on with the news!

The Nightcap

CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures’ didn’t mince his words for the Scottish government.

Chivas Bros. criticises Scottish government over COVID response

It was a difficult results time for Chivas Brothers, which we’ll get on to in a moment, but the most interesting thing from this week’s press conference was CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures’ strong words for the Scottish government. He talked about a “bumpy period in March/April when we were not so clear about the direction the Scottish government wanted us to take. We know that we were not seen as an essential business to the economy even though Scotch whisky is the second-largest export for Scotland.” Happily (for everyone, not least Master of Malt customers), Chivas Brothers managed to keep the whisky flowing. Coutures praised the workforce and the unions for their helpful attitudes, and now the company is “almost back to full operations”. He added: “I still believe that the Scottish government needs to back us up and they need to understand that keeping this category operating is absolutely critical not only to the Scottish government but as well to the people of Scotland.” Meanwhile, on to those results: total organic sales were down 11%, in large part due to the lack of travel retail, with Ballantine’s shrinking by 8% and Chivas declining 17%. But there are grounds for optimism, with The Glenlivet cementing its position as number one single malt in the US, up 16%, Royal Salute expanding in Taiwan and South Korea, and Chivas growing in 34 markets including Turkey, Russia and Germany. Overall, there was confidence that Pernod Ricard had weathered the COVID storm as well as could be expected. Coutures added: “Our business and brands have responded with agility and resilience in the face of unprecedented market conditions, in many instances outperforming the category. We remain confident in the strength of our portfolio and the Scotch category as a whole, especially in its ability to withstand and overcome external challenges.” Now, if only the Scottish government could be a little more helpful… 

Long-time master distiller Jeff Arnett is to step down from his role at Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s master distiller to step down

Big news from Tennessee this week. Jeff Arnett, the man at the production helm of Jack Daniel’s for a whopping 12 years, announced he was leaving his role. This is significant stuff for Jack Daniel’s, the world’s biggest selling American whiskey. Arnett oversaw milling, fermentation, distillation, charcoal filtration and maturation, so these are some pretty sizeable shoes to fill. Parent company Brown-Forman hasn’t said why he’s leaving, or given word of his replacement. But Jack Daniel’s senior vice president, Larry Combs, did say: “Jeff has worked tirelessly on behalf of the distillery and brought with him the creativity and the expertise that makes Jack Daniel’s the most valuable whiskey brand in the world.” Arnett said his time with the brand had been “an incredible chapter”, but didn’t say what he’d be up to next. We’re thoroughly intrigued by the proceedings, and wish Arnett all the best!

The Nightcap

Is there anything he can’t do?

Snoop Dogg announces his latest creation: INDOGGO Gin

Not content with being a hip-hop legend and all-round entertainment icon, Snoop Dogg has once again turned his attention to conquering the booze industry. The creator of the classic hip-hop anthem ‘Gin and Juice’ has founded his own gin brand: INDOGGO Gin. Following a partnership with Treasury Wine Estates to release a California red blend under the 19 Crimes brand called Snoop Cali Red earlier in the year, Snoop Dogg teamed up with his friend and spirits veteran, Keenan Towns of Trusted Spirits and spirits importer Prestige Beverage Group this time to release INDOGGO Gin. The expression, which is housed in a purple bottle features a white logo with upturned ‘G’s in a hat tip to the fruit-infused gin being a remix on the classic juniper-dominant style, was distilled five times and features seven botanicals, including orange, coriander and cassia and is infused with “all-natural strawberry flavour” with no added sugar. “I can’t wait for the world to taste my remix on gin! When I wrote Gin & Juice back in ’94 it was about good feelings and real experiences, it just naturally became an anthem,” Snoop Dogg said. “When creating Indoggo, I wanted to give those feelings new life with an approachable juicy gin that’s smooth like the D.O. Double G.” INDOGGO Gin will first launch in Snoop’s home state of California in late September before it’s released throughout the rest of US through 2021, so if you can’t get your hands on it you can at least pour yourself something delicious and sing those seminal words: “Rollin down the street, smokin’ indo, sippin’ on gin and juice/ Laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.”

The Nightcap

It’s rare to see Ardbeg of this age so it’s particularly exciting news!

The second batch of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is (nearly) here!

The second batch of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan is here! Or nearly here, it will be arriving at MoM towers soon. We liked the first release so much that we travelled up to Edinburgh with a film crew to listen to Brendan McCarron wax lyrical about it, video link here. The series is named after the beaches of Traigh Bhan (pronounced tri-van) on Islay which are known locally as ‘the singing sands’ because the noise the tide makes on the sand. This latest batch was matured in American oak and oloroso sherry casks for 19 years and bottled at 46.2% ABV with an RRP of £199. There’s a higher proportion of first-fill bourbon casks in the blend alongside refills and sherry casks. Dr Bill Lumsden commented: “To me, this whisky is the epitome of an aged Ardbeg. It somehow manages to balance the complex with the classic. It’s a truly unique bottling and we hope Ardbeggians everywhere look forward to comparing notes with the previous batch. I know I did!” Not only is the whisky special but the packaging is innovative too: each Traigh Bhan whisky carries its own unique batch code, batch symbol and signature from one of the Ardbeg team; this year it’s Jackie Thomson, the visitor centre manager. She said: “the small quirks and originalities on the bottle itself make it highly collectable – something we know our Ardbeg fans love.” They certainly do. Watch the New Arrivals page of the MoM website. It should be with us soon. 

The Nightcap

We can’t wait for this book to come out in October

Johnnie Walker book is coming

Have you ever wanted to know more about the man behind the world’s best-selling whisky, Mr John Walker? No? Well, we do. And now our curiosity is about to be sated with the imminent arrival of a new book called Johnnie Walker: A Long Stride. Its author, historian and Diageo’s grandly-titled head of whisky outreach Dr Nick Morgan, has been labouring in the company’s extensive archives for a good few years, and we can’t wait to find out what he has uncovered. It’s not just the story of the man, but also the brand up to the present day. According to the press release: “By doing things their own way, Johnnie Walker overturned the conventions of late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, survived two world wars and flourished despite the Great Depression to become the first truly global whisky brand, revolutionising the world of advertising along the way.” And you thought they just made delicious whisky. We’re hoping to host Dr Nick on the blog sometime soon to tell us more. 

The Nightcap

We’re very jealous of whoever gets their hands on this 47-year-old single cask whisky

Gordon & MacPhail launches 47-year-old whisky to mark 125th anniversary

Gordon & MacPhail has announced that it will launch four rare bottlings of single malt Scotch whisky to commemorate the company’s 125-year history. The independent bottler and distiller has been doing its thing since 1895, releasing all kinds of delicious single malts from over 100 celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries. Each exceptionally rare whisky will come from casks from a closed distillery or made on Lomond stills that are no longer in production and will be released periodically during the rest of 2020. The first of which is the Gordon & MacPhail 1972 from Coleburn Distillery in Speyside, which is particularly fitting given the distillery is situated just four miles from the company’s Elgin home. The 47-Year-Old single cask whisky is said to be sweet, intense and complex with notes of butterscotch, apricot, cooked apples and mint, a profile it attained after spending its entire maturation in a refill sherry puncheon (cask 3511) before it was bottled at cask strength, 62.4% ABV. “The whiskies we have chosen to commemorate our 125th Anniversary are all truly unique and seldom seen in the market,” says Stephen Rankin, a fourth-generation member of Gordon & MacPhail’s owning family and the company’s director of prestige. “They are bottled from the last remaining casks we have from these distilleries, and marks an emotional moment for my family as they leave the Gordon & MacPhail warehouse after being left to mature by my grandfather many decades ago.”

The Nightcap

We’re delighted to see one of London’s finest bars return

Tayēr + Elementary opens its doors

Award-winning cocktail bar Tayēr + Elementary re-opened its doors following its closure during the lockdown period. Alex Kratena and Monica Berg will stagger the return in two phases, Tayēr will return in October and the venue’s front bar concept Elementary opening from at the beginning of this month from 3pm until midnight Tuesday and Wednesday, and 3pm-1am Thursday – Saturday. Its new outside terrace to help enable social distancing will make its debut and food from new chef partners Kitchen FM will be available, including the pig’s head croquette (mmmmm, pig’s head), served with kimchi and oyster mayo, deep fry chicken, with a smoked and spicy maple glaze and pickles and desserts such as the plum jam with ginger ice cream. Elementary’s drinks offering will feature the bar’s signature classics such as the One Sip Martini, Whey Sour and ēe Frozen Coffee alongside new highballs, beers, wines and seasonal cocktails. The Bottle Shop will be available for takeaway, serving all of the bar’s own ready-to-drink cocktails, which were launched by the team during lockdown, such as the Bergamot Margarita and Palo Santo Gimlet, as well as a selection of beers and wines to takeaway. 

The Nightcap

Congratulations Pierrick!

Lagavulin gets a new distillery manager

Big transfer news on Islay: Pierrick Guillaume is moving from Caol Ila to take up the role of distillery manager at Lagavulin. Frenchman Guillaume has been with Diageo for eight years with stints at Mortlach and Talisker before the move to Islay and Caol Ila in 2017. Having met and tasted with Guillaume we can vouch that not only is he a lovely chap but extremely knowledgeable. He commented: “It is a great honour to be asked to take on the role of Lagavulin distillery manager. Lagavulin is a whisky that is revered around the world and it’s a great privilege to be joining the outstanding team that makes this exceptional Scotch whisky and I can’t wait to get started.” Meanwhile, there are some big boots to fill at Caol Ila and stepping up is Samuel Hale who is currently the manager of Port Ellen Maltings. If you want to know more, why not tune into our Scotch and Sofa whisky festival tomorrow, 5 September? At 2pm both Guillaume and Hale will be taking a boat trip to Islay alongside Colin Dunn from Diageo and Henry Jeffreys from Master of Malt. 

The Nightcap

The Delevigne sisters are the latest celebs to embrace the world of booze

Celebrity booze continues with Pimm’s competition and Delevigne Prosecco

Celebrities and booze go together like caviar (the celebrity of the seafood world) and Champagne (the celebrity of the wine world). As such, we’ve got double trouble on the celebrity booze front for you this week. First up, we have the Delevigne sisters who have launched their own Prosecco! The sisters, Chloe, Poppy and Cara, called their creation Della Vite, which, although it sounds a lot like their last name, actually translates as ‘of the vine’. Having partnered with the Biasiotto family, two expressions are being launched this month, Della Vite Prosecco Superiore (DOCG) and Della Vite Prosecco Treviso (DOC). “Placing sustainability first and using agricultural methods that don’t rely heavily on the industry is at the core Della Vite’s values,” said Cara. “We spent four months looking for the perfect winery to align with our vision and are so proud to have created two exceptional Proseccos that are both sustainably produced and 100% certified vegan.” There’s no label, with the bottle sporting the brand signature created by Poppy Delevingne. Well, that’s one way of getting her autograph. From Prosecco to Pimm’s, the latter has launched a competition to try and make up for the strange summer Britain has had! Louise Redknapp is spearheading this one, giving the public the chance to win an afternoon with the Pimm’s O’Clock Truck! The winner will get to enjoy it at home for the day with a small gathering of friends and family (complying with COVID regulations, obviously). If you want to enter, snap a photo-sharing Pimm’s with your pals onto Instagram. Make sure you follow @Pimmsgb on Instagram, tag @Pimmsgb and use #TheOriginalTasteOfSummer. You have until 7 September to get your photos up, so get the pitcher out quick!

The Nightcap

Keep an eye out because this historic whisky is on its way to MoM Towers!

Isle of Raasay inaugural release sells out (yes, we will be getting some in)

If you were hoping to get your hands on a bottle of Isle of Raasay Distillery’s inaugural single malt, set to launch in November 2020, we have bad news. It’s already sold out. Before it’s even been bottled. Okay, let us explain. Out of its expected outturn of 7,500 bottles, the distillery set aside 4,350 bottles for an online pre-sale. Obviously these went like hotcakes, while the rest of the bottles have been snapped up by a selection of international markets, specialist retailers, restaurants and bars. It’s no wonder too, with the lightly peated whisky matured in first-fill American oak and set to be finished in 21 first fill Bordeaux red wine casks. “We are delighted to have sold out of our Isle of Raasay Single Malt Inaugural Release before it’s bottled in November,” said Isle of Raasay co-founder Alasdair Day. “This is the first legal whisky from an island rooted in centuries of illicit distilling, so it really is a piece of Scotch whisky history!” There is still hope for a bottle though! Make sure you keep an eye out on MoM new arrivals because we’ve got your back and will be stocking the historic whisky. Keep your other eye on its social channels (@RaasayDistillery), because we also heard that the distillery is launching a competition in October with the chance to win one of the prized bottles. 

The Nightcap

We recommend this tea made with whisky. It’s much nicer than it sounds.

And finally… WHISKY… TEA?

When we heard about Whisky Tea, we thought of the great Peter Kay and his cheesecake routine: “WHISKY…. TEA? Are my ears playing tricks on me?” Well, this is no joke, it’s the latest product from Edinburgh-based Pekotea. We were sent some samples and suitably impressed. These are quality teas, not a gimmick. One of the brains behind it, Jon Cooper, filled us in: “There are some close analogies between whisky and tea and we wanted to create something that would reflect this in tea blends. Just like the different regions of tea giving different flavours and aromas, we thought it would be great to make teas that reflected the main Scotch whisky regions. Each of the teas contains a different blend of base tea with added fruit and spices as well as the whisky and a little flavour oil to highlight the nose of each of the whiskies. We wanted to bring out the main aromas associated with each area.” For example, the Campbeltown expression is made from a blend of black tea with cacao nibs, currants and cornflower steeped in high strength whisky with essential oil and then dried. It tastes rich and fruity, the perfect after-dinner tea instead of coffee, or indeed a dram. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 4 September

Be ready for the Bank Holiday weekend with our boozy sale!

The last Bank Holiday of 2020 until Christmas is less than a week away (Monday 31 August) and we want to help you make the most of it. How? With…

The last Bank Holiday of 2020 until Christmas is less than a week away (Monday 31 August) and we want to help you make the most of it. How? With these epic savings on delicious booze! 

The Summer Bank Holiday is here and people all over England and Wales will be looking to take advantage of the extra day of rest. And of all the sales online. The extra weekend day is the perfect excuse to indulge in some much-needed me-time and treat yourself with some bargain self-care goodies to go alongside it. Whether you want a classic Scotch whisky to toast the extra time off or a deliciously flavoured gin to accentuate those summer vibes, we’ve got just the thing for you. To help you find everything you need with ease, we’ve rounded up some of our best offers below. Enjoy!

Bank Holiday weekend boozy sale

Wolfburn Batch No.375 

Who doesn’t love a small-batch series of delicious Scotch whisky? The Wolfburn Distillery might be a relative newcomer in the industry but it’s already got an impressive core range and a super selection of small-batch expressions including this tasty number. Batch No.375 was matured in a combo of 100-litre first-fill bourbon barrels and second-fill Oloroso sherry hogsheads and packs notes of floral barley, fragrant vanilla, chewy dried fruits and a kick of oaky spices.

What’s the deal?

It was £78.95, now it’s £48.95.

Bank Holiday weekend boozy sale

Tapatio Anejo Tequila

For those who are enlightened and see beyond the nonsense party reputation Tequila has, a quality bottling of Mexico’s national spirit will sound like the perfect way to make the most of the Bank Holiday weekend. Tapatio Anejo Tequila was made from 100% blue agave and was double-distilled to the desired strength and then bottled without the need for any water to be added. Margaritas, anyone?

What’s the deal?

It was £34.95, now it’s £27.45.

Bank Holiday weekend boozy sale

Chivas Regal 18 Year Old

If you need a serious sipper then look no further than this go-to bottling for bartenders and connoisseurs alike. Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, which was created by the legendary Colin Scott, is a serial award-winner for good reason and includes over 20 single malts from around Scotland.

What’s the deal?

It was £59.83, now it’s £49.83.

Bank Holiday weekend boozy sale

The Oxford Artisan Distillery Rye Organic Dry Gin

Those of you who appreciate spirits crafted with a sense of provenance and sustainability will love The Oxford Artisan Distillery. Its Rye Organic Dry Gin, for example, was distilled from local rye grown just 50 miles from the site in handmade, purpose-built stills. With a trio of citrus peels and meadowsweet among the botanicals, expect heaps of juniper, rye spice and citrus in here.

What’s the deal?

It was £38.95, now it’s £28.95.

Bank Holiday weekend boozy sale

Anno Orange and Honey Gin

If you’re on the lookout for a gin but would prefer a flavoured option, then we highly recommend this delight from our neighbours at Anno Distillers. The Kent-based booze makers created this sweet, citrusy gin by infusing orange zest and locally sourced honey alongside ginger and nutmeg. A portion of the profit from each bottle goes to Bee Friendly Trust, so you can support a good cause while you imbibe.

What’s the deal?

It was £38.14, now it’s £33.14.

Bank Holiday weekend boozy sale

Doorly’s 5 Year Old

If rum is more of your thing, then you’ll want the best. That’s why we’ve recommended a bottling from the exceptional Foursquare Distillery. The Bajan rum experts have created a number of great expressions and ranges over the years, including the delightful Doorly’s brand, which is full of balanced and beautiful spirits that are great in cocktails and neat. Doorly’s 5 Year Old is no exception.

What’s the deal?

It was £27.13, now it’s £21.63.

Bank Holiday weekend boozy sale

Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair 

Pronounced ‘Stew-rah-dur’, meaning ‘helmsman’ in Scots Gaelic, Stiùireadair pays homage to the Bunnahabhain helmsman and the sea that surrounds Islay, so naturally, you can expect this one to have some serious seaside vibes. In fact, Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair, which was matured in first and second fill sherry casks, is unpeated so the sweet coastal character of the distillate can shine.

What’s the deal?

It was £59.83, now it’s £49.83.

1 Comment on Be ready for the Bank Holiday weekend with our boozy sale!

Five minutes with… Colin Scott, former master blender at Chivas Brothers

Chivas Regal is one of the biggest and most recognisable blended Scotch whiskies in the world. We talk to custodian master blender Colin Scott as he turns in his tasting…

Chivas Regal is one of the biggest and most recognisable blended Scotch whiskies in the world. We talk to custodian master blender Colin Scott as he turns in his tasting glass after an incredible 47 years in the whisky industry. 

Colin Scott has something pretty special in common with both Roger Federer and Tiger Woods… but that’s a tale for later on in his career. Now, we start at the beginning when Scott joined Chivas Brothers in 1973 and in 1989 became Chivas’ fifth Master Blender. As well as being the custodian of Chivas 12, he has seen the brand through an era of innovation – including Chivas Mizunara, Chivas Extra and Chivas 18Both Scott’s father and grandfather worked in the Scotch whisky industry and aside from a brief flirtation with accountancy, Scott has spent his working life in whisky.

Colin Scott

Say hello to the legendary Colin Scott!

Master of Malt: How has the world of the master blender changed since the late 80s?

Colin Scott: When I started blending, it was very secretive. There was no marketing support to be done. From the 90s onwards, that part of the business took off – it was a requirement for us to go into the market to launch products. It has grown and grown. I basically started when there was only The Glenlivet 12, Royal Salute 21 and Chivas Regal 12 – that is what our business was. In the 90s, when Johnnie Walker was adding all the different colours we had to react and that’s when Chivas 18 came along and then others followed that. Today, with social media, the media and communications… the excitement, everybody wants more.

MoM: Do you have to have a natural talent for tasting or can you train your palate?

CS: You have to have a level of nosing ability and sensory acumen. At Chivas, we have an annual test that people go through. For blenders, it’s a different level. The company has a couple of hundred nosers around the country to check products every time a vat is moved or emptied. Some are working on barrels, they have a different test, some are working on vats and they have a different test. But at the end of the day, all of the people in quality have to take that test and pass it. When they empty the casks for a blend, for example, you might have 500–800 casks to check for off notes. This would take a couple of hours.

MoM: How do you go about putting blends together?

CS: When we sit down as blenders and talk about it – that’s when you start to learn about all of the different characters and flavours, the interactions. The whole thing is all about flavours. Blending is like having a football team – you’ve got your star but then you’ve got the workhorses behind them. You’ve got whiskies that keep everything right and then ones that you then have to control. It’s about managing flavours. Every single new spirit from a distillery has its own unique character and flavour that is unique to that distillery. If The Glenlivet blew up tomorrow, we couldn’t go to another distillery and make The Glenlivet. Blenders have to safeguard the integrity of the brand. We have to ensure that Chivas Regal today is what it was 10–20 years ago. We maintain that consistency and that status – that’s very important. Scotch has amazing respect around the world and it’s important to uphold that.

Colin Scott

Scott has spent an incredible 47 years in the whisky industry.

MoM: Could technology ever replace the human nose?

CS: A computer is only as good as the information you put in. You’ve got to train it. There are already sensors on a bottling line that will identify which whisky is being filled. It’ll say ‘Chivas 12’, for example, and if something comes along that’s not, it’ll say ‘no’. It doesn’t know what it is or why it is saying no, but it can recognise that it’s something different. There’s a lot that can be done from a quality control point of view but at the end of the day, the human nose is a phenomenal piece of kit.

MoM: How have drinkers changed over the years and what exciting serves have you tried on your travels?

CS: A lot of people still think you have to drink whisky neat, which is quite strange. We’ve been trying to educate and get people to drink whisky however they like it. A lot of people don’t like the heat of the alcohol, whereas others do. I went to Brazil and had a serve with coconut milk – it was actually delicious. It’s all about balancing flavours – Chivas 12 and ginger ale is a great drink but ginger ale and some other whiskies don’t work because the balance goes haywire. Bartenders are making some incredible cocktails. I got involved when we started the cocktail competition [Chivas Masters] around the world. Some of the innovation was fantastic – cocktails are not reducing the status of the whisky, they are taking it to a different level and giving the consumer a different taste experience. There are no rules.

MoM: How do you drink yours?

CS: Personally, I would recommend you add a little water – 50/50 – that brings out another raft of flavours you don’t get when it’s neat. If you want it cool, add a couple of cubes of ice to cool but not chill. Chilling flattens the flavour. But at the end of the day it’s all personal stuff.

Colin Scott

Scott is particularly proud of the delightful Chivas Regal 18 Year Old

MoM: 47 years is a long time. Can you share a few career highlights?

CS: Chivas 18 has been a phenomenal experience. The expression launched in 1997 and was repackaged in 2004 with my gold signature on the bottle. I’m very proud of it, it’s fantastic to have that on the packaging. One of the best things was watching drinkers taste the whisky and then smile before taking another sip. And the comments; people said it was amazing. The Chivas style is rich and about a balance of flavours and you have this smoothness. But I think Chivas 18 has a real velvety smoothness. And then, of course, it has got rich fruit flavours, toffee, dark chocolate and then a little hint of smoke coming in at the end. It’s basically taking a line up from Chivas 12 to 18 and then selecting the whiskies to keep it in that style and tradition but selecting the whiskies to give it a completely different taste experience to Chivas 12. A new blend will take six months to a year, but generally speaking, the packaging takes longer.

MoM: How many bottles of Chivas 18 have you got at home?

CS: Enough for a wee while. I’m not going to run out, don’t you worry.

MoM: What about Royal Salute 50-year-old in 2003, was that a highlight?

CS: That was amazing – there were only 255 bottles and it was very unusual to have a 50-year-old blend. I launched that in Japan (they had 7 bottles) and meanwhile it was launched in Kathmandu: the first bottle was given to Sir Edmund Hillary because the news of his ascent of Everest came on the same day as the Queen’s Coronation, in 1953. So it was an anniversary for both. The Duke of Argyll [who has a long-standing relationship with the brand] went out to Kathmandu to give Hillary bottle number one. Hillary’s bottle is now back in the archives in Strathisla. We gave a big cheque to his charity just before we gave him the bottle and then just before he sadly passed away, he offered it back. So the Duke went back out and gave him another cheque for the charity – for the Sherpas.

Colin Scott

Cheers to you, Colin Scott!

MoM: You have travelled a lot over the years, any memorable stories?

CS: In the early 90s, we went to China with Chivas 12. We took pipers and we went in kilts and we did a daily programme of education, supermarket visits, KTV visits, meeting people, giving gifts. We played the pipes in the supermarkets, in the KTVs – people loved it. We made a big, big noise. This we did for a number of years and I think it really sowed the seeds, although we probably didn’t realise it at the time, because then China became our biggest market in the early 2000s. I met the most amazing people – that’s the greatest thing I’m going to miss. Not only the people in Pernod Ricard.

Another one – having launched Chivas 25 in New York, we then flew to Dubai and there we actually flew across Dubai in a helicopter and around the Burj Al Arab twice and we landed on the helipad where there were all these people waiting for the launch party. Not many people have been on the helipad at the Burj Al Arab. At that time, it had only been Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, of any importance. In Dubai every year after that we arranged a Legends dinner and we had a celebrity as a guest of honour. That included people like Sir Colin Firth, Sir David Frost, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ben Kingsley. It was just a wonderful experience. During the day, we would have lunch and chat with them. David Frost was a wonderful, amazing person. They are all incredible in their own different ways and I’ll never forget that.

MoM: Master blender aside, what did you want to do for a job?

CS: I always wanted to be a fighter pilot. But I think it would’ve scared the living daylights out of me!

MoM: What will you do now you’re retired?

CS: I’m going to enjoy myself, spending time with friends, family, fishing and golf. I will travel, not at the moment of course, but I’ve got some air miles to use up. Maybe a wee trip. The thing is that when you travel for business, you’re in a hotel, you’re in a restaurant, then you do tastings and things, back to the hotel ad then you come home. I’d like to explore Japan more, it’s a beautiful country, as is Taiwan.

 

No Comments on Five minutes with… Colin Scott, former master blender at Chivas Brothers

Mythbusting: How important is water in spirits-making?

Whether it’s been filtered through ancient volcanic rock, siphoned from a mountain glacier, or collected from the tears of fertile mountain goats (hypothetically speaking), water is an essential ingredient in…

Whether it’s been filtered through ancient volcanic rock, siphoned from a mountain glacier, or collected from the tears of fertile mountain goats (hypothetically speaking), water is an essential ingredient in every spirit, typically making up more than half of your bottle of booze. The question is, does specially-sourced water actually make for a better quality spirit? MoM investigates…

That water makes up most of the liquid in your favourite spirit should come as little surprise. The amount is even stated on the bottle, albeit inadvertently. If the label on your gin bottle reads 42% ABV, then 58% is water. Even if your cask strength whisky comes in at 63.5% ABV, the remaining 36.5% is water – more than one third. Given that water is such a prominent and essential ingredient, it must be a relatively important aspect of the production process.

And it is, but not for the reason you might think. Water is “one of the most important parts of a distillery and the spirit quality,” acknowledges Brian Kinsman, malt master at Glenfiddich Distillery, which sources its water solely from the Robbie Dhu Spring. “We only have three ingredients – water, malted barley and yeast – and the water quality will influence flavour formation in fermentation, which is where much of the final distillery character is formed.”

Each water source has its own unique chemical makeup, depending on the geology of the local area. The levels of trace metals or ‘minerals’ like chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc can have a profound effect on the distilling process. “During fermentation, different trace metals will influence yeast metabolism, which directly impacts our yield and sensory profile of the wash,” Kinsman says.

High-mineral water – particularly calcium and magnesium – helps enzymes in the mash break starch down into simple sugars, explains Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks at ‎The Glenmorangie Company. “It makes the mashing more effective, and allows the fermentation to be more active,” he says. This kicks off “a whole lot of other chain reactions, so you produce more fruity, ester-style flavours during the fermentation period.”

water in spirits-making

Buffalo Trace’s location along the Kentucky River was chosen for its abundance of springs

For this reason, the different mineral make-up is important for each distillery to have their own characteristics, says Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. The site was chosen “due to its location along the Kentucky River and abundance of springs in the area,” he explains. “Typically in Kentucky, due to the limestone the water is iron-free and rich in nutrients such as magnesium and calcium.”

However, not everyone shares the same view when it comes to sourcing water. For some distilleries, the ethos is ‘the purer, the better’. “Our view is that the water used for the distillation part of the process should be as bland and as neutral as possible,” says Arturo Illán Illán, global brand manager for Martin Miller’s Gin. “This ensures that any impurity in the water does not impair the delicate process of distillation.” The team use Icelandic water sourced from deep aquifers beneath a dormant volcanic caldera, which Illán says is “as close to pure, naturally occurring H2o as it is possible to get”.

Either way, it’s important to point out that we’re talking about barely-detectable effects here. “You wouldn’t pick up a whisky and nose it and go, ‘Ah, now that’s a mineral-rich whisky right there, I can really smell the magnesium’,” McCarron says. “It’s nuanced. And this is where the marketing B.S. has come into water in whisky. In the 1970s, 1980s, you’d hear ‘it’s the water that makes the whisky’ – which is true, it’s massively important. But I think a lot of people started attributing lots of the flavour to water.”

Certain whisky myths persist around the use of water in whisky to this day. One of the biggest, he says, is that the reason Ardbeg Distillery makes such smoky whisky is because it has a peaty water source. “That’s just not true,” he says. “Another belter was about a certain distillery up in the Highlands, which used to say that the water – which it did – ran through a hill of heather into a Loch before it went into the distillery, and that’s why the whisky was so heathery in the bottle. Again, it’s a great sounding story, but a complete fabrication.”

water in spirits-making

Glenfiddich Distillery sources its water solely from the Robbie Dhu Spring.

It’s easy to see why certain hypotheses came to exist. “A lot of the flavours, a lot of the spirit character, a lot of the aromas that were contributing to the water were actually coming from fermentation,” he continues. “So it’s almost like it wasn’t untrue that the water was making that heather [note], it was helping, but we’ve come down a level or two of detail – we’ve more understanding of how fermentation works. These debunked myths, there’s a grain of truth in them, but it’s much more about ‘what does the water help the fermentation do?’. Definitely mineral-rich water has a huge effect. Extra-peaty water has no effect.”

It’s only recently that we’ve started to understand that not all water is the same, says Ronald Daalmans, environmental sustainability manager for Chivas Brothers. “It would be nice to think we’ve gone around and found lots of water supplies, decided which ones matched the product we wanted to make, and then chose the location,” he says. “But historically I don’t think that’s how any site has come about, it’s generally linked to the fact that there is a large supply available. We probably didn’t have the chemistry at that time. And it’s part of the legacy of why the product is the way it is… The location has a story to tell in terms of what’s under your feet and why the water is there, and that’s then reflected in the chemistry.”

The chemical make-up of water isn’t the only variable to affect the distilling process. Perhaps more important is the temperature. Not only does having lots of cold water help you condense your spirit – allowing lots of copper contact and preventing sulphury notes, McCarron says – but it’s crucial for the fermentation stage. The starting temperature is dictated by the weather, and when it’s too high (during a particularly hot summer, for example) it results in a drop in yield.

“June, July and August are a nightmare for distillers, it takes loads more work because there’s a double whammy,” McCarron says. “It’s hotter outside, which means your fermentations are going to heat up quicker, and also your cooling water is warmer than it usually is. If you speak to any man or woman in the industry who makes the stuff, they’re much more focussed on ‘what’s the temperature of the water in the summer’ than they are ‘what’s the exact mineral composition’.”

water in spirits-making

If you’re going to build a distillery from scratch, you need a good quality source of water.

So far, we’ve spoken about the water distilleries use during fermentation and distillation. In the case of dark spirits, the next stop for new make is the cask. “We often adjust the strength with water before that happens, and then again [after maturation] before it goes into the bottle,” explains Daalmans. “At both of those stages in the process we are very wary of changing the character in any way, so we use demineralised water. It has no minerals – nothing that’s going to alter the flavour, the mouthfeel, any of those factors.”

The water used at this stage absolutely has to be made neutral and homogeneous. “If you use any water that isn’t, it goes bang – there’s an explosion of reactions and you create these salts and hazes,” says McCarron. “It would start to shimmer, like in a film where somebody’s stuck in a desert and they’re crawling on their hands and knees, and off in the distance, you can see an oasis and a camel appears. It’s called haze because it looks like a heat haze.” You’d also get floc, which looks like “tiny little bits of cotton wool floating about in the whisky.”

The de-mineralisation process usually occurs at a de-mineralisation plant using a rather clever scientific process called reverse osmosis. But not always, as is the case with Martin Miller’s water, which is naturally stripped of its mineral content as it slowly filters through the volcanic rock, says Illán Illán. “The water is claimed by the Icelanders to be the purest in the world, having an average of only 8 to 30 parts per million of dissolved solids,” he says. “The purest non-Icelandic bottled waters, for example, contain upwards of 400ppm.”

Ultimately, how important is water in spirits-making? “Massively,” says McCarron. “It is massively important. If you’re going to build a distillery from scratch, you want to find a really good quality source of water. You want to have lots of it, and you want it to be quite cool because you’re going to use it to ferment, to condense your distillate and stuff like that. Having good quality drinking water, lots of it, and at a good temperature is key. If you don’t have that, don’t build a distillery.”

No Comments on Mythbusting: How important is water in spirits-making?

The Nightcap: 26 June

The Nightcap is filled to the brim with all kinds of boozy news in a week that saw the UK government announce the return of pubs, bars and restaurants!  My…

The Nightcap is filled to the brim with all kinds of boozy news in a week that saw the UK government announce the return of pubs, bars and restaurants! 

My word, it was properly hot in Kent this week. The kind of heat that makes you think we need to rip up our infrastructure and immediately start installing air conditioning in all buildings, and making it law for gardens to have some kind of pool facility. Given that’s not likely to happen, we’re going to have to make do with what we have. We can always grab a suitably summery drink with plenty of ice, find some shade, and enjoy another delightful round-up of all things booze. Sounds lovely. 

On the MoM blog this week, Ian Buxton returned to tell a pretty remarkable story (it’s got whisky publicity stunts, Christo and Dewar’s World of Whisky. What else could you possibly want?), then Kristy made some delightfully simple Scotch cocktails with Stephen Martin from Whyte & Mackay. MoM Towers received some very special deliveries of whisky in the last few days, so naturally, we decided to write about them. The third Whiskymaker’s Reserve from the Lakes Distillery arrived, and Jess was on hand to talk us through the brand’s process; a delightful single cask release from John Crabbie & Co became our New Arrival of the Week; and Henry got the lowdown on what he described as being some of the most eagerly-anticipated expressions ever, Waterford’s Single Farm Origin whisky. If that wasn’t enough, Annie did an outstanding deep dive into the delights of yeast, the unsung hero of distillation, before compiling an easy guide to help you master blender cocktails. We then enjoyed the ultimate DIY cocktail as Adam talked to Alexander Gabriel to hear about how he made a craft gin way back in the 90s.

We’d also like to say thank you to all who entered last week’s virtual pub quiz, where so many of you were in sparkling form. There can only be one winner, though, and that accolade goes to Robbie Ingram, who now has a delightful £25 MoM gift voucher to put to good use! You can check out the answers to last Friday’s quiz below, and the final edition of MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always. That’s right. It’s the last one. Get entering! 

The Nightcap

We can’t wait to see this sweet sight again…

Pubs, bars and restaurants to open on 4th July

It’s the news this industry has been waiting for: the hospitality industry is back, baby! Well, sort of. The government has announced this week that the Covid-19 lockdown is set to be relaxed in England, and the 2-metre social distancing rule eased to the so-called ‘1 metre-plus’. This will allow a number of venues to reopen, including bars, pubs, and restaurants. But there are conditions, naturally. Places can open providing they follow safety guidelines, such as limiting table service indoors, minimising the contact between staff and customers, and keeping contact details of customers to help with contact tracing. People will be encouraged to use ‘mitigation’, such as face coverings and not sitting face-to-face when within 2m of each other. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that all these steps were “reversible” should there be spikes in coronavirus cases, while in Scotland and Wales the 2m rule will remain in place for the moment. Speaking on the developments, Nightcap homie and chief executive of the WSTA Miles Beale said that the opening up of our pubs, bars and restaurants comes as a huge relief to the businesses, and that it’s right that the move comes with caution. “This welcome news does not mean that the hospitality sector and their suppliers are no longer in need of Government support,” he said. “Recovery from the loss of trade over the last few months will mean that some businesses will not be able to open immediately or fully and others will take years to get themselves back on an even keel.” If you are going to head to a bar, pub, and/or restaurant on the 4th of July or after, please be safe, and enjoy!

The Nightcap

The brilliant initiative will hopefully lessen the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry

Diageo launches £80m recovery fund for bars and pubs

In more good news for the hospitality sector, Diageo has announced a new global programme called Raising the Bar, which aims to help pubs and bars welcome customers back and recover following the Covid-19 pandemic. Through Raising the Bar, Diageo will provide £80 million ($100 million) to support the recovery of major hospitality centres such as New York, London, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Delhi and more. The two-year programme, which is available from July 2020, was designed following a global survey of bar owners to identify what they need to reopen after lockdown. Top priorities included hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work. In the UK, for example, Diageo will provide initial funding for ‘hygiene kits’ with high-quality permanent sanitiser dispenser units, medical-grade hand sanitiser, and a range of personal protection equipment (such as masks and gloves). Other support includes help setting up online reservations and cashless systems, plus mobile bars and outdoor equipment. If bar owners want to register their interest, they can do so via www.diageobaracademy.com globally and www.mydiageo.com in the UK and Ireland. Regular updates on best-practice training and resources are provided, and you can participate in global surveys to share insights. Ivan Menezes, Diageo chief executive, said the company is also calling on governments around the world to provide long-term recovery packages. “These businesses play an essential role in bringing people together to socialise and celebrate – something that we have all missed so much during this terrible crisis – and sustain hundreds of millions of jobs, which provide a first foot on the employment ladder for young people.” Bravo, Diageo!

The Nightcap

Meet Katherine Condon, distiller at Midleton Distillery!

Midleton Distillery appoints Katherine Condon 

Following the news that Irish Distillers has swapped in Kevin O’Gorman for outgoing master distiller Brian Nation, the Pernod Ricard-owned company has revealed another new addition to the distillation team. We’d like to say a big MoM Towers hello (it’s basically a usual hello but we’re holding a dram and we’ve paused Withnail and I) to Katherine Condon, who is now a distiller at Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork! Condon joined Irish Distillers back in 2014 as part of the Graduate Distiller Programme, and has since worked as a distiller at the Midleton Micro Distillery, Irish Distillers’ hub for innovation and experimentation. She’s also served as a process technologist and production supervisor at the main distillery, where she has been involved in innovations such as the Method and Madness range. She also picked up The Worshipful Company of Distillers award in 2018, and another gong in 2019 for outstanding achievement from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Condon also holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Process and Chemical Engineering from University College Cork, and a Diploma in Distilling from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. “I am honoured to be appointed as distiller,” she said. “This role represents a time-honoured craft, and it has been a privilege to learn about the art and science of distilling from icons of world whiskey like Brian Nation and Kevin O’Gorman.” She continued: “I look forward to using the wisdom and experience I have inherited to continue their legacy of quality while driving innovation as I continue my career in Midleton. I am incredibly excited about the future of Irish whiskey and the role I can play in it.” Gorman himself added: “Katherine has consistently demonstrated a passion and exceptional skill set for the art of distillation. Her inquisitive nature and constant pursuit of excellence has made her one of the rising stars of world distilling.” High praise indeed!

The Nightcap

Liana is described as ‘the world’s first interactive, at-home cocktail experience’

Liana Cocktail Company brings bartenders into your home 

Lockdown has been especially hard for the hospitality and retail but we’ve been so impressed by how businesses have adapted, there’s a tattoo parlour near me that turned into a fruit and veg shop, and is doing a roaring trade. Another feelgood story is that of drinks agency The Liana Collection. Director David Wood told us: “In mid-May, our entire revenue stream disappeared and the business we worked so hard to build over the last two and a half years was under real threat, to the point where I had a pretty emotional chat with the team informing them that I’d have to be letting people go on 1 July.” Instead, they rallied round and came up with a plan. The result is the Liana Cocktail Company, which launched last week. Wood describes it as “the world’s first interactive, at-home cocktail experience”. The way it works is this: the company will send you everything you need to make a delicious Manhattan, Negroni or something else, and then a bartender will show you how to make it perfectly at home through the magic of the internet, smartphones, satellites and stuff. So modern. Go here for more information. 

The Nightcap

Cheers to you, Colin!

We raise a dram to Colin Scott as he retires from Chivas Regal

We sipped on something of a bittersweet dram on Tuesday evening when we joined a celebration in honour of highly regarded Chivas Regal master blender, Colin Scott. He’s retiring from the blended Scotch brand after a whopping 47 years of service! Alongside other drinks writers and journalists, we chatted, heard stories from Scott’s career, and generally honoured the man who created Chivas Regal 18 Year Old. With that very expression in the tasting glasses, of course! Alex Robertson, head of heritage and education at Chivas Brothers, hosted the session (which took place via Zoom – in-person gatherings are still off), who not only drew attention to Scott’s blending achievements but his role as a pioneer of global brand advocacy, too. “Whenever you talk to blenders, behind it all, there’s a great passion,” Scott said, looking back over his career. On advice he would have given to a younger version of himself, he noted: “you can’t shortcut your road through blending”. He continued: “There’s a road to travel, and you have to get that encyclopaedic knowledge.” And we loved his take on casks management: “We’re the guardians of the past, present, and future.” And looking to the future, he leaves Chivas Regal in the wonderfully capable hands of Sandy Hyslop, already master blender at the likes of Ballantine’s and The Glenlivet.  We’ll for sure be raising a glass to both this weekend!

The Nightcap

James MacTaggart, Andy Bell, and the unique blended malt

Isle of Arran Distillers devise unique blended malt

Isle of Arran Distillers has revealed plans to create a blended malt in a pretty unique way. The plan is to fill casks with new make spirit from both of its distilleries, Lagg and Lochranza. ‘Project North & South’, as it’s been dubbed, is particularly interesting for two reasons. One, the independent Scotch whisky company is in the rare position of owning a Lowland and a Highland distillery both based on one island off the west coast of Scotland, Lochranza Distillery in the north and Lagg Distillery in the south. Two, these distilleries produce very distinct spirits and, while they share some island DNA, one of the spirits is heavily-peated and the other is unpeated. It’s a great way to get the stills up and firing again, as both distilleries underwent a period of closure starting in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  When the distilleries began production again on 11th May, the first runs of new spirit from each distillery were vatted together and filled into bourbon barrels, sherry hogsheads and sherry butts at Lochranza Distillery. “This is a first for Isle of Arran. We are aware of blended malts where the whisky from one distillery is married with that of another, or blended whiskies created by mixing grain with malt whisky, however, this is the first time that we know of malt whisky from two sister distilleries being blended at the spirit stage,” said director of operations and production for Lagg and Lochranza Distilleries, James MacTaggart. Isle of Arran sales manager, Andy Bell added: “I am proud to have played a part in creating this truly unique blend, and will follow with interest as these casks mature. The experimentation at the heart of this process speaks to the truly independent nature of our company.” We look forward to seeing the results!

The Nightcap

Is this the swankiest series of single malt whiskies we’ve ever seen? It might just be.

And finally… Fancy a sapphire with your whisky?

Speyside Scotch whisky distillery Glenfarclas has wrapped up its mega-fancy Glenfarclas Pagoda Series with something the world never knew it needed – an intricate sapphire-encrusted decanter. (It’s also filled with 63-year-old single malt from the distillery, just in case you were wondering.) It rounds off the line-up which also includes a Ruby design released earlier this year with 62-year-old contents. What’s staggering is that to make this new limited-edition vessel, 11,000 sapphires were ordered. Only those that matched in size, and in dark blue made the cut, with 36 of them adorning the age statement in each bottle. There are two editions (one with solid silver accents, the other with gold plating). Could these be the glitziest decanters ever? “It has been an absolute joy to work on this project as it has given us the chance to incorporate valuable gemstones into our decanters for the first time,” said Scott Davidson, Glencairn’s new product development director. “Each and every decanter created is a truly unique work of art to honour the quality of the whisky inside.” The Sapphire editions start at £23,783 ex-VAT – a sizeable investment, even for all those sapphires.

The Nightcap

Pub Quiz Answers

1) Tokaji wine is produced in which country?

Answer: Hungary

2) Nightcap regular Miles Beale is the face of which British trade body?

Answer: WSTA

3) Which spirit is used as a base for the Bee’s Knees cocktail?

Answer: Gin

4) Bain’s Whisky is distilled in which country?

Answer: South Africa

5) Which New York bar was named the no.1 in the world by The World’s 50 Best Bars in 2019?

Answer: Dante

6) Arbikie Distillery’s carbon-negative gin was made from which vegetable?

Answer: Peas

7) Towser the cat killed nearly 30,000 mice over a 24-year period at which Scotch whisky distillery?

Answer: Glenturret

8) Katharine Hepburn and Princess Margaret shared a love of which Scotch whisky brand?

Answer: The Famous Grouse

9) Which early member of the Royal Society is credited with the invention of the strong glass wine bottle?

Answer: Kenelm Digby

10) From which island does Commandaria wine come from?

Answer: Cyprus

 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 26 June

More Deals of the Day this weekend!

Another weekend, another round of delightful deals. We’re back with even more bargains. Which is very handy with Father’s Day coming up… Last week we brought back our Deals of…

Another weekend, another round of delightful deals. We’re back with even more bargains. Which is very handy with Father’s Day coming up…

Last week we brought back our Deals of the Day for the weekend. But that wasn’t a one-off, this is a series. Which means that right now you can find all kinds of spirits with cracking savings here, all of them just waiting to be delivered straight to your doorstep after just a few simple clicks. Fancy a show-stopping bottle of classic whisky? Click. You’ve got one. Desire a new gin to broaden your horizons? Click. It’s in the basket. You can even make a clicking sound as you do it and make it more fun. The world’s your oyster. Except your oyster is filled with delicious booze, not gross sea goop.

deals of the day this weekend

Chivas Regal 18 Year Old

If you know anyone foolish enough to think that blended whisky is some kind of inferior product, then slam this beauty down in front of them and laugh heartily. A serial award-winner and a favourite of bartenders and connoisseurs alike, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old was created by master blender Colin Scott and includes over 20 single malts from around Scotland.

What’s the deal?

It was £58.95, now it’s £46.95.

deals of the day this weekend

Hendrick’s Lunar Gin

One for the summer evenings, Hendrick’s Lunar Gin is another winner from the well-respected gin brand. It was made by Hendrick’s master distiller Leslie Gracie, who was inspired by a moonlit evening tending botanicals in the hothouse. She created this warming, spicy expression that’s filled with notes of soft orange, rosewater, vanilla blossom and lemongrass.

What’s the deal?

It was £34.95, now it’s £29.95.

deals of the day this weekend

Dalmore 18 Year Old

Some whiskies are just made to be spectacular gifts. Can you imagine your father figure opening this beauty on Father’s Day? You’d instantly become the favourite child, which is what we’re all in it for, really. The Dalmore 18 Year Old is a spectacular single malt whisky that was aged for 14 years in American oak, followed by three years in Matusalem sherry butts, before a final year in sherry butts, giving it an impressive rich, fruity and spicy profile.

What’s the deal?

It was £110.00, now it’s £89.00.

deals of the day this weekend

Plantation Isle of Fiji 

Plantation rum is held in high regard for good reason and Isle of Fiji is no exception. A colourful celebration of the stunning island in the South Pacific, it was distilled from Fijian molasses and initially aged for around three years in the tropical climate in bourbon casks. It was then sent over to Cognac for a secondary maturation in French oak for a year. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but there’s a pretty amazing iguana on the label, too.

What’s the deal?

It was £32.95, now it’s £25.95.

deals of the day this weekend

Malfy Gin Con Rosa

This terrific gin from Malfy was built around the delightful Sicilian pink grapefruit and features a hint of rhubarb too. This beauty is tart, refreshing and light but still has a great depth of flavour. It’s smashing in a number of cocktails and should give you a welcome spin on your G&T. It will also look beautiful on any back bar or drinks cabinet.

What’s the deal?

It was £26.59, now it’s £23.59.

No Comments on More Deals of the Day this weekend!

London Cocktail Week: 10 things to look out for

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings. What…

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings.

What was already one of the biggest dates in the drinks industry calendar is even bigger this year. London Cocktail Week has returned and has chosen to mark its 10th anniversary by broadening its showcase of the capital’s best bars, mixologists and drinks with an extended ten-day celebration. Because what’s better than a week of cocktails? Ten days of cocktails, that’s what.

Ten years already. Where does the time go? It’s been quite the journey since DrinkUp.London’s Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne founded LCW (as we in the ‘biz’ call it) as a pop-up in Selfridge’s to showcase London’s cocktail scene in 2010. Great oaks from little acorns grow: there are now over 300 bars taking part, tons of quirky pop-ups making temporary homes across London, and endless masterclasses where you can improve your shaking and stirring skills. There’s even a cocktail-meets-doughnut van courtesy of Maker’s Mark and Crosstown Doughnuts, for goodness sake.

As such, many of you will be looking forward to making yourself at home in the Cocktail Village at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane between 4-14 October. But, you also might be feeling slightly overwhelmed by the significant number of events on offer. That’s why we’re here to offer a helping hand by highlighting some of the most intriguing, exciting and engaging opportunities London Cocktail Week has presented for 2019.

London Cocktail Week: the events

Ten options are listed below, but before we start it’s worth noting that you will need to purchase your £10 festival pass and download the DrinkUp.London app to activate it to enjoy London Cocktail Week. This will give you access to £6 drink deals at participating bars as well as entry to the Cocktail Village, so even if you don’t have the chance to make it to the good times below, there’s still plenty to be had all around this fair capital city of ours.

Now, let’s check out some events!

London Cocktail Week

All kinds of whisky-based shenanigans are to be expected

The Whisky House take over at Black Rock

Where?: Black Rock Tavern, 9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

When?: Friday 4 October to Saturday 12 October

What’s it all about?: The fabulous Black Rock Tavern hosts brands like Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, Talisker, Copper Dog, Johnnie Walker and Roe & Co for a series of amazing events. The blend of pop-up whisky takeovers, experiences and late-night DJs across nine days will take place within the newly furbished first floor Blending Room and ground floor Tavern at East London’s specialist whisky bar.

Why would I like this, Adam?: There’s endless whisky-based fun to be had and a 185-year old interactive cocktail ageing tree trunk. Yes, you read that right.

London Cocktail Week

An award-winning G&T in a sauna? We’re in.

Kyrö Gin Sauna

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Monday 14 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm)

What’s it all about?: Kyrö Distillery conceived in a Finnish sauna by a group of friends with a shared love of rye. That’s the kind of back-story that deserves to be celebrated, and that’s exactly what this feature is all about! Plenty of rye gin and, yes, an actual sauna, will be present in the Cocktail Village once again this year, as well as an opportunity to blend your own gin in a gin-blending masterclass. Tickets for the blending workshops can be found here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Because there’s a sauna involved, for goodness sake. Plus plenty of Kyrö’s award-winning G&Ts.

London Cocktail Week

Refreshment is guaranteed

That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU.

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm).

What’s it all about?: That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service means one thing: lots of delicious and easily accessible cocktails. You can help yourself to the independent bottler’s range of Craft Cocktails via a brilliantly Boutique-y vending machine, which will also be available on draft.

Why would I like this, Adam?: That Boutique-y Gin Company has made it clear its dream is for every attendee of London Cocktail Week to be fully refreshed at all times. This is a noble goal, and it involves consuming delicious cocktails. Which is the whole point of the entire enterprise, people.

London Cocktail Week

Is this the death of the whisky tumbler? No, but it’s still lots of fun

The Glenlivet’s Capsule Collection

Where?: Tayér + Elementary, 152 Old St, London EC1V 9BW

When?: Friday 4 October from 4-6pm.

What’s it all about?: Ever had an edible cocktail capsule before? No? Well, here’s your chance. A partnership between co-owner of Tayēr + Elementary, Alex Kratena and Scotch whisky distillery The Glenlivet has resulted in this selection of glassless cocktails, which will attempt to redefine the way whisky is traditionally enjoyed. The edible capsules are 23ml in size, fully biodegradable and housed in a seaweed-extract casing courtesy capsule designers Notpla. Simply pop them in your mouth an enjoy three original cocktails inspired by the elements and flavours of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve: Citrus, Wood and Spice.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to eat cocktails. There’s no need for glass, ice or cocktail stirrers here.

London Cocktail Week

The ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail awaits

Alfred Cointreau at The K Bar in celebration of London Cocktail Week

Where?: The K Bar, 109 – 113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5LP.

When?: Thursday 10 October from 6-9pm.

What’s it all about?: A celebration of both the week and Cointreau’s 170th Anniversary, this event sees Alfred Cointreau (the clue is in the name) taking the reins behind the wonderful K Bar in Kensignton to mix up classic and twists on the iconic Margarita while telling the story of Cointreau.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to meet some drinks industry royalty and learn how to make the ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail.

London Cocktail Week

Go wild in the isles, folks!

Supermarket Sweep

Where?: London Cocktail Club Shoreditch, Unit 12, 29 Sclater Street, London, E1 6HR

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (3.30-9pm)

What’s it all about?: If you’re somebody who’s looking for any excuse to get their 90s game show vibe on, then London Cocktail Club Shoreditch’s pop-up is the one for you. Inside the re-creation of a miniature supermarket you’ll get an opportunity to make a cocktail from JJ Goodman’s book ‘Kitchen Cocktails’ and sample cocktail recipes made from everyday ingredients like angel delight to Coco Pops. Best of all, you can whizz around the aisles Supermarket Sweep-style. So, choose your teams, grab your basket and indulge in some nostalgia! To book your ticket you’ll need to email [email protected]

Why would I like this, Adam?: You can channel your best Dale Winton impression while enjoying some unorthodox cocktails.

London Cocktail Week

Karaoke and cocktails is a good night by anybody’s estimation

The House of Suntory Masterclass & Cocktail Karaoke

Where?: Shochu Lounge, Roka Charlotte Street, 37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR

When?: Monday 7 October to Tuesday 8 October (6-11.30pm)

What’s it all about?: An evening of learning about Japanese culture while imbibing Suntory’s Roku Gin, Haku Vodka and Toki Whisky in the company of UK ambassador James Bowker sounds pretty great. But the Japanese distillery has turned a great night into an unforgettable one by also hosting ‘Cocktail Karaoke’. Simply you choose your base spirit (gin/vodka/whisky) and your favourite classic track then the team at Roka will create a Japanese riff on your song choice. How good does that sound? You can book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Two words: Cocktail. Karaoke.

London Cocktail Week

How often do you get to create your own whisky?

The Blend by Chivas Regal

Where?: Mac & Wild, 9A Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YN

When?: Monday 7 October to Thursday 10 October (various slots from 6.30pm)

What’s it all about?: A chance to create a whisky you can call your own should never be passed up. That’s exactly what Chivas Regal is offering at a special masterclass at Mac & Wild, Devonshire Square, to celebrate the launch of The Blend campaign. The guided tasting sessions will provide a window into the life of a master blender as you learn the history of Chivas Regal and how to make your own whisky highball twists with UK brand ambassador Phil Huckle. But best of all, you’ll leave this event 200ml of your very own whisky, blended from a combination of floral, citrus, fruity, creamy and smoky flavours. Book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You literally get to make a whisky of your own. What are you waiting for?

London Cocktail Week

Science is finally put to good use

The Essence House by the London Essence Company

Where?: 5 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB

When?: Thursday 3 October to Saturday 5 October (12-10pm)

What’s it all about?: If there’s one thing you want from London Cocktail Week, it’s amazing cocktails. Thanks to The London Essence Company you can do just that as it treats you to a bespoke cocktail, matched to your palate using real science by some of the world’s top bartenders. The Essence House, described as an “interactive journey of flavour discovery”, is an experience curated by Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart, an expert in gastronomy and flavour perception, who will help you to get hands-on with botanicals, flavours and aromas over the course of a 45 minute session that includes that personal palate profiling experience and two cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available). Tickets are available here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You know you want tasty cocktails, and The London Essence Company know what you find tasty…

London Cocktail Week

Over the last century, the Negroni has stood the test of time

The Experimental Negroni Club

Where?: Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta St, London, WC2E 8QG

When?: Friday 4 October to Sunday 13 October (12pm-close)

What’s it all about?: It’s been 100 years since the Negroni first entered our lives and we haven’t looked back. The Experimental Group, however, will actually be looking back to celebrate this illustrious history through the Experimental Negroni Club a partnership with Campari at the Henrietta Hotel. Vintage ingredients selected in partnership with the Old Spirit Company will ensure the recreation of cocktails served in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and to make the perfect vintage Negroni, which will be accompanied by a light show created by Frankie Boyle (not the Scottish comedian, thankfully).

Why would I like this, Adam?: We love Negronis. You love Negronis. Go forth and toast its brilliance the only way how. With a Negroni.

No Comments on London Cocktail Week: 10 things to look out for

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search