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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Diageo

The Nightcap: 30 October

It might be the spookiest time of year, but that can’t stop us from rounding up the latest happenings from the world of booze. It’s The Nightcap! Happy Halloween, folks!…

It might be the spookiest time of year, but that can’t stop us from rounding up the latest happenings from the world of booze. It’s The Nightcap!

Happy Halloween, folks! However you’re choosing to mark it this strangest of years, we hope you’re able to make the most of the sweet treats, pageantry and gothic pomp of it all as safely as possible. And for those who have absolutely no interest in Halloween, we’d like to think you’ve found some alternative entertainment in the form of The Nightcap. It’s filled with all the best kinds of spirits.

This week on the MoM blog some of the finest names in whisky featured, with the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2019 and Ardbeg Wee Beastie making their way to MoM Towers (eek!), Chris Morris filling-us-in on all things Woodford Reserve and Nicholas Morgan giving us a glimpse of the story behind the world’s no. 1 Scotch whisky. We also captured our time at The Lakes Distillery on video and spoke to Victoria Eady Butler about her incredible family legacy, but not before we made sure you can indulge in style for Halloween and Bonfire Night, make the most of overproof spirits and imbibe mindfully.

The Nightcap

See the Chase Distillery for yourself with our amazing VR tour!

Diageo acquires Chase Distillery

Spirits giant Diageo loves nothing more than adding brands to its swelling portfolio, so it was little surprise to see that Chase Distillery has become its latest acquisition. The premium British vodka and gin distillery based in Herefordshire was founded by potato farmer William Chase in 2008, after he created and sold upmarket crisp company Tyrrell’s. Unsurprisingly, the distillery’s spirits are made from scratch using British-grown potatoes, as well as apples and botanicals on the Chase Farm, which also employs steam energy to power the distillery thanks to a biomass boiler fueled by apple orchard prunings. The portfolio is made up of seven gins, four vodkas and an elderflower liqueur, including the very popular Chase GB Gin, Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo Gin and Aged Marmalade Vodka. William Chase said the acquisition, which is tipped to close in early 2021, is “inspiring” and that Diageo “believe in the potential of our field to bottle spirits and will build on our mission to develop our sustainable distillery in Herefordshire.” Diageo certainly believes in gin, given that it’s already bought Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin and invested in German craft gin maker Rheinland Distillers GmbH this year. As for William Chase, he’s kind of running out of potato-based business ventures. Maybe I can interest him in an experiment I did at age six when I powered a lightbulb with a humble potato. It’s sustainable energy, after all…

The Nightcap

Rum was the drink of choice for many of you, and a fine choice it is!

WSTA figures reveal rum is the drink of lockdown 

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has crowned rum the “drink of lockdown”, as the latest figures show it enjoyed the biggest growth across all spirits during the lockdown. In the three months from April to June 2020, 38% more rum was sold than in the same period in 2019, while total rum sales were worth £119 million in the quarter alone. Rum now places behind only whisky, vodka and gin in value terms. The flavoured & spiced rum category was the biggest mover and shaker, growing 53% by volume between April and June, and outselling white rums over a three month period for the first time. Even though pubs and bars couldn’t open, total alcohol sales in supermarkets and shops are up 8% over 12 months and 35% over the lockdown period. The figures show, however, that the growth in off-trade sales did not off-set the losses seen by the closure of the on-trade – total alcohol sales slumped 20% by volume, showing that, despite all the stories, the British did not booze their way through the lockdown. “Our latest numbers show that rum is lockdown’s champion, as the experimentation Brits liked to enjoy in pubs and bars carried over to their homes. However, this also underlines the importance of on-trade venues as the shop window for new innovations in the spirits category,” explains Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA. “With news just last week of further restrictions being placed on the hospitality sector, the climate for our distillers, many of whom are SMEs and have come to represent such a great British success story of recent years, continues to get tougher”. 

Our favourite feature of the new-look Glenkinchie? The psychedelic Johnnie Walker

Revamped Glenkinchie Distillery reopens

We’ve reported before on Diageo’s £185 million investment in whisky tourism in Scotland. With perhaps not the best timing, it has just been announced that phase one of the plan has been completed and the refurbished Glenkinchie distillery near Edinburgh is once open to the public. The elegant Victorian brick warehouses have been turned into a visitor experience with a landscaped garden and a distinctly psychedelic statue of Johnnie Walker complete with dog. Visitors will be able to purchase a special commemorative release called the first in the Four Corners of Scotland collection, a 16 year old Glenkinchie bottled at 50.6% ABV with just 2,502 available at £150. Barbara Smith, managing director of brand homes (they do love a grand job title at Diageo) commented: “We are acutely aware of the difficult times many people are going through, particularly our colleagues in the tourism and hospitality sector across Scotland. We know there’s a long way to go and a lot of uncertainty ahead. Still, we believe in the resilience of our business and our communities, and we will be doing all we can through our investment to sow the seeds of recovery and future growth.” Distillery manager Ramsay Borthwick added: “Glenkinchie will give people a thrilling first taste of the new visitor experiences we are creating across Scotland. We will be offering people an experience like no other distillery in Scotland at Glenkinchie and that will be followed as we transform Clynelish, Cardhu and Caol Ila over the coming months, and as we build towards the opening of our global Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction in Edinburgh next summer.” Let’s hope they all open as planned.

The Nightcap

Book Two, ‘Building an Icon’, will be available here soon…

Laphroaig expands the Ian Hunter series

Following the huge success and popularity of Ian Hunter Book One, Laphoraig has launched the second instalment in the Ian Hunter Story, which consists of five annual releases and honours the legacy of the last founding member of the Johnston family to run the distillery. Book Two, which is entitled ‘Building an Icon’ and is limited to just four hundred cases, was matured in sherry casks for 30 years before it was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration. Hunter, who joined the distillery in 1908, had a lasting legacy, doubling production and managing to sell Laphroaig to America during Prohibition by leveraging the spirit’s unique character, which meant that it could be sold for medicinal purposes. “You cannot enjoy Laphroaig’s exquisitely smokey and complex liquid, without paying homage to the legendary Ian Hunter,” says John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager. “His influence in our whisky production techniques and our iconic brand as a whole is undeniable. The second book in our Ian Hunter Story celebrates his legacy in shaping Laphroaig to what it is today.” The limited-edition whisky will be available from MoM Towers soon…

The Nightcap

It’s been quite the week for impressive expressions!

Gonzalez Byass releases sherry from 1878

Tio Pepe isn’t just the world’s bestselling fino sherry, he was also a real person, a winemaker and uncle of the company’s founder Manuel Maria Gonzalez Anger. Now, Gonzalez Byass has released a wine made by Uncle Joe (for some reason Pepe is the diminutive of José) himself. It’s a very special Pedro Ximinez laid down in 1878 to celebrate the investiture of a new pope, León XIII. It was recently uncovered in the company’s vast cellars (think that last scene in Raiders of the Last Ark) by current head blender Antonio Flores. It comes from a single butt containing, after all these years, only 80 litres of super-sweet wine.  It’s unusual because it was made in the days before sherry was routinely fortified so it comes in at only 9% ABV, yet because of all that sugar, it’s has lasted all these years. Mauricio González Gordon, current chairman and fifth-generation family member, said, “This wine was created in the mid-19th century: a Pedro Ximénez, made before phylloxera arrived in Jerez. We are delighted to be able to release this jewel of a wine as part of our rare Finite Wines Collection, but there will only be 78 bottles for sale – the remaining 20 will be stored in the González family’s bottle archive, El Aljibe.” The price is suitably papal at €1800 a bottle. 

The Nightcap

Once you start thinking of Spocktail ideas, it’s hard to stop. Captain Kirsch, anyone?

And finally. . .  Jim Beam me up, Scotty

If you made a Venn diagram of cocktail lovers and fans of Star Trek (Trekkingtons, we believe they’re called), we wonder how big the overlap between the two categories would be. Well, the people behind a new book called Star Trek Cocktails: A Stellar Compendium clearly think there’s a large market. It’s been put together by cartoonist and writer Glenn Dakin in conjunction with ‘mixology consultants’ David Burton and Jess Esposito. It’s full of fairly standard cocktails given a Star Trek twist with names like Ferengi Wallbanger or Guinan Fizz. We’re sure they will go down a treat with hardcore fans but we can’t help feeling that the whole thing is something of a missed opportunity in the punning department. So the team here at Master of Malt had a lot of fun coming up with our own Spocktails (see what we did there?) like Star Trek: the next Gineration, Deep Space Wine or the irresistible Captain Kirsch. Live long and Vesper!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 30 October

The Nightcap: 18 September

This week on the Nightcap: Octomore and Lagavulin launch new whisky, Bob Dylan brings back the Theme Time Radio Hour and dog-themed cocktails… A whole week has been and gone…

This week on the Nightcap: Octomore and Lagavulin launch new whisky, Bob Dylan brings back the Theme Time Radio Hour and dog-themed cocktails…

A whole week has been and gone since we last went Nightcapping, which means that a brand new Nightcap is required. Fortunately, the world of booze is always churning out all kinds of news stories. We’re not sure what we’d do if it stopped. Perhaps we’d just write about some of the drinks we’ve enjoyed recently or post a series of amusing photos of cats. Thankfully this week there’s been plenty of excitement to write about, so the funny feline pictures will have to wait. Although one of the stories this week does feature a cracking photo of a dog, so if we’ve got you in the mood for pet-based content you won’t be disappointed. Onto The Nightcap!

If you’re a fan of big whisky news stories then the MoM blog was the place for you this week. Jim Murray announced his 2021 World Whisky of the Year and Richard ‘the Nose’ Paterson confirmed that he would step back from Whyte & Mackay to focus his energies on The Dalmore. Elsewhere, we spoke with Dr Rachel Barrie, Benriach master blender, about the brand’s recent makeover before Annie tasted one of the good doctor’s finest creations, a well-sherried 29-year-old single malt released to coincide with the upcoming release of The King’s Man. Other delightful drinks we tried this week include a very special new range of Cognacs from Delamain, a category-defying spirit from Belvedere and a cocktail made with one of the world’s unique spirits, Metaxa. Internationally-renowned bartenders Joe and Daniel Schofield also popped by for a chat, while Jess kicked off our Classic Bar series with the wonderful Coupette, which has just launched a new menu.

The Nightcap

New Octomore is terrific news for peated whisky fans

New series of Octomore whisky unveiled

We’ve got good news for fans of peated whisky this week as Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich has announced the imminent arrival of some new Octomores. First is the Octomore 11s series, which is set to launch on 1 October and includes three expressions, Octomore 11.1, Octomore 11.2 and Octomore 11.3, all of which retain the ultra-peated style that the brand is known for. Octomore 11.1 was malted to 139.6 PPM and matured for five years in first-fill ex-American whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill and Jack Daniel’s before it was bottled at 59.4% ABV without any chill-filtration or additional colouring. Octomore 11.2 was malted to the same PPM and also aged for five years on Islay, but it was matured in two separate casks: 25% of the whisky was aged in Pauillac ex-wine casks, while the remaining 75% was aged in ex-American whiskey casks before being transferred into St Julien wine casks for 18 months. This expression was bottled at 58.6% ABV without added colouring or chill-filtration. The third whisky in the new series, Octomore 11.3, was malted to a massive 194 PPM before it was aged for five years in first-fill American whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace and Jack Daniel’s. The whisky was bottled at 61.7% ABV without caramel colouring or chill-filtration. Bruichladdich will also release a bonus bottling alongside the range. It’s a 2020 edition of Octomore 10 Years Old which was malted to 204 PPM and matured in a mix of virgin oak, and first- and second-fill ex-American whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace and Jack Daniel’s before it was bottled at 54.3% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. We will write more fully on the Octomore 11.1 and 11.3 soon when they arrive at Master of Malt. Octomore 11.2, however, will only be available direct from the distillery here and in global travel retail. Not fair!

The Nightcap

Monkey Shoulder wants to see you back in bars. Responsibly, of course.

Monkey Shoulder spends £250k to entice you back to the bar 

Monkey Shoulder is so keen to get you back to the bar (responsibly, natch), that it has spent £250,000 on an advertising campaign called ‘The New Rules for Mixing.’ The blended whisky brand won the money as part of OCEAN’s Crucial Creative Competition and decided to put it to good use. The campaign will take the form of a series of local ads with partner bars in cities around the country that will go live on 24 September as well as generic national posters. The press bumf described the campaign by ad agency Tommy as “a playful take on the brand’s ‘made for mixing’ tagline; using Monkey Shoulder’s cheeky tone and distinctive branding style to bring to life the social distancing measures in a fun and memorable way.” Social distancing is fun! To further entice people to venture out of their homes, each venue will be offering a free drink to customers. The participating bars are Glasgow’s The Dam, Edinburgh’s Uno Mas and Kin, Liverpool’s Present Company, Newcastle’s Mother Mercy, Manchester’s Cane & Grain and Science & Industry, Birmingham’s Theatrix, Nottingham’s Brass Monkey and Leeds’ Watermark Bar. Let’s hope another lockdown doesn’t muck things up. The best-laid plans and all that.

The Nightcap

This year’s Islay Jazz Festival might be online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on delicious whisky!

New limited edition Lagavulin Jazz bottling is here, or rather, there.

We all know that there’s no better way to enjoy your bourbon than with a blast of rock and roll, but what should you listen to with a Scottish single malt? Some might say folk music, but we’ve conducted totally scientific tests here at Master of Malt and discovered that jazz is, in fact, the perfect accompaniment. Especially with a smoky Islay dram, you can’t beat a bit of John Coltrane or Miles Davies, hence the long-running Islay Jazz Festival. Ever since 2011, Lagavulin has released a special jazz bottling and now the latest edition is here. Or rather, there, it’s a distillery only release with only 2004 bottles available at a meaty £405. It’s matured in mainly refill American and European oak, with some active casks, for a minimum of 22 years and bottled at 52.6% ABV. Distillery manager Pierrick Guillaume had this to say: “The Islay Jazz Festival has become a pilgrimage for many whisky and jazz lovers around the globe and we hope our friends will join us for the online event to celebrate 22 years of the festival. This will be my first festival having taken over as distillery manager of Lagavulin and although we are unable to host the event in Islay, we wanted to continue to honour the occasion by creating a remarkable bottling. This year’s 22-year-old bottle is a glorious and unique Lagavulin from an interesting mix of casks that have given an extra twist of rich, smooth and sweet fruitiness to the palate and finish.” On 3 October at 7pm BST, go to the  Lagavulin and Friends of the Classic Malts where Guillaume and global whisky master Ewan Gunn will be hosting a jazz and whisky odyssey. Nice!

The Nightcap

Great news music lovers! Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back

Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back thanks to Heaven’s Door Spirits

Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back, this time with added whiskey. For those who don’t know, Theme Time Radio Hour was a series of shows on NPR hosted by his Bobness where he would play records and riff around certain themes such as ‘fruit’ or ‘weather.’ The music was always an education, but the real fun was just listening to Dylan talk, dispensing wisdom, offering recipe tips or being totally baffling. Equally amusing and baffling, were the celebrities such as Tom Petty or Marianne Faithful who would call up to join in the fun. There’s never been like it before, or since. 100 shows were recorded with the last one airing in 2009, and now thanks to Heaven’s Door Spirits, Bob’s bourbon brand, it’s back. There will be a special one-off episode airing on Monday 21 at 12pm EST on SiriusXm. It will then be available on Heaven’s Door website and social channels, Bob Dylan’s website and social channels, as well as other streaming services from 25 September. And the theme of this one-off special? Whiskey, of course. 

The Nightcap

It’s quite the coup for Last Drop Distillers

Colin Scott joins Last Drop Distillers

Back in June, we raised a glass to Colin Scott, former Chivas Regal master blender, as he waved goodbye to the brand after an enormous 47 years at the nosing glass helm. News reached us this week that he’s back at it, and is now consultant master blender at high-end bottler The Last Drop Distillers! According to the company, Scott’s appointment is the first stage of becoming ‘not only curators but also creators’. And it’s not the first time they’ve worked together. Back in the 1990s, The Last Drop founders James Espey and Tom Jago teamed up with Colin on a number of projects, including the creation of the now-iconic Chivas Regal 18 Year Old. “We are absolutely delighted that Colin Scott will be joining The Last Drop as master blender,” said Rebecca Jago, managing director at The Last Drop. “One of the many attractions for both Colin and The Last Drop is that he will have the widest palette to paint from.” Scott himself added: “The Last Drop is very much a luxury brand in a very niche market. They have a global reach but have maintained their integrity and vision since they began, which is hugely important to me. This is a new chapter that I am very much looking forward to: carrying on the story that began with Tom and James some decades ago. As my much-missed friend Tom Jago said, “If you can’t have fun in the drinks industry, and in what you create, you can’t have fun anywhere!” Rebecca and the team do just that!” We can’t wait to see what comes next.

The Nightcap

The week-long programme will unite professionals from around the world

Imbibe Live goes global with BCB Berlin, BCB Brooklyn and BCB São Paulo

If you like boozy worldwide networking and education events, then you’re in luck. There’s a biggie on the way. Imbibe Live Online has joined forces with BCB Berlin, BCB Brooklyn and BCB São Paulo to create Global Bar Week uniting the international drinks industry at the first-ever global, online drinks exhibition. From 12–18 October topics such as how hospitality venues can rebuild, drive customer footfall and loyalty, build a sustainable business, tap into consumer trends and improve diversity and inclusion will be discussed by a selection of experts such as Lynnette and Ivy from Speed Rack, award-winning bartender Chelsie Bailey, and Diogenes the Dog founder Sunny Hodge. Drink-focused masterclasses and tastings will also feature in the week-long digital programme, which you can check out here. While it will never be the same as the classic Imbibe Live, the on-trade magazine’s inaugural digital event back in June saw hundreds of drinks brands and on-trade professionals come together to share insights, trends and much more in what we’d say was a pretty successful experiment so it makes sense that it’s gone global. Drinks brands have until the end of September to sign up for this virtual event, while UK drinks industry professionals can now sign up to Imbibe Live Online to access a range of educational and inspirational content and be part of a worldwide celebration of the people, brands and businesses who are shaking up the drinks industry. Registration for the week-long virtual event is free and tickets are available at https://live.imbibe.com/.  

The Nightcap

Kane and Rawcliffe impressed the judges in the Bottled Cocktail Challenge

Diageo’s World Class competition returns 

New people, new partnerships and new competitor challenges await as Diageo’s World Class competition comes back after taking a brief pause due to recent events. Featuring a revised approach that adapts to a new competition environment, the internationally recognised competition has announced a series of activations at this year’s London Cocktail Week (now extended to the full month of October), at Whisky House in Kings Cross’ Goods Way. Three masterclasses a week will be hosted by the World Class team with Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Ketel One ambassadors sharing cocktail recipes and tips. Diageo has also revealed who the winners of the Bottled Cocktail Challenge are: James Rawcliffe, Tigerlily (Edinburgh); Kuba Korzynski, Black Rock (London) and Stevie Kane, Baccarat Bar (London).The GB Top 100 were split into three groups – Ketel One, Johnnie Walker Black Lable and Tanqueray No. Ten – and tasked with creating cocktails based on three classic serves: Espresso Martini, Tom Collins and the Highball. The winners have secured a spot in the GB Top 15 and will have their cocktails produced in a cocktail kit for consumers to buy via Cocktail Porter, featured here. Finally, the World Class family has been bolstered by a trio of new appointments. Pippa Guy (previously senior bartender at the Savoy’s American Bar) is now the new Tanqueray brand ambassador; Jo Last (formerly of the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar) has been given the title of whisky brand ambassador and Mimi Schofield is now TLA account executive. “We are incredibly excited to bring World Class back to GB, with a new and adapted program to champion bartender creativity in the face of adversity,” said Jack Sotti, head of advocacy GB at Diageo. “Most notably World Class is about people, and so it gives me the utmost pride to welcome Pippa, Jo and Mimi to our diverse and passionate team.” 

The Nightcap

Is this the best idea ever? It might just be.

And finally… Dog-themed cocktails for Skylight’s Charity Dog Day

Picture this. You’re at a gorgeous rooftop bar, you’ve got great company, delicious drinks – what more could you want? Oh right, dogs! Next Sunday (27 September), Skylight over at Tobacco Dock is combining all of those things on Dog Day! The annual event is run in collaboration with UK charity Dogs On The Streets (DOTS), which supports rough sleepers and the homeless community with dogs. Not only will you be able to bring your actual dog, but there will also be dog-themed cocktails – for human consumption, of course. No, really. With serves like the Pugtail and the Frenchie 75 this is just too good to miss, and between midday and 4pm the cocktails are all 2-4-1. If you’re wondering if your pooch will feel left out, fear not because there’ll be some treats on offer for each dog-bringing guest (and their pup, of course). Proceeds from the cocktails will go towards DOTS, so grab your furry friends and get down there! 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 18 September

The Nightcap: 21 August

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

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

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

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

Diageo buys Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin 

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

The Nightcap

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

Johnnie Walker releases limited edition bottles and news of a documentary

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

The Nightcap

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

Champagne announces earliest ever harvest

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

The Nightcap

Congratulations to Colin Gordon!

Ardbeg welcomes new distillery manager Colin Gordon

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

The Nightcap

You’re looking at a record-breaker, folks

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

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

The Nightcap

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

£10m eco funding aims to turn Scotch whisky green

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

The Nightcap

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

Select Aperitivo is coming home to Venice

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

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#thefutureisrosé

Free rosé at restaurants around the country

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

The Nightcap

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

Discarded makes face masks out of milk

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

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

And finally…Hendrick’s Gin launches unusual streaming service

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

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Rock of ages: can maturation be fast forwarded?

This week Ian Buxton applies his boozy magnifying glass on maturation and asks if it can ever be manipulated or accelerated to produce a quality spirit. I found myself recently…

This week Ian Buxton applies his boozy magnifying glass on maturation and asks if it can ever be manipulated or accelerated to produce a quality spirit.

I found myself recently considering the question of ageing.  Probably because it was my birthday (yes, fine, thanks for asking) but it did bring a few things into focus. For example, will the challenge of accelerated maturation in spirits ever be fully cracked – and, if so, will the consumer accept it? Speeding up the ageing process in spirits (unlike in writers, where it seems to accelerate naturally) has long been something of the Holy Grail for some drinks companies. 

After all, if you could manufacture the same taste profile from a six-month-old spirit as one that has spent ten years waiting in cask there would be undoubted benefits. Just think of the saving in casks and warehouses. Imagine the additional profits. Why you might even be able to offer lower retail prices (now things are getting fanciful).

But people have been trying for over a hundred years or more. Shortly before the Tullymet distillery in Perthshire was closed in 1911, the owners John Dewar & Sons, then independent and family-owned, engaged “an eminent analytical chemist” to experiment with artificial maturation. It was reported that “he brought elaborate appliances from London and with our permission and the sanction of the Excise he toiled week after week with his alembics and retorts”. 

can maturation be fast forwarded

We employ various techniques already to enhance barrel maturation, but can we accelerate the process?

However, the trials ended in failure: though the boffin “brought his sample in triumph” to Dewar’s Perth HQ the company found it “nothing but an anaemic and emasculated fluid, with a taste resembling Chinese samshoo”. Perhaps they should have stuck at it, as today baijiu distiller Kweichow Moutai is the world’s most valuable drinks company, far exceeding the stock market worth of Diageo. 

More recently, there have been other efforts.  In the USA, hip bourbon distillers Hudson trailed blasting rap music at selected casks to promote ‘sonic ageing’, the theory being that vibration increases the wood/spirit interaction. In July 2008 it was reported that Diageo was wrapping casks in plastic film. A spokesman responded drily that “At this stage, the technologies under trial are not proven and we are continuing our research.”  Since then, whatever they were up to (and reports vary) it evidently didn’t work or demonstrated what it was they wanted to show. Either way, the trials have been quietly dropped.

Elsewhere, distillers have experimented with the freeze distillation of spirit, though this appears to have been more about getting very old casks that had fallen below 40% ABV, and thus couldn’t be sold as Scotch whisky, back up to a legal strength. The value that might have been recovered is extraordinary given today’s price of really old whisky but whether or not this perfectly scientifically-sound technique would have met the SWA’s ‘traditional production methods’ standard might have been an interesting debate. 

can maturation be fast forwarded

Bourbon distillers Hudson previously experimented with ‘sonic ageing’

Over in California, the folks at the Lost Spirits ‘skunkworks’ in Los Angeles has employed its THEA One Reactor (Targeted Hyper-Esterification Ageing) to create remarkable peated whiskies and navy-style rums. I’ve tasted these and in my book 101 Rums to Try Before You Die concluded that “though logic tells you that six days in a Star Trek-style ‘reactor’ cannot possibly deliver the flavours of traditional ageing, your nose and palate tell you otherwise”.  So, good then.

 

‘which they suggest may be compared to a leading’

Now yet another group are addressing this timeless challenge with what they are terming ‘accelerated beverage maturation technology’. The little-known and curiously anonymous NobleAB has produced samples of a ‘peated Speyside’, which the company perhaps optimistically suggests can be compared to a leading 10 years old Islay single malt, and a Lowland and an Indian Spirit, all oak matured with its ‘unique’ process. This its describes as “a substantial amount of wood science with specially prepared oaks for targeted maturation”. 

I know little more. Though there is a domain name for NobleAB dating from August 2017 there is no active web site and the CEO’s business card does not carry a physical address.  He’s one Stefan Laux. According to his LinkedIn profile, he spent some seven years with Rémy Cointreau leaving in 2004 (long before they acquired the Bruichladdich and Westland distilleries, and many years after they had sold Glenturret). Subsequently, Laux has moved quickly through a bewildering number of posts: we find him variously in Italy, Poland (in several roles), Tunisia, the USA, Switzerland and Hungary.

can maturation be fast forwarded

We want to know what you think – can maturation be sped up?

It’s all very mystifying. Will this prove a crock of gold, or a crock of something less pleasant?  Some samples have reached me by a strange and circuitous route and I may return to this topic if I have news. But I’m interested in your views – feel free to comment below with your thoughts on fast-forwarded whisky.

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Come and join us for Scotch & Sofa!

** MISSED OUT ON SCOTCH & SOFA?** Don’t panic! You can still snap up a set and taste along with the action by clicking right here. Pining for whisky festivals?…

** MISSED OUT ON SCOTCH & SOFA?** Don’t panic! You can still snap up a set and taste along with the action by clicking right here.

Pining for whisky festivals? Us too. But fear not! Join us on Saturday 5 September for the ultimate virtual whisky festival: it’s Scotch & Sofa!

Nothing beats the vibe of a whisky festival. Old friends, new faces, and oodles of new drams to be discovered (responsibly of course!). One of the (many, let’s say) downsides to the current, ahem, unusual situation is the lack of whisky festivals. But never fear. We’re here to save that aspect of summer with Scotch & Sofa!

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Diageo to bring you the ultimate virtual whisky festival. We’ve put together a full-day fiesta of all things whisky. Get set for eight sessions, filled to the brim with delicious drams and ace folks, streaming live on Facebook. You’ll even be able to nab a tasting set to really immerse yourself in all things festival.

Charge the tasting glasses!

Pour a dram and tune in

Yes! From 12pm on Saturday 5 September, we’ve got an action-packed programme of tastings, chats and general fun and frivolity, and you’ll be able to join from the comfort of your sofa. 

Each 45-minute session will see a group of experts explore a theme, with three different samples specially picked for the occasion. Seven of the eight sessions have a specially curated tasting set too – snap one up and you’ll be all set to take part! But you’ll need to be quick; there’s only a limited number of each available. 

Missed out? Never fear! Just check out our Facebook page, and you’ll be able to follow all the fun of the festival. Pour one of your favourite drams and join in the chat anyway. Everyone is welcome!

Scotch & Sofa

It’s the ultimate virtual whisky festival. Get set for Scotch and Sofa!

The all-important programme

So what has Scotch & Sofa got in store? Here’s how the day is shaping up. 

Scotch & Sofa

12pm: Ghost & Rare Distilleries

And we kick off proceedings with something really special indeed! TJ Littlejohn, malt whisky ambassador, Colin Dunn, whisky ambassador, and Ewan Gunn, global whisky master, join our editor, Kristiane Sherry, to taste through Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Ghost & Rare Glenury Royal, Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Ghost & Rare Port Ellen and Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Year Old from the 2018 Special Release collection. Exceptional stuff all round. 

Nab a tasting set here.

Scotch & Sofa

1pm: Campfire at Skye

Can’t travel this summer? No problem! We’re taking a trip to the stunning Isle of Skye through the medium of our tasting glasses, and a Talisker exploration. Join Jason Clark, Talisker brand ambassador, Diane Farrell, distillery manager, and our very own campaigns manager, Laura Carl, as they indulge in and discuss Talisker 10 Year Old, Talisker 18 Year Old, and Talisker Port Ruighe.

Get your tasty ticket to Skye here.

Scotch & Sofa

2pm: Boat Trip to Islay

The island-hopping continues! This time, TJ, Colin Dunn, Pierrick Guillaume, Caol Ila distillery manager, and Henry Jeffreys, our features editor, check out the spoils of two great Islay distilleries: Lagavulin and Caol Ila. The line-up features Lagavulin 16 Year Old, the wonderful Lagavulin 8 Year Old, and Caol Ila Unpeated 15 Year Old from Special Release 2018. 

All aboard with the Boat Trip to Islay tasting sets here!

Scotch & Sofa

3pm: Johnnie Walker Deconstructed 

Partial to a drop of Johnnie Walker? Intrigued by how the constituent parts of a blend come together for the finished product? Wonder no more! Ali Reynolds, luxury Reserve brand ambassador, Tom Jones, global Scotch whisky ambassador, Emma Walker, Johnnie Walker master blender, and our editor Kristiane Sherry delve behind the scenes and into the secrets of Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old, through Cardhu 12 Year Old and Caol Ila 12 Year Old!

Grab your component parts with a tasting set right here.

Scotch & Sofa

4pm: The Ultimate Johnnie Walker Tasting Experience

If you enjoy the finer whiskies in life, then this trio of tantalizing blends will be right up your street. Join Ali Reynolds, Georgie Crawford, Port Ellen distillery manager, Jim Beveridge, Johnnie Walker master blender, and Kristiane Sherry as they jump right into some of the most decadent bottlings to be found under the Johnnie Walker name. Drams include The John Walker King George V, The John Walker, and Johnnie Walker Blue Label!

You can find the ultimate tasting set here!

Scotch & Sofa

5pm: Before & After: Lower proof serves and small plates

We reckon we’ll be up for a bit of a snack by this point, so it’s perfect timing for Lauren Mote, Diageo’s global cocktailian, and Mark Moriarty, global gastronomer, to take over! They’ll be celebrating the spirit of Scotland in digestif and aperitif form, with accompanying small plates. Featured whiskies include Talisker and Johnnie Walker Gold! Prepare to be inspired. 

Scotch & Sofa

6pm: Mixing Whisky: Highballs

What’s easy peasy, extra delicious, and all-round extraordinary? The great whisky Highball! Don’t believe us? Then tune in to see TJ, Ervin Trykowski, global Scotch whisky ambassador for The Singleton, Ali Reynolds and Laura Carl celebrate and generally revel in the finest of whisky serves (we’re not biased at all…). Whiskies include Talisker Skye, Singleton of Dufftown 12 Year Old, and Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old. Delightful!

Grab your Highball whisky set right here!

Scotch & Sofa

7pm: Speyside Flora and Fauna

We wrap up the Scotch & Sofa festivities with a session devoted to the love of Speyside, and a dip into the delicious Flora and Fauna series. TJ, Colin Dunn, Jason Clark and Henry Jeffreys will sip and savour Benrinnes 15 Year Old, Dailuaine 16 Year Old, and Linkwood 12 Year Old, while reminiscing about the magic of Speyside. Come join in!

Pick up a tasting set here.

Phew! What a day. Grab a tasting set (or two), ready the glassware, charge the laptop, and join us on 5 September over at Master of Malt’s Facebook. We can’t wait to see you!

 

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The Nightcap: 17 July

Innovation, celebrities, festivals, invisible portions of chips… It’s just another week in the bonkers world of booze. Happily, we’ve stuffed it all into another fabulous edition of The Nightcap! As…

Innovation, celebrities, festivals, invisible portions of chips… It’s just another week in the bonkers world of booze. Happily, we’ve stuffed it all into another fabulous edition of The Nightcap!

As lockdown eases, I’ve noticed that a number of articles advising how we can still make the most of a prohibited summer are starting to pop-up all over the place. The recommendations for socially-distanced summer experiences include watching a film at an open-air cinema, taking a break in a remote cabin or hosting a virtual festival at home. All decent suggestions. But there’s a sorry lack of anybody acknowledging that pouring yourself a dram, finding a comfortable seat and opening up another lovely new edition of The Nightcap is the finest way to spend a Friday night. It beats going outside and being harassed by flying ants.

On the MoM blog this week, we launched a new competition with our neighbours at Greensand Ridge to give you the chance to win a VIP trip to the distillery! Ian Buxton then returned with part two of his look at how the spirits business is coping with the COVID (spoiler, there is some good news!), as Annie gave us the lowdown on cooking with booze and the philosophy behind Japanese spirit giant Suntory. Our New Arrival of the Week was a blended Irish whiskey aged in Basque wines casks from one of the country’s newest and smallest distilleries, and for our Cocktail of the Week, Henry made the ultimate Jazz Age gin serve. It’s the Bee’s Knees. Literally.

The Nightcap

The new design will debut with Johnnie Walker in early 2021

Diageo develops first 100% plastic-free bottle 

Diageo has had a busy week, first announcing that it has created the world’s first-ever 100% plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle. The move comes after the makers of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness formed a partnership with Pilot Lite to launch Pulpex Limited, a sustainable packaging technology company. The ‘first-of-its-kind’, fully recyclable bottle is made from sustainably sourced pulp to meet food-safe standards and is said to have 30% less CO2 emission than PET (plastic bottles) and 90% less than glass. The new design will debut with Johnnie Walker in early 2021. “We’re proud to have created this world first. We are constantly striving to push the boundaries within sustainable packaging and this bottle has the potential to be truly ground-breaking. It feels fitting that we should launch it with Johnnie Walker, a brand that has often led the way in innovation throughout its 200 years existence,” says Ewan Andrew, chief sustainability officer, Diageo PLC.

… and a digital cask-filling system

The brand has also partnered with the University of Strathclyde to create a digital whisky cask-filling process that is projected to save Scotland’s whisky sector millions annually in inventory costs. The new digital design aims to tackle the problem of inconsistent cask-filling levels resulting from overspill, underfill and foaming by accounting for every drop that goes into each cask, allowing producers to achieve more than 99% fill consistently on a 200-litre cask in under one minute. Cask production accounts for 10% to 20% of the overall cost of whisky making and Diageo itself holds more than 11 million casks in maturation at one time. The new system hopes to “revolutionise” industry equipment and enable a “high degree of repeatability” as well as improvements to health and safety, and reduce waste.

The Nightcap

We’re not sure what ‘clean wine’ is. But we definitely know who Cameron Diaz is.

Cameron Diaz releases a ‘clean wine’

Another day, another celebrity wine, this time it’s the turn of Cameron Diaz who you may remember from such films as ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ and ‘There’s Something about Mary’. With her business partner Katherine Power (CEO of fashion company Who What Wear), she’s unveiled a range of wine called Avaline. But these are not just any wines, according to the press bumf the wines, a white from Spain and a rosé (natch) from France are ‘clean wines’. What does this mean? The term itself has no legal meaning but looking more closely, they appear to be fairly standard commercial bottlings, though they are made with organic grapes. Production methods include cultured rather than wild yeasts, added sulphur and finings with bentonite clay, pea protein and cream of tartar (good article here looking into this more closely). All these are completely normal things in wine production and are in no way unhealthy, but it looks like Avaline are no more ‘natural’ than most supermarket wines. Still, they might taste nice and also Cameron Diaz!

The Nightcap

Meet your wonderful host, Peter Holland!

The Scottish Rum Festival reveals day of virtual celebration

Got any plans for Saturday 25th July? Because there’s a lovely Scottish rum festival taking place that’s definitely going to be better than anything you have planned. The Scottish Rum Festival will feature tastings and masterclasses from the distilleries and independent bottlers in a showcase of the nation’s thriving rum scene. Expect delightful brands from all over Scotland, including Ninefold, Devil’s Point, Matugga, Rumburra Orach, SeaWolf, Banditti Club, BrewDog, J. Gow and Sugar House. The Floating Rum Shack and That Boutique-y Rum Company’s Peter Holland will host the event, leading you through a jam-packed day of talks and tastings with Dave Broom offering his expert opinion and entertainment from Glasgow’s Mungo’s HiFi sound system. The innovative virtual event, which is supported by Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Distillers Association, Glencairn Crystal, and Alba Cola, aims to raise the profile of Scottish rum at a time when the rum category is increasingly in the spotlight and welcomes both rum newcomers and seasoned connoisseurs alike. If you’ve managed to get your hands on a ticket, you’ll get access to all the virtual rum sessions, as well as a tasting pack featuring 10 x 30ml Scottish rums, branded Glencairn tasting glass and a charitable donation to The BEN. For more information, you can go to the Scottish Rum Festival website.

The Nightcap

We dare say the gin is royally good… haha but all jokes aside it sold out immediately so we have no idea.

Buckingham Palace gets its very own gin 

Whether it’s Prince Charles with his Martinis or the Queen with a gin and Dubbonet, it’s well-known that the Royal Family is partial to a drop of (Queen) mother’s ruin. Now, the Firm has its very own gin partly made from botanicals grown in Buckingham Palace’s garden including lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, bay leaves and mulberry leaves. It’s a London Dry Gin from a mystery distiller and bottled at 42% ABV. Naturally, Miles Beale from the WSTA had something to say: “It is fantastic to hear that hot off the heels of the success of the English sparkling wine made from vines grown in Great Windsor Park we will now be able to try gin made from botanicals grown in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. We couldn’t really ask for a better ambassador for these great British drinks than Her Majesty the Queen. Last year British gin sales, at home and abroad, reached a record-breaking £3.2 billion. The new royal gin adds another jewel in the crown amongst an established collection of highly sought-after quality British gin brands.” All profits go to help fund the care and conservation of the Royal Collection. The only snag is the £40 gin, which was available only from Royal Collection Trust, sold out in a matter of hours but happily, MoM has plenty of alternatives.  

The Nightcap

Imagine getting this and some Nandos straight to your door. The night-in of dreams…

Asterley Bros. cocktail service is here!

While some people are getting all excited that Nando’s has started home delivery, for us, the delicious things brought to your door news is all about Asterley Bros.’ Cocktail Club. Yes, this week South London’s finest fraternal booze alchemists announced a monthly cocktail subscription service. Sign up and each month you will receive a giant cocktail pouch containing 10 servings. Each month’s offering will be seasonal and champion small producers. First, up is a Pink Negroni containing Schofield’s Dry Vermouth and Cabby’s London Dry Gin; we were given a little sample and it’s one of the most delicious things on the planet. But that’s not all, you will also receive two 50ml samples from independent brand partners to introduce you to new tastes, plus limited edition artwork, a video of Asterley Bros. creative director Joe Schofield doing some drinks magic and some nibbles to consume while drinking that month’s cocktail. All this for under £45 a month and 10% of the profits goes to Hospitality Action. Oh, and when you sign up, you will get a unique code to share and when someone signs up with your code, you will both receive a double 100ml cocktail pack totally free. It sounds like a drinks service that really delivers. 

The Nightcap

The brand ensures that its production is sustainable and that its mezcal is very tasty indeed!

Pernod Ricard ‘partners’ with Ojo de Tigre Mezcal

Got a taste for Mezcal? So does supersize drinks group Pernod Ricard. After taking a majority stake in Del Maguey in 2017, it’s at it again, this time forming a “partnership” with Ojo de Tigre. The artisanal mezcal producer uses sustainable Tobala and Espadín agave varietals to create joven and reposado expressions. The result is a sweet, herbal taste profile that Pernod Ricard reckons will ‘strengthen’ both its place in the fast-growing mezcal category, and its ‘Transform and Accelerate’ strategic plan. Details of the deal, including the size of the stake or its value, haven’t been disclosed, but Ojo de Tigre co-founder and CEO, Moises Guindi, thinks it will “recruit the next generation of drinkers”: “We believe Ojo de Tigre is well suited to this task and Pernod Ricard is the perfect partner for this mission.” Pernod Ricard’s chairman and CEO, Alexandre Ricard, added: “Ojo de Tigre’s authentic origins, mindful production and inviting taste contribute to its strong appeal among consumers. We look forward to a successful collaboration toward the brand’s future development.” Exciting times ahead!

The Nightcap

Remember when we used to do this together? Good times. Apart from the pandemic, obviously.

Natural born quizzers

Just because the pubs were closed didn’t mean that the great British public was going to miss out on a pub quiz. No global pandemic was going to curb our passion for trivia. At MoM we put on a virtual pub quiz for customers which proved extremely popular. While in-house Zoom meet-ups were enlivened by some extremely difficult quizzing (though with rather too many questions about Star Wars, who knew there were so many films?) Well, it seems we weren’t the only ones because the numbers are in from UK commercial print company Where The Trade Buys and they are big. How big? Well, there were 1.3 million searches for ‘pub quiz questions’ in the UK this year, up 932% on last year and 229,000 searches for ‘virtual pub quiz’, that’s up 381,767% on last year. No, there isn’t an extra digit in there, an increase of over three hundred thousand per cent! Didn’t we promise you big numbers? Looking closely at the data reveals that football questions were the most searched for followed by music. And the nation’s quizzing capital? Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a 954% increase in searches for quiz questions. Howay the lads!

The Nightcap

Fred Sirieix is one of the hospitality giants supporting the initiative.

And finally. . . fancy a portion of ‘Invisible Chips’?

Hospitality Action has launched a fundraising campaign to support the hospitality industry through the magic of Invisible Chips. That’s right, you, the public, can help those working in the hospitality sector by buying a portion of ‘invisible chips’, which food outlets will add to their menu at the same price as their edible counterpart, with all proceeds going to the charity. Essentially, you buy a portion of nothing to do some good. BrewDog, Hawksmoor and Gaucho have already signed up and Invisible Chips are also available to purchase online. The initiative, which has been backed by top chefs including Fred Sirieix, Heston Blumenthal and Tom Kerridge, attempts to alleviate the struggle of workers in the industry, who have seen their place of employment close or show no signs of reopening, or position has been made redundant. Official predictions suggest unemployment will hit 10% by the end of 2020, with the hospitality industry being one of the worst affected. The campaign has assured consumers that the chips are “0% fat, 100% charity” and “simple to prepare, take up zero freezer space and never go past their use-by date”. Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action added: “To anyone who has missed eating out these past few months, I urge you to order a portion of Invisible Chips to help those people we’ve perhaps taken for granted up until now. The hospitality industry is built on resilience and creativity and I’m confident we will recover, however, the people within it need a helping hand in the interim.”

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The Nightcap: 3 July

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about The Macallan, Diageo, competition winners, the artist formerly known as Plantation rum and a new Swift bar. Lovely stuff. It’s…

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about The Macallan, Diageo, competition winners, the artist formerly known as Plantation rum and a new Swift bar. Lovely stuff.

It’s been another busy week and a whole heap of boozy news has occurred. With so many stories floating around it can be hard to keep up. It’s not as if you have some kind of contraption to corral it up into one place to hand, like a big booze news net or one of those massive gloves they have in that American sport with the baseball hats. Lucky for you, we’ve got just the thing. Our delightful round-up of all the drinks industry happenings from the last seven days – it’s The Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week Kristy recalled her trip to Texas distillery Balcones as our exclusive Balcones Barrel Pick landed at MoM Towers, Adam spoke to John Quinn about the journey to restore Tullamore D.E.W Distillery and Jess broke down why garnishes are so great with the help of some industry experts. Annie then shone our MoM-branded spotlight on Cornwall’s first distillery and then had some advice on how you can upgrade your BBQ beverages, while Henry asks what it takes for a Cognac to be singled out for the vintage treatment while enjoying a new Frapin expression, made one of the world’s most delicious cocktails the way it should be made and celebrated some of our favourite places in London to drink whisky.

For the very last time, we’d like to thank all of you who entered last week’s virtual pub quiz. It’s been a pleasure teasing you with all kinds of weird and wonderful boozy trivia and hopefully, you all had fun. Thomas Knockaert certainly enjoyed himself, as he has the distinction of being the final winner! You can check out the answers to the last quiz (*sob*) below.

The Nightcap

The rum formerly known as Plantation

Maison Ferrand rename Plantation Rum brand 

Plantation Rum announced this week that its brand name will change. While we don’t know what the new name will be yet, we do know that its production methods and the liquid inside the bottle will remain the same. It’s also clear that the move was prompted by the global protests for social justice and racial equality spearheaded by the Black Lives Matter movement. “As the dialogue on racial equality continues globally, we understand the hurtful connotation the word plantation can evoke to some people, especially in its association with much graver images and dark realities of the past,” says Alexandre Gabriel, Plantation Rum master blender. “We look to grow in our understanding of these difficult issues and while we don’t currently have all the details of what our brand name evolution will involve, we want to let everyone know that we are working to make fitting changes.” Global brand manager Stephanie Simbo added that the rum brand “wants to be on the side of actions and solutions”. This case is a reminder of rum’s complex history and the fact that it is inextricably linked to slavery. But this is so rarely acknowledged, which is why we think this is great news and a meaningful step in the right direction.

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The full Double Cask range. It’s a beautiful sight.

The Macallan adds to Double Cask range

The Macallan has bolstered its Double Cask range with two new aged expressions, the Double Cask 15 Years Old and Double Cask 18 Years Old. The former is said to impart aromas of dried fruit, toffee and vanilla, and delivers a warming finish with a creamy mouthfeel, while the latter is said to be filled with notes of dried fruits, ginger, toffee and a warm oak spice finish that’s balanced by sweet orange. Fans of the distillery will remember The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old was first introduced in 2016 as part of a series that celebrates the union of American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks. The Speyside distillery sources its European oak in northern Spain and the French Pyrenees, and American oak from Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky. Both types are transported to Spain, where they are made into casks, seasoned with sherry and then shipped to The Macallan Estate where they are filled. “Bringing together American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks to achieve the perfect balance of flavours is incredibly exciting for the whisky mastery team, and we are proud to offer two new expressions to this distinctive range for The Macallan Double Cask fans to explore,” says Kirsteen Campbell, master whisky maker of The Macallan. “Oak influence is the single greatest contributor to the quality, natural colour and distinctive aromas and flavours at the heart of The Macallan’s single malts.”

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Each expression is the ‘first and last of its kind’, according to Diageo.

Diageo launches Prima & Ultima and plans carbon-neutral distillery in Kentucky

Diageo has had a busy week! First up is its shiny new whisky alert, announcing the launch of a very luxurious set of single malts, named Prima & Ultima. The first and last. Because each is the ‘first and last of its kind’, according to the press release. See what they did there? There are eight cask strength whiskies in the series selected by none other than Dr Jim Beveridge OBE. “Each of the eight whiskies I’ve selected for Prima & Ultima tells a tale of heritage and craftsmanship and I’ve chosen them from distillers of great personal importance to me,” says Dr Beveridge. You’ll find whisky from Cragganmore, Lagavulin, Mortlach, Port Ellen, Clynelish, Caol Ila, Talisker, and The Singleton of Dufftown, and each bottling marks a significant period of whisky-making for its distillery, with each one accompanied by a limited edition book of personal stories from Dr Beveridge himself, along with a 20ml sample. If you have a spare £20,000 you can get your hands on the entire set, though you’ll have to register first (which opens on 22 July). There are only 238 sets though, so better be snappy! 

 

The other big news is physically much bigger, because Diageo has revealed its plans to construct Bulleit Bourbon brand’s new Kentucky whiskey distillery, and it’s going to be carbon neutral! It’ll run on 100% renewable electricity (even the on site vehicles), using electrode boilers and a combination of renewable energy sources. It’s costing a cool $130 million and is set to be up and running by 2021, with the capacity to produce just over 34 million litres each year. Get ready to say hello to one of the largest carbon-neutral distilleries in North America!

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Congratulations to you, Stephanie Macleod!

International Whisky Competition 2020 winners announced

The results are in. The 11th edition of the International Whisky Competition whiskies has concluded after drams from around the world were judged side by side at the event in Estes Park, Colorado from 10-14 June. The top recognition, Whisky of the Year, was awarded to John Dewar and Sons – Double Double 32 Year Old (Blended Scotch), which scored 96.4 points, the highest-scoring whisky of the competition. This meant Stephanie Macleod, the brand’s master blender, became the first woman to win this prize and it was also the second year running that Macleod has won the accolade of Master Blender Of The Year, after she made history in 2019 as the first woman to win the award. John Dewar and Sons also won the Golden Barrel Trophy. “At Dewar’s we aim to push the boundaries of what is expected from the whisky category and have a long-standing commitment to innovation, so we are delighted with our success in the 2020 competition and it is an honour to be named Master Blender of the Year,” says Macleod. “I accept this award on behalf of the whole team at Dewar’s who have shown relentless hard work and dedication to achieving the very best quality and taste for our beautifully crafted whisky, despite the challenges this year has held. It is incredibly rewarding indeed to see these efforts appreciated.” Other winners were Glenmorangie’s Dr Bill Lumsden who won Master Distiller of the Year, while Ardbeg won Distillery of the Year. You can check out the full list here.

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How Soho may look as it goes pedestrian-only in the evenings this summer.

Soho gets a pedestrian makeover

As Britain wakes up from its lockdown slumber, bars, pubs and restaurants have been working out how to reopen safety. Westminster Council has hit on a great way to help, pedestrianise Soho. So this summer from 5pm to 11pm, London’s original nightlife capital will be out of bounds to motor vehicles as part of the new Summer Street Festival. The pedestrian-only area covers Dean Street, Frith Street, Greek Street and Old Compton Street (map including street closure timings and details can be found here.) We spoke with Simo from Milroy’s yesterday about his plans for reopening which includes 16 tables outside the whisky shop on Greek Street. Other famous venues due to reopen include Cafe Boheme, Dean Street Townhouse, and Bar Italia. Many places are also offering incentives to visit such as one free drink with dinner bookings and discounts for NHS workers. The best thing is, that if this experiment is judged a success, then there’s potential for full or part pedestrianisation to become permanent. So no more diesel fumes in your al fresco cocktail.

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We can’t wait to have those delicious Irish coffees at the new venue…

Swift to open all-day venue in Shoreditch 

Swift, you are really spoiling us! Not only will the award-winning Old Compton Street institution be opening again on Saturday 4 July but the couple behind it, Mia Johansson and husband Bobby Hiddleston, have announced a new location to open at the end of the month. Located on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, it will serve from 8am during the week and 11am on weekends, offering breakfast, coffee etc. alongside the sort of cocktails that made the original Swift such a destination (though not at 8am presumably.) The team issued a statement saying: “Whilst we’re all still in uncertain times and have a long road ahead of us on our way to recovery, we have faith in the British public’s love of coming together for great food and drink and are hopeful that London’s world-class cocktail scene will rebuild itself to come back stronger than ever. Sticking to our plan to open our second site is just the embodiment of our faith in this and we are so excited to start hosting guests again.” A bit of optimism, that’s what we like to hear. 

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Gordon & MacPhail has gone for the classic Teletubbies look with its new distillery

Gordon & MacPhail distillery gets the green light

Gordon and MacPhail (G&M) is edging ever closer to having a shiny new multi-million-pound distillery near Grantown. The whisky distiller and bottler has given the contractors, Morrison Construction, the green light to begin contruction at the site on the banks of the River Spey in Craggan in Scotland’s Cairngorm National Park. The facility will be the first new malt whisky distillery to be built in the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) area since its creation in 2003. The building was supposed to be already well underway by now, but because of Covid-19 crisis restrictions, the project had to be pushed back. The distillery, which G&M has said will become a “significant local employer,” will have the capacity to produce around 440,000 gallons of whisky a year. Forsyths of Rothes will supply and install the distilling equipment, while the visitor centre, tasting rooms, retail space and coffee shop are projected to attract 50,000 tourists annually. “These appointments are the next major milestone in delivering this long-term project for the company. We look forward to working with these established businesses who are both highly experienced in their own field,” says Ewen Mackintosh, managing director of Elgin-based G&M. “We’ve been really heartened by the warm welcome we have received locally. As a family-owned business located in the north of Scotland, we are very much rooted in our communities, and we are keen to develop strong relationships in Grantown and the surrounding area.”

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Why pour beer down the drain when you can feed it to cattle?

And finally. . . .  Wimbledon Brewery feeds cows with beer

Some of the most heartbreaking stories to come out of lockdown were about pubs having to pour beer that was going out of date down the drain. Oh, the humanity! When Wimbledon Brewery found itself with a lot of unsaleable beer destined for pubs, however, someone had a brainwave: why not feed it to cows? And not just any cows, the excess stock went to the beer-loving cattle at Trenchmore Wagyu Beef Farm in Sussex. The beer helps make Wagyu the tenderest and sweetest-tasting beef on the planet. In return, the brewery will receive its very own Wagyu burgers. This is not the only way the brewery has adapted. According to founder Mark Gordon, the company lost 90% of business when the hospitality industry closed but managed to survive by concentrating on “local home deliveries and increased sales to supermarkets and bottle shops. This went from a very low base to the equivalent of 80% of our pre-lockdown turnover.” He went on to say: “Soon after the lockdown was announced, we initially closed the brewery but quickly took the decision to reopen because beer can be very good for morale.” It certainly is, and that reminds us, it’s probably time for beer. Have a great weekend everyone!

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Pub Quiz Answers

1) In ‘Diary of a Nobody’, what brand of Champagne does Charles Pooter order from his local shop?

Answer: Jackson Freres

2) What’s the nearest single malt distillery to Edinburgh?

Answer: Holyrood

3) What’s the name of the famous copperworks at Rothes?

Answer: Forsyths

4) Who invented the spirit safe?

Answer: Septimus Fox

5) Which brand of whisky does Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco) smuggle into prison for her husband (Ray Liotta) in ‘Goodfellas’?

Answer: J&B

6) Which cocktail was supposedly named after Zelda Fitzgerald?

Answer: White Lady

7) In the Jeeves & Wooster stories, what is the “secret” ingredient of the former’s hangover remedy?

Answer: Worcestershire Sauce

8) Which gin does Amy Whitehouse mention in the song ‘You Know I’m No Good’?

Answer: Tanqueray

9) Bernard de Voto’s book ‘The Hour’ is a paean to which cocktail?

Answer: Martini

10) In which of Shakespeare’s history plays is one of the characters drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine?

Answer: Richard III

 

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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! 

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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

 

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The Nightcap and virtual pub quiz: 20 March

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

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

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

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

Right, on with the Nightcapini!

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

WSTA calls for duty suspension to save hospitality industry

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

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

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

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

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

#TheVirtualHappyHour, pub quizzes and whisky festivals

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

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

Industry rallies to support bar and pub workers

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

The Nightcap

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

Distilleries make and donate hand sanitiser

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

The Nightcap

MoM virtual pub quiz 20 March 2020

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

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

2) How many distilleries are there on Skye?

3) How many times is Mortlach single malt distilled?

4) Where would you find boisé? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

11) Evan Williams originally hailed from which country?

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

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

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

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

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

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The Nightcap: 21 February

This week on the Nightcap: a packed programme from the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, a record-breaking private whisky collection, and a gin that’s so green it’s both ‘carbon negative’…

This week on the Nightcap: a packed programme from the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, a record-breaking private whisky collection, and a gin that’s so green it’s both ‘carbon negative’ and made from peas.

It’s Friday, which is always a good thing, especially given that it’s Margarita Day Eve (definitely a thing). There’s no better way to enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news than with a good cocktail in hand, so get making those Margaritas and prepare yourself for the weekend. A weekend which may entail more Margaritas. Perhaps with margherita pizzas. Now that’s a Saturday. But before all that there’s Nightcapping to do, so get together your lime, salt and Tequila and proceed. It’s a corker this week.

On the MoM blog, Adam revealed the exciting news that Midleton Distillery had launched Ireland’s oldest ever whiskey collection, before chatting with Patrice Pinet about Cognac’s prospects in 2020, recommending some delicious agave-based spirits in time for World Margarita Day tomorrow, and enjoying a Dominican rum finished in casks that formerly held a peated Speyside whisky for our New Arrival of the Week. Kristy, fresh from her American adventure, presented 10 great bars to check out in the Big Apple, before Annie explored how pre-mixed cocktails turned premium. Henry then showed off our sublime video footage from our visit to the Isle of Wight to meet the team behind Mermaid Gin, before picking a drink for Cocktail of the Week that’s neither French or really a Martini: The French Martini!

But there’s still more boozy brilliance to come. On to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Tickets are now on sale for the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival!

Spirit of Speyside whisky festival unveils its programme

This week tickets went on sale for the fabulous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. As you’d expect from Scotland’s richest whisky region with over 51 distilleries, there’s a lot going on. The programme contains over 700 events (see the festival’s website for more details). Highlights include an archive tasting at The Balvenie, a blending masterclass with Billy Walker at Glenallachie, and an event called ‘The Silent Stills of Speyside’, put on by Gordon & MacPhail.  For us, perhaps the most exciting thing is a chance to look round and taste at famous distilleries like Mortlach that aren’t usually open to the public. There are also food events, tastings galore, chances to fill your own bottle, and no less than five ceilidhs from Wednesday 29 April until Sunday 3 May. If you’re feeling really active, there’s a run around the region ending up with a well-earned tasting and brunch at The Macallan Distillery. For lazier folks, there are tours by train or chauffeur-driven car. Something for everyone.

The Nightcap

The Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami was the undisputed star of the show

‘Largest’ private whisky collection breaks records

Perth-based Whisky Auctioneer saw the first part of its ‘The Perfect Collection’ sell for £3.2 million, with a Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami bottle setting a new record. The “world’s largest” private whisky collection to be offered at auction contains more than 1,900 bottles of mostly single malt Scotch, which was built up by the late American private collector Richard Gooding. The auction, which saw 1,642 bidders from 56 countries take part, achieved US$4,277,000 and featured more than 1,932 bottles before it closed on Monday (17 February). The highlight was the bottle of the highly coveted Macallan which sold for £825,000, breaking the current world record for the bottle set at £702,347 in October 2018. The bottle attracted bids from 11 countries, with the winning offer hailing from Europe. A bottle of The Macallan 1928 Anniversary Malt 50 Year Old achieved a hammer price of £92,000, overtaking a previous record of £72,246 in October 2019, while a large offering of 201 bottles from The Macallan reached a total hammer price of £1,979,555. So it was a good auction for Macallan, as usual. “We always knew that The Perfect Collection by Mr Gooding could make whisky history, but with auctions, anything can happen,” said Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctioneer. “Not only was the highest ever sale price for Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami achieved at over a million dollars, but Whisky Auctioneer became the first online whisky auction to sell a million-dollar bottle, with multiple other lots achieving hammer price world records.” The remaining bottles in The Perfect Collection will be sold during the second part of the auction, which will run from 10 April until 20 April. Bottles include The Macallan 1926 Fine & Rare, a Glenfiddich 1937 Rare Collection 64 Year Old, and The Balvenie 1937 Pure Malt 50 Year Old.

The Nightcap

The colourless Mirror Margarita collection from specialist agave bar Hacha

London celebrates International Margarita Day

Tomorrow, Saturday 22 February, is International Margarita Day, and London’s bars will be celebrating in style, mainly by offering lots of variations on this much-loved cocktail. To help you navigate around all the excitement, Patron Tequila has created a special Margarita map. Simply put your postcode into the computer thing, and the magic of science will direct you to an establishment serving special Patron Margaritas. You can also enter a prize draw for the chance to win a trip to Mexico! If you don’t win that trip, and let’s face it, you probably won’t, then don’t worry as there’s a little bit of Mexico in East London. You’ll find it at specialist agave bar, Hacha! Bartender Deano Moncrieffe has come up with a series of twists on the classic cocktail, like the colourless Mirror Margarita, plus there’s food from Mission St Tacos. There will also be special Ocho Tequila cocktails at Callooh Callay in Old Street and the Racketeer in Kings Cross. And finally, you don’t even need to leave the house to get in on the action. Jose Cuervo is offering a free Margarita delivery service today and Saturday. You can enter here and if you’re lucky, a special Jose Cuervo Margarita Rider will come to your house (London only, sadly) and mix up some cocktails for you. You don’t even have to get dressed!

The Nightcap

It’s certainly been a good week for the discerning collector!

Rare rum found in Charles Metcalfe’s cupboard is sold for £12,000

Top wine writer and collector Charles Metcalfe made a pretty penny this week after he sold 11 bottles of rum for £12,000. Metcalfe inherited the 11 bottles of Lemon Hart rum, bottled in the 1940s, from his late father who saved them as a souvenir from his time spent working with Lemon Hart & Sons in 1946-48, following his return from a prisoner of war camp where he was held during the Second World War. The famous British brand has a long history and is best known for its appointment by the Admiralty as the supplier of rum to the British Royal Navy in the late 18th century. The rum had been kept in a cupboard for years after his father died, but Metcalfe recently made the decision to sell the majority of the collection and had bottles valued by a specialist team at www.whisky.auction. Each bottle has sold for around £1,000, some as high as £1,450, in the online auctions since September. There is one more bottle to sell which will be made available on 1 March. “As a wine collector, I’m well aware of the value that old wine can fetch at auction, but I hadn’t imagined that my father’s rum would be worth quite so much,” Metcalfe told the West Sussex County Times. “It shows how valuable a quick look into the back of your spirits cupboard can be!”

The Nightcap

100% of funds raised from this online charity auction go straight to Rural Aid

Australian distillers donate spirits to raise money for bushfire relief

The Australian bushfires still burn, with over 18.6 million hectares of land destroyed to date. However, over 100 Australian distilleries have joined forces in order to help Bushfire Relief, donating over 200 bottles of Australian spirits, including whisky, gin, rum, moonshine, vodka, liqueurs and more. You’ll find tasty spirits from brands such as Four Pillars, Starward, Archie Rose, Brookie’s Gin and Manly Spirits among the names. It’s not just pre-existing bottlings either, with a new whisky having been crafted for the cause dubbed The Aussie Spirit. The “godfather of Australian whisky”, Bill Lark, will oversee blending and maturation of five different casks of whisky at Old Kempton Distillery utilising new make from 13 distilleries around the country. If you want to get your hands on some of this while supporting Bushfire Relief, then you can head over to the online charity auction, with 100% of funds raised from going straight to Rural Aid, one of Australia’s largest rural charities.

The Nightcap

The Big Drop Brewing Co. founders showing off the colourful new design

Big Drop Brewing Co. Reveal New Design

The wonderful folks at Big Drop Brewing Co., dedicated solely to bringing delicious alcohol-free brews to our doorsteps, have gone and revealed a brand-new design for their tasty creations! It’s bold and colourful, with each expression’s design taking inspiration from the liquid within. Each of the designs is based on an environment that is linked to the individual beers’ style, and which inspired the names, illustrations and colourways. To create the new designs, the folks at Big Drop teamed up with London-based design agency Foundation, rolling out the new packaging onto the full range including Uptown Craft Lager, Paradiso Citra IPA, Pine Trail Pale Ale and Galactic Milk Stout. For example, Uptown Craft Lager‘s design is inspired by hot summers in London, with the pattern taken from a section of concrete at the city’s Barbican Estate, the colours reflecting a dramatic orange sunset. Meanwhile, Paradiso Citra IPA’s green design mirrors the depths of a jungle, with green leaves and exotic fruits, reflected in the flavour profile as well. “Working with Foundation on this re-packaging project has been brilliant and the results speak for themselves,” says co-founder James Kindred. “2020 is a big year for the brand, and this bold new design direction starts us off in a fantastic way.” We know you can’t judge a book by its cover and all that, but we can’t argue with bright colours and tasty booze-free beer!

The Nightcap

The finalists from 2019’s World Class GB Final make it look like a lot of fun

Diageo Reserve’s World Class competition returns!

Diageo Reserve’s World Class is back and open for entries in the UK. Organisers expect to receive the highest number of entries yet from the country’s bartending community following a record attendance for the UK-wide bartender training tour. The annual competition, which is now in its twelfth year, encourages bartenders to submit a digital entry of one or two serves to be in with the chance of making it into the top 100. The two modules bartenders have been asked to submit to are ‘Acid House’ and ‘Heritage Highballs’. The former challenges contestants to replace the fresh citrus that forms an integral part of Diageo’s gin brand, Tanqueray No. Ten with an alternative acid of their choice and the latter challenges entrants to produce their own highball serve using Johnnie Walker Black Label and a range of ingredients with an interesting backstory. Bartenders will need to submit a cocktail to one or both of the challenges by midnight 9th March at www.theworldclassclub.com and share a photo of the drink on social media using #WorldClassGB2020. Competitors will then be invited to share a Ketel One ‘One Square Mile’ serve online for the judges, consisting of previous GB winners and Diageo BAs, to taste-test. Just 20 of these contestants will then be shortlisted to compete to be crowned GB World Class Bartender of the Year 2020 at the final which is taking place in the New Forest in June at the first ever GB ‘Camp World Class’. The overall winner will get opportunity to tour with the World Class team hosting events and workshops and Diageo-owned distilleries across Scotland, get a budget for bar tools, equipment and custom serve creation and a guest bartending shift at one of Europe’s best bars, as well as the obligatory nationwide exposure and dedicated PR throughout the year. Oh, and a place to represent GB in the World Class Global Final hosted in Sydney, Australia this autumn. Entries for Diageo Reserve GB World Class Bartender of the Year 2020 are now open, closing on 9 March. 

The Nightcap

The collection features artefacts that have never been available for public viewing before

Historical Johnnie Walker artefacts to go on display

A collection of Johnnie Walker artefacts are set to go on display before the public for the first time, thanks to a partnership with the Dick Institute museum in Scotland. The John Walker exhibition in Kilmarnock, Scotland, will feature historical ‘crown jewels’ from the Johnnie Walker archives that have never been available for public viewing, until now. Visitors can also see a John Walker stock book from 1857, a hand-written inventory from John Walker’s grocery store dating back to 1825. It’s the oldest existing record from the shop and details things such as teas from China, spices from Jamaica, and Scotch. There’s also an 1819 hand-written inventory from the sale of Todriggs Farm near Kilmarnock, which is the oldest item in the Johnnie Walker Archive collection. It records the sale of the farm after the death of John Walker’s father, which funded the founding of his grocery store. “These items really are the crown jewels of our collection. They are remarkable historical documents that give us a fascinating insight into the roots of Johnnie Walker,” says Christine McCafferty, chief archivist at the Johnnie Walker Archive. “I’m delighted that to celebrate the 200th anniversary of John Walker starting out in his business we are able to put these items on display to the public in the town where the story began.” The Johnnie Walker exhibition will be a permanent feature at the Dick Institute, with artefacts rotated on a regular basis. The current loan items will be on display at the museum until October 2020.

The Nightcap

Diageo agreed to pay a US$5m penalty and to cease and desist from any further violations

Diageo pays $5m fine over ‘misleading’ sales

It was a difficult week for spirits giant Diageo, which was fined US$5 million by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after its North American arm created a “misleading picture” of its financial results. According to the US securities regulator’s charges, the North America division at Johnnie Walker and Lagavulin owner Diageo  “pressured” distributors to buy excess inventory in order to meet internal sales targets in the face of declining market conditions in its 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. Diageo failed to disclose the excess stocks to investors which created a “misleading impression” that it was able to achieve their sales targets through normal customer demand. The charges found Diageo failed to disclose the positive impact “over shipping” had on sales and profits, but also the negative impact this would have on future growth, according to an SEC statement. “Investors rely on public companies to make complete and accurate disclosures upon which they can base their investment decisions”, Melissa R Hodgman, an associate director in the SEC’s division of enforcement, explained: “Diageo pressured distributors to take more products than they needed, creating a misleading picture of the company’s financial results and its ability to meet key performance indicators.” Diageo hasn’t admitted or denied the SEC’s findings but has agreed to pay a US$5m penalty and to cease and desist from any further violations, which the SEC has accepted. “Diageo is pleased to have resolved this legacy matter, which relates back to fiscal years 2014 and 2015,” commented a Diageo spokesperson. “Diageo regularly reviews and refines its policies and procedures, and is committed to maintaining a robust and transparent disclosure process.”

The Nightcap

‘Carbon negative’ and made from peas. You don’t get greener than that!

And finally… There’s now a ‘carbon negative’ gin made from peas

Arbikie Distillery in Scotland has just launched what is claimed to be the world’s first carbon-negative gin, and it’s made from peas. Can’t get greener than that. It’s called Nàdar, meaning ‘nature’ in Gaelic. According to the accompanying study, the amount of carbon produced during its distillation and packaging is more than offset by using peas as a base instead of wheat. Not only do the clever green vegetables fertilise the soil, thus saving on nitrogen fertiliser, but leftovers can be used to feed animals too, thus saving on livestock food, predominately made from soya beans. It’s the product of five years of research by master distiller Kirsty Black in association with Abertay University in Dundee and The James Hutton Institute. She commented:  “Peas are a part of a unique set of plants known as legumes that are able to source nitrogen, which is critical for plant growth, from the air. This removes the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and, therefore, avoids the negative environmental impact its production and use has on our waterways, air and soils.” According to Arbikie each bottle produced means 2.2 kg CO2 that won’t be released into the atmosphere. John Stirling, director of Arbikie Distillery added: “Our ethos at Arbikie from our inception has been to try and create world-class premium spirits where all ingredients are grown on our single estate farm. Minimising our carbon footprint and working with the wonderful homegrown ingredients to create one of the world’s most sustainable distilleries. Our Nàdar Gin goes one step further and looks to make a positive, instead of neutral impact, in terms of long-term sustainability.  It also tastes fantastic, which is a credit to our distilling team.” Let’s raise a glass to peas in our time.

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