fbpx
£

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

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: English wine

The Nightcap: 6 August

Settle in for the latest edition of our weekly news round-up featuring Tanqueray’s Summer Garden, regrettably drier Antarctic research stations, and a crafty, vodka-loving festival-goer plus some big news from…

Settle in for the latest edition of our weekly news round-up featuring Tanqueray’s Summer Garden, regrettably drier Antarctic research stations, and a crafty, vodka-loving festival-goer plus some big news from Johnnie Walker. It’s all in the Nightcap: 6 August edition. 

Since we last went Nightcapping seven days have passed and that means a whole fresh batch is required. Luckily we’ve just upgraded our boozy news oven so we’ve got a particularly tasty set of stories for you to get your teeth stuck into this week. We find that a dram of something delicious makes for the perfect pairing too, so why not pour yourself something tasty and enjoy. 

This week the MoM blog became home to TWO new competitions giving you the chance to bag some Japanese or American whiskey goodies courtesy of Suntory and Jack Daniel’s. Meanwhile, our guest contributors had a busy week as Lucy looked into the history of Campari, Millie caught up with some of the drinks industry’s most avid glassware collectors and Dr. Nick Morgan joined us for the first time to pen an explosive article on the murky relationship between the Scotch and Japanese whisky industries. Elsewhere, there was still time for Adam to enjoy some rule-breaking Cognac and for Henry to sample an intriguing gin flavoured with Tokaji grapes as well as the delightful Rebujito cocktail.

Now on with the Nightcap: 6 August edition!

The Nightcap: 6 August

We’ll be heading to the opening event and will report back soon!

Tickets on sale for Johnnie Walker Princes Street

It’s been a long time coming but finally, Johnnie Walker’s swanky new brand home on Edinburgh’s Princes Street is open. Well, nearly, the building will open to the public on 6 September, but tickets are already on sale now (go here for more information.) The building was meant to open last year in time for Johnnie Walker’s 200th anniversary. Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scotland brand homes, explained the reason for the delayed opening: “Over the past year we have faced unprecedented challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic but now we can finally start the countdown to the opening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street”. Spread over 71,500 sq feet of prime New Town real estate, the building features the 1820 bar with views across the city and the Label Studio which will offer live events. Meanwhile, you can learn the 200-year-old story of Johnnie Walker, from its beginnings in a grocer’s shop in Kilmarnock, to being the biggest whisky brand in the world! Smith elaborated: “Johnnie Walker Princes Street will offer something unlike any other visitor experience in Scotland. It will be a venue for everyone, whether that’s visitors to Scotland or local people in Edinburgh, Scotch whisky lovers, or those savouring Scotch whisky for the first time. We can’t wait for you to join us.” We’ll be reporting from the opening on 6 September, so watch this space for more Johnnie Walker news. 

The Nightcap: 6 August

It’s another incredibly impressive range

Diageo announces new Prima & Ultima whiskies

More news from Diageo as the whisky giant announces the arrival of a new batch of Prima & Ultima releases. This exclusive set of eight whiskies from various distilleries are sure to get enthusiasts excited. How exclusive? Well, there are two bottles from ‘ghost’ distilleries: a 1984 Convalmore, and 1980 peated Brora. Then there’s a Linkwood 1981 aged in a mixture of PX, Oloroso and new American Oak, an unusual experimental Singleton of Glendullan 1992 aged first in refill casks before maturation in two small ex-Madeira barriques for further fourteen years, plus a 1979 Talisker, 1992 Lagavulin, 1974 Auchroisk and 1995 Mortlach. If you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford a set, RRP is £23,500 for the collection. It was put together by master blender Maureen Robinson who commented: “This is a selection of very special single malts – some that have never before seen the light of day and others that are the fleeting and final examples of their kind. Each bottling shares a glimpse into the history of Scotch and one that I am honoured to have witnessed in person. I remember choosing to hold back the cask filled at Auchroisk knowing it would be special for the future and the anticipation and excitement of the maturation trials we undertook with Linkwood and The Singleton, now realised in these releases. Some of these casks I helped to lay down, and have taken great pleasure in tending to them since, so I chose them with rich memories in mind. Each has its own unique style, which you can now explore for yourself.” We’ll be tasting some of these whiskies shortly and will report back. Yeah, it’s a tough life. 

The Nightcap: 6 August

The house whisky can be bought online

Fife Arms launches whisky with Dave Broom & Adelphi

This May, The Fife Arms hotel in the Highland village of Braemar opened a new whisky bar called Bertie’s, inspired by the famous Royal bon viveur, King Edward VII, also known as ‘Bertie’. This is very exciting because Dave Broom helped curate the 365-strong-selection (one for each day of the year!) which will be arranged by flavour profiles such as Fragrant, Fruity, Rich & Smoky. But what’s even more exciting is that The Fife Arms has marked the opening by commissioning its own whisky! The Fife Arms Braemar Whisky was made in collaboration with Broom and Alex Bruce, managing director of independent bottler and distiller Adelphi. The Fife Arms celebrates Scottish history and culture, so the team set out to create a whisky reminiscent of the signature styles enjoyed in the era when the hotel first opened in 1856. That’s why they used sherry butts, the cask type most widely used during this time, and smoky whisky from Ardnamurchan Distillery to create a classic 19th century-style blend. The hotel’s house whisky will launch on 13th September and will be available to purchase from the hotel’s shop and its online shop, retailing at £95 a bottle. Plus, there’s more to come as later this year, as the hotel will launch a collection of single cask whiskies in partnership with Broom and Bruce.

The Nightcap: 6 August

It’s all international summer vibes courtesy of Tanqueray

Tanqueray Gin’s Summer Garden lands in London 

Tanqueray Gin’s Summer Garden has just opened in Flat Iron Square, London, giving us a chance to visit Seville, France and India through the different Tanqueray gins and botanicals. In classic British style, it was  wet and rainy when we attended, but we just renamed it the English Summer Garden and drank our cocktails under a bit of shelter – we’re all used to the weather by now. Thankfully the rain did clear up and we were able to sit on a fetching swing bench covered in orange flowers and orange trees, wander around the fountain flowing with actual Negroni, and try some delicious food.  These included a chicken bao bun, pumpkin boa buns, and pink(!) pasta. But we were really there for the gin. You can treat yourself to a gin masterclass where you taste the Tanqueray range, including five cocktails and snack pairing. You can also get stuck into a magnificent gin tree, taking you all around the world through different Tanqueray & Tonics: Tanqueray Rangpur, Blackcurrant Royale, and Flor de Sevilla all feature, or you can build your own. There is even the chance to win weekly prizes if you can find the hidden QR codes dotted around the garden. We particularly enjoyed playing a spot of boules, which is the perfect way to spend your day while sipping on a cocktail. You can book a visit here – it’s running until 30 August.

Bowmore and Aston Martin’s new collaboration

You might remember back in 2019 Bowmore and luxury British car maker Aston Martin teamed up to create Black Bowmore DB5 1964 whisky which was presented in a bottle incorporating a genuine Aston Martin DB5 piston. This was followed by the first automotive offering, the DBX Bowmore. Now the duo is launching a new range, the Designed by Aston Martin collection. It has given three classic Bowmore whiskies a new look, inspired by some of Aston Martin’s rarest and most influential cars. The new-look limited-edition collection features Bowmore 10, 15, and 18 Years Old single malts which will be released annually exclusively in global travel retail outlets. The Bowmore 10 Years Old is paired with the Aston Martin factory Team Car, the LM10, which first raced at Le Mans in 1932; the 15 Years Old takes inspiration from the Aston Martin Atom, and the 18 Years Old celebrates the Aston Martin DB Mk III. “These limited-edition releases not only celebrate our partnership but also give some of our wonderful whiskies a whole new look which I know will excite Bowmore fans and collectors around the world,” says David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager. “By bringing together our skills and passions, we are inviting drinkers to explore our stunning and exclusive GTR collection whilst also showcasing how our shared commitment to heritage and craftsmanship can truly come to life.” Travelers can find the collection in Duty-Free stores from this month. 

The Nightcap: 6 August

Glen Grant is one of the distilleries that benefit from Forsyth’s expertise

Forsyths opens Irish division 

Forsyths has big news this week as the Moray copper still maker and fabrication firm has opened a division in Ireland. Meeting increasing demand from the distilling industry, the Rothes-based group is involved in a number of projects in the country, including the construction of a new distillery in which U2 rock star Bono is a shareholder. Richard Forsyth, managing director of the family-run business, said it had launched a facility north of Dublin, where a coppersmith and pipefitters are based. “Business has been very buoyant for us in Ireland,” he added. “The famous Bushmills Distillery has just been doubled in production and we are also building a distillery called Monasterevin”. Forsyths’ international operations have been in full flight recently, having just shipped a distillery to China not long ago, with Mr. Forsyth confirming activities in the Far East market were “continuing to flourish.” It’s a demonstration of how much the Irish whiskey industry continues to thrive and grow and it’s fantastic to hear that the category will be welcoming the copper works experts, who have been supplying the whiskey world with copper stills and distillation equipment since the mid-1850s. 

Frazer-Thompson-and-Mark-Harvey

Frazer Thompson (left) and Mark Harvey from Chapel Down

Frazer Thompson leaves Chapel Down after 20 years

Big news in the world of wine as Frazer Thompson who has helmed England’s largest wine producer Chapel Down for two decades announced this week that he is retiring. He said: “Over the last twenty years we have started to change the way people think about English wines forever. There is still much to do, but there has never been a more exciting time for our young industry and our business in particular.” Thompson will be replaced by Andrew Carter who is currently MD of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire, which was acquired earlier this year by Diageo. Thompson was full of praise for Carter: “I know he will bring the energy, enthusiasm, experience and the skills to drive the business to even greater heights.” He has some big shoes to fill as it was under Thompson stewardship that Chapel Down became England’s largest wine producer and, according to chairman Martin Glenn: “helped put English wine on the map.” But it hasn’t all been glorious, the team never managed to make the Curious Beer and Cider work, and ended up selling off the brands and the Curious Brewery and Restaurant earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Kent-based company is currently conducting a crowdfunding campaign to raise £7 million. So far they have raised 90% of the total, £6.3m, from around 3,600 investors. So it’s an interesting time for Carter to take over. 

The Nightcap: 6 August

Cold, harsh, and unforgiving. The new policy will not be popular.

Antarctic research stations alcohol allowance halved

For those living and working in remote Antarctic research locations, making homemade beer has been something of a tradition. A new policy change, however, means that the alcohol allowance has been slashed at Australia’s four stations as the dangerous conditions have prompted representatives in the region to strike a cautious note. The controversial new ruling bans homebrewing outright and halves the amount of alcohol that people living and working in the research stations are allowed to drink, citing the division’s inability to “safely manage consumption, hygiene standards and alcohol content” as the reason behind it. This amounts to a pretty measly sum of seven cans of beer, one and a half bottles of wine, or half a bottle of distilled spirits per person per week. “Antarctica is a unique environment, and very small mistakes can lead to very big consequences,” AAD division director Kim Ellis told American television channel ABC. She pretty bluntly added that, while it is perfectly possible to sit out in the yard and stargaze after having a drink in Australia, “If you do that in Antarctica – you’re drunk and you go stare at the stars – we will find your body in the morning.” Regardless, it’s going to be an unpopular decision, particularly given Italy’s neighbouring station offers beer, wine, and spirits alongside food items.

And finally… Man digs up hidden bottle of vodka at festival

A Lollapalooza festival-goer is being hailed as the star act of the weekend. Why? Because he went through the effort of burying a bottle of vodka in the field weeks before the event and then digging it up once inside the festival. The video of him demonstrating his creative side went viral, understandably. There is something truly wonderful about somebody rallying so hard against paying marked-up prices that they went through the trouble of burying a bottle of Tito’s Vodka and digging it up a reported three weeks later. One tweet showing the man in action has currently racked up over 22k likes, commenting “Guy buried a bottle of vodka at Grant Park a week before Lollapalooza and dug it up when he got inside…..gotta give it up to the man it’s a straight up pro move”. It’s a straight-up pro move, indeed. Although, we do like to think we can put booze in your hands at least slightly more efficiently than this.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 6 August

Ten great British booze destinations 

As most of us won’t be going far this summer, we’ve picked some great British booze destinations around the country for you to visit. From vineyards to gin distilleries, these…

As most of us won’t be going far this summer, we’ve picked some great British booze destinations around the country for you to visit. From vineyards to gin distilleries, these are some of our favourite places to enjoy whether the sun comes out or not. 

Last week we showed you how you can go on holiday without leaving the comfort of your own home. Today we’ve picked some of our favourite drinks destinations around Britain, from ancient breweries to modern vineyards, and not forgetting the wealth of distilleries found all over the country. There’s something here for everyone. 

Great British booze destinations

Somerset Cider Brandy Company

Burrow Hill Cider, Somerset

Anyone who has been to the Glastonbury festival will have tried Burrow Hill’s delicious produce at the famous Cider Bus. At his farm in Somerset, cider master Julian Temperley (above) produces a broad range of traditional West Country ciders ranging from delicious summer sippers to complex bottle-fermented products made from single apple varieties. But that’s not all, he’s also the man behind the Somerset Cider Brandy Company, making, since 1989, England’s answer to Calvados. Truly this place is a booze wonderland. 

Hush Heath estate, Kent

Hush Heath Estate, Kent

Hush Heath has to be one of the most gorgeous vineyards in England, set among the rolling Kent hills. Here the father and son wine making team of Owen and Fergus Elias make a superb selection of wines under the Balfour label. They are justly famous for their sparkling wines, particularly, the rose but the still wines are coming on strongly with some increasingly good Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs. Take a walk in the vineyards and then soak up that view from the terrace with a few glasses of wine and some food. 

Tillingham

Tillingham vineyard, East Sussex

I’ve learned from bitter experience that children find wine tasting very boring which is why I’ve picked this place. While you taste and practise your best wine speak, they can eat pizza and run around. There are rooms and bell tents to sleep in in the summer. It’s run by a maverick called Ben Walgate (seated above) who makes delicious idiosyncratic wine and cider using Georgian amphora and the like. There’s a real sense of fun about Tillingham.

Chase Distillery in Herefordshire

Chase Distillery, Herefordshire

The Chase family is all about potatoes. First it was crisp, Tyrell’s. Then they sold that business to do something a bit different, make vodka. And they turned out to be rather good at it winning awards left, right and centre. The distillery, set in the heart of Herefordshire cider country, now produces a range of spirits including gin, apple brandy and liqueurs. The distillery itself with its huge column still (once the tallest in Europe) at the centre looks spectacular and it’s worth a visit even if you’re not a booze nerd.

The Lakes Distillery in Cumbria

The Lakes Distillery, Cumbria

One of the perennial questions for tourists in England is what to do when it’s raining in the Lake District, which is often. Well, instead of sitting in a tea room reading Wordsworth, you should instead visit the Lakes Distillery, makers of first class single malt whisky. It’s really set-up for tourism with a fine restaurant and cafe on the site. Take a guided tour and then sample some of the sherry-cask whiskies created by ex-Macallan whisky maker Dhaval Gandhi. You won’t want the rain to stop. 

Shepherd Neame Faversham in Kent

Shepherd Neame Brewery, Kent

There’s something magical about towns like Faversham in Kent that are dominated by a large family brewer. The sprawling Shepherd Neame site sits in the centre of this beautiful medieval market town and permeates the whole place with the sweet smell of malted barley. The company dates back to the 17th century and is still in family hands.It’s the home of perhaps Kent’s most famous beer, Spitfire, as well as great strong beers like Bishop’s Finger and 1698.

Adnams Copper House Distillery

Adnams Brewery and Distillery, Suffolk

Another two for the price of one visit here as Adnams not only produces a delicious selection of Suffolk ales, but there’s also a distillery. The company was a pioneer of English whisky when it began distilling in 2010, so they have some properly mature whisky now for you to sample. Our favourite is probably the malted rye. Adnams also has a wine merchant arms, so they’ve got the booze business pretty well covered. It all takes place in Southwold, one of the prettiest seaside towns in the country so we’d recommend staying for a couple of days. In a pub owned by Adnams, naturally. 

Haymans Gin

Hayman’s Gin, London 

If you love gin then you have to visit Hayman Distillers in south London. The family has been distilling for generations, they are descended from James Burrough who created Beefeater gin, but the name Hayman’s only appeared on a bottle in 2004. Then in 2018, they opened this gin palace in Balham to produce a range of true London dry gins. Visitors can learn about the history of distilling in the capital,  admire the gleaming stills, and find out how gin is made. Or if that sounds a bit too strenuous, you can just enjoy the best gin and tonic in London at the bar.

Glenfarclas Distillery, mountain background

Glenfarclas Distillery, Speyside

Whisky fans are spoiled for choice in Speyside, the home of Glenlivet, Macallan and Balvenie, but there’s something particularly special about Glenfarclas. It might be because it’s one of the very few single malt whisky producers that is family owned, by the Grant family since the 19th century. Or it might be because the old ways are preserved here, like direct-fired stills, long-ageing in sherry casks and damp earth-floored warehouses, not because they look picturesque but because they make whisky with character. 

Ramsbury Distillery/ Brewery in Wiltshire

Ramsbury Estate, Wiltshire 

The Ramsbury Estate is a mecca for food and drink lovers. Covering nearly 20,000 acres of beautiful Wiltshire countryside, the farm raises cattle, pigs and deer, and grows wheat, barley, rapeseed, and other crops. Best of all, you can visit the on-site brewery and distillery which makes first-rate gin, vodka, and beer all made from scratch (no bought in grain alcohol here) largely using estate-grown produce. Nothing is wasted: leftovers from gin distillation are even used to cure venison to make charcuterie!

1 Comment on Ten great British booze destinations 

The Nightcap: 14 May

On The Nightcap: 14 May edition we’re raising a can for our grans, taking a look at some shiny new Welsh whisky developments and looking at the curious case of…

On The Nightcap: 14 May edition we’re raising a can for our grans, taking a look at some shiny new Welsh whisky developments and looking at the curious case of the Chernobyl apple brandy.

It’s a brave new world, folks. Today we’re going live with our first Master of Malt Clubhouse room at 3 pm. It’s called The Nightcap (because it wasn’t broke, so why fix it?) and we’ll be discussing all of the below and anything else that has caught our eye over the last week. Each week we’ll have special guests joining us to talk about another topic as well. Today it’s our wonderful former editor and now head of spirits at Fine and RareKristiane Sherry and Blair Bowman, drinks writer and founder of World Whisky Day (which is tomorrow). So, if you have the Clubhouse, just search for the Master of Malt club and join us for a fun afternoon of chat.

The MoM blog was as busy as ever this week as we launched a new competition with the fab folk at Zespri kiwis, featured a new contributor in the form of booze sage Richard Legg (who demystifies one of Japan’s lesser-known spirits) and we tackled some big issues such as chill-filtration and how distilleries can become more sustainable. We also celebrated the upcoming World Whisky Day with a range of delicious drams, a new spectacular Talisker release and a weighty cocktail. There was also time to enjoy a refreshing gin Spritz and to run the rule on our favourite bars with a view

Now, let’s get Nightcapping!

Aber Falls first whisky is here, or nearly here

Aber Falls first whisky is here, or nearly here

Aber Falls’ first whisky is (nearly) here!

We were fortunate enough to join an online tasting to try the much-anticipated first whisky release from Aber Falls. It’s North Wales’ first whisky in over 100 years. But not only did we get to try the whisky, more on that at the moment, but managing director James Wright was joined by top Welsh chef Ellis Barrie who cooked with Welsh ingredients. There was definitely a Welsh theme to the tasting so you won’t be surprised to learn that Aber Falls’ whisky is made from only Welsh barley. You can read about the whole process here. The first three-year-old release was aged in a combination of European oak first-fill PX casks with some virgin American oak. So far so conventional, but the team are also using some European oak casks that once held orange wine (a liqueur-like beverage made from oranges). The result is a young whisky that’s just packed with flavour. There’s a distinct orange and toffee note on the nose, a full body and it’s bottled at a nice punchy 46% ABV. Excitingly, there’s an all orange wine cask strength whisky on the horizon. Wright said the aim was to “put a bit of love in the glass, so when you try it everybody loves it.” The first release will be coming to Master of Malt soon but we don’t think it’s going to hang about for long as only 2,000 bottles have been filled. Keep watching that New Arrivals page.

The Nightcap: 14 May

You know it’s a Penderyn distillery when there’s a Faraday still there!

Penderyn opens new £5 Million distillery

A big week for Welsh whisky just got even bigger with the news that on Monday Penderyn will open the doors to its new £5 million Lloyds Street distillery in Llandudno, North Wales. The brand is expanding its operation with the opening of the second site, which has plenty of history. It’s housed in the Grade II listed Old Board School built in 1887 and receives natural spring water from a reservoir that once served the Victorian lighthouse on the Great Orme headland. But what whisky fans will be most excited to know is that it will be the first modern Welsh distillery to focus on creating peated single malt whisky. A new Faraday still (unique to Penderyn) has been installed too. The distillery is also a bonus for Wales’ modest whisky tourism scene, which might explain why the project was assisted by a £1.4 million Welsh Government grant from the ‘Tourism Investment Scheme’ and the ‘Food Business Investment scheme’. According to Penderyn Distillery’s CEO, Stephen Davies, while Penderyn has always had a “loyal following in North Wales, with the South separated from the North by mountains and lakes, Penderyn has finally brought the country together”. He added, “By opening in Llandudno, visited by 9.6 million tourists every year, we’re saying ‘Welcome home to Wales and to Penderyn’. Tours of Penderyn’s new distillery in Lloyd Street, Llandudno will commence from the 1st June 2021 and once everything is truly back up and running, expects to invite about 60,000 visitors a year. We’d love to be one of them.

The Nightcap: 14 May

Chivas Brothers employs a lot of staff across its multiple distilleries, like Strathisla

Chivas Brothers faces strike action

A dispute over pay has led workers at Chivas Brothers to vote in favour of industrial action after talks between the unions and the distiller collapsed. The GMB and Unite unions claim Chivas’ parent company, Pernod Ricard, has been unwilling to lift a pay freeze in Scotland while awarding pay rises to its workers in France earlier this year. Strike action could begin before the end of May, unless Chivas came up with an improved offer, with 84.4% of members backing strike action and 92.7% supporting action short of a strike. The situation wasn’t exactly helped by Pernod Ricard announcing promising financial results at the end of April. Scotland union organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Chivas workers across Scotland have kept the profits rolling in throughout this pandemic, but also against the headwinds of Brexit and a tariffs war with the US. They deserve much better than a real-terms pay cut.” The Scotch whisky giant, whose brands include Glenlivet, Ballantine’s and Royal Salute, employs about 1,600 workers in Scotland, including at the Kilmalid bottling hall, Strathclyde Grain Distillery, Glenlivet and maturation sites in Speyside, Clydebank and Ayrshire. Chivas chairman and chief executive Jean-Christophe Coutures the firm is “deeply disappointed” with the move and that the current proposals are “fair”, and recognise the “hard work of our teams whilst responsibly managing our business for the years ahead”. He added the brand is committed to seeking a resolution. Let’s hope a satisfactory solution is found soon.

The Nightcap: 14 May

An artist’s impression of the revived Rosebank distillery

Rosebank seeking distillery manager

If you’re a fan of Scotch whisky, you’ll almost certainly know Ian Macleod Distillers (IMD). The third-generation family-owned whisky and spirits business owns brands such as Glengoyne, Tamdhu, Edinburgh Gin and Rosebank Distillery, which it bought in 2017, Since then the brand has been working hard on bringing the ‘King of the Lowlands’ back to life. Those plans are clearly accelerating as a job advert inviting people to apply for a new distillery manager was posted recently. The brand is looking for someone with experience, leadership and “an appetite and desire to support bringing personality and a human ‘face’, to our exquisite brand”. In the application, there’s a whole list of ‘key outputs’ and ‘role capabilities’ outlined, including the requirement for a degree level or equivalents such as BSc in Brewing and Distilling. “The distillery manager will be the production leader for our entire Rosebank site, and the success of the production at Rosebank will rest squarely on this person’s shoulders… what an exciting opportunity for an experienced distillery manager to bring back to life this beautiful spirit (well we think so anyway!).” You can apply here if you fancy throwing your hat in the ring, but we’d imagine this will be going to a name we all know. 

The Nightcap: 14 May

Grab a pint and celebrate our golden oldies!

Raise a can for your gran with Brixton Brewery

The pandemic put a strain on a great many services, as Age UK Lambeth knows all too well. Over lockdown, it saw a 233% growth in demand for its services, from 21,000 people to 70,000 people. To honour the key role the local charity plays and to raise money to help with future endeavours Brixton Brewery has created a new beer. The IPA, Generation Pale Ale, is a celebration of the older people, “who are as likely to enjoy a great night out in a pub with a pint as any young whippersnapper”. All proceeds are going to Age UK’s vital services and the beer has been officially approved by its members. The ingredients were donated to the brewery by Charles Faram Hop Merchants and Simpsons Malt to reduce costs and increase proceeds. The beer name and design feature a shopping trolley/boom box for “kickass grandmas and granddads”, and the campaign champions the many faces (and ages) of beer drinkers. Among them is Peter Beaumont, 68, who was model scouted at 65, and has worked with Vivienne Westwood and Vidur Dindayal, 86, who is aiming to pip Justin Bieber to top spot in the charts. Founder of Brixton Brewery Xochitl Benjamin said: “We wanted to create a beer for everyone, that could bring together people of all ages after a long lockdown, and pay tribute to the generation that has helped make Brixton one of the most diverse, inclusive and friendly communities in the country. Brixton wouldn’t be what it is today without them. Every can sold supports long lives well lived in our community.” To purchase Generation Pale Ale in aid of Age UK Lambeth, visit the Brixton Brewery website or head to their taproom in the heart of Brixton and get ready to raise a can for (or with) your gran!

The Nightcap: 14 May

Edrington and Beam Suntory have agreed to some significant swapsies

Beam Suntory and Edrington switch distribution firms

Big trade news came from Edrington and Beam Suntory this week, who have agreed to swap equity stakes in their jointly-owned distribution firms in the UK and Spain. An equity swap is essentially a transaction in which the obligations or debts of a company or individual are exchanged for something of equal value. Like that equity stuff. Lots of lovely, shiny equity. The move means The Macallan owner Edrington will take full ownership of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, while Beam Suntory will become the owner of Maxxium Spain. The agreement is effective from 2 August 2021, subject to regulatory approval. The new agreement will see Edrington-Beam Suntory UK become Edrington UK Distribution, known as Edrington UK. Which is handy as the previous name was quite a mouthful. The press release reckons the move will allow both firms to “reduce complexity, improve agility, make decisive investments and expand opportunities for employees as both businesses become part of larger international companies”. Which are all good things. Right? This kind of marketing isn’t really our speed, to be honest. We do know that it’s great that when the deal is done Edrington will employ more than 1,200 people in the UK, mainly in Scotland, with 35 workers based in London. Folks who love a bit of trade detail will also note the deal marks the first time that Beam Suntory will have full ownership of its route to market in Spain. Hopefully, all this means we’ll have plenty of new and delicious booze to enjoy. Because that’s what we’re all in it for in the end.

The Nightcap: 14 May

200 bottles of wine were sunk off the Kent coast in the name of experimental ageing

English wine merchant ages wines underwater, for some reason

Last week it was wine aged in space, now it’s wine aged underwater. Is there no end to the craziness of the wine trade? This later venture is from online retailer The English Vine, no prizes for guessing its speciality. The company has sunk 200 bottles of wine including some from Ridgeview, Nyetimber and Chapel Down off the Kent coast. The idea is to see how ageing underwater affects the wines. They called in the help of the Whitstable Oyster Company to help get the gyrating palate of wine out to sea on 23 April. With wine sometimes recovered intact and drinkable from shipwrecks, there’s interest in how a dark, high-pressure environment might change the wines. Neil Walker, founder of The English Vine explained: “We were all inspired by the shipwreck Champagne bottle story and the underwater wine ageing process felt like something we wanted to investigate and really get to the bottom of. Is this a myth, or really something which could work? We can’t wait to get the results in spring 2022, whatever they may be, when we’ll have expert tasters and scientists working together to find out what it’s all about”. Walker is inspired in particular by a haul of Veuve Clicquot that spent 70 years beneath the Baltic before being recovered in 2010. We can’t help thinking, however, that only a year beneath the waves is not going to make a noticeable difference. Still great PR for The English Vine!

The Nightcap: 14 May

Whisky fans from Turriff to Tokyo to celebrate Speyside

Fans across the globe celebrate Spirit of Speyside festival

We think it’s fair to say the virtual Spirit of Speyside Festival which ran from 27 April to 2 May this year was a success. 688 guests from 15 countries from around the world logged into the online event, joining virtual booths hosted by distillery managers, brand ambassadors, and whisky experts to chat with like-minded whisky lovers. The festival saw 2,877 visits to the 20 available booths, with guests using a total of 2,254 emojis and enjoying drams from 836 tasting kits. Of all the events, Benriach’s ‘World of Flavour’ proved to be the top pick of the festival as global brand ambassador Stewart Buchanan led a tasting of the core range and gave views a sneak peek behind the scenes of the new visitor centre in Elgin. Virtual distillery tours were also high on the agenda for visitors, with tours of Benromach and Tamdhu distilleries being the second and third most popular events. “This year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival might have been very different from years gone by, but the distilleries rallied to create one of our most engaging and internationally visited events in our 21-year history,” says James Campbell, chairman of the festival. “With guests from every corner of the globe from Australia to the Philippines, Canada, Germany, Mexico and across the UK, whisky lovers rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the whisky industry”. We also attended a few events and very much enjoyed ourselves. Although we’re certainly still looking forward to being there in person when it runs again from 3-8 November 2021… . In real life! Imagine that.

Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson

Tristan Stephenson and Thomas Aske, they ain’t afraid of dragons

Whisky Me wows Dragon’s Den

A whisky subscription service looks set for the big time after it secured backing from all three ‘dragons’, Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani, on BBC1’s Dragons’ Den this week. It’s called Whisky Me and it was set up in 2017 by drinks biz stalwarts Thomas Aske (Black Rock and other bars) and Tristan Stephenson (aka the Curious Bartender). When we spoke to Stephenson earlier this year, he said that business has been booming during lockdown so seeking outside investment was the logical next step. Meadon, Jones and Lalvani have taken 15% of the business in return for £75,000 worth of investment. Apparently, this is only the sixth time when all three ‘dragons’ (do we have to keep calling them ‘dragons’?) have come in on the same deal. Meaden praised the boys’ pitch, Peter Jones said he’d “been waiting for a great whisky business”, while Lalvani said that he shared “a passion for whisky with the guys.” So it sounds like a good fit. Stephenson commented: “We are incredibly excited to have three dragons on board. The expertise that Deborah, Peter and Tej bring to Whisky Me will help take the business to the next level, enabling us to further develop our UK market and expand the club internationally.” And Aske added: “We’ve seen a huge shift in the last year towards better drinking at home, which is a natural reaction to many of our favourite bars and pubs being closed. With this investment we can grow Whisky Me further, introducing amazing whisky to a bigger audience of curious drinkers everywhere.” Sounds like we haven’t heard the last of Whisky Me.

The Nightcap: 14 May

There’s no more than just castles in these rolling hills

Archaeologists find illegal whisky stills 

Archaeologists have discovered 30 sites that they believe were used to produce illegal whisky in Aberdeenshire and Wester Ross this week. According to the Evening Express, the illicit stills found at Mar Lodge and Torridon date back to the 19th century and would have produced whisky for smuggling, selling and stocking unlicensed private houses, known as shebeens. Researchers were able to use old accounts of excisemen to help them find the sites which were well-hidden in hills, deep in the countryside. “Landscape is absolutely key to the illicit distilling process – it provides barley and water as ingredients, and peat and timber for fuel, stone and turf to construct bothies,” says Derek Alexander, head archaeologist at the National Trust for Scotland. “But also the more broken-up and rugged the landscape the less easy it is to find where the bothies have been built and where equipment might be stored or hidden.” It’s Alexander’s belief that whole communities were involved with these illegal stills to spread the cost and minimise risks. It is also thought that, while 30 sites have been uncovered, hundreds more exist in those rolling hills. Let’s hope they find them and uncover their ancient secrets!

The Nightcap: 14 May

This might just be the most bonkers bottle ever featured on The Nightcap. And that’s going some.

And finally… Chernobyl brandy seized by authorities

A brandy made from apples grown near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been seized by Ukrainian authorities according to the BBC. It’s all a bit mysterious but it seems that it has been held up on its journey to the UK not because of its atomic provenance but for bureaucratic reasons. Professor Jim Smith from the Chernobyl Spirit Company commented: “It seems that they are accusing us of using forged Ukrainian excise stamps, but this doesn’t make sense since the bottles are for the UK market and are clearly labelled with valid UK excise stamps.” This isn’t the first time Prof. Smith has hit the headlines, as we reported on the release of Atomik Vodka back in 2019. According to Smith, it was made from “slightly contaminated” rye but after radioactivity levels are “below their limit of detection.” Chernobyl Spirit Company conducts research into whether the contaminated area about the plant can be used for safe agriculture and helps communities in Ukraine that are still affected by the economic consequences of the 1986 explosion. It seems though, that the team is not finding it easy to sell its atomic spirits. We cannot think why.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 14 May

English wineries to visit this summer

Staycations are the 2021 holiday. And although we might be missing out on some exotic booze from foreign climes, there’s plenty to get excited about in ol’ Blighty – particularly…

Staycations are the 2021 holiday. And although we might be missing out on some exotic booze from foreign climes, there’s plenty to get excited about in ol’ Blighty particularly when it comes to visiting English wineries.

From dinner among the vines to fizz flights and afternoon tea picnics, English wineries are bringing their A game for visitors. And you don’t even need to get on a plane! Hurray!

For readers in the South East, there are now so many vineyards that you could easily do a week of day trips or even boujie your way around boutique hotels – many of them even owned by wine producers.

Anyway, here are five of our favourites to get the fizz flowing:

Licensed to Rathfinny Estate for worldwide, non restricted use.

The view across the vines at Rathfinny

Rathfinny 

A few miles in-land from the Sussex coast, Rathfinny is a giant among English wine producers. For an adventure (and to work up an appetite), get off the train at Seaford and walk for about 1.5hrs across the Downs to the winery.

There’s plenty on offer and guests can plan the ultimate food and wine getaway with packages including bed and breakfast in the Flint Barns. There’s a plate to suit all tastes – with wine tasting and dinner in either the gastro pub-style Dining Room or the Michelin Plate Tasting Room restaurant.

Summer al fresco dining options include picnic boxes, an antipasti bar and wine and nibbles on the Tasting Room balcony.

New for 2021

All menus are brand new, created by estate head chef, Chris Bailey who has come up with “contemporary dishes inspired by freshest, seasonal British produce”.

Two new Sussex Sparkling vintages: the second release of the house-style vintage 2017 Classic Cuvée and the new limited-production release of the 2017 Blanc de Blancs.

Hush Heath winery

The spectacular Hush Heath winery in Kent

Balfour Winery 

Balfour, located on the Hush Heath Estate, is a destination for lovers of a nature walk. You can take a stroll through the 400-acre estate, which features vineyards, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands, or join an expert-led tour and tasting experience. The Balfour Brut Rosé is a good bet for enjoying on the terrace – and the shop even offers a magnum for the 2016, perfect if you’re having six people round to the garden, say.

Top tip

This is a great place to take friends who aren’t necessarily big wine fans. The estate also features Jake’s Drinks – a collection of beers and ciders made using local ingredients. For example, the ciders are made with 100% juice from the Kentish dessert apples Russet, Cox and Bramley.

Balfour also owns a few pubs across Kent and Sussex, many with hotel rooms. Why not make a weekend tour of it?

Bus at Hambledon

Hambledon has an actual wine bus

Hambledon 

This is England’s first commercial vineyard of the modern era, planted in 1952 – and the treat for visitors here is the underground cellars, cut straight into the chalk. MoM recommends a sparkling afternoon tea tour for two, which includes a tour and tasting as well as a picnic and a glass of Classic Cuvée Rosé. Or if seafood tickles your tentacles, the vineyard will feature an oyster and fizz bar later in the summer.

Champagne fans should try the Première Cuvée  – this Non Vintage is a blend of 73% Chardonnay, 24% Pinot Noir and 3% Pinot Meunier.

New for 2021

Dine in the vines! Hambledon will be hosting a series of al fresco dining experiences over the summer, centred around English fizz and Hampshire produce, including

smoked chalk stream trout, cheeses and charcuterie.

And as luck would have it, the vine rows are 2.2m wide, so with tables in alternate rows, you are naturally socially distanced. (As someone who prefers to be naturally socially distanced, this is music to my ears.)

Chapel Down Kit's Coty Vineyard

Chapel Down’s famous Kit’s Coty vineyard

Chapel Down 

Situated in the Kent countryside, near Tenterden, Chapel Down will be opening for vineyard tours again from 19 May 2021. There will be a variety of experiences on offer from guided tours, wine tastings, masterclasses and food and drink experiences combining a meal in The Swan restaurant.

New for 2021

“We’re in the process of releasing five new 2020 vintages of some of our best-selling wines, all of which will be available in store to sample along with others from our award winning range,” says Chapel Down’s Guy Tresnan​, retail and export director. Wowsers, FIVE!

Grape picking at Sharpham

Grape picking at Sharpham in Dorset

Sharpham 

This Devon estate is one for cheese fans. We recommend the Guided Tasting, which includes four wines and two cheeses – as well as a tour through the different wine making processes at Sharpham. Cheese comes from the Sharpham Dairy, which is famous for Sharpham Brie, made with fresh milk from the creamery’s Jersey herd.

New for 2021

Sharpham Summer Sparkling Wine has just landed for summer. It is a blend of estate grown Dornfelder and Pinot Noir red grapes from the 2011 and 2012 vintages. Sharpham calls it “a lost batch” that was rediscovered while moving to the new winery at Sandridge Barton in 2020.

That must’ve been a happy discovery.

The wine is described as “soft and spritzy with fruit salad, peach yogurt and strawberry characteristics”. Summer in a bottle.

See you for a scone in the vineyard

The great thing about English wineries is that they have grown up realising the importance of visitor experiences. This makes them well equipped to offer wonderful days out with world-class wines. And if ever there was a year to support them, as well as find fun things to do in the UK, this is it. 

No Comments on English wineries to visit this summer

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

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

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

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

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

Mother’s Day gifts from Team MoM

Lauren Cremin, Fulfilment Assistant: Mór Irish Gin

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

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

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

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

Emma and her Mother's Day recommendation, Hermitage Cognac

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

Henry Jeffreys, Features Editor: Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jess Williamson, Content Assistant: Bathtub Gin

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

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

Guy Hodcroft, Buyer: Foursquare Spiced Rum

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

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

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

 

No Comments on What we’re treating our mums to this Mother’s Day

The Nightcap: 23 October

Friday has finally arrived, and you know what that means! It’s time to pour yourself a dram and catch up on another busy week of boozy news with The Nightcap….

Friday has finally arrived, and you know what that means! It’s time to pour yourself a dram and catch up on another busy week of boozy news with The Nightcap.

This week we received some devastating news. Fungie, the world’s oldest solitary dolphin, has not been seen in his 37-year Dingle Harbour home for over a week. The unlikely local celebrity appeared in the seaside town in Kerry, Ireland, in 1983 and he’s been a mainstay of Dingle ever since, becoming a major tourist attraction who even has his own Wikipedia page. News like this really makes you appreciate how quickly things can change and why we take comfort in the things that are always there for us. Like a weekly round-up of news from the drinks industry. Never leave us, sweet Nightcap. Speaking of which, let’s get on with it, there’s plenty to get your teeth into this week!

The MoM blog was jam-packed with boozy goodness, as usual, this week, including the launch of a new #BagThisBundle competition, this time with five bottles of delicious James Eadie whisky, aged up to 26 years, up for grabs. Ian Buxton then returned to outline how your taxes help small distillers, Henry learnt about why it’s been a difficult vintage in the Douro valley and Annie marked 20 years of Compass Box. Adam then continued our Sober October coverage by casting a spotlight on the mimic masters, Lyre’s, tasted the first single malt from the Milk & Honey distillery and recommended some devilishly delicious drinks for Halloween. Jess, meanwhile, welcomed Silent Pool’s shiny new Rare Citrus Gin, while our Cocktail of the Week is a real labour of love which  Aaron Wall, co-owner of London bar Homeboy, talks us through.

The Nightcap

Congratulations on your new role, Richard!

Wolfcraig Distillery appoints Richard Paterson as master blender

Fresh from announcing the plans for its upcoming £15m distillery, Wolfcraig has dropped another huge news bomb: Richard Paterson has been appointed as its master blender. Whyte & Mackay fans need not panic, however, as he will continue his commitments to the brand he recently celebrated his 50th anniversary with. The press reveals that it was Paterson’s “continued passion for Scotch Whisky” that drew him to the Wolfcraig project, which will allow him to play “a leading role in the foundation of a new distillery, in the heart of Scotland”. Paterson, a third-generation master blender who followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, is one of the most highly regarded greatest whisky makers of his generation, even being nicknamed “the nose” for his olfactory skills, so it’s quite a signing for Wolfcraig. How did they do it? Well, Wolfcraig co-founder Michael Lunn is the former chairman and chief executive of Whyte & Mackay Group, so maybe this appointment wasn’t so out of the blue after all. “This will be an opportunity for me to use all the knowledge I have learned over 55 years in the business to create a truly exceptional Highland single malt, one that can be enjoyed the world over,” Paterson said. We look forward to seeing what you create, sir. If you need anyone whose free for taste tests, you know where we are…

The Nightcap

Guinness 0.0 is described as “the Guinness with everything, except alcohol”

Guinness launches non-alcoholic beer

Ever longed for the taste of a fresh (properly poured) pint of Guinness but didn’t want to consume alcohol. Well, you’re in luck, because Diageo’s colossus Irish stout brand has announced the launch of a new expression this week: Guinness 0.0, “the Guinness with everything, except alcohol”. Apparently, it was made using the same ingredients as the original; water, barley, hops and yeast, except that the alcohol is then removed using cold filtration. This process is said to avoid the pitfalls of presenting thermal stress to the beer, “protecting the integrity of its taste and character”. You’d like to think the brewers at St. James’s Gate got this one right because the press release says this zero-alcohol beer was made following a four-year process led by the technical and innovation teams at the brand’s home. “Guinness has always had an unwavering commitment to quality and our entire brewing team is hugely proud of the care and effort that has been put into the four-year development process for Guinness 0.0,” says Aisling Ryan, innovation brewer (sweet job title) at St James’s Gate. “We have created a taste experience that we believe is truly unrivalled in the world of non-alcoholic beer and we can’t wait for people to finally be able to try it!” Guinness 0.0 will be available in pubs across Ireland and Great Britain from Spring 2021 and in more markets throughout the world later in 2021.

The Nightcap

We were given a little taste of the special 30-year-old Rosebank whisky. We enjoyed it

Rosebank releases 30-year-old whisky from 1990

We’ve been eagerly following the revival of the legendary Rosebank distillery in the Lowlands so we were very pleased to be given a sample of a very special single malt from before the distillery closed in 1993. Called Release One, it’s a 30-year-old single malt with only 4,350 bottles made. Every year, Ian MacLeod, the distillery’s now owners, will release a vintage until the whisky from the revived Rosebank is available. As you can imagine, it’s quite expensive, £1,600, but is it any good? Well, in a word, yes. It’s very pale and for such an old whisky, the wood is in no way overpowering. There are delicate peach and lemon fruit all wrapped up with crème brûlée, cinnamon and almonds, with a finish you can taste ten minutes later. Truly, a dram to savour. Robbie Hughes, group distillation manager explained a little further: “It was matured in 62% refill sherry butts and 38% refill bourbon hogsheads for decades, patiently waiting to be awoken, and delivers layers of incredible flavour that you won’t find in other whiskies.” Furthermore, the first 200 buyers to scan a QR code on Release One will be able to enjoy a dram of Release Two at certain outlets (to be confirmed) as well as an early chance to buy a bottle of it. And that’s not all! To celebrate this release, Ian MacLeod has produced a video of top whisky writers including Felipe Schrieberg and Alice Lascelles talking about Rosebank. You are really spoiling us now! At the moment, Release One is only available directly from the distillery but we will let you know if MoM is lucky enough to get any in. 

The Nightcap

English wine producers are very excited about this year’s harvest (photo courtesy of Chapel Down)

2020: a quality year for English wine

This year English wine has snatched triumph from the jaws of defeat. In spring it looked like the vintage would be a disaster with severe frosts damaging delicate buds. But the day was saved by an unusually warm summer (remember that?) and a September heatwave leading to one of the earliest harvests on record. While there hasn’t been a repeat of the bumper grape crops seen in the last two years, there’s an air of excitement among producers with a harvest described as “corking”. Ian Edwards, co-owner of Furleigh Estate in Dorset said: “The quality of the grapes this year is excellent. It’s the ripest fruit we have had in 15 years of growing.” This quality harvest has coincided with a huge increase in visitor numbers to English wineries which, in the midst of difficult economic conditions, has given producers a much needed dose of positivity. Adam Williams, sales director at the Hush Heath Estate in Kent commented: “The increase in visitors to our cellar has been extremely encouraging… all our tours, tastings and dinners remain fully booked. A positive story amongst all this doom and gloom! One can only hope all this adds up to a big boom in English wine!” We are pretty sure it will.

The Nightcap

The face paint comes separately.

Rock band Kiss releases debut rum

Get set to rock and rum all nite – iconic and heavily made-up brand Kiss has released its first expression! Kiss Black Diamond Premium Black Rum is made using Caribbean liquid aged for up to 15 years and references the closing song on the band’s eponymous debut 1974 album. Swedish spirits producer Brands for Fans is behind the release and says the bottling offers apricot, date, vanilla fudge, cinnamon and chocolate notes, along, interestingly, with arrack vibes. The zazzy label references the band’s costumes and aforementioned make-up from the early days, making it a nostalgic treat as well as a tasty one. “It’s an amazing match for a band who were pioneers both musically and visually in the world of rock ’n’ roll,” said Brands for Fans’ Sari H. Wilholm. “When I taste this rum by KISS and look at the bottle, I feel proud of what we’ve achieved with this product. It’s damn good. Listening to Black Diamond still gives me the chills, and the rum makes me just as excited!” It’s available in Sweden now for the equivalent of £33, and it should land at MoM Towers soon!

The Nightcap

A paradise where beautiful rum is made. Why aren’t we living there?!

Takamaka Rum announces distillery expansion

Takamaka Bay Rum will unveil a slick new look in November as it completes a major expansion of its Seychelles-based distillery. The family-owned brand, which has also launched a brand redesign, new bottle and an increase in its international distribution, has added new stainless steel and copper column stills to facilitate the production of molasses rum. Takamaka already makes traditional pure cane sugar pot still rum at its facility in La Plaine St Andre, but can now make 250,000 litres per annum of molasses rum. Given there’s no sugar industry in the Seychelles, the molasses is sourced from East Africa. A new visitor centre will also allow visitors the chance to learn about the rum’s production and the 228-year-old heritage site the distillery is located in, “This expansion is a pivotal part of our plans as a business,” says Richard D’Offay, Takamaka co-founder. “Not only will it allow us to showcase our amazing rum, and how it is produced, to guests visiting the Seychelles, it has also been designed to be scalable to allow for larger production as we increase our international distribution and emerge into new territories.” 

The Nightcap

A 100% sherry-aged, cask strength so rich you can stand a spoon up in. Now we’re talking

Cotswolds latest whisky is sherry heaven  

Cotswolds Distillery has just announced its richest whisky yet. How rich is it? Well imagine Bill Gates marrying the Queen, and you’re nearly there. It’s fully aged in sherry casks, both American and Spanish oak hogsheads and butts, seasoned with both Oloroso and PX sherry. It’s then bottled at a mighty 57.4% ABV. So how does it taste? Pretty rich, as you’d expect. The nose is all about muscovado sugar, dark cherries and chocolate, and the palate is so thick you could stand a spoon up in it, but, paradoxically, that big ABV keeps the richness under control. The finish is all sticky toffee pudding, dark chocolate and pungent gingery spice. Head of production Nickolas Franchino commented: “I love a sherry cask whisky as it is one of the truly iconic single malt whisky styles. Good sherry casks give rich, fruity, spicy and nutty flavours that marry perfectly with the underlying malt character and are a joy to savour.” Available only direct from the distillery, you don’t need to be an oligarch to buy a bottle, all this richness comes in at a very reasonable £64.95.

The Nightcap

We won’t be stocking any sherry as big as the one pictured, before any of you ask (Image credit: Rob Johnson)

And finally… Fake news is so 2016. This year, it’s all about Fake Booze

You may have seen some rather surprising headlines doing the rounds on drinks social media: “Shock find at Jerez dig proves that dinosaurs ‘invented sherry’”, “Bacardi Bat latest victim of Coronavirus” or “Rum celebrates 100 years as ‘next big thing”, and thought that the world has gone mad. Well, it has, but these headlines are in fact creations of a new site that describes itself as the “world’s first satirical drinks magazine”. Called, naturally, Fake Booze, and with the motto “Like Truth But Better”, it is dedicated to mocking an industry that can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously. It’s the creation of former Imbibe editor, booze enthusiast and all-round amusing human Chris Losh. He told us: “It’s basically a chance to raise an eyebrow at the world of drinks the inconsistencies, the misplaced ego and the well-intentioned plans that go awry. Sometimes it’s sharp, sometimes it’s whimsical but I’d hope that it comes from a place of affection not anger”. Thank you, Chris! In these dark times, what we need is a good dose of Fake Booze. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 23 October

Five minutes with. . .  Mark Harvey from Chapel Down 

English wine is on a bit of a roll at the moment and the country’s largest producer, Chapel Down, is based right here in Kent. But that’s not all, it…

English wine is on a bit of a roll at the moment and the country’s largest producer, Chapel Down, is based right here in Kent. But that’s not all, it also makes gin, vodka, beer and cider alongside it’s award-winning wines. We thought it was time to learn a bit more. . . 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, those lines seem particularly apt for English wine. On one hand there’s been booming sales, a run of great harvests and increasing brand recognition by consumers; on the other there’s the uncertainties caused by Brexit and Covid plus a lack of profitability among some producers. One company, however, that looks set to thrive even in today’s uncertain times is Chapel Down. It produces everything from popular still wines to the superb single vineyard Kit’s Coty range which tops out at around £100 a bottle for the prestige Couer de Cuvee. In addition, there is beer, gin, vodka and cider. It’s a one stop shop for all your English drinks needs. Recently we ran a sale on the site of Chapel Down products and were stunned by the response so we thought we’d find out a bit more from the company from managing director Mark Harvey who joined the firm in 2015. 

MoM: How are you finding lockdown at Chapel Down?

MH: It’s a really mixed bag. Our restaurants, shops and tours are all shut. The minute we got the advice, we acted pretty swiftly on that, which felt like the right thing to do. All of the on-trade which is heavy on the beer but lighter on the wine is switched off. Then the retail side, we’re in Majestic, Waitrose, Sainsburys, all that lot, they seem to be doing really well. I mean all the signs are pretty positive. And then online it’s just gone bonkers. I mean, literally, 10-15 times up what it would normally be! 

Mark Harvey, MD of Chapel Down

MoM: How are things in the vineyards?

MH: The vineyards just don’t stop obviously and we’re kind of going through frost season [we spoke to Harvey at the end of April] at the moment, so kind of nervously looking at the ground each morning but so far, we got a little bit of frost last week on one parcel of land, one block of land, but nothing major. But we’re not out of the woods yet so we’ve probably got another two weeks of just looking and checking. But the forecast is good, so that should be all right. Last year’s harvest was so big, we are still processing 2019 wines. This week we are doing all of the Bacchus and then we need to get onto blending the sparkling wines because we will start bottling in, hopefully June if the French guys can come over and do it, or if not it might be a little bit later. But yeah, the vineyards and the winery are dead busy. 

MoM: Are you worried about potential shortage of pickers because of Covid 19 and Brexit? 

MH: That’s an ongoing thing. Lots of this stuff is just really unknown. I saw that there was a plane-load of Romanians coming in a couple of weeks back for the fruit that needs picking now, so whether that will happen with us, I don’t know. We obviously work with external companies, who bring these guys and girls in, so they obviously paint a pretty positive picture, because, why wouldn’t they? If we’re in a bit of a corner come August time, it will be around that time, we will probably look to see if we can get local pickers. 

A team of pickers in the vineyard

MoM: And what’s your background before you joined Chapel Down?

MH: I used to work at LVMH so I sold champagne and spirits. I was in the UK for probably half of that and then I was general manager in Ireland. My last job was business director for the whiskies in the US. 

MoM: You joined Chapel Down in 2015, is that right?

MH: It will be five years in September that I’ve been here. It’s gone really quick actually! I’m kind of the glory boy, it [English wine] was already good when I started but it’s going really well now. This next period will be interesting with corona and on-trade shutting down and all of that, as it will for lots of businesses. But long term you step back from it and the future is pretty rosy.

MoM: Do you think at some point there’s going to be a bit of consolidation in the British wine industry? 

MH: Without doubt, yeah. I think this current crisis might possibly accelerate that. And I think the large harvests of 2018 and ‘19 might make things difficult for some as well. Because up until now, the dynamic has been massive demand and not sufficient supply so lots of people have been planting like crazy and then suddenly we’ve had two whopping harvest in ‘18 and ‘19 and I think it’s going to get tougher. And then it’s brands ultimately that win out. There’s lots of lovely boutique wineries but in terms of brands, with a guy wandering down the Waitrose aisle, how many English wine brands does he know? Not many. And even the top ones, like Chapel Down and Nyetimber, the awareness isn’t that high. I think it’s going to be really interesting and yeah, I think a consolidation in the next few years is inevitable. 

MoM: And in the time that you’ve been in the wine business, English wine has changed massively. What are the factors that have seen it become the industry that it is today?

MH: Oh man, it’s changed out of all recognition. I mean, fundamentally, the wines are really good now. I think site selection at the starting point is really important and that’s got better. The knowledge and the expertise of the guys in the vineyards planting the vines and cultivating and all of that, the establishment of the vineyards has got much better. The guys in the winery have got much better. And it’s a combination of talent coming in so there’s some New World and Champagne guys have come over. And then, in our example, it’s two home-grown talents in Richard Lewis and Josh Donaghay-Spire, our winemaker. They’re graduates of Plumpton, the wine school in Sussex. So the expertise has got a lot better and the resulting wines are better. 

Beyond the production-side, you’ve got more professionalism coming in. So, dare I say it, someone like me coming in from LVMH. You’ve got people from big wine organisations coming in, we recruited a guy from Treasury Wine Estates. I’m a massive believer in brands and I think the fact that the leading players are doing the right thing by the brands. The pricing is right, the bottle looks decent on-shelf, it’s sold in the right channel. English wine as a brand is really well-established. The only fear now is that as more wine comes on-stream, that people do the wrong thing with price and… we’ll just have to see how it goes. 

Head winemaker and Plumpton graduate Josh Donaghay-Spire

MoM: What do you think is going to be the next thing that takes off in English wine?

MH: From a varietal point of view, there will be bits and pieces and innovation round the side and we have had a grower that’s planted some Albariño, that was a bit of fun. Ben Wallgate at Tillingham does some interesting stuff and so there will always be bits and pieces around the outside. I think it’s great that you get that diversity. But actually the two main messages whenever I talk about English wine are ‘the traditional method’ and the link back into Champagne. And then Bacchus on the still side. And those, I think, are the two flags that will keep going for a long time. 

MoM: Do you think still Chardonnay will go mainstream or is it always going to be a premium product?

MH: That’s a good question. I think for us it will always be a premium product actually. Just given the scale of it, the quality of it and we shift it, we’re always after more! So unless somebody comes in and plants a lot more… I mean you never know what’s going to happen but I think Bacchus will continue to be at the entry-point still wine scale and then Chardonnay will tend to be at that more premium price point. Our single vineyard chardonnay is 30 quid, which is obviously premium and we just can’t make enough of it. 

MoM: You’re part of the Wine Garden of England group with other Kent winemakers. Do you think Kentish wine has its own identity? 

MH: Yeah, it’s a really interesting one. I like the Wine Garden of England because I think at core there’s a sort of truth to it which is ‘we all believe that Kent is the best place for growing grapes for traditional method wine – lots of clay, lots of chalk and the right climate. So there’s something to it, we’ve all planted in Kent for a reason, so it’s not made up. It makes sense to hold hands on tourism and attracting people to Kent but personally, I don’t think there’s much merit in complicating it beyond that. I think the smart thing to do is just forge ahead as brands. Kent is part of the makeup of what we do, it’s a bit complicated because we also source grapes from Essex and Sussex. I just think that all of us should just go hell-for-leather on our own brands and then the details of ‘Kent’ and ‘England’ and ‘Britain’, it’s just secondary messaging. I think the most interesting things for consumers are individual brands and stories and provenance and that’s what’s of interest. Whether the fact you have an overriding Kent logo or England logo on the bottle, I just don’t think they care. 

Kit’s Coty, Chapel Down’s most prestigious vineyard

MoM: The other thing I wanted to ask you about was the sparkling Bacchus because that’s quite innovative isn’t it?

MH: It is and controversial in a way as well as it’s carbonated. Bacchus, because it’s fresh and it’s meant to be drunk young, you don’t want the brioche-y notes you get from secondary fermentation, so it just works. And it’s cheaper to make. And the price point is lower. And it’s a bit of fun. And we’ve been really happy with it and we partnered with Waitrose from the start, who have gone gangbusters with it, it’s now in Majestic [it’s done very well through Master of Malt too]. It was flying in the on-trade and it’s irked a bit because it was about to skyrocket in a few national chains, but such is life. But yeah, it’s a cracking product. 

MoM: How did making gin come about?

We started making spirits a couple of years back. We make a grappa from the Chardonnay grape skins that are left at the end of harvest and that’s the base of the vodka. And that’s then blended with English wheat spirit and it’s as simple as that. We’ve got two gins. One is a Bacchus base and the other one is a Pinot Noir base. And then the botanicals mirror the flavour profile of that particular grape varietal. 

MoM: How is the beer side of the business developing?

MH: We opened up a brewery in Ashford last May and that’s going well. The difference between wine and beer is that wine is really heavily weighted on off-trade while beer is weighted on-trade, so beer is tough right now. But then the online sales of everything has gone bananas and we have got some retail. 

MoM: And finally, you do a cider as well don’t you?

MH: Yeah, I’ve just been drinking it actually! Every week, it’s a bit cringey, but I do this cocktail online for Instagram and I’ve just made a ‘Taste of Kent’ which is the Chardonnay vodka blended with the Curious Apple. It’s pretty punchy: 60ml of vodka, 40ml of the cider, poured over ice, two cracks, two twists of black pepper, stir it round and that’s it. But it’s very punchy.

The Chapel Down range is available from Master of Malt.

 

No Comments on Five minutes with. . .  Mark Harvey from Chapel Down 

The Nightcap: 23 November

Oh hi there! You’ve made it to Friday. Well done. Pull up a comfy chair, pour a dram, and give yourself a pat on the back. But before you go…

Oh hi there! You’ve made it to Friday. Well done. Pull up a comfy chair, pour a dram, and give yourself a pat on the back. But before you go into full weekend mode, we have one final thing for you. Yep, The Nightcap is here with the week’s booziest developments in one super handy digestif!

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve has LOADS on this week. MoM Towers has been buzzing. It all kicked off on Monday with #WhiskySanta’s Craigellachie 31 Year Old Super Wish! Then we received news that Brora’s stills have been whisked off for refurbishment ahead of the closed distillery’s reawakening. We kicked off our mega Ardbeg competition on Tuesday (want to visit the distillery? Check out the blog post and you could be away on a jet plane/train/ferry/alternative mode of transport and be Islay-bound!)

That’s not all. Henry got the lowdown on Dandelyan’s final cocktail menu (sob!), Annie caught up with New York Distilling Company’s Allen Katz, and we introduced our delicious Black Friday Deals. Oh, and we launched a tiny little thing called Master of Malt Auctions… Phew.

Enough for now, though. Here are the other need-to-know drinks stories from the week that was!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 23 November

The Nightcap: 27 July

As a bevy of drinks companies post their full-year results, let’s get down to business with this week’s The Nightcap. Greetings from another Friday! You’ve made it through a week,…

As a bevy of drinks companies post their full-year results, let’s get down to business with this week’s The Nightcap.

Greetings from another Friday! You’ve made it through a week, which is always an achievement of note and worthy of commemoration. As you settle into the weekend, do so with a brain full of booze news – get ready for another edition of The Nightcap!

Firstly, let’s look at the week that was here at MoM Towers. Our Annie chatted to whisky industry legend Charles MacLean, and then got us ready for London Mezcal Week by interviewing festival co-founders Thea Cumming and Melanie Symonds. Kristy introduced yet another whisky-based excursion to add to our ever-expanding bucket list with the Hebridean Whisky Trail. Sam said goodbye to Rum Month with a run-down of ace dark rums. Henry showed us why we shouldn’t fear the sommelier, and gave us a look at the new range of Mortlach whiskies due to hit shelves later this year. And finally Sam drilled down into Diageo’s results. On that note, on with The Nightcap booze news and those all-important numbers!

1 Comment on The Nightcap: 27 July

The Nightcap: 13 July

Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not if you follow the world of booze! It’s been an action-packed week, and we have the glorious highlights right here,…

Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not if you follow the world of booze! It’s been an action-packed week, and we have the glorious highlights right here, right now. It’s The Nightcap!

Happy Friday, folks! The weekend is here and it’s time to celebrate with something tasty. Perhaps a delish and straightforward dram. Or, as Beam Suntory was highlighting when we stopped by this week, a Highball in all its glory. Or a G&T, Daiquiri, Margarita… the possibilities are endless. And now we’re distracted.

So. The tumultuous week that was. England tumbled out of the World Cup (at the semi-final stage so we’re still pretty proud here at MoM Towers), Brexit was back in the headlines (did it ever leave?!), and the astonishing Thai Cave rescue came to a successful close (huge respect to the rescue team, and of course we remember Saman Kunan, the brave diver who tragically died while saving others).

No Comments on The Nightcap: 13 July

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