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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Guinness

The Nightcap: 22 April

The working week may have been slimmer but there was no shortage of stories in the post-Bank Holiday period including a new manager at Lagavulin, Guinness has been at the…

The working week may have been slimmer but there was no shortage of stories in the post-Bank Holiday period including a new manager at Lagavulin, Guinness has been at the coffee, and Ballantine’s is doing something with video games. It’s The Nightcap: 22 April edition!

Welcome to another edition of The Nightcap, folks. Here in Kent, the weather is so glorious that we’ve had an idea. The alfresco Nightcap. It’s the same collection of great boozy stories, only you read it on your phone outside and enjoy the sunshine while you do. With a Spritz of some sort. And snacks. We’ll provide the stories as usual. Speaking of which…

On the blog this week we enjoyed all kinds of cracking whisky, from a new exclusive courtesy of Lindores Abbey to some of the finest German spirit on the market from Stork Club. And not forgetting a new Whiskymaker’s Reserve from the Lakes Distillery. It’s the best yet. We also made good use of Grand Marnier’s orangey, Cognac-soaked charm by whipping up The Grand Sour, celebrated the brands that are doing it for themselves, and pondered what the future holds for English whisky.

Now, onto The Nightcap: 22 April edition!

Lagavulin distillery manager

Say hello to Jordan Paisley

Lagavulin has a new distillery manager

We reported back in February there was a distillery manager role going begging at Lagavulin with Pierrick Guillaume leaving to return to France. Well, they have found their man. It’s Jordan Paisley, an Islay native, who is coming home to manage the distillery after an interesting career in the merchant navy where he helped tackle pirates off the coast of Somalia. Makes a change from managing the Port Ellen maltings. He commented: “Coming from Islay, it’s a real source of pride to be given the chance to manage one of Scotland, and the world’s, most iconic distilleries.” We wish him every luck in his role. And what a time to start, just before the madness of Fèis Ìle starts on the 28 May. In a nice touch, Paisley acknowledged his predecessor: “Pierrick has been such a great source of knowledge and support since I joined Diageo. I can’t thank him enough and wish him all the best as he embarks on his next chapter in France”. And we can exclusively reveal that Guillaume will be joining the team at Remy-Cointreau’s Le Domaine des Hautes Glaces whisky distillery in the foothills of the French Alps. Congrats to both whiskymen!

Bladnoch

Congratulants to Bladnoch!

Bladnoch Distillery wins prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise

Bladnoch Distillery announced this week that it has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its excellence in international trade. Only 226 organisations nationally receive the honour and winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards Emblem for the next five years. The Lowland distillery, which has the distinction of being both the oldest privately owned Scotch Whisky distillery and the first ever to be owned by an Australian (equally prestigious, we’re sure you’ll agree), has been revamping its whisky and image since David Prior acquired it in 2015. In export markets such as Germany, China and the USA it has grown over 100% in the last year alone. Bladnoch’s head of commercial, Will Pitchforth, remarked that “the growth of the Bladnoch Distillery business has been a reflection of the dedication to quality and exceptional whisky making, combined with a philosophy, core to our way of working, to conduct business with integrity and fairness, recognised by our network of trusted distributors around the world.”

oldest wine discovered

Ancient wine has been discovered before, but this new discovery may well be the oldest

Oldest evidence of wine in Europe uncovered

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has discovered evidence of prehistoric wine consumption in Philippi, northwest Greece. In what is arguably the oldest evidence of wine in Europe uncovered, the findings of grape seeds and pomace were preserved in a house fire are dated to around 4300 BC (great vintage), give or take a century. While modern science can reveal an awful lot, a lack of written records does make it difficult to create a complete picture of drinking culture from this time. Right now, there’s no telling yet if the grapes were foraged or cultivated, but the uncovered drink suggests wine was common in early-Bronze Age Greece. Maybe one day we’ll be able to revive these vines from the preserved seeds. The question, of course, is not whether we could, but whether we should. 

Tamnavulin white wine

We’re looking forward to tasting this Tamnavulin

Tamnavulin Distillery unveils White Wine Cask Edition

When you’re a distillery that has had great success finishing your whisky in red wine casks, the logical next step is surely to pop your spirit in white wine casks, right? Well, that appears to be thinking at Tamnavulin Distillery anyway, which is capitalising on the popularity of its Red Wine Cask Editions with its latest creation called, naturally, Tamnavulin White Wine Cask Edition. The single malt was matured initially in American white oak barrels, before undergoing its second maturation in Sauvignon Blanc white wine casks, a finish you don’t see too often. The resulting whisky takes that distinctive mellow, sweet orchard fruit profile Tamnavulin spirit has and adds fresh, rich, and dry elements like, ripe honeydew melon, white peach, jasmine, cinnamon spice, ginger, and lime biscuits. All for a single malt that has an RSP of £32. When this one arrives at MoM Towers, we think it’s one to plump for.

Guinness Cold Brew Coffee

It was inevitable really, wasn’t it?

Guinness launches Cold Brew Coffee

Guinness is lovely, isn’t it? So is coffee, come to think of it. Why hasn’t the brand merged the two? Oh, wait. It has. In the brand’s latest creation, ice-cold Guinness meets cold brew coffee in a 440ml can format that will be rolled out to consumers over the coming months. The coffee, which has been steeped in cool water for long periods of time instead of brewed with boiling water, is added to the draught stout alongside additional roasted barley flavours. There’s only 2mg of caffeine per can too, which is the same as a decaf coffee. “We firmly believe we have created a taste experience truly unrivaled in the market and with over 95 million cups of coffee being consumed every day in Great Britain alone, now is the moment to offer a product that plays to an excitingly vast consumer space,” says John Burns, Head of Guinness GB. “There is already a natural connection with coffee notes in Guinness’ signature offerings like Draught and Extra Stout, so the creation of Guinness Cold Brew Coffee Beer was a perfect match.” This move doesn’t mean it’s ok to bring a can on the morning tube, though.

Lindores Abbey STR

Another new whisky!

Lindores Abbey launches another new whisky!

You would think after launching one whisky this week, Lindores Abbey would sit back a little and enjoy the results. But there’s no rest for the wicked at the Lowland distillery it would seem as the brand is following up its single sherry cask release with a whisky matured exclusively in STR wine barriques. The Spanish casks are one of the three core styles used at Lindores and have undergone the shave, toasted, and re-charred process pioneered by Dr. Jim Swan, who worked with the distillery before his passing. The new bottling is the second installment of the “Casks of Lindores” series and, as with all of its whiskies, the release is non-chill-filtered, of natural colour, and bottled on-site at Lindores Abbey Distillery at its unique limited-edition strength of 49.4% ABV. If you want to get your hands on this new release from the hardest working distillery around, then you won’t have to wait long as it will be on the virtual shelves of MoM Towers very soon.

The Gauldrons Sherry

We have high hopes for this one

The Gauldrons unveils first Limited Edition Release

Douglas Laing & Co is expanding its award-winning Campbeltown Malt Scotch whisky brand The Gauldrons with its first-ever limited-edition expression. The Gauldrons Sherry Edition is a marriage of single cask single malt exclusively from Campbeltown that were then finished in Spanish sherry casks before being bottled at 46.2% ABV without colouring or chill-filtration. Experimenting with these exceptional-quality sherry casks has resulted in a classically Campbeltown dram with smoky sweetness balanced by rich spices, and we truly can’t wait to share it with whisky aficionados across the globe,” says Cara Laing, marketing director for the family brand. The run is strictly limited to no more than 2,125 bottles, so it’s one to get your hands on ASAP. Good thing it’s en route to MoM Towers…

sake robot

Look at its little face!

Sake brewery employs adorable weeding robot

What do you do when you want to remove unwanted weeds in a sustainable manner? If you said the words, “use a robotic duck”, you’ve earned yourself a free drink. Because that’s exactly what Kojima Sohonten has done by putting the Aigamo Robot (named after the breed of duck which is known for ripping up weeds) to work across 12 hectares of rice fields. The robot, designed by an engineer who once made cars for Nissan, resembles a miniature hovercraft as it glides through the water-logged paddies, plucking out unwanted weeds while two ducks’ feet rotating rubber brushes on its underside oxygenate the water by stirring it up and prevent weeds from taking root. It’s part of a programme of sustainability for one of the world’s oldest sake producers, which has also taken the unprecedented move for the sake industry to switch all electricity used for its production to renewable energy generated in its surrounding area. That’s not as fun as robot duck though, is it? We simply must have one.

Ballantine's Moxxi

The future is now, old man

And finally… Ballantine’s hires Borderlands video game character

In news that frankly makes us here feel a bit old and cranky, Ballantine’s has announced a partnership with top computer game series Borderlands from Gearbox. This apparently entails appointing the non-player character (NPC) and bar mogul Mad Moxxi to the role of chief galactic expansion officer (CGEO) to help launch the world’s second-largest Scotch into the gaming stratosphere. The bar owner in the game’s setting, Pandora is better known for giving in-game missions to players, but now she’s launching her very own limited-edition bottle of Scotch whisky: The Ballantine’s x Moxxi’s Bar Edition. Those who snag a bottle will get access to exclusive Borderlands 3 content, but will have to adhere to new ground rules in Moxxi’s Bar that promote “responsible drinking via a special, personalised, cameo-filled message, encouraging visitors to her bar and beyond to drink and play responsibly”.  Sounds crazy! This is said to be the first step in a long-term partnership between the two, with more news to follow in 2022. Personally, we’re not sure how this managed to get past the Portman Group as there must be concerns about this encouraging underage drinking, new ground rules or otherwise.

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The Nightcap: 4 February

A £73 million Guinness brewery and venue is coming to London, Heaven Hill adds to its considerable portfolio, and Kilchoman and the Cotswolds distilleries expand. It’s The Nightcap: 4 February…

A £73 million Guinness brewery and venue is coming to London, Heaven Hill adds to its considerable portfolio, and Kilchoman and the Cotswolds distilleries expand. It’s The Nightcap: 4 February edition!

February might be a short month but if this week’s Nightcap is anything to go by, there’s still plenty going on. It doesn’t make sense to be wasting any time, let’s see what we got up to on the blog this week before we get to the stories that caught our eye. 

We set out welcoming some cracking MoM exclusives, including Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel whiskeys, before we picked out some perfect gifts for Valentine’s Day, From Champagne to cream liqueurs and wonderful whisky. Elsewhere, we visited the revamped Cardhu Distillery and spent some quality time with the Thinking Drinkers, made a cocktail for Her Maj, and welcomed Wire Works whisky with some cracking video content. A corker of a week, if we do say so ourselves…

Now, let’s get to it, The Nightcap: 4 February edition!

The Nightcap: 4 February

Heaven Hill’s considerable portfolio is getting even larger

Heaven Hill adds a FEW more brands 

American whiskey giant Heaven Hill got into the spirit of the January transfer window and splashed out Samson & Surrey, a Miami-based spirits portfolio started by two former Bacardi executives. The purchase includes  Bluecoat Gin, Widow Jane Whiskey, Mezcal Vago, Tequila Ocho, France’s Brenne Whisky, and FEW Spirits. Terms of the deal were not announced, the news came via FEW founder Paul Hletko. According to Hletko, his business will continue to operate from its warehouse at the end of an Evanston alley and the changes will be in the realms of distribution, sales, and marketing. “For FEW, it should be business as usual. We’ll continue doing what we do. We’ll just do it with the sophistication and market access of a Heaven Hill behind us,” he explained. Heaven Hill Brands include Heaven Hill (naturally), Elijah Craig, and Evan Williams. Now there’s all kinds of potential for fun after some big spending. Which is something of a theme in this week’s Nightcap as… 

The Nightcap: 4 February

This is what we can expect from Guinness’ triumphant London return

Guinness returns to London with £73 million brewery  

… Diageo does some splurging of its own by pumping £73 million into a new Guinness microbrewery and culture hub in London’s Covent Garden. We’re guessing the results of Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh have been pleasing. The upcoming venue, named ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ is set to open in Autumn 2023 and will create up to 150 jobs and train a further 100 bartenders annually. The new 50,000 sq ft venue, which first brewed beer back in 1722, will have just enough space for events and local community initiatives, as well as being the southern UK hub of Diageo’s ‘Learning for Life Bartending and Hospitality Programme. Dayalan Nayager, managing director, Diageo Great Britain, said: “We’re excited to create a new home for Guinness in the heart of London. ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ will strengthen London’s hospitality community and be a must-visit destination for thousands of visitors to enjoy”. Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, who has visited the site, added: “This multi-million-pound investment is a crucial vote of confidence in our capital. 300 years after brewing the first beer in Old Brewers Yard, it’s fantastic to see Guinness breathing life into our hospitality and tourism industries and creating more jobs and training opportunities in central London.” It’ll be great to see Guinness back in the capital for the first time since the old Park Royal brewery closed in 2005. 

The Nightcap: 4 February

The one flaw with Kilchoman is there’s never been enough great whisky to go around. This should help.

Kilchoman ramps up production with £22.5 million funding 

More spending news! Kilchoman Distillery has agreed a deal with Barclays worth £22.5 million, allowing it to invest in new production facilities and farming on Islay. The distillery aims to produce 40% more whisky within the next 12 months. The owners have already started work on a new warehouse and extra staff have been hired to cope with demand, making it a major employer on the island, with 40 people now working for the business. The bank’s loan will also allow Kilchoman to increase its presence in France, Germany, the US and China, four major markets for the brand. Kilchoman general manager, the magnificently-named Islay Heads, explained the deal: “It has been pleasing to deal with the team at Barclays who were informative about the whisky industry and genuinely interested in the business and our staff. For us it was all about getting the right package in place and developing a long-term relationship. Barclays listened to any points we made and came up with a deal not driven by ticking a box but meeting our needs for a straightforward credit facility to meet our ambitions.” Andy Hall, head of Barclays corporate banking, central Scotland, added: “Despite the challenging economic conditions, the production of our national drink remains an expanding industry and we are pleased that Kilchoman is now one of several independent distilleries in Scotland where we are supporting their ambitions for growth in Scotland and beyond”. It’s fantastic news, and it’s not even the last big spending story this week…

The Nightcap: 4 February

Dan Szor will soon own the largest producer of English whisky

PLUS The Cotswolds Distillery announces whisky expansion

… because there’s going to be a significant expansion in the production of whisky at The Cotswolds Distillery as well. Christ, it’s a spendy Nightcap, isn’t it? The plans, which include a new dedicated distillery for its whisky, will soon make it the largest producer of English whisky. The site near Shipston on Stour in the North Cotswolds will eventually produce 500,000 litres of pure alcohol per year and the distillery will be commissioned over the Summer of 2022. Despite the challenges the hospitality industry has faced in the last couple of years, the Cotswolds Distillery has achieved significant growth allowing it to venture into new markets, expand, and bring some big names. These include Lynsey Eades, formerly of Remy Cointreau, as international sales and global travel retail director, as well as consultancy from industry veterans Ken Grier and former director of Scotch whisky at Diageo, Richard Watling. “Since the launch of Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky in 2017, its spectacular growth in popularity has proven its ability to drive our premium brand both nationally and across key international markets,” says founder Daniel Szor. “The long-term nature of whisky production, combined with our ambition to remain at the forefront of the fast-growing English whisky movement for years to come, is behind our decision to significantly upscale our whisky production”. We’re looking forward to seeing the new and improved Cotswolds, having been very impressed by what’s come out of the distillery so far. Exciting times… 

The Nightcap: 4 February

It’s great to see so many brands embracing responsibility

Nc’nean lands high scoring B Corp accreditation

Remember last week when we were congratulating Maker’s Mark on its B Corp accreditation? Well, now we can add Nc’nean to that shortlist of accredited producers. In fact, the Highland distillery is doubling the number of Scotch whisky distilleries to hold the certification having also met all those rigorous social and environmental standards we talked about last week, with an extremely high score of 135.6. It’s not surprising if you’re familiar with the brand’s environmental ethos, the distillery is powered by 100% renewable energy and is certified organic, sourcing barley exclusively from Scotland. Nc’nean whisky is also bottled in a 100% recycled clear glass bottle and in July 2021, it became the UK’s first whisky distillery to be certified net-zero for its own operations (scope 1 and 2), beating the Scotch whisky industry target of 2040 by 20 years. This is one impressive producer of whisky, folks. Good thing the spirit is tasty too, so we should see plenty more of them in the future!

The Nightcap: 4 February

Save us a seat

Mr. Lyan returns to East London with new bar

The multi-award-winning Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, has announced the opening of a new cocktail bar, Seed Library. It’s located in the basement of One Hundred Shoreditch in East London, where he opened his first bar White Lyan, in 2013 and will fling its doors triumphantly open in March. It also hasn’t got a Lyan reference in the name, and won’t be trying to reinvent the wheel quite as much like its sister sites. Don’t expect as many mad scientist creations. Instead, a short, frequently changing menu will feature new takes on classic mixed drinks, such as the Sancho Leaf Martini and the Perilla Gin & Tonic, which will be joined by a curated list of low-intervention wines and a range of beers from craft brewers. A more chilled affair, by the sound of it. And if it’s as good as his other establishments, we’ll be popping by ourselves pretty frequently. Elsewhere, Mr. Lyan is bringing back his popular Sunday Lyan series for 2022, in partnership with Fever-Tree. Teaming up with some of the bars, restaurants, and brands, the series will celebrate the creativity and quality from across the industry and kicks off with Fierfield botanical spirit drink from J.J Corry Irish Whiskey on 6 February. The only question for us is, where does he find the time?

The Nightcap: 4 February

Rennie is man in-demand, for good reason too!

Rosebank announces Malcolm Rennie as new distillery manager 

The Rosebank revival is one step closer to reality as the Lowland distillery welcomed a new distillery manager ahead of the site opening later this year. And it’s someone who featured on our blog recently. Malcolm Rennie, fresh from helping to bring Lochlea to life, is bringing his 35 years of distilling expertise to oversee the production process, from the first fresh trickle of new make spirit through the stills, to cask selection and maturation. Working alongside Ian Macleod Distillers’ group distillation manager, Robbie Hughes, and malt master, John Glass to put all that experience to good use, which includes helping to revive a sleeping giant after helping to reopen the Annandale Distillery after 90 years. As for the distillery, construction delays as a result of the pandemic haven’t stopped its march forward and production is due to begin towards the end of summer. A new eye-catching sloping stepped roof has nestled around the distillery’s 108ft chimney, connecting Rosebank’s past with its future, while the mash tun, the process tanks, mill, and grist case have been installed, with three Forsyth stills to follow. The return of the much-loved Lowland whisky is not too far away now, folks.  

The Nightcap: 4 February

The Tio Pepe Challenge is back!

The Tio Pepe Challenge 2022 is open

After a two-year hiatus caused by that global pandemic thing, the Tio Pepe Challenge is back. Gonzalez Byass is laying down the gauntlet to UK bartenders to create a unique sherry cocktail. The winner gets to take on the rest of the world in Jerez in May. Bartenders must enter by 9 March with the top 10 competing in the final in London on 4 April. Entrants must not only come up with a cocktail but also demonstrate their knowledge of sherry. But never fear, if you don’t know your Amontillado from a Palo Cortado, Boris Ivan from Gonzalez Byass will be hosting free online masterclasses on 9/16/23 February at 12 noon. Or you can get down to Bar Pepito near King’s Cross on 23 February from 1-3pm, try some wines and practise your venencia skills – that’s the cup on a stick thing which you have to learn how to use if you want to be taken seriously in Jerez. Giacomo Bucciarelli, the 2019 winner, commented: “The Tio Pepe Challenge is a unique experience mixing incredible emotions amongst highest level professionals. Spanish culture plays a big part of the liquid journey every participant goes through. Definitely a game-changing competition!!” So bartenders, clean your shaker, dust off your cocktailing trousers, and let those creative juices flow. 

The Nightcap: 4 February

Congratulations, guys

Cardiff’s Lab 22 voted Britain’s best bar

On Tuesday this week, the great and good of the drinks world gathered at One Night Records in London to see who topped the UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars. And beating the might of the London bars was Cardiff’s Lab 22 which emerged victorious after jumping 32 places in two years thanks to the menu of head barman Max Hayward. Despite not taking the crown, London bars dominated the top ten with Swift Soho coming in second and the Connaught, recently named World’s Best Bar, coming in third. Which begs the question, how can a bar be the best in the world but not the best in Britain? The highest new entry was at number four for another London bar Tayēr + Elementary, brought to you by Alex Kratena and Monica Berg. Top 50 Cocktail Bars publisher Christopher Lowe commented: “London has always been seen as a global leader for cocktails but as you’ll see from the 2022 list, other major cities across the UK are now catching up. Our newly launched website will help cocktail connoisseurs discover the best of the UK bar scene with many of these very much still under the radar.” Congratulations to the Lab 22 team. We can’t wait to sample to see what all the fuss is about.

The Nightcap: 4 February

We’re struggling to understand the point of this, frankly

And finally… Waiter, there’s a non-fungible token in my drink

Face it, at some point you’re going to have to learn what an NFT (non-fungible token) is. They are everywhere in the booze world and, no, they have nothing to do with mushrooms. In fact, we have an article on the very subject going out next week. But while we love a bit of tech at Master of Malt, it can be taken too far. Such as at Adam Handling’s Eve Bar which is offering London’s first NFT cocktail menu. We’ll attempt very briefly to explain this: for your money, which could be as much as £4,000, you’ll own a one-off cocktail recipe in the form of an NFT which no one else will have plus some actual stuff including a certain number of complimentary drinks at Eve Bar and a real-life or digital masterclass with your cocktail’s creator. The big question is: why? When you go out for a drink, you want a drink, you want it cold and delicious, and you want it now. What you don’t want is to own the digital rights to a unique cocktail. And while you’re at it, bring back cash. Harrumph, harrumph!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 4 February

The Nightcap: 14 January

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

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

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

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

Now, onwards to The Nightcap: 14 January edition!

The Nightcap: 14 January

What is it with celebs and Tequila?

Mark Wahlberg launches a Tequila

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

The Nightcap: 14 January

The portmanteaus need to stop. Please.

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

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

The Nightcap: 14 January

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

Celebrate Burns Night with Aberfeldy

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

The Nightcap: 14 January

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

Or you could Celebrate Burns Night Batman style

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

The Nightcap: 14 January

No emissions from this big boy

Guinness goes green with zero emissions transport

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

The Nightcap: 14 January

Are you intimidated by the ‘rules’ of wine?

75% people think ‘rules of wine’ intimidating

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

The Nightcap: 14 January

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

Portuguese FESTA coming to London in June 

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

The Nightcap: 14 January

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

And finally… is wine now tax deductible?

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

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The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

New whiskies from Glengoyne and Glen Moray, Singleton turns a feast into art, and a man who pretended to be a wine merchant to hide model train obsession. As you…

New whiskies from Glengoyne and Glen Moray, Singleton turns a feast into art, and a man who pretended to be a wine merchant to hide model train obsession. As you do. They all feature in the penultimate Nightcap of 2021!

We had so much content on the blog last week that we worried it was going to buckle like the truck in that old advert for Castlemaine XXXX. But luckily thanks to IT boffins at MoM Towers it held firm, like that bit in Gladiator where Russell Crowe goes “AS ONE!” But there’s even more to come in the form of the Nightcap. Let’s hope it holds!

But first a recap of this week’s embarrassment of riches. We had not one but four competitions. One with Brown-Forman to win a trip to America, another to win a year’s whisky subscription with Pour & Sip, and a chance to get your hands on some delicious Bushmills Irish Whiskey. Then #WhiskySanta was back with a chance to win a bottle of 40-year-old Glenfiddich. Compmegeddon! 

We also had two visits to the Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar to see what was behind this week’s doors. But that’s not all. We looked at a new single harvest, single field Tequila from Ocho, made a twist on a G&T with Fever-Tree tonic water, and rounded up our favourite Ports just in time for Christmas. Plus Adam visited Aber Falls in North Wales, Ian Buxton outlined his seven rules for investing in whisky casks, and our glorious leader Justin took over the blog to let us know that carrier choice is now a thing. Oh and the Connaught in London won the best bar in the world award. Again. I think that’s it. Phew, what a week!

But the blog still has the capacity for some more information, so let’s round up all the news from the world of booze. On with The Nightcap: 10 December edition!

The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

Sherry bomb lovers, rejoice!

Glengoyne releases sherry bomb Teapot Dram Batch 008

The latest batch of Glengoyne’s Teapot Dram is here! No, it isn’t distilled in a teapot, though wouldn’t that be brilliant? Instead it harks back to the time when workers were given a dram of whisky straight out of a sherry cask. When some younger workers couldn’t finish theirs, then they would pour them into a teapot for more seasoned employees to enjoy. Or so the story goes. Anyway, every year the distillery releases a limited-edition heavily-sherried young whisky in honour of this practice. The eighth release was aged exclusively in first-fill European and American oak ex-sherry casks and comes in at 59% ABV, so if you like sherry bombs, you’ll love the Teapot Dram. According to Barbara Turing, brand manager at Ian Macleod Distillers, the ageing process has given  it “a luscious dark copper colour and a rich, mouth-coating palate of cooked apple, subtle spice and soft oak.” Only 3,000 bottles have been filled and they are only available from the distillery or via its website. Yours for £120.

Turn your evening into art with The Singleton

Have you ever enjoyed an evening so much that you wish you could preserve it somehow? Well, thanks to The Singleton, this might now be possible. The single malt brand is offering to create bespoke dining experiences for (very wealthy, we imagine) customers. Then at the end of the evening, guests receive artwork inspired by their movements throughout dinner, in the form of a moving digital piece and a solid piece of actual art that you can hang on your wall. The first such event, entitled ‘The Course of a Feast’ took place recently and featured a five-course feast created by top chef Ollie Dabbous to celebrate the launch of The Singleton of Glen Ord 39-Year-Old. Master of malt (nothing to do with Master of Malt) Maureen Robinson explained: “The Course of a Feast was an unforgettable experience to be a part of. To see the flavour journey of The Singleton 39-Year-Old, some of my life’s work during my 40 years at Diageo, come to life and inspire the menu by Ollie Dabbous was incredible.” If you’re interested in having your own art feast go to Malts.com for more information. Bring your goldest credit card. Or it might be simpler to buy a bottle of The Singleton of Glen Ord 39-Year-Old and accept that pleasures are transitory. 

The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

What a heart-warming festive story

Guinness supports pubs with £30m fund

More than 3 million Brits have already booked a reservation at a pub or restaurant over the Christmas period, because we all love a good festive celebration. Guinness obviously does too, because it has donated £30 million towards keeping pubs, bars, and restaurants open in 2021. The brand will be lighting up locals up and down the country with a dazzling Christmas light display, celebrating each pub’s role in bringing local communities together. 22 pubs nationwide have been selected as part of the display including The Lock Tavern in Camden, Queens Vault in Cardiff, and The Pickled Sprout in Harrogate. To help ease another challenging festive period ahead, Guinness will also provide financial support, staff training, and equipment to help operators weather the impact of cancellation rates, currently at 10% (UKHospitality) as well as other factors through owner Diageo’s Raising the Bar programme. The initiative has already supported over 30,000 publicans and the 500,000 bar staff throughout the UK to help weather the impact of the pandemic measures and ensure pubs are safe environments. Guinness says there will be further investment in the fund in 2022. Hopefully, there’s a pub near you taking part in the ‘Light Up the Local’ campaign, but if not, be sure to support your town’s watering holes this Christmas. It’s good for the economy, after all. And fun.

The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

Congratulations guys!

GlenWyvis Distillery launches first whisky

The world’s first 100% community-owned distillery, GlenWyvis Distillery, has launched its first-ever whisky. The first 3,600 individually numbered bottles of the three-year-old GlenWyvis Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky have been allocated to GlenWyvis Distillery shareholders as it was their investment that enabled the build and development of the distillery. There were a further 2,000 bottles that were available to pre-order in October 2020, but they unsurprisingly sold out almost immediately. There will also be 200 bottles available at selected local retailers, which again is a really nice idea. That does mean we don’t have a drop of it, but we’ll let them off this time because they seem very lovely. As for what those who have got the whisky can expect, it’s made from a batch of 18 casks, including 15 first-fill ex-Tennessee whiskey (80%), two first-fill ex-Moscatel (15%), and one refill hogshead (5%), and is described as a grain-forward whisky that showcases the unique fruitiness of extra-long fermentation. The whisky is 50% ABV, non-chill filtered, and no colouring added, which are all big ticks for us, and also has the distinction of being the first whisky to be produced in Dingwall in almost 100 years. The last whisky distillery in the region, Ben Wyvis, closed its doors in 1926. Congratulations, guys.

The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

Anyone think they can turn BA’s wine game around?

British Airways to recruit a Master of Wine

What do you do when your wine offering is described as “rock bottom”? Get a new Master of Wine, of course. At least, that’s the course of action British Airways is taking. A report in The Daily Mail stated that the airline is looking to recruit a Master of Wine to overhaul its drinks selection, which has come in for some flack. Until 2010, British Airways (BA) employed noted wine experts like Jancis Robinson MW to choose the wines that would be available on flights. However, the carrier opted to appoint a single exclusive supplier for each of its three classes, and Robinson subsequently resigned. Now it would appear BA is going back to the method that worked before. The airline is looking for a “passionate individual with a strong knowledge of all drinks categories – particularly wine”. So, if that sounds like you or someone you know and you’d like to be responsible for the wine you basically can’t taste at that altitude anyway, why not apply?

The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

Coming soon to Master of Malt, Glen Moray’s 2008 Warehouse 1 Manzanilla finish

Glen Moray releases new Waterhouse 1 Manzanilla bottling 

If you like a limited cask strength Speyside bottling at a reasonable price (and who doesn’t?) then the Warehouse 1 range from Glen Moray has long been a happy hunting ground. Now the latest release is here, or nearly here, it’ll be at Master of Malt soon, and it’s delicious. It was distilled in 2008, aged in ex-bourbon casks before finishing in Manzanilla sherry barrels. As you might expect if you know Manzanilla, the lightest crispest style of sherry, the result is very much not a sherry bomb. The Manzanilla provides a lick of salt at the end to go alongside the fresh orchard fruits, and subtle toffee and vanilla notes. Brand ambassador Iain Allan elaborated: “We started to wonder what would happen if we brought Glen Moray spirit and Manzanilla casks together? If Speyside met Cádiz in the barrel, what would the results be? Soft with salt? Citrus with herbaceous? Questions like these can get the team quite animated, to say the least, but only time can ever answer their restless curiosity – and these results have been worth waiting for.” Only 1,240 cask strength (54.6% ABV) bottles have been filled and as usual with this range the price is reasonable, £74.95. We’re hoping to get some in before Christmas. 

The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

Stock up now!

Port and sherry prices set to rise

There’s no need to panic buy but…. Port and sherry are about to get much more expensive. Fortified wines have been undergoing a revival recently but this might be jeopardised by chancellor Rishi Sunak’s proposed changes to the tax system. Previously fortified wines had a set rate of duty, currently £2.98, now they, like others drinks, will be taxed on a sliding scale depending on their alcoholic strength. Under the new measures, the duty on a bottle of 20% ABV Port will be £3.88 and then you have to factor in 20% VAT on top of that. As you can imagine, fortified wine producers are not happy. Andrew Hawes from Mentzendorff, the agents for Taylor’s, Croft, and Fonseca Port described it as “the largest single alcohol tax rises in UK history” and went on to say: “Ultimately I fear it will be the consumers who will pay the price. which is a shame especially as we’ve invested so much to attract a new following to the joys of these fortified wines, which to date have offered incredible value.” We are sure Nightcap readers will be especially interested in what Miles Beale from the WSTA has to say. So here he is: “Government needs to ensure that we aren’t left with a new system that is demonstrably less fair and more administratively complex, which were the tests the Treasury set itself.” Unless the industry’s pleas are heeded, these changes will come in next year. It might be an idea to stock up now. 

The‌ ‌Nightcap:‌ ‌10‌ ‌December‌

We have so many questions. Mostly… why?

And finally… Man pretends to be a wine merchant to hide model train obsession

Well this is one of the strangest stories to appear on the Nightcap. This week, Simon George from Yorkshire unveiled an enormous 200ft (61m) miniature railway that he had been building in his basement for eight years. It’s a replica of the Calder Valley line at Heaton Lodge junction in Kirklees exactly as it was when George was a boy in the 1980s right down to period-specific cars. The model railway is currently on display in Wakefield Market. It took three lorries to transport it. A tremendous achievement no doubt but in the end just another story of a hobby getting a bit out of control. But where it gets peculiar is that George tried to hide this gigantic railway from his girlfriend. He commented: “She knew I leased a mill with a huge basement, but I kind of led her to believe I was a wine merchant because that sounded cooler than building a model railway.” Of all the excuses he came up with to hide a nerdy hobby, he came up with something even nerdier, wine. In fact, there are probably many wine merchants out there who have pretended to be into model trains to impress potential lovers.

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The Nightcap: 26 November

This week’s Nightcap is wall-to-wall amazing Scotch from the likes of Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker, Lagavulin and more. Plus a whiskey barrel Christmas tree and chilli bacon vodka… Do you know…

This week’s Nightcap is wall-to-wall amazing Scotch from the likes of Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker, Lagavulin and more. Plus a whiskey barrel Christmas tree and chilli bacon vodka…

Do you know what today is? The day when it really hits home how close Christmas is. December, and Advent with it, is next week. This time next month it will be over. We have officially entered the season to be jolly. But you don’t need to panic and suddenly force yourself to feel the Christmas spirit. It’s Friday, relax and take in a nice bundle of stories from the world of booze first.

Other stories we covered this week include our guide to Black Friday 2021, word on Aston Martin and Bowmore’s latest collaboration, the reforming of Delamain Pale and Dry XO, and shining a spotlight on Brandy de Jerez. We also stirred up a seasonal drink inspired by the ancient Druids rounded up our top 10 Christmas drinks, and found out what #WhiskySanta’s latest Super Wish is.

The Nightcap: 26 November edition!

The Nightcap: 26 November

The first of our amazing whiskies this week

Glenfiddich auctions 42-year-old Scotch whisky

Glenfiddich and Goodwood are teaming up for a pretty special whisky release, which we’re lucky enough to taste. Just three decanters of a 42-year-old Glenfiddich have been released to be auctioned by Bonhams to raise funds for Race Against Dementia at 11:00 on 7 December 2021. The whisky is taken from cask #11136 from Warehouse 8, which is a refill American oak hogshead barrel that has been maturing since 13 April 1979. It’s a celebration of Goodwood’s historic whisky connection, which can be traced back to 1836 when a chance inheritance handed Gordon Castle and its estate to the fifth Duke of Richmond, who was alarmed by his tenant’s illicit distilling and used political influence and commercial nous to ensure distilling became legal; paving the way for  William Grant to build the Glenfiddich Distillery. Each decanter is paired with a VIP experience at a renowned Goodwood motorsport event and a photograph taken and signed by renowned Formula 1 photographer Rainer Schlegelmilch as well as motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart OBE.  Master distiller Brian Kinsman says about the dram that cask #11136 is “a stunning example of Glenfiddich, with an oaky, sweet and long-lasting taste. It has reached a perfection that few casks will ever achieve and is the ideal whisky to celebrate our long-standing relationship with Goodwood.” Each liquid is contained in a hand-blown crystal decanter by renowned French crystal maker Baccarat, and Bonhams have given a low estimate for each lot of £6,500. It’s a great cause and we can confirm the whisky is worthy of the plaudits. Its elegance and balance are astounding. We do hope whoever buys it actually drinks it.

The Nightcap: 26 November

Master of Flavours is made up of whiskies aged for at least 48 years from distilleries like Brora and Glenury Royal.

Johnnie Walker ends series in style with Master of Flavour

In one of his final releases before he retires at the end of the year, Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge has put together the final edition of the cracking Masters range. Johnnie Walker Masters Of Flavour has an ABV of 41.8% and was made with whiskies aged for at least 48 years from ghost distilleries like Glyn Albyn, Port Dundas, Brora, and Glenury Royal, which was balanced together with whisky from Cameronbridge, Blair Athol, and Dalwhinnie. No wonder there’s only 288 bottles priced at £20,000. To create the special release, Beveridge teamed up with previous collaborators Donna Anderson, malt master, James Carson, cask master, and Douglas Murray, distillation master, to pay tribute to the skill of whisky-making. It’s the third and final whisky in the Johnnie Walker Masters series, which includes Ruby Reserve, a celebration of Jim Beveridge’s 30 years working in whisky, and the John Walker Masters’ Edition, a whisky crafted using Scotch aged for a minimum of 50 years from distilleries that were operational during the lifetime of Johnnie Walker founder John Walker. Much like both of them, Masters of Flavour is presented in a Baccarat crystal decanter within a bespoke oak cabinet. Although, it has to be said it does look like a bottle of Haig Club made especially for the Green Goblin. Still, we imagine the whisky itself is outstanding, and excitingly we’ll have a chance to find that out soon…

The Nightcap: 26 November

The new mezcal cask Islay Jazz Festival bottling is sure to get whisky fans chattering

Lagavulin new Jazz Festival bottling is aged in mezcal casks!

The world does slowly seem to be getting back to normal but sadly this year’s Islay Jazz Festival will once again be online only this year. But never fear because sponsor Lagavulin’s annual festival bottling is happening and you can drink it IRL. It’s one that fans won’t want to miss because after initial maturation in refill bourbon casks it then spends an unspecified time in American oak barrels that previously held mezcal! Highly unusual. It’s bottled at a cask strength of 54.8% with a 13-year-old age statement, and will cost you £160. Distillery manager Pierrick Guillaume described it as “The first Lagavulin to be finished in mezcal casks with a distinctive and unusual flavour profile is sure to intrigue and excite Lagavulin fans and beyond.” “Distinctive and unusual” is just right. You probably wouldn’t guess that it had been aged in ex-mezcal casks, but it is hugely spicy and meaty with a strong lingering saline seaweedy finish. There’s also creamy toffee and vanilla lurking beneath stopping it all from getting too much. It’s a fascinating, highly complex dram, that’s sure to get whisky fans chattering. At the moment it’s a distillery-only release but we will let you know if we can get hold of a bottle or two.   

The Nightcap: 26 November

We tried this $30,000 51-year-old whisky. It’s pretty tasty.

Royal Salute releases $30k 51-year-old limited edition

We’ve had some packaging on whisky samples at Master of Malt but still, the arrival of Royal Salute 51 Year Old managed to cause a stir at the office. The 50ml sample came in a solid wooden box wrapped in gold (not real gold, sadly) chains with a combination padlock. It’s the second release in Royal Salute’s ‘Time Series Collection’ made up of casks filled before 1970 including some from ghost distilleries. Only 101 crystal decanters are available. Master blender Sandy Hyslop described it as “an undeniably special expression that blends exceptional style with high-aged whisky. Crafting a Scotch of that age requires intense care and attention to ensure the cask characteristics are perfectly absorbed without being overpowering, and the moment I tested the final blend will stay with me forever; the masterful role that time has played over a minimum of five decades of slow maturation really blew me away. This release is a one-of-a-kind expression, and I am honoured to contribute to the legacy that the outstanding Royal Salute Time Series Collection is making in the world of rare and collectable whisky.” There’s no doubt that it’s a special drop of quite jaw-dropping complexity. On the nose, there’s toffee, peaches, dark chocolate, cinnamon and cardamom with a distinct waxy note like you find in Brora (could this be one of the ghost distilleries in the blend?). The palate is spicy and lively with menthol, manuka honey, Jamaica cake, and a lingering waxy texture. We feel lucky to have had a wee taste especially as at $30,000 a pop we are very unlikely to ever taste it again. Well, we suppose that explains the packaging. 

The Nightcap: 26 November

It’s a masterclass from Ian worth seeing

Ian Burrell takes Equiano on UK rum tour

Global rum ambassador and co-founder of The Equiano Rum Co Ian Burrell is taking to the road this winter with A Tale of Two Rum Islands, a fascinating presentation of the rum-producing histories of Barbados and Mauritius. The event also gives guests the opportunity to taste Equiano Original and Equiano Light and learn the story behind its name, honouring the legacy of African-born writer, entrepreneur, abolitionist and freedom fighter Olaudah Equiano, as well as learn about the brand’s philanthropic endeavours. The session concludes with a Q&A, a rare chance to get geeky with one of the industry’s leading authorities. Burrell’s first UK tour in five years kicked off in London on 22 November, and we attended and had a blast. He then headed to Brighton (23 November) and will visit Nottingham (30 November) and Manchester (1 December) next, before continuing the tour in January 2022 in Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, and Birmingham. We highly recommend it. Equiano is also marking International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (2 December) by teaming up with London bar Duchess of Dalston (from the team behind Callooh Callay) to create an exclusive cocktail and raise money for Anti-Slavery International

The Nightcap: 26 November

No need to panic yet but we do want to see some progress here

Wine and spirits firms warn of Christmas alcohol shortage in UK

There’s no need to panic but… a group of 48 wine and spirits companies have told transport secretary Grant Shapps that Britain will suffer a Christmas alcohol shortage unless the government does more to address the lack of HGV drivers. Businesses including Pernod Ricard, Moët Hennessy, and the Wine Society raised concerns over rising costs and supply chain “chaos”, raising the risk that supermarkets will run dry and festive deliveries arrive late. Members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), which coordinated the letter, reported that importing products is taking five times longer than a year ago and that small businesses are struggling to compete as delivery firms have had to raise HGV drivers’ wages. Unpredictable arrival times are also resulting in goods being either not ready or are left waiting for collection. The call is for Shapps to extend a temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers, which expires in February 2022, to a year, and for the government to smooth congested freight routes from ports, as well as providing regular updates on how many HGV driver licences are being processed by the DVLA. “Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond,” Miles Beale, the WSTA chief executive, summarised. Let’s hope the resolution is forthcoming, and if you do need any booze for Christmas, we might have an idea of where to get some….

The Nightcap: 26 November

Want to serve draught pints at home right in time for Christmas? Now you can

Guinness launches £750 home beer tap

Guinness is launching a limited-edition at-home tap to serve draught pints right in time for Christmas. Following the successful rollout of the technology in pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK earlier this year, the system should help you attain a better pint in your own home, although we all know how hard it is to get Guinness right regardless. The new technology is thankfully simple. Just pop a Guinness Microdraft into the pint puller, and the technology itself guides the user on how to conduct the perfect two-part pour. “Guinness Microdraft enables people to enjoy a beautiful looking and delicious tasting Draught Guinness on tap in a completely new setting for the first time ever,” said head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah. “Whether it’s to pour the perfect drink at a festive gathering, a Christmas gift for a friend or family member, or simply to enjoy an iconic drink of the black stuff at home with loved ones, Guinness Microdraft is sure to be a hit among beer lovers.” The Guinness Microdraft Bar Tap will be available to purchase for £750 from 6 December and arrives with four Guinness Microdraft cans and two Guinness pint glasses.

The Nightcap: 26 November

Should we be doing more to enjoy the vast array of different wines available?

The most popular wines in the UK revealed

A new survey, which looked at the preferences in wine varieties of adults of drinking age has revealed the top 10 most popular wines in the UK. Winemaking simulator game Hundred Days, which allows players to “embark on a journey of winemaking,” found the favourite varieties, although there’s not much in the way of surprises. Coming in first place is Pinot Grigio, then Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot and Rosé rounded up the top five, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Malbec, and Rioja having to settle for places in the top 10. “Britain is one of the largest importers of wine, taking in over $4 billion worth of crates, bags and bottles in 2020. Yet, our research shows that the nation is largely shying away from expanding their wine repertoire and are stuck in a wine rut – making the same purchases over and over again,” says Yves Hohler, lead designer and co-founder of Broken Arm Games. Typically, they feel their game can make a difference by showcasing the vast array of different wines available. Of course, you could save yourself the effort and just click here

The Nightcap: 26 November

The Christmas tree from 150 repurposed Irish whiskey barrels

Hinch Distillery makes barrel Christmas tree

Getting truly into the festive spirit is Hinch Distillery, which has unveiled a 24ft Christmas tree made from up-cycled whiskey barrels. Topped off with sparkling lights and a big bow, the one-of-a-kind ‘tree’ was made from 150 repurposed Hinch Irish whiskey barrels and took 48 painstaking hours to do. It took a team of eight under the helm of Co Down decoration installer to create the structure, which pays homage to the whiskey distilling process at Hinch, including a globe made from strips that hold the barrels in place. After Christmas, the plan will be to repurpose it for furnishings including chairs and plant pots to make it a year-round installation. Hinch Distillery, which will celebrate its one year anniversary this month, lies between Belfast and Ballynahinch on the Carryduff Road and is nestled in the grounds of the beautiful Killaney Estate, so if you want to see it for yourself, you know where to go. Be sure if you’re interested to see The Whiskey Barrel Christmas Tree light switch-on, which we imagine will be quite a sight. The distillery, which has not yet got its own whiskey, has also bottled a 12-year-old Amarone Cask Finish expression. But that’s just not as impressive as a big barrel tree, is it?

The Nightcap: 26 November

Ever tried Chilli Bacon Vodka before? Now you can. Huzzah.

And finally… Baller launches chilli bacon vodka 

The ‘And finally…’ section of The Nightcap has featured many a mad product before, from the strangest of gins to the most confusing of creations. This week we’ve got a chilli bacon vodka to cast a suspicious eye on, straight from London-based distillery Doghouse. The creators of Baller Vodka, which claims to be the capital’s only vodka made from scratch, dreamt up the new flavour to “disrupt the category” thanks to its “first-of-its-kind” chilli and bacon combination. It’s produced using the brand’s wheat vodka as a base, with Mexican-grown Habanero chillies and a secret ingredient, which apparently isn’t actual bacon, to give it a bacon sweet smokiness. Could be vegan then. Not that I’d imagine that’s the target market. The distillery says to enjoy Baller Chilli Bacon Vodka with dry ginger ale and a squeeze of lime juice, or in a Bloody Mary cocktail – which in fairness I can see working. Mostly this will be bought by people needing a joke present or something to shot on stag-dos you’d think. And more power to them. We are, after all, the folks behind this monstrosity

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The Nightcap: 11 June

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11…

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11 June edition!

The weekend is always an exciting thing. But this weekend is particularly thrilling because we’re given the perfect excuse to enjoy some delightful gin. That’s right, tomorrow is World Gin Day and, while we don’t really need an excuse to enjoy the finest juniper-based beverages, it’s always nice to have something to say while you raise your glass in good company. And we’ll be doing exactly that at 3pm today on the Clubhouse App with World Gin Day founder Emma Stokes as well as the Neil Ridley and Kristiane Sherry. Join us, won’t you?

Over on our blog this week we rounded off our Islay Festival coverage with Ardbeg and Jura before launching a fab new competition with our friends at Tomatin. If a hamper full of whisky goodness doesn’t interest you then a) don’t enter and b) seek help. For Father’s Day (it’s soon, don’t forget!) we had a look at brands that keep distilling in the family and rounded-up a list of the finest musician-made booze on the market. Ian Buxton then cast doubt on a dubious claim about column single malt whisky while Lucy Britner busied herself learning the history of the brand that changed vodka. Amidst all this fun and fancy there was still time to enjoy some tasty blended Scotch and a cocktail with a song in its heart

Now, let’s get stuck into some Nightcap goodness!

BrewDog carbon negative

The founders of Brewdog were singled out for criticism in the open letter

Ex-Brewdog staff allege “culture of fear”

We begin with an explosive story that hit the headlines yesterday as former staff at Brewdog published an open letter regarding the “culture of fear” and “toxic attitude” that they allege exist at the company. The signatories said a “significant number” of former staff had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at BrewDog” and that the firm was built around a “cult of personality” of founders James Watt and Martin Dickie. The Scottish brewer and pub-chain has never shone away from controversy in its marketing, but the group calling itself Punks With A Purpose says this came at a cost. That Watt and Dickie exploited publicity, “both good and bad” to further their own business goals, chased “growth, at all costs”, and created an environment where staff were afraid to speak out about concerns. The letter included further statements such as “being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given for those working at Brewdog”. The plots thickened when Unite Hospitality (@FairHospitality) released an email attributed to Brewdog which appeared to encourage current staff to sign a counter letter dismissing the negative views of current and former staff. Watt responded to this and then later released a statement saying Brewdog was “sorry” and that it would not contest the letter, but “listen, learn and act”. It’s not the first time the brand has landed itself in hot water over its practices. And this story clearly isn’t over yet.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Joe Wilson says this is one of the most “collectible independent bottlings in existence”

Rare Samaroli whiskies head to auction

Few bottlers can boast a range of whiskies as desired and collectible as Samaroli so it’s no wonder headlines have been made now that 60 of its rare Scotch whiskies are set to go under the hammer via Whisky Auctioneer this month. Taking place from 17 to 21 June, the online auction will feature whiskies from collector Emmanuel Dron’s personal stash, some of which have been signed by Samaroli himself, including a 1967 Strathisla, 1967 and 1970 Laphroaig bottlings, a 1951 Glen Cawdor (Springbank), and the 1966 Bowmore Bouquet. Bottlings will also be up for auction from The Corti Brothers of Sacramento, such as a ‘very rare’ 1965 Clynelish and bottlings from Balmenach and Imperial, distilled in the 1960s. “This collection is a magnificent example of some of the finest and most collectible independent bottlings in existence,” says Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer. “What’s special about Emmanuel Dron’s collection is that these bottles have unparalleled provenance. Whiskies with such an impeccable source are hard to come by.” And you know what that means. A price tag to match. Expect to see some eye-watering sums next week.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Rumour has it this beauty will be at MoM Towers in the future…

Lochlea whisky prepares for first bottling

For years Lochlea has been known best as the farm in Ayrshire which was the home of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns from 1777 to 1784. By late 2021, however, it will also be recognised for its whisky. The independently owned farm-based distillery has announced this week that it is ready to launch its first expression this year. The distillery is the result of a £6m investment and production of the purpose-built facility began in 2014, taking four years. Lochlea then began laying down its first casks of whisky in the on-site warehouse in August 2018. So while we don’t know the exact launch date yet, we know it will be no sooner than August at least. The Lochlea Distillery team says it’s been working on creating a “truly distinct whisky” and describes the new make spirit as having a profile that’s “bursting with orchard fruit” with a “beautiful elegance way beyond its years”. All production is overseen by distillery manager Malcolm Rennie, who has spent 34 years in this industry at the likes of Kilchoman, Bruichladdich, and Ardbeg. Lochlea says that he sees this whisky, however, as the result of his life’s work. “Ensuring full traceability from field to cask is vital for us. We grow and harvest our own barley on Lochlea farm with the resulting draff used to feed local cattle and the water is sourced on-site. We’ve been able to take advantage of Ayrshire’s natural resources and in doing so it keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum,” says Rennie about the distillery’s process, which does sound extremely promising. Let’s hope it does Robert Burns proud.

The Nightcap: 11 June

We can’t wait to see you all again!

Imbibe Live to return this September

Great news arrived in our inbox this week from the UK’s leading drinks industry event as Imbibe Live confirmed it will be returning to London’s Olympia this September. The return to some normality will run from 13 to 14 September 2021, bringing the industry back together again after a challenging year. Strict standards of health and safety will be adhered too, naturally, as folks discover newly launched and unique products and attend seminars from industry leaders. Helping to curate the programme are the likes of Anna Sebastian, drinks expert and founder of ‘Celebrate Her’, Gabe Cook, global cider expert, Lorraine Copes, founder of not-for-profit organisation Be Inclusive Hospitality, and more. Daniel Zanetti, exhibition director at Imbibe Live, says the industry has shown an “incredible amount of support for one another” during the last year hopes that Imbibe Live “provides those working in the trade with real insight and practical support on how to help their businesses grow and thrive once again”. Registration is open now, although due to venue capacity visitors will be asked to attend on either the 13 or the 14 September to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to go. For further information visit the website and to register visit here. Let’s hope everything goes well between now and then to let this fantastic event take place. Fingers crossed!

The Nightcap: 11 June

It’s a bumper year for the Fiona Beckett

Fortnum & Mason awards 2021 shortlist announced

The Oscars of food and drink writing are back as the shortlist for the Fortnum & Mason awards has just been announced. The big award, as far as we’re concerned, is drinks writers of the year with the Guardian’s Fiona Beckett taking on Hamish Smith from CLASS magazine and beer writer extraordinaire Will Hawkes for his work in Pellicle and Tonic magazine. It’s a bumper year for Beckett as she is also shortlisted in the book category for How to Drink without Drinking (which we covered back in January). Also in the book category is Jane Anson with Inside Bordeaux and Wine Girl by Victoria James. Meanwhile, the debut book line-up features a great-looking new cocktail book which we’ll be covering shortly called CO SPECS by Cas Oh, Drink? by Prof. David Nutt, and Which Wine When by Bert Blaize and Claire Strickett. There’s also some food stuff. The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony on 13 July. Nigella might be there. Oooh!

The Nightcap: 11 June

Tom Hurst rocking the dragons

Rockstar Spirits rock Dragons’ Den

We go for years without featuring a story about spirits brands on Dragons’ Den and then two come along in under a month. In May, we reported on Whisky Me securing funding from all the three ‘dragons.’ And now we were delighted to learn that Rockstar Spirits, the company behind delicous bottles like Two Swallows rum, secured funding after appearing on the BBC 1 programme on Thursday 10 June at 8pm. That’s last night. Founder Tom Hurst received bids from all but one Dragon, winning the backing of both Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani – who will both receive 4% of the premium spiced rum business in exchange for £12,500 each. Most impressively, Hurst managed to secure an offer for double the money and five times the equity from Theo Paphitis. Hurst said that he hadn’t been as nervous “since I had to do a reading in assembly when I was 11,” but that it was a “fantastic experience to take part in the show and a great rite of passage for any entrepreneur to test their mettle against some of the best business brains in the UK.” To celebrate Hurst has come up with a special Dragons Daiquiri cocktail with Two Swallows Citrus rum.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Copper Rivet is one of the many fantastic English whisky distilleries featured

The English Whisky Show is back

For the second year running there’s a whole show dedicated to English whisky called, um, the English Whisky Show. Sadly, like last year, it’s only taking place online but we’re all good at this now and the organisers can boast quite a line-up. All the big names are represented including Adnams, Copper Rivet, Bimber, the Oxford Artisan Distillery, Lakes, and, the granddaddy of them all, the aptly-named English Whisky Company, alongside independent bottlers like That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Taking place on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September there will be six sessions all with tasting packs hosted by names including Felipe Schrieberg and Fiona Shoop. Prices start at £27.50 per session which seeing as you’ll be tasting some quality liquids including 11 new releases, looks like pretty good value. Tickets are available here and there are discounts for bulk buys and members of Exploring English Whisky. From single malts to spicy ryes and experimental grains, we couldn’t be more excited about the varied and dynamic English scene. So whether you’re already a fan or just English whisky curious, we highly recommend signing up for one or, better still, all the sessions. 

The Nightcap: 11 June

The new ‘world-first’ is a single nitrogen dispense solution. It pours pints from cans, basically.

Guinness launches world-first ‘microdraught’

Guinness was in an excitable mood this week as it revealed its new ‘microdraught’ technology, which aims to serve fresh pints regardless of an establishment’s size or setup. The result of a two-year development process, the MicroDraught unit uses a “keg’ so small, it comes in a can”, so even though the Guinness used is brewed in exactly the same way, the system bypasses the need for the traditional system of kegs, beer lines, and cooling systems. The dispense technology is described by the brand as its biggest innovation “since the development of the widget in 1988”, and is set to be trialed in restaurants in Great Britain from June, in venues in Ireland from July, and fully launched in Korea in July. Further trials in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Germany, and Russia will follow later this year. “Guinness is enjoyed the world over and globally renowned for pushing boundaries in technology.  Guinness MicroDraught is the next step in this journey and today’s launch means that Guinness will be available in over 12,000 more outlets for millions more consumers to enjoy,” says Grainne Wafer, global brand director, Guinness. “The secret to how the MicroDraught unit produces beautiful Guinness every time is the world-first patent-pending double coaxial piercing of the can. It uses an air pump – as opposed to the gas cylinder used in the traditional system – to push the liquid out of the can and through the standard Guinness Draught spout. The result is a beautiful two-part pour with the iconic surge and settle and cold, smooth taste that makes Guinness Draught a beer loved by consumers around the world.” We’re intrigued to see if the innovation takes off and whether the new pints feature on the right Instagram page, or the wrong one

The Nightcap: 11 June

The swanky, new-look Talisker is more sustainable

New sustainable packaging upgrade for Talisker 10 Year Old

Diageo has made a big deal about its sustainability commitments in the last couple of years and the drink giant’s latest innovation concerns Talisker. New packaging for its Talisker 10 Year Old has been introduced as part of the company’s wider 2030 sustainability action plan. The new packaging has increased the recyclability of the classic dram to 99.8%, while the bottle’s plastic components have been reduced by 86% and the original plastic stopper has been replaced with a premium wooden stopper. The brand also ensured the packaging weight was reduced by 6%, which will reduce materials used by 28 tonnes across 2021, meaning less waste to be managed per bottle. Pranay Chandra, malt whisky marketing manager, says that “consumers are increasingly conscious of their own environmental impact, and we are dedicated to supporting and being a part of this.” She adds that “we understand that there is still more to do, however, this is a significant step towards our goals of making all Talisker packaging recyclable by 2030, as well as working towards zero waste across our supply chain.” It’s another positive step in the right direction and we welcome any further improvements in the future.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Shit.

And finally… A beer made from goose poo. Mmmm!

We’ve had some funny drinks on the Nightcap –  like gin flavoured with sprouts or Chernobyl vodka – but a new beer might just take the biscuit. It’s from a Finnish brewery called Ant Brew which has just released a series of beers called Wasted Potential that are brewed from waste including goose droppings. No joke, this shit is for real. According to the press release: “The poop is used in a food-safe way to smoke malt to create a unique stout beer. The goose droppings are gathered from local parks, where geese are causing a messy problem.” Everybody wins! Sort of. Anyway, we can mock but this might be the logical conclusion of sustainability. Ant Brew’s home city of Lahti, aims to have a wasteless economy by 2050. So, in future, when someone says: “this beer tastes like shit”, it’s probably because it’s brewed with real poo. Lovely. 

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The Nightcap: 21 May

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap. Happy…

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap.

Happy Friday everyone. We hope you all got to spend some time inside one of the many fine hospitality venues and had a nice drink away from all the wind and rain. While there’s something reassuringly British about somebody trying to sip from a pint glass while they get battered by a storm, I think we all agree that things are better this way. Inside it’s warm, there’s music and there’s wi-fi so you can load the latest version of The Nightcap, settle in and enjoy. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Good thing we’ve got another new edition to read. Here it is.

People who love a good competition will have been delighted to see us launch a brand new one with Redbreast. Just find the golden cork and you can win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask whiskey! If gin and vodka are more your speed, then make sure you throw your hat in the ring for a chance to win a VIP trip to the Boatyard Distillery. Elsewhere, we welcomed the news that Brora is back (!) after 38 long years, understood how distilleries have coped launching during Covid, and asked 10 drinks industry experts what they were toasting the grand reopening with. We also heard from Sandy Hyslop on the art of blending whisky and Jon Darby on how to create a brand as unique as Sin Gusano while enjoying five great gins from around the world, a delicious bottle of Argentine red, and a cocktail that brings together bourbon and cider.

Don’t forget to join us on the Clubhouse App at 3pm where you can hear us greedily feast on another week of brilliantly boozy stories and embrace our inner mixologist by insisting on the joy of a whisky cocktail. Now, to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 21 May

This dram comes Bob Dylan approved

Heaven’s Door and Redbreast make whiskey together

Clearly, Redbreast Irish Whiskey felt it wasn’t on the blog enough this week what with our new Dream Cask competition and so revealed that it has teamed up with Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door whiskey for the first time. The collaboration has produced a limited-edition 10-year-old straight bourbon finished in Redbreast Single Pot Still Casks for 15 months called The Master Blenders’ Edition, in honour of the two people who hold the role at Heaven’s Door and Redbreast respectively, Ryan Perry and Billy Leighton. Apparently, Dylan too is actively involved, sampling over a dozen blends before settling on the final selection. Leighton says the legend is a “perfectionist” who “knows his whiskey”. Dylan also created a new gate design in his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio, which was nice of him. The press release believes the end result of this Irish-American marriage is a taste profile “unlike any American whiskey” which Perry says “blew them away”. We’ve been told to expect plenty of nuts, spice, and leather, as well as the influence of “sherry, citrus, dark fruit, and a subtle sweetness of Yellow Man from the Redbreast casks”. The Master Blenders’ Edition is being released in the U.S. for Father’s Day but will also be available in limited quantities in September in the UK and Ireland. Be warned folks: once it’s gone, it is gone for good.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Fancy running things around here for a day? Now’s your chance.

Become a distiller for the day with Annandale

Have you ever dreamed about being a Scotch whisky distiller, even just for a day? Well, now you might just get to live the dream thanks to Annandale. The independent distillery in Dumfries and Galloway, which was first established in 1836 and ‘reborn’ in 2014, is giving people the chance to do just that after listing on Airbnb this summer. The stay is available on the site as part of a new campaign to encourage people to visit the Scottish Lowlands and promises an “immersive two-night stay” in which guests will shadow Annandale’s distillery team and sleep in cottages next to the distillery site. And this isn’t simply pressing a button or tasting a sample at the end. You’ll actually witness each stage of the process, from meeting the malt delivery, to milling and mashing the barley, fermentation, firing up the stills, and filling the casks. Thrown in is a whisky tasting and evening meal at The Globe Inn, Dumfries, a historic pub dating back to 1610 and once frequented by Robert Burns, with two chefs with Michelin star experience at the helm. Plus when you check out you’ll get a bottle of Annandale’s Single Malt Scotch Whisky. And the knowledge of exactly how much work and love goes into making whisky. The stay will be available to book for £480 for two people and you can see which dates are available when you visit airbnb.com/annandaledistillery.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Last Drop hasn’t made its own booze before, so this is quite the entrance

Last Drop Distillers launches first signature blend 

You might remember The Last Drop Distillers was gearing up to create all kinds of delicious booze. Well, the first of the impressive new signature blends range has been unveiled. The creatively titled The Last Drop 50-Year-Old Signature Blended Scotch Whisky was made by esteemed master blender Colin J.P. Scott, who presumably put all his knowledge and experience to good work. He joined Last Drop after a distinguished career with more than 50 years at Chivas Brothers as one of the six founding members of The Assembly, although to put this whisky into context this is just the second 50-year-old blend he’s made in nearly half a century in the industry. The release, just the 22nd in The Last Drop’s history, marks the brand’s first foray into the creation, as well as curation. The whisky began as a new distillate of single malts and grains, which were filled into sherry and bourbon casks more than 50 years ago. But few will get to taste it sadly because as you can imagine for a whisky this old and prestigious, there’s not a lot of it (just 500 bottles worldwide) and it will cost you an arm and a leg (priced at RRP £3,250). Scott says he’s “immensely proud both of the complexity of the whisky and of its significance: as The Last Drop’s first Signature Blend, and as my inaugural release with them”. He adds that he “sincerely hope everyone who tastes it will take as much pleasure in this whisky as I did in blending it.”

The Nightcap: 21 May

Lots of mead awaits if you’ve got what it takes

Help bees, grow sunflowers, win mead

As we’re sure you’re aware, yesterday, 20 May, was World Bee Day. To celebrate these magical pollinating honey-making little creatures, Gosnells Mead, distributed thousands of packets of sunflower seeds across Peckham in south London. The idea is that ‘guerilla gardeners’ plant them in all sorts of places to help bees. And also sunflowers look splendid too. As the founder of London’s only mead producer Tom Gosnell put it: “There are so many patches of bare earth in cities just waiting to be loved, and we hope that our packs will bring an irregular army of smiling sunflowers to urban Peckham and beyond.” He went on to say: “We are doing our bit to enrich biodiversity, something we started in April by making our new Mead Garden & Bar into a flowering jungle. It is a pretty unlikely sight in an industrial estate in Peckham SE15: And now, we’ll be giving out thousands of sunflower planting kits to the likes of community groups, churches, local gardens, shops and care homes.” What’s more, Gosnells is happy to send seeds to people in the UK to grow their own sunflowers. The person who grows the tallest will win the height of the flower in Gosnell’s cans. What a prize! Let’s hope we get some sunshine. 

New #LooksLikeGuinness advert makes us want a pint

England’s pubs opened fully this week and to celebrate/cash-in Guinness unveiled a new campaign called #LooksLikeGuinness. The 40-second advert is based on how when you want a pint, everything from socks on a washing line, to a white cat napping on a black bin looks like a pint of Guinness. The song playing is, naturally, ‘Always on my Mind’. Head of Guinness GB Neil Shah commented: “We want to do all that we can to make sure that the opening week of indoor hospitality is as successful as it can be. We’re pleased to be able to mark this momentous occasion with the #LooksLikeGuinness campaign – the reopening of the pubs has been a long time coming but as we say at Guinness, ‘Good things Come to those who wait’” The advert was created by Jack Watts and James Cambridge at ad agency AMV BBDO, and we think it’s a worthy successor to the great Guinness adverts of old.  Just watch it because it will make you smile and make you want a pint of Guinness – so job done ad people.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Get yourself off the grid. Just as soon as you, errr.. go online first

Go off-grid with Shackleton whisky

We don’t know about you, but being permanently online as many of us have been in the past year has been exhausting. Wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere with no Twitter, email, Slack, Zoom, Instagram, spreadsheets, Clubhouse, or Whatsapp? Well, Shackleton whisky has the answer with its #GoOffGrid interactive map of the best off-grid destinations in the UK. From hidden caves in the Lake District to a shepherd’s hut on the Welsh hillside, these are places where there is no mobile reception or wifi. So you can switch off your phone, enjoy the company of friends and family, get back to nature or appreciate a fine whisky without having to post about it on Instagram. Kenny Nicholson from Shackleton Whisky explained: “After more than a year being stuck indoors, our need to get in touch with our adventurous side and to enjoy quality time with others has never been stronger. When we step outside and put our phones down, we free ourselves of distractions – and that’s why we wanted to build on the map and to give people some inspiration to have longer off-grid adventures through these staycations this year.” To launch the #GoOffGrid campaign, Shackleton is offering a prize for up to six people to stay at a mystery destination over the bank holiday weekend (28-30 May). Sadly, you do have to go online to enter, via the brand’s Instagram channel. If you want to see what you could win, Richard Rankin from Outlander visited the secret location and, erm, recorded his experiences on Instagram. Doesn’t that defeat the whole point of the exercise?

The Nightcap: 21 May

There’s some big brand beef to get stuck into this week

Bacardi avoids £51m claim in Brown-Forman lawsuit

There was some big brand drama in the news this week after a London court determined on Wednesday (19 May) that Bacardi UK has escaped a £51.5 million lawsuit raised by its former distribution partner Brown-Forman. The duo first formed a UK distribution alliance in 2002 and officially ended the relationship in April 2020, after 18 years, severing the alignment between the considerable portfolios which includes brands such as Bombay Sapphire gin (Bacardi) and Jack Daniel’s whiskey (Brown-Forman). In a written argument to the court, Brown-Forman stated the companies decided to go their own ways after Bacardi brought on a new global chief executive who sought structural changes and sued them citing payments owed from a cost-sharing agreement inked with a Bacardi subsidiary in 2016. The Bacardi subsidiary responded with its own cross-claim seeking remuneration for its work as a commercial agent. Now both claims will move forward to arbitration. So this isn’t over yet. Brown-Forman has declined to comment on the ruling, while a spokesperson from Bacardi told The Spirits Business the company was “pleased” with the court’s decision and that “the ruling demonstrates we have acted properly and with integrity”. We suspect this won’t be the last we hear of this.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Everyone, meet Rocco!

And finally… Girvan Distillery hires sniffer dog

News from Girvan Distillery emerged this week regarding possibly the most important story we’ll ever cover. The distillery has hired a dog. Yes, you read that correctly. The Ayrshire-based site does not have a new pet. It has an employee. One-year-old cocker spaniel Rocco has been brought in as a full-time sniffer dog, tasked with nosing any imperfections in wood used to make the distillery’s casks. He’ll then report back to his boss should he detect any issues with the barrels at the cooperage. And what would be his boss’ name, I hear you ask? Why, it’s associate global brand director Chris Wooff. The dog works for a guy called Mr. Wooff, folks. Speaking about the new appointment, Mr. Wooff (hahaha, how is this a real story?) said: “The sense of smell of a dog like Rocco is 40 times stronger than a human’s, and we’ve specially selected and trained Rocco to pick up the scent of anything that’s not quite right as the whisky matures.” Rocco was trained for the role for six months in Pembrokeshire by dog expert Stuart Phillips and reports suggest he is indeed a good boy. Team leader Lianne Noble says the atmosphere lifts wherever Rocco is working, and that people “can’t help but smile in his presence”, adding: “He’s a working dog rather than a workplace pet, so we have guidelines in place to make sure he doesn’t get disturbed when he’s taking a break between shifts, but the boost in morale has been a joy to see.” What a tremendous story this is, and it’s made us realise that it’s vital that we hire a dog as soon as possible. If you know any good candidates tell them to chuck a CV our way. We do require that the pup is toilet-trained and can shake and sit, however. So no timewasters.

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The Nightcap: 30 April

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and to kick things off in the right direction we’ve got a whole week’s worth of smoking hot booze news. It’s all in the Nightcap:…

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and to kick things off in the right direction we’ve got a whole week’s worth of smoking hot booze news. It’s all in the Nightcap: 30 April edition! 

We’ve got a long weekend ahead of us as the May Bank Holiday has arrived, in the UK at least, everyone else is thinking, what the hell is a ‘bank holiday’? Anyway, we’re all hoping for a sliver of sunshine so that we’re not shivering in pub gardens or in those makeshift tent type things outside restaurants. Maybe bring a blanket, just in case. Of course, you don’t have to venture out if you don’t want to. You can always kick back and relax with a good dram and enjoy The Line of Duty season finale. Or some light reading. Like a round-up of all the interesting things that happened in the world of booze this week. Good thing there’s a new edition of The Nightcap here!

This week on the MoM blog we paid tribute to the remarkable Tomas Estes, who has sadly passed away. Be sure to raise a glass to the Tequila pioneer tonight.

Elsewhere, we launched two new competitions, one a #BagThisBundle which gives you a chance to stock up on some Duppy Share Rum and the other promising an amazing adventure to the Lakes District courtesy of the Lakes Distillery. We also helped you explore the world of rum with some of our favourite bottlings, made a classic cocktail that features in Charlie Chaplin’s Caught in a Cabaret, enjoyed the latest vintage of a great Champagne, uncovered the story behind Don Julio Tequila and found out what the heck a swan neck is.

Now, let’s enjoy what the drinks industry had to offer in the last seven days. It’s The Nightcap: 30 April!

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

It’s likely this whiskey was distilled sometime between 1763 to 1803!

‘World’s oldest whiskey’ to be sold at auction

If you want a chance at owning a whiskey billed as “the oldest currently known bottle” then put 22-30 June in your diary. Because that’s when you’ll be able to bid on a legendary bottle of Old Ingledew bourbon. Skinner Auctioneers are selling the remarkable spirit, which was originally thought to be from 1850. However, when Skinner rare spirits expert Joseph Hyman used a needle to extract a small sample of the liquid to be sent off for carbon dating, the results were even more incredible. It was revealed that the most likely date this bourbon was distilled (with 81.1% probability) was between 1763 to 1803. It’s impossible to place a specific age statement. But historical records confirm that it’s among the oldest distilled whiskey remaining on the planet today. We know a little bit about the history of the bottle thanks to a press release from Skinner Auctioneers. It was purchased by John Pierpoint Morgan (Yep, that J.P. Morgan) in Georgia in the late 19th century. It was originally stored in demijohn so Morgan paid a visit to a speciality grocer in LaGrange to have several decanters worth of the whiskey bottled. His son Jack eventually ended up with some bottles, giving a few away including to US Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Another recipient was James F. Byrnes, who subsequently gave the bottle to close friend and whiskey lover Francis Drake, who knew the value of what he had and for three successive generations, his family kept a cork in it. This is why we have this incredible, roughly 250-year-old, bottle now. Although we wouldn’t hold out too much hope that you’ll get your hands on this one. We imagine demand will be pretty high… 

Rémy and Usher team up to celebrate their roots

It wouldn’t be a Nightcap without a celeb/booze mash-up and we’ve got a particularly good one this week. Cognac house Rémy Martin has produced a video called “Team Up For Excellence” starring ‘00s music ledge Usher. The video, put together by composer Raphael Saadiq, director and choreographer Jake Nava, and Oscar-winning costume designer Marci Rodgers, tells the story of the links between Cognac and American music. “I was really inspired by creating the historical music scenes in a way that felt true to the spirit of that moment, but also relevant and eye‐catching to a young contemporary audience,” Nava explains. “This dual priority informed my direction of all the music, dance and Usher’s performance.” The video opens with Usher as a GI in World War I liberating France, moves to a jazz club and through the ages, taking in different musical genres. “Music doesn’t need Cognac to exist, and Cognac doesn’t need music to exist,” Usher said, “but what is beautiful is that they were meant to meet and when they did, they created cultural harmony.” The video is a cut above most spirits adverts and well worth five minutes of your time. 

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

If anyone does manage to get a taste of his let us know if it’s as good as it looks

Loch Lomond unveils 45-year-old whisky 

It just wouldn’t be The Nightcap without a remarkable and rare Scotch whisky to stare at longingly. And this next beauty will surely appear in auctions itself in the not too distant future. It’s a 45-year-old single malt from Loch Lomond Distillery, distilled in 1973 and matured in American oak casks, before finishing for one year in a first-fill Oloroso sherry cask. It’s bottled at 42.2% ABV without chill-filtration and there are only 200 individually-numbered bottles to be released out in the whisky wild, which goes some way to explaining the £3,450 price tag. It’s one the first of three releases in The Remarkable Stills Series of single malts, a collection that will shine a spotlight on the Alexandria-based distillery’s unusual straight neck pot stills. The stills are unique to Loch Lomond and give the distiller more control of the type of spirit produced, allowing for greater separation of flavours, helping to create the distinct fruity characters that Loch Lomond has become famous for. The launch of the significant Scotch follows a branding refresh and extension of the Loch Lomond Whiskies portfolio, which includes the introduction of a 21 and 30 Year Old to the range. A new webpage was also made to detail exactly how the liquid was created. So you can at least live vicariously through that info, because the sad reality is that most of us won’t be tasting this whisky.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

The distillery is one of the most picturesque in the country

Glasgow Whisky buys Tromie Mills Distillery

Those of you familiar with Glasgow Whisky will know that, since being founded in 2007, the company has plied its trade in selling award-winning independently-bottled Scotch whisky like Speymhor and Cailleach. But now the company is venturing into the world of distillation after purchasing its first distillery site. Glasgow Whisky, not to be confused with The Glasgow Distillery Co., has bought Tromie Mills Distillery Limited, owner of the site in Drumguish, Kingussie, which is currently occupied by Speyside Distillers. The latter will continue to operate from the Drumguish site until its lease expires in Spring 2025 (and already has another distillery on the way) and then Glasgow Whisky will refurbish the building, working with local suppliers. While we’ll have to wait a while to see them take advantage of the new venture, we imagine owners Graham Taylor and Stuart Hendry will be excited to run one of the most picturesque distillery sites in Scotland in the magnificent Cairngorms National Park. The duo is said to be committing significant investment to build a sustainable, energy-efficient and contemporary distillery that will acknowledge the heritage of the site. “Our plans for the distillery will give us the opportunity to celebrate an established and known site, whilst bringing it into the 21st century in terms of distilling innovation, sustainability and production methods. We are extremely excited to have this opportunity to evolve our business,” says Hendry.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

The swanky new distillery will be home to the creation of rum, gin, vodka, sambuca and more

English Spirit to open cutting-edge distillery

And in more distillery-based news, the folks over at English Spirit are set to open their new state-of-the-art distillery this summer. Over the past three years, the team has been converting a disused agricultural building in the ground of the historic Treguddick Manor in the rolling Cornish countryside. At the heart of the distillery will sit a custom 2,500-litre copper still, engineered by Dr John Walters, master distiller and owner of English Spirit, based on the original 200-litre alembic stills he designed for Great Yeldham Hall. And the team expects to produce 50,000 bottles of tasty booze by the end of 2021, so that still is going to be kept busy. When the distillery officially opens later this summer, tours and tasting experiences will invite the public to see how English Spirit produces its wide varieties of spirits from scratch. Walters says the brand wanted to open another site to “further our place in England’s high-quality food and drink industry and to show off what we do best, via educational tours, tastings and even cooking with spirits”. If you’d like to learn more about this unique brand, you can read all about our visit last year here!

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

We’re sad to see the lager go

Diageo calls last orders on Guinness spin-off Hop House 13

Fans of the Guinness-made Hop House lager might want to stock up on any bottles they can find because Diageo is calling time on the brand in the UK. As reported by Daniel Woolfson in The Grocer, the Guinness spin-off has been delisted and will soon disappear from supermarkets, pubs and bars. Diageo launched Hop House 13 in 2015 to ensure it wasn’t being left out of the craft beer boom and was an initial success. But sales have slumped during the pandemic. According to data from Nielsen, Hop House lost 8.7% of its value over the 52 weeks to 5 September 2020, falling £2.5m to £26.7m, with volume down by 12.5%. The drinks giant says it had undertaken a review of its beer portfolio and “taken the strategic decision to prioritise the main Guinness trademark in Great Britain”, adding that it was “a difficult decision to make, but one that we believe is right for Guinness in the long term”. The good news is that Guinness itself is still going strong. The good folks over at Nielsen revealed much more joyous stats about the classic Irish stout, showing that it added £27m to its value, rising to £104.5m over the same period – a 35% gain. If you’d like to get your hands on either, you can find them both here.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

What a beautiful sight

The Craigellachie Hotel to re-open its doors

As pubs and bars all over the UK continue the glorious process of opening their doors once again we were delighted to learn that The Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside will be doing the very same. The 26-room hotel stands at the heart of the largest whisky region in the world and home to the Quaich bar, one of the world’s leading whisky bars, will open its famous Copper Dog Pub and new outdoor terrace area. A brand new menu created by newly-appointed executive chef and general manager William Halsall (of Le Caprice, 34 Grosvenor Square, and The Ivy fame) will be available, as will a take-away menu. Halsall says that the team has gone through “vigorous training in preparation for reopening without compromising our friendly, home from home experience”. The upgraded outdoor dining experience will offer seating for an additional thirty guests and there will be hand sanitising stations at every entrance and social distancing in place, as safety remains an obvious concern. Reservations are mandatory and can be made through sevenrooms.com or by calling 01340 881204, while the Copper Dog pub is open seven days a week between 10am-10pm. Accommodation will then open from 17 May and guests will be able to book online here. Just in time for the return of distillery tours too. It’s all coming together!

Stewart Buchanan Benriach

If you’re lucky you might find Stewart Buchanan behind the bar at Benriach

Benriach opens to the public for the first time

And talking of visiting Speysdie, there’s now a new distillery to visit, Benriach. Well, it’s not new as such, the distillery dates back to 1898, but from 21 May is the first time it’s ever been open to the general public. Brown-Forman has put a lot of thought and money into the refurbishment: there’s a bar, shop, and tasting lounge, and two ‘tasting experiences.’ You can book here. Beginners can enjoy the ‘Sense of Flavour’ while more experienced whiskiests can explore the flavours of cask maturation with ‘Barrels, Butts, and Barriques’, which includes a dram of Benriach 21 Year Old. Visitor centre manager Jennifer Proctor explained: “From cask tastings to cocktails, we’ll initially be offering two flight-style tasting experiences that allow customers to explore Benriach’s flavour spectrum. When restrictions allow, we will reveal our full distillery tour offering and announce the next phase of the distillery visitor centre development. Whether a local to Speyside or visitor from further afield, we look forward to welcoming guests from near and afar to discover Benriach’s world of flavour.” If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

Terrace bar at Clynelish

Nice view from the terrace bar at Clynelish

Johnnie Walker brand home opens at Clynelish 

Another day, another renovated distillery opens up. Must be something in the air. As part of Diageo’s £185 million investment in ‘Four Corners’ whisky tourism, Clynelish Distillery will be opening to the public as ‘Highland home of Johnnie Walker’. Glenkinchie opened up last year with Cardhu in Speyside, and the Princes Street location in Edinburgh both due to open later this year. Opening date for the revamped Caol Ila is TBC. The renovation at Clynelish includes an ‘interactive story room’ (whatever that is), a ‘modern retail space’ (shop), and a ‘terrace bar’ (we know what that is) overlooking the Highland scenery. The team has worked closely with disabled charity Euan’s Guide to make sure the place is as accessible as possible.  Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scottish brand homes, commented on what we could expect from the visitor experience:  “We can guarantee that Clynelish won’t disappoint. We know that visitors and locals will be blown away by the distillery – by a visitor experience that is unlike any other.” Crikey! What could she possibly mean? Naturally, there’s a limited edition commemorative bottling, a 50.6% ABV 16 Year Old. Only 3,000 bottles at £195 each have been filled and you’ll have to visit the distillery in order to buy one.

Britannia, Boston Lincs credit: batemans

The Britannia, in Boston Lincs Photo courtesy of Batemans Brewery

And finally…. Get paid to go to the pub

In a bit of news that sounds too good to be true, Lincolnshire County Council is offering a £28,000 salary to someone to research the county’s historic pubs as part of its ‘Inns on the Edge’ project. The year long job will involve visiting various pubs along a 50 mile stretch of coastline from Grimsby to Boston. But it’s not all beer and skittles, the perfect candidate should be “someone who can interview people and get stories from them, but also collect photographs, historic photographs of the pubs and the activities that used to go on in and around and associated with the pub,” as Ian George from the council explained. The purpose of the project is to record a living history that is rapidly disappearing as pubs around the county (and the country) close. A process exacerbated by the pandemic. So not quite such a funny story to end on as it initially appeared. The moral is, don’t neglect your local, even if you have to stand outside shivering a bit.

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The Nightcap: 9 April

The “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottle ever”, a taboo advert and Madison Beer all feature in the Nightcap: 9 April. Why? Well, you have to read on to find…

The “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottle ever”, a taboo advert and Madison Beer all feature in the Nightcap: 9 April. Why? Well, you have to read on to find out…

Well, this is it. The last weekend before folks in (some of) the UK can go back to pubs, bars and restaurants. It’s a momentous occasion. But does anyone remember how any of this actually works, exactly? We’re worried both bartender and consumer will just stare at each other blankly across the bar like malfunctioning androids. It’s going to be a nation of accidental Mark Zuckerberg impressions. Still, it’s exciting all the same. Like reading about all the most interesting things that happened in the world of booze in the last few days. It’s the Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Which you’ll already have a taste of if you’ve read our blog this week. Just because it was a shorter week, that didn’t mean we skimped on the content. There were all kinds of stories to enjoy, like the launch of our exclusive Glenfiddich Tasting Collection or a new expression that combines whiskey with tea. Elsewhere, Millie returned to reexamine the role of the often-derided Mixto Tequila, Ian had his eye on the most valuable drinks companies in the world while Lucy asked if the living room was the new tasting room. Brora Distillery was then in headline-stealing mood by announcing its opening in May and launching super fancy celebratory booze. Oh, and if you need any inspiration for a weekend tipple and love flavoured gin, then you’ll enjoy this week’s cocktail.

Now, let’s get Nightcapping, shall we?

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

We love some fancy Bowmore

One-of-a-kind Black Bowmore Archive Cabinet heads to auction

In top fancy whisky news of the week, a complete set of five rare, iconic Black Bowmore bottlings is about to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. But not just that: the 29, 30, 31, 42 and 50 year old expressions, first distilled in 1964, are housed in something very special indeed. A gorgeous cabinet crafted by John Galvin, an expert in his field, who took two years designing and building the thing. It all started with a trip to Islay, where he took in the scenery from Machir Bay to Bowmore itself. And the cabinet even features parts of the distillery itself, including handles made from the decommissioned spirit safe, and details from the washbacks. “The spirit in those bottles went through the spirit safe,” said Bowmore master blender Ron Welsh via video call to talk about the really rather magnificent construction. The cabinet, plus all five bottles, is expected to fetch at least £400,000 when it goes up as the first lot in the Wine & Spirit Spring Sale Series, which runs from 16-18 April. Funds raised will go to the Bowmore Legacy Project, which supports young people on Islay with housing and training. “The best thing is that the money goes back into the island,” Welsh added. We can’t wait to see what it goes for!

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

A computer-generated image of what the new brewery and distillery will look like when finished

New €24m Killarney brewery and distillery to open this summer

If you thought the last year would dent the demand for new producers of Irish whiskey, you’d be wrong. It seems like every week there’s a new announcement that somebody is going to do the lord’s work and make the water of life on the Emerald Isle. Killarney Brewing & Distilling, however, has to be one of the most notable and exciting. At 62,000 sq ft, it’s set to become Ireland’s largest independent brewery, distillery and visitor centre when it opens this summer. The site, which cost more than €24m (just over £20m), will house a rooftop garden, a 250-seat gala event space, a chocolate shop and other facilities. It will employ over 85 people, while the brand aims to attract in excess of 100,000 annual visitors. Paul Sheahan, Tim O’Donoghue and Liam Healy founded Killarney Brewing & Distilling in 2013 and opened a town centre location in 2015, restoring the old Killarney Mineral Water drinks facility into a taproom and pizzeria. This is one serious project. While we wait for the brand’s spirit to mature, Killarney Brewing & Distilling announced on St Patrick’s Day that it was launching two flagship products, an eight-year-old blended Irish whiskey and an imperial stout matured in the same Killarney whiskey casks designed to complement the flavours of the whiskey blend. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

These are some of the most sustainable bottles ever produced.

Diageo makes “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottles ever”

You might recall us previously writing about Diageo’s Society 2030: Spirit of Progress sustainability plan. Well, the series of ambitious environmental goals produced a real result this week as the drinks giant was able to pioneer the lowest carbon footprint glass bottles ever produced for a Scotch whisky brand. In collaboration with glass manufacturer Encirc and industry research and technology body Glass Futures, Diageo has used waste-based biofuel-powered furnaces and 100% recycled glass to the most environmentally-friendly receptacles, which reduce the carbon footprint of the bottle-making process by up to 90%. For the purposes of the trial Diageo used its Black & White Scotch whisky brand, producing 173,000 of the impressive bottles. Further work now needs to be done to develop and scale the trial for future production, but it represents a significant step forward. John Aird, senior packaging technologist at Diageo, who led the project for the company, said the trial was just a first step in the journey to decarbonise this aspect of the supply chain and that the brand still has a long way to go, but that it was “delighted with the results of the collaboration” and the “platform it creates for future innovation”.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

If you guys need any volunteer tasters you know where we are. Also, rad dog.

White Peak Distillery to launch first whisky after crowd-funding success

If you thought the Peak District had everything before 2016, you were wrong. Very close, but wrong. Because it didn’t have a full-scale distillery capable of making delicious English whisky. But five years ago that changed when White Peak was founded by local husband-and-wife team Max & Claire Vaughan. Since then, it’s won plenty of awards for its distillery visitor experiences and tasty gin and rum, while generating lots of excitement with its impressive new make. Now White Peak is gearing up to launch its first single malt whisky in October 2021. To make the most of this pivotal year, the distillery is currently offering the opportunity to become a shareholder in White Peak. Interested parties can contribute to the crowd funding campaign, which already raised nearly £1 million, almost doubling its target of £500,000. The crowdfunding page, which is due to close on 23 April, reveals that White Peak has more than 950 casks of maturing whisky and is operating at 50% of its capacity, allowing further room to grow. The distillery’s prologue release, a two-year-old spirit, sold out in two days. Co-founder Max says the team is excited for the next chapter of the distillery’s story to unfold with the release of the single malt whisky and that the brand’s “journey over the past five years has been incredibly rewarding”. We’re certainly looking forward to tasting the new dram. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Don’t drink and hike. Obviously.

River Rock Scotch whisky ads banned 

One Scotch whisky brand found itself on rocky ground this week after the UK’s advertising watchdog upheld a complaint against it. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has deemed two of River Rock’s ads as being “irresponsible” on the grounds they linked alcohol with an activity or location where drinking would be unsafe. The ads, both seen on 7 January 2021, included a post on the brand’s Facebook page, which read: “What better way to celebrate the launch of batch #2 than with a whisky tasting at 3,500ft?” It was accompanied with images of people mountaineering, with a bottle of whisky shown with the hikers. A second ad, posted on the journal section of the brand’s website, included a similar message. The ASA said that, while neither ad showed someone drinking alcohol, consumers would likely assume whisky had been consumed at 3,500ft due to the question posed. River Rock contested that the images did not show or imply whisky consumption and says the brand takes its position within the outdoor community and alcohol industry seriously. The Scotch whisky makers also revealed it liaised with the ASA and updated the content to ensure it met approved standards. River Rock’s Kirsten Geary says mountaineering images are still allowed to be used to promote River Rock and that its commitment to the great outdoors is “fundamental to the brand”, and “as a proud member of 1% for the Planet which sees the brand contribute one tree for every bottle sold, we will also continue to feature and celebrate Scotland’s wild spaces in our communications.”

Rare Brora whiskies go under the hammer

Brora! Brora! Brora!

Super rare Brora collection goes under the hammer

Did our post this week whet your appetite for all things Brora? Yes? Well read on. Whisky Auctioneer is hosting an auction entirely dedicated to this legendary ghost (though not for much longer) distillery from 15-19 April. Especial rarities include: Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s 61.1, the first-ever bottling of Brora single malt; bottle number one of 60 of a 41 year old 1978 Brora bottled for Diageo’s Casks of Distinction programme; a 1972 Cask Strength 40-Year-Old decanter; and even some bottlings from when the distillery was known as Clynelish. That’s before the new Clynelish was built in 1969 and the old one labelled Brora. Yes, it’s a bit complicated. The head of auction content, Joe Wilson, commented: “The Brora auction encapsulates the distillery’s past as it prepares to turn on the stills to its future with the chance to bid on complete collections and rare single malts created prior to the distillery’s halt in production in 1983 – a timely reminder to revisit these legendary malts and that ‘lost distilleries” are not always lost forever.” He added: Whether you are a whisky collector or lost distillery enthusiast, this is a one of a kind opportunity to get your hands on these special Brora bottles, many of which are rarely seen on the secondary market.” So sell your house, pawn the family silver and get bidding.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

This is actually how Guinness comes over from Dublin, in two enormous cans

Fresh Guinness is on its way as England’s pubs reopen

Here at MoM, we have the date 12 April ringed in our diaries as that’s the day that the pubs in England reopen. Sort of. You still have to drink outside but still, beer! In preparation, Guinness is sending 49 tankers of the black stuff across the Irish sea for the country’s thirsty drinkers. And to make sure that everything is in tip-top condition for the big pour, the company is sending a crack squad of stout technicians to 50,000 venues around the country. Head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah, commented: “Our teams have been working round the clock, undertaking a series of rigorous checks with the utmost care and attention so that when people all over GB have their first sip of a fresh pint, it’s the best it can be.” He went on to say: “The past year has been tough for the hospitality industry, so we want to do all that we can to make sure that their opening week is as successful as it can be.” Seeing as this was only announced yesterday, the pubs reopen on Monday and there are only 50 of these experts, they better get moving if they’re to get around all those venues. Especially as the photos supplied show a Guinness tanker still in Dublin! Come on chaps! We’re dying of thirst here.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

The dream. This is the dream.

Black Chalk’s vineyard tree houses open this summer

We don’t know about you, but we’ve always wanted a proper treehouse. Just the word ‘treehouse’ conjures up magical images of Swiss Family Robinson (Google the 1960 film version) or the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi. But we’ve just heard about one that’s even better cos it’s right by a vineyard! From 12 April, top Hampshire sparkling wine producer Black Chalk will open its four new treehouses to the general public. The treehouses sit six metres off the ground on the Fullerton Estate. They are built in a Scandinavian style using local materials and designed to blend in with the landscape. Oh, and include outdoor hot tubs. Sexy! Black Chalk’s Andrew Seden comments: “The treehouses are a great addition to the estate and bring another dimension to the Black Chalk experience, shining a light on our Test Valley home and putting our wines in front of new consumers.  Whilst the majority of guests are expected to be from London, and the wider U.K. – especially with international travel restricted – The Test Valley draws in tourists from all over the world, including Japan which is our primary international market.” And if you don’t fancy the full treehouse experience (what is wrong with you?), tours of the winery resume on 12 May. We hear Hampshire is lovely at that time of year. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Don’t try this at home. Obviously. Credit: TikTok/@doctortristanpeh

And finally… don’t open beer bottles with your teeth

Madison Beer was in the news recently. No, not a Czech-style lager from Wisconsin, but top American singer Madison Beer. Do try to keep up, dad. But beer is involved. The two beers collided when a video went viral of Beer, the singer, opening a bottle of beer, the delicious hoppy beverage, with her teeth. Then this week, a publicity-seeking Singapore dentist, Doctor Tristan Peh, waded in with a video of his own out that this is not good for your teeth. Duh, thanks doc!

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The Nightcap: 18 December

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and to round-off 2020 we’ve put together one last batch of bonkers boozy news, a fitting tribute to the year that was. There’s…

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and to round-off 2020 we’ve put together one last batch of bonkers boozy news, a fitting tribute to the year that was.

There’s just one week until Christmas and only two weeks left in the whole year. How, exactly, has that happened? This truly has been the strangest, suckiest and most surreal collection of 12 months most of us have ever experienced. The good news is that this decade can only get better. Right? Well, we can confirm that The Nightcap will return in 2021, so that’s at least one positive thing in the bag already. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 2020 still has some time on the clock and it’s chosen to spend some of its last moments making the world of booze a whole fresh batch of news to report on.

As we get ever closer to the big day #Whisky Santa has been ramping things up with his super wishes, giving away a bottle each of Dalmore 35 Year Old and Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983, while those of you working your way through your Whisky Advent Calendars will have helped yourself to a feast of Scotch, American and World whisky thanks to the selection of drams that were hidden behind doors number #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17 and #18.

Elsewhere on the blog, we welcomed a new range of tasty spirits from, well… us! Then we reported on the incredibly exciting return of whisky distilling to Karuizawa in Japan, learned from Nate Brown what it’s like to launch a cocktail company during COVID and tasted the first whisky from Copper Rivet Distillery. We also found time for a quick chat with David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, managed to pick out some delightful fortified wines to drink across the festive season, sample a peated Irish whiskey and make a delicious steaming hot cocktail

Now, onto the last Nightcap of 2020. We hope all our lovely readers have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Nightcap

If the trials are successful we could be seeing a lot more of Blondie

Johnnie Walker to launch new whisky: Johnnie Blonde

News on Johnnie Walker is rarely in short supply but this week’s announcement is particularly exciting. The Diageo-owned Scotch whisky brand has revealed its plans to launch a new whisky in 2021 called Johnnie Blonde. The new expression was made to “appeal to current and new whisky drinkers alike” and is designed to be consumed in long serves, with the brand suggesting lemonade as its go-to mixer. Johnnie Blonde, which is a blend of bright wheat whiskies matured in sweet American oak and fruity malt whiskies, is very much a response to the evolving way Scotch is being consumed, with Michael Ward, head of innovation at Diageo commenting, “Johnnie Walker has always been built on progress, on a desire to constantly push boundaries and explore new flavours, experiences and serves. Johnnie Blonde is borne out of that same philosophy”. The expression, which has already won an International Spirits Challenge Gold Medal, isn’t getting a full rollout and instead will be piloted in a small number of cities around the world, including Monterey (Mexico), Curitiba (Brazil), Bangkok (Thailand), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Houston (USA) as well as with a number of partners throughout Germany, in March 2021, priced at RRP US$24.99. We look forward to seeing how it does. While we wait, we might as well make a nice long drink with one of the brand’s other delicious whiskies, right?

The Nightcap

The last we thing we need to be doing is making things harder for this amazing industry

 Tariffs on Scotch whisky move closer to removal

Things appear to be going in the right direction for those of us who want to see an end to the damaging 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky that was set by the U.S. over a year ago as part of a wider trade war between the U.S. and European Union. Following last week’s update on the study, new reports suggest that the U.K. government and the outgoing Trump administration are currently in negotiations to secure a ‘mini’ trade deal. In an interview with the BBC, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said: “It’s extremely likely that we have an FTA, free-trade agreement, with the United Kingdom before long,”  and, when asked specifically about lowering tariffs on certain products including Scotch whisky, added “we have the advantage in that both the US and the UK – particularly the current government of the UK – are not big subsidisers, where some other countries are more inclined to subsidise. So it would be helpful if we could come to some kind of agreement. We are in discussions, we’ll see how that works out.” Trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said it was “encouraging” to hear Lighthizer indicate that a UK-US ‘mini deal’ could be achieved to remove Scotch whisky tariffs. Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, also remarked that she would like to see the US reciprocate by suspending tariffs, commenting: “Suspension on both sides would, we believe, create a positive environment for intensified settlement talks to take place. A settlement would enable everyone – aircraft manufacturers, Scotch whisky and other industries caught up in this – to focus on economic recovery rather than losing revenue to punitive tariffs”.

Guinness releases first new TV ad in 12 years

It’s always an event when Guinness releases a new television advert. This brand is synonymous with wonderful advertising, just think of those ‘80s adverts featuring Rutger Hauer or, of course, the ‘Surfers’ advert from 1999, judged the greatest TV advert of all time in a poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4. The new advert highlights the beauty of Draught Guinness in a can, something we’ve all been having more of us since the pubs were closed. Neil Shah, head of Guinness GB explained: “People love to savour delicious Guinness Draught and we wanted to remind people that they can enjoy the smooth and refreshing taste whether they choose to drink it in a pub or at home. The popularity of Guinness Draught beer in a can has naturally increased in recent months, and we wanted to celebrate that despite Christmas being different this year, Guinness Draught  doesn’t have to be.” The 20-second film titled “Pull. Pour. Settle. Enjoy.” was created by agency AMV BBDO with director Scott Lyon, and is rather functional. Yes, it makes you want to have Guinness, so it works, but it also makes you long for the sheer artistry of its forebears. Must try harder. 

The Nightcap

Let’s hope this move helps more people enjoy the distillery’s delicious whiskey

Whistlepig sells minority stake

Whistlepig has revealed that it has sold a minority stake to Moët Hennessy in a bid to help the brand expand internationally. While financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, we do know that the Vermont-based rye whiskey producer has been exploring options to help build its whiskey brand outside of North America, so it would be safe to assume we’ll be seeing more of Whistlepig thanks to the new partnership. “The arrangement with Moët Hennessy marks a significant moment for Whistlepig,” said Jeff Kozak, Whistlepig CEO. “We could not be more pleased to align our brand with the leader in luxury wines and spirits and are excited about future collaboration with Moët Hennessy’s team in the international market.” According to IWSR 2019 data, Whistlepig holds the top position in the ultra-premium and luxury rye whiskey category (sold at US$45 or over) in North America, so it’s a move that comes with a lot of for Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of LVMH. “We are convinced that Whistlepig fits well within Moët Hennessy’s portfolio,” said Philippe Schaus, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy. “This rye whiskey house has done a remarkable job distinguishing itself among the emblematic and iconic craft distilleries in the United States with an ultra-premium standing in terms of identity, quality and price positioning.”

The Nightcap

Look at it. Just beautiful.

Bushmills unveils its oldest single malt whiskey

When Bushmills launched its Causeway Collection earlier this month we were very excited. Firstly, because it comprises of 10 cask-finished single malt whiskies that vary in age from nine to 30 years old. But also because the Irish whiskey brand is only releasing details of one bottling at the time. Which makes it even more exciting. Particularly when Bushmills follows up the debut of a single malt matured in Oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels for 17 years before being finished for two years in a rare Burgundy cask with the launch of its oldest single malt whiskey. The second expression in the range, the 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask single malt was initially matured in Oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels, and finished in new American oak casks for an ‘unprecedented’ 16 years. The non-chill-filtered single malt was bottled in September 2020 at cask strength (48.4% ABV) and is said to have notes of honey malt with the virgin oak providing ‘intense flavours of vanilla, chocolate and warm wood’. “It’s a privilege to work with such rare whiskeys in The Causeway Collection. This 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask, our oldest single malt to date, is a truly special Irish single malt,” says Bushmills master blender Helen Mulholland. “I’m immensely proud of how we’ve been able to create such sensational waves of flavour in a 30-year-old whiskey. Like the whole Causeway Collection, it’s a celebration of our passion for single malts, our rare and unique casks and our 400 years of whiskey-making heritage.” Sadly, getting your hands on this is going to be pretty tricky. Firstly, because only 100 bottles of the single malt have been released (the remaining 332 bottles are coming next year.). Secondly, because it’s available exclusively at The Irish Whiskey Collection at The Loop in Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland. Still, it’s a welcome boost for travel retail and a window in the kind of delights that lie in Bushmill’s warehouses…

The Nightcap

Shades are advised for this one

Glenmorangie’s new ad campaign is very colourful

Dig out your sunglasses because Glenmorangie has unveiled a new brand campaign and it’s not what you would call subdued. It was created by DDB Paris agency with top photographer Miles Aldridge and features six scenes of people enjoying Glenmorangie with the tagline, “It’s kind of delicious and wonderful”. And did we mention the colours? Holy moly, they are bright, awash with the boldest oranges and vivid blues. These technicolour dreams will be appearing on social media and various billboards across London this month. Alexander Kalchev, chief creative officer at DDB Paris, explained: “We set out to reimagine everyday experiences – a camping trip or a train journey – all made more wonderful, to reflect Glenmorangie’s perspective. Inspired by the brand’s signature orange colour, we decided to use colour as a metaphor to open up the whisky’s world. And of course, as a master of colour, Miles Aldridge was the obvious talent to bring our vision to life.” Louise Dennett, global head of brand at Glenmorangie, added: “We make whisky because we want people to enjoy it. There are many technicalities as to how we make it taste so good. But ultimately, what matters is that our single malt is delicious, and we think there’s a simple joy in that. Through our collaboration with Miles Aldridge and DDB Paris we have created a visual feast of a campaign. We hope it will welcome more people into our delicious and wonderful world.” But that’s not all: as well as being striking, the images contain little jokes including references to giraffes (the distillery’s mascot) and anagrams of the word Glenmorangie, like ‘A Ginger Lemon’ in the train and ‘Mango Reeling’. Endless fun! 

The Nightcap

The gin numbers for the off-trade were something to smile about, at least

British gin sales hit hard by lockdown

For the final news round-up of the year, it seems fitting to include the man who has graced more Nightcaps than anyone… Miles Beale! According to Beale, CEO of the WSTA, “Gin has proven to be a real tonic for shoppers wanting to enjoy a bit of downtime at home during a turbulent 2020. It’s fantastic to hear that some distillers will have benefited from a boost in retail sales, but we have to look at the bigger picture which shows overall gin sales are down by £400 million following the hit taken by the hospitality sector due to the pandemic this year.” He was commenting on news that because of the enforced closure of much of the on-trade, gin sales declined from £2.6 billion in 2019 to £2.2 billion this year. Retail was up 22%, worth £1.2 billion, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the lost business. As you would expect from Beale, he had words for the British government: “British spirit makers, many of whom are SMEs, need greater support from government to continue to grow and recover from the loss of hospitality sales. That is why, as a first and easy step, we are calling on the Chancellor to cut duty and boost British business at the spring Budget.” You tell ‘em, Miles.

The Nightcap

British people enjoying the odd drop of drink on a lunch break? Scandalous!

And finally. . . Shock horror! People enjoying alcohol during the day

Data produced by the health and safety software company Protecting.co.uk shows that more than 90% of workers say that they have been consuming alcohol while working from home. Hardly surprising, many of us enjoy a glass of wine or a pint with our lunch. The problem with the survey is that it doesn’t differentiate between responsible and heavy drinking, seeing both as problematic. Mark Hall from Protecting.co.uk commented: “It ranges from just a glass for two with lunch, to getting through a whole bottle of wine a day, but the health implications are clear.” He goes on to say: “It’s alarming to employers to hear that staff feel like they can get away with all kinds of behaviour while they are out of office.” It’s health and safety gone mad! We would hardly describe having a drink on a lunch break as ‘alarming’. Before lockdown, if you visited any town or city in the country you would see people enjoying an alcoholic drink with their lunches before returning to work. The press release from Protecting.co.uk goes on to say: “Most workplaces will have a robust alcohol and substance abuse policy to keep staff in check when they are at work.” Perhaps, but this is irrelevant in this instance. Unless you’re operating heavy machinery or conducting brain surgery, then a small amount of alcohol, a pint or a Gin & Tonic, is not a problem for most employers or employees. Lockdown has been hard for everyone, and if you are worried about your drinking, then you should seek professional help (DrinkAware is a really great place to start). But we see nothing wrong with some responsible daytime imbibing. Cin cin!

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