What do a Scotch miniature that’s apparently worth the price of a small family car, the ‘world’s first’ Tequila taproom, and the first age statement bottle of Jack in a century all have in common? Well, they’re all in this week’s Nightcap: 27 August edition, of course.
I like to think at this point we’ve got a nice little Nightcap following with people who regularly read along every Friday, perhaps even with their own rituals. Maybe you have a certain chair you like to sit in, or you try a new dram every time you read. For those of us who write the Nightcap, we have our own routines we do every week, which typically entails dressing up in commemorative robes and chanting ‘NIGHTCAP’ at our screens while drinking White Russians. It’s the little things, you know?
Anyway, even though we know you all love the MoM blog and devour every word we’re going to recap as usual because it’s fun to remember all the good times we’ve had in the past week. Like Henry enjoying a new aperitif made to match with Indian food or making a cocktail inspired by a PM and his trusty axe. Or Millie exploring the world of experimental wine cask whisky and Ian asking the big questions, like what happens when all the delicious old whisky dries up? Adam, meanwhile, spent his week wishing our subscription service Pour & Sip a very happy first birthday (make sure you check out the birthday subscription box), tasting new Glenmorangie whisky (there’s literally only one left at the time of writing), and marvelling at Fettercairn’s resplendent resurgence.
But there’s more boozy brilliance to come. Here’s the Nightcap: 27 August edition!
Let’s hope it’s worth the wait!
Jack Daniel’s reveals first age-statement whiskey in a century
Good things come to those who wait. For the first time in over 100 years, Jack Daniel’s will release a whiskey with an age statement: Jack Daniels 10-Year-Old Tennessee Whiskey, to be exact. While the brand has launched plenty of innovations and premium products alongside its classic No. 7 whiskey, the 10-year-old release will excite the whiskey nerds who love an age statement. The design elements are influenced by the brand’s considerable history, with the original cartouche (the design around that age statement) making an appearance on the bottle, slightly updated by a present-day artist. Master distiller Chris Fletcher told Forbes that the addition of two new stills and 14 fermenters has given the brand more flexibility, so while that new equipment is too new to have made the 10-year-old, it gave the distillery breathing space to experiment, rather than bottle immediately for sale. Although, you would think being bigger than Elvis would have helped that too. Jack Daniels 10-Year-Old Tennessee Whiskey will be bottled at 97 proof (which is 48.5% ABV) and is described by the brand as featuring notes of “dry fig and raisin laced with oak on the nose, warm butterscotch alongside soft fruit and smoke on the pallet, and an incredibly long finish with sweet tobacco and spice.” The 750ml bottles are being sold for $70 in annual batches with limited quantities, so best of luck getting your hands on this one.
Every bit as swanky as you’d imagine
Rare and swanky Karuizawa 1981 single cask whisky unveiled
Some extremely swanky whiskies just released from Karuizawa Distillery are about to go on sale. Called ‘The Legend of Asama’, just 30 sets of two bottles of 1981 vintage single cask malt whiskies are being released over a three-year period. It comes from casks aged for 20 years at Karuizawa, before being transferred to Chichibu Distillery, Saitama Prefecture, where Ichibori-san, the legendary former distiller at Karuizawa, watched over them. And somehow resisted drinking it all. Whisky collector and connoisseur Mahesh Patel, founder of Universal Whisky Experience, chose casks 4059 and 6183 in 2011 and he also managed to not drink all the contents himself (what’s wrong with these people?) keeping them at Chichibu until 2017 before he started selling stock in tiny batches. The last remaining bottles were held back until now. The bottles are decorated with ‘Noh masks’, which is Sino Japanese for skill, craft or talent and each set comprises five tubes. Two contain the Noh bottles, two hold empty handmade Glencairn crystal decanters with gold caps and decorated with detailed engravings of the original labels, and the last holding two specially created Glencairn cut crystal glasses and a Glencairn water-jug. Each set is also accompanied by a signed and numbered hardback book written by whisky writer Charles MacLean MBE featuring the story behind The Legend of Asama collection and some tasting notes. And the price for all this swank and rarity? Well, we’ve been told it’s ‘price on application’ ie. if you have to ask, you can’t afford. To register your interest and to find more details, head here.
We’re seriously impressed with this distillery and highly recommend you get your hands on its whisky
Oxford Artisan Distillery releases “Britain’s first corn whisky”
We love the rye whiskies coming out of the Oxford Artisan Distillery. Now there’s a new series called Grain Stories. The inaugural release, Heritage Corn, is billed as “Britain’s first corn whisky.” And it truly is a British corn whisky using pre-industrial strains of maize from North America, but planted by John Letts, the distillery’s grain guru, in England. After harvesting the first crop by hand, he thought his labours were in vain because half of the yield was damp and began to germinate as it was being cleaned. But Letts snatched triumph from the jaws of defeat by immediately processing it. He explained: “I flaked and crushed all of this maize and sent it to the distillery in a panic… and the team immediately put it in the distilling vat.” The result uses a classic bourbon-style mash bill of 51% corn, 34% rye, 10% wheat and 5% malted barley, and aged for 3.5 years in new American oak. Master distillery Chico Rosa commented on the flavour: “The second most abundant grain used is rye which is quite noticeable through its spicy character, but the corn is oily and its charm comes through with butter and biscuity notes that elevate the spirit. The whisky is full of the distillery’s characteristic floral and herbal tones coupled with shortbread and unroasted nuts, while banana and ginger cake flavours interplay with the whisky’s smooth velvety mouthfeel, finishing with spicy and green grass vibes.” We have to agree. It’s another cracking whisky from the Oxford crew with banana bread on the nose, menthol herbal notes, and then spicy as hell on the palate with sweet toffee and vanilla notes. Truly a corn whisky with character and bottled at a nice punchy 50.4% ABV. All this deliciousness doesn’t come cheap at £95 for 50cl, but with only 830 bottles available exclusively from the distillery, it’s sure to sell out fast.
We’re not there yet, but Scotch whisky sales are recovering
Scotch whisky exports “very promising” says SWA
It’s been a tough couple of years for the Scotch whisky industry. First, there were the tariffs from its biggest market, the US, something we’ve detailed ad nauseum on this blog. And then there was the small matter of a global pandemic leading to most countries closing down their watering holes. Master of Malt customers did their best to make-up the shortfall but still, sales were dramatically down. According to Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the double whammy “brought Scotch whisky exports to their lowest level in a decade”. Now there are signs of recovery, according to the SWA. Sales are still 10% down on 2019 but exports by value were 31% higher than in the annus horribilis [that’s enough Latin, Ed.] of 2020. Things look less rosy looking at sales by region. Exports are down to the EU, a combination of continued lockdowns and changes in trading arrangements caused by Brexit. The US market is still down by 34% compared with 2019. But there’s brighter news from Asia as the Chinese market is booming. Scotch sales at £91m have already overtaken the total for 2019, £89m. Betts described the figures as “very promising.” But, she added that there are still problems with “trade disruption on our supply chain and global distribution,” plus “the cost of goods and services has risen significantly.” And don’t even mention tourism, something that smaller distilleries especially rely upon. It looks like Scotch whisky isn’t out of the woods yet.
If Tequila cocktails are your thing, make sure to head down!
Jose Cuervo launches ‘world’s first’ Tequila taproom
You know how there’s all kinds of craft ale taprooms? Well, imagine going to one of those but instead of beer, you get served Tequila and delicious cocktails. That’s exactly what Jose Cuervo is doing, tapping into the trend (no apologies for the pun), giving the nation’s favourite Tequila cocktails the full taproom treatment, served from kegs, all mixed and ready to go. Expect delights like the Marg My Words (Margarita) and Mexican Dynamite (Tequila & Tonic), as well as an opportunity to book a Tequila masterclass with Tequila educator Oliver Pergl. The world’s oldest Tequila beand, Jose Cuervo, will host the free-to-enter pop-up in Shoreditch, East London from Friday 10 September to Sunday 12 September and in Bristol from Friday 17 September until Sunday 19 September. There’s no need to book, simply walk in, choose your cocktail and enjoy some tasty Tequila! To find out more info head to Jose Cuervo’s Instagram page @JoseCuervoUK.
Time to root through the old cupboards and find a potentially priceless miniature
Springbank miniature goes for a record £6,440 at auction
News from Whisky.Auction will have whisky lovers rifling through their cupboard looking for rare miniatures. A 5cl bottle of Springbank distilled in 1919 has just fetched £6,440 – a record for a miniature. We plugged that number through the Master of Malt Amstrad and it computed that this is equivalent to over £90k for a full bottle. Or more as from the photos the bottle seems to contain substantially less than 5cl of whisky. It’s part of a collection belonging to Sukhinder Singh from The Whisky Exchange. Other jewels included a 1940s Glenfiddich Special mini which fetched £2,530, a Macallan Spiral Label from the ‘70s, £2,185 and a 1967 Glenlivet 50 Year Old (bottled in 2018) which someone paid £1,552.50. Singh commented: “I am thrilled to see that interest in miniature collecting is at an all-time high as it’s something I fell in love with four decades ago.” Isabel Graham-Yooll from Whisky.Auction added: “Bidders are willing to pay what seems like a lot of money for tiny bottles of whisky but it is the opportunity to taste a piece of history – particularly when standard 70cl or 75cl formats have become inaccessible for many enthusiasts to buy.” We wonder what treasures lie in Master of Malt customers’ whisky collections.
Play your cards right and you could be working with brands like Fernet Branca at Domino PR
Paid for internship up for grabs with London PR agency
Here’s a brilliant opportunity for someone who wants to get on in the drinks world: a three-month internship at one of the country’s top PR agencies, Domino Communications. And it’s paid, unlike many of these things, £50 per day and the use of a laptop. It’s being run in conjunction with the Drinks Trust. Candidates must have two years experience in the hospitality industry and a passion for all things drink-related. One lucky person will get to work with Lucy Francis and her team on a mouth-watering list of clients including Regal Rogue vermouth, Crystal Head vodka and Fernet Branca. You’ll be working three days a week from London W2, and the rest of the time at home, the Drinks Trust may be able to help with transport costs. Francis explained the initiative: “This opportunity is geared towards someone working in the drinks industry who absolutely loves what they do, passion is paramount. We will introduce them to the world of drinks PR and give them unique kick-starter skills to potentially move over to the communications world of premium beverages. If you love a challenge, want to learn how to launch amazing drinks brands, then we want to hear from you!” If you think you have what it takes, email [email protected] with a CV and covering letter.
There’s a joke about a message in a bottle here…
And finally… Sting gets stung as Italian vineyard story hots up
Have you been following the Sting being duped into buying a Tuscan wine estate story? For those who haven’t, here’s a recap: the Geordie pop star recently told Sette, an Italian magazine, of how he visited Il Palagio and the owner gave him a glass of wine that so impressed him that he bought the estate. Later Sting, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, claimed that he had been given a glass of Barolo rather than the estate’s Chianti. Well, the plot thickens as the Drinks Business, who broke this story way back in 2017, has reported that the late owner’s son, Simone San Clemente Jr, has written to Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano describing Sting’s claim as “poisonous slander.” The letter continued: “Apart from the fact that an internationally experienced gentleman like Sting should not confuse Barolo with Chianti, nothing could be more alien to my father’s character, habits, behavior, in one word, to his spirit, than to behave like a swindling innkeeper.” He ended by demanding an apology from the former Police frontman. The ball is in your court Mr Sumner.