Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media…
Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media to find out, and this is the page to follow the results.
So, what makes a whisky an icon? Well, it has to be a great whisky to start with. One that’s revered across the world. But more than this, it has to have a strong memorable image. Say the name of a particular distillery or brand, and it should instantly resonate.
It’s certainly an iconic brand, but will it be crowned MoM whisky icon?
Worth of veneration
Now this could be a globally famous brand like Johnnie Walker or Jack Daniel’s. Many people who have never even drunk whisky will have heard of these brands. Jack Daniel’s for its association with music, and Johnnie Walker because it’s an icon of consumer capitalism (as well as a great whisky). Then there’s Macallan, a symbol of luxury up there with Rolls Royce or Cartier.
But lesser-known names can be iconic among the whisky cognoscenti. Take Springbank, for example. You have to know a bit about whisky to have heard of it but it’s undoubtedly “worthy of veneration.” We’ve seen grown men and women go all tearful at the thought of a rare bottle of Springbank.
But your whisky icon might be Lagavulin from Islay, Four Roses from Kentucky or even a newer distillery like Mackmyra from Sweden. So to decide this once and for all, we’re giving Master of Malt customers the opportunity to shout about their favourite brands.
Vote for your whisky of icon
Social polls will be posted on a @masterofmalt Instagram story Monday to Friday this week (simply view our story and tap on the distillery/brand you wish to vote for). Or alternatively you can vote over on the @MasterOfMalt Twitter page where a poll will be posted to our feed.
The tournament will end on Monday 27 September with the winner announced that day. This is how it will work:
Monday 20 September – first round with 32 whiskies
Tuesday 21 September – second round with 16 whiskies
Wednesday 22 September – quarter finals
Thursday 23 September – semi finals
Friday 24 September – finals
Saturday 25 September – voting closes
Monday 27 September – announcement of the winner
Get voting so we can say once and for all what the greatest icon of whisky is! And then we find something else to argue about.
It’s been a long time coming but finally the all-singing, all-dancing Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh opens to the public on Monday 6 September. We were treated to a…
It’s been a long time coming but finally the all-singing, all-dancing Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh opens to the public on Monday 6 September. We were treated to a sneak preview. Here’s what we thought.
It has to be said that Edinburgh’s Princes Street, once the Champs-Élysées of the North, has seen better days. The grand old department store Jenners closed earlier this year and all along the street there are boarded-up shops and a noticeable shortage of tourists.
So, it’s a relief to reach the far end, opposite the Caledonian hotel, and see that another former department store, Binns, a magnificent art deco building, has been beautifully-renovated into the Johnnie Walker brand home. Diageo has even fixed the old clock which plays Scotland the Brave at seven minutes past the hour while Highland figures jig about.
It’s part of Diageo £185m splurge on Scottish whisky tourism which also includes the renovation of four distilleries’ visitor experiences, Clynelish in the HIghlands, Caol Ila on Islay (to open soon), Glenkinchie in the Lowlands and Cardhu in Speyside. The home is set over eight floors and 71,500 sq ft; it includes not one but two rooftop bars, a blending room, a shop, and a VIP whisky vault. But most of all, it’s the home of the Johnnie Walker Experience, which tells the story of the brand. So the big question is: is it worth a visit?
Make it so!
It’s all about flavour
The experience will cost you £25 as part of a guided tour and takes around 1.5 hours, and includes three drinks. Your ‘journey’, the word ‘journey’ is used a lot, starts on the ground floor where visitors take a flavour test. What you choose will determine the drinks that you receive on your tour – mine came up tropical fruit.
We then watched a short film which explained, as all brand ambassadors do these days, that whisky is for everyone, there are no rules, drink it how you will, as long as you do it responsibly etc etc. There’ll be no tartans, tweeds, slippers, spaniels, fireplaces and all the things that apparently people used to associate with whisky.
From there, we were treated to a whistlestop history of the brand told by a dancing lady on a moving walkway – keep walking, get it? It’s witty and stylish though the history is rather rushed. From there, we were guided through various rooms while the guide explained the various flavours behind Johnnie Walker, aided or sometimes hindered by stunning sounds and visuals. Along the way, we got three whisky-based drinks based on our flavour profile. These are described as “carefully controlled” in the press bumf ie. you’re not going to get merry on your journey. Non-alcoholic options are available.
The company who designed the brand home is Los Angeles-based BRC Imagination Arts, which is also responsible for Jameson’s Bow Street visitor centre and the new Guinness experience, both in Dublin. The firm’s signature consists of amazing light displays combined with audio which at times made the visit seem more like a music festival than a whisky tour. The decor is resolutely modern, coming in somewhere between Star Trek: the Next Generation and the future bits in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
The Johnnie Walker archive, it’s not on the tour but should be
There are moments of pure magic that made a jaded old hack like me gasp. At times, the Willy Wonka comparisons are very much warranted but it’s by no means perfect.
Though it’s designed for non-whisky geeks, it also manages to be a bit confusing. There’s a room featuring the ‘Four Corners’ of Johnnie Walker, Clynelish, Glenkinchie, Caol Ila and Cardhu, but without much explanation of what they have to do with Johnnie Walker’s blends. The drinks included in the tour are no help as they are all heavily-diluted cocktails.
There are also disembodied voices of Johnnie Walker blenders, names which will mean nothing to non-whisky geeks. I think it would have been better if all the explanations came from the guides – ours was brilliant on the day.
It’s hard not to get the feeling that the pyrotechnics are all sound and fury signifying nothing. Which is a shame because the Johnnie Walker story is so rich and naturally visual. Why wasn’t more made of the brand’s striking advertising history? For all the talk of diversity, there’s very little on how or indeed why Johnnie Walker became a global icon. Imagine a section of the brand’s cultural role in India, America or the Arab world.
Our group were particularly interested in a small archive office with its old Johnnie Walker posters. It wasn’t part of the tour but we sneaked in anyway. Apparently, there will at some point be archive tours available which sound brilliant.
Finally, my worry is the futuristic decor is going to look very dated very quickly. The most visually successful place was the Whisky Makers’ Cellar, which is based on John Walker’s old cellar in Kilmarnock.
Filling a bottle of Johnnie Walker
What else is there?
In addition to the main experience, there’s plenty of other things to do on site. We highly recommend having a drink in one of the two rooftop bars with their breathtaking views across the city. Naturally, there’s a shop where you can fill your own bottle.
Then there’s the Whisky Makers’ Cellar in the basement where a brand ambassador will blend for your group one of 11 different Johnnie Walker’s based on your personal tastes. Then the dreaded disembodied voice will tell you about your blend. The cellar contains various casks including some that are maturing into what will be a special Johnnie Walker Princes Street blend.
Finally, there’s the invitation-only VIP Whisky Vault – housed in an old bank vault – which has the most astonishing selection of whisky samples from Brora, Port Ellen, Roseisle and other ‘unicorn’ whiskies.
Amazing views from Johnnie Walker Princes Street
So, should I visit?
If you’re in Edinburgh, it’s well worth a visit, even if it’s just to have a drink and enjoy the amazing views. The tour is fun, visually-impressive and has a real magic about it. Having said that, if you’re a proper whisky nerd, we recommend you do the blending experience in the Whisky Makers’ Cellar or better still, get a bus to nearby Glenkinchie where the same team has done an amazing job of upgrading the visitor experience without Disneyfying a working distillery. It’s particularly good at explaining where various flavours come from during the whisky making process. Again our guide was superb.
Overall, it’s great that Diageo is investing so much in Edinburgh and to see a fine building put to use. Maybe that’s the answer to all those emptying department stores, turn them into drinking experiences.
Settle in for the latest edition of our weekly news round-up featuring Tanqueray’s Summer Garden, regrettably drier Antarctic research stations, and a crafty, vodka-loving festival-goer plus some big news from…
Settle in for the latest edition of our weekly news round-up featuring Tanqueray’s Summer Garden, regrettably drier Antarctic research stations, and a crafty, vodka-loving festival-goer plus some big news from Johnnie Walker. It’s all in the Nightcap: 6 August edition.
Since we last went Nightcapping seven days have passed and that means a whole fresh batch is required. Luckily we’ve just upgraded our boozy news oven so we’ve got a particularly tasty set of stories for you to get your teeth stuck into this week. We find that a dram of something delicious makes for the perfect pairing too, so why not pour yourself something tasty and enjoy.
We’ll be heading to the opening event and will report back soon!
Tickets on sale for Johnnie Walker Princes Street
It’s been a long time coming but finally, Johnnie Walker’s swanky new brand home on Edinburgh’s Princes Street is open. Well, nearly, the building will open to the public on 6 September, but tickets are already on sale now (go here for more information.) The building was meant to open last year in time for Johnnie Walker’s 200th anniversary. Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scotland brand homes, explained the reason for the delayed opening: “Over the past year we have faced unprecedented challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic but now we can finally start the countdown to the opening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street”. Spread over 71,500 sq feet of prime New Town real estate, the building features the 1820 bar with views across the city and the Label Studio which will offer live events. Meanwhile, you can learn the 200-year-old story of Johnnie Walker, from its beginnings in a grocer’s shop in Kilmarnock, to being the biggest whisky brand in the world! Smith elaborated: “Johnnie Walker Princes Street will offer something unlike any other visitor experience in Scotland. It will be a venue for everyone, whether that’s visitors to Scotland or local people in Edinburgh, Scotch whisky lovers, or those savouring Scotch whisky for the first time. We can’t wait for you to join us.” We’ll be reporting from the opening on 6 September, so watch this space for more Johnnie Walker news.
It’s another incredibly impressive range
Diageo announces new Prima & Ultima whiskies
More news from Diageo as the whisky giant announces the arrival of a new batch of Prima & Ultima releases. This exclusive set of eight whiskies from various distilleries are sure to get enthusiasts excited. How exclusive? Well, there are two bottles from ‘ghost’ distilleries: a 1984 Convalmore, and 1980 peated Brora. Then there’s a Linkwood 1981 aged in a mixture of PX, Oloroso and new American Oak, an unusual experimental Singleton of Glendullan 1992 aged first in refill casks before maturation in two small ex-Madeira barriques for further fourteen years, plus a 1979 Talisker, 1992 Lagavulin, 1974 Auchroisk and 1995 Mortlach. If you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford a set, RRP is £23,500 for the collection. It was put together by master blender Maureen Robinson who commented: “This is a selection of very special single malts – some that have never before seen the light of day and others that are the fleeting and final examples of their kind. Each bottling shares a glimpse into the history of Scotch and one that I am honoured to have witnessed in person. I remember choosing to hold back the cask filled at Auchroisk knowing it would be special for the future and the anticipation and excitement of the maturation trials we undertook with Linkwood and The Singleton, now realised in these releases. Some of these casks I helped to lay down, and have taken great pleasure in tending to them since, so I chose them with rich memories in mind. Each has its own unique style, which you can now explore for yourself.” We’ll be tasting some of these whiskies shortly and will report back. Yeah, it’s a tough life.
The house whisky can be bought online
Fife Arms launches whisky with Dave Broom & Adelphi
This May, The Fife Arms hotel in the Highland village of Braemar opened a new whisky bar called Bertie’s, inspired by the famous Royal bon viveur, King Edward VII, also known as ‘Bertie’. This is very exciting because Dave Broom helped curate the 365-strong-selection (one for each day of the year!) which will be arranged by flavour profiles such as Fragrant, Fruity, Rich & Smoky. But what’s even more exciting is that The Fife Arms has marked the opening by commissioning its own whisky! The Fife Arms Braemar Whisky was made in collaboration with Broom and Alex Bruce, managing director of independent bottler and distiller Adelphi. The Fife Arms celebrates Scottish history and culture, so the team set out to create a whisky reminiscent of the signature styles enjoyed in the era when the hotel first opened in 1856. That’s why they used sherry butts, the cask type most widely used during this time, and smoky whisky from Ardnamurchan Distillery to create a classic 19th century-style blend. The hotel’s house whisky will launch on 13th September and will be available to purchase from the hotel’s shop and its online shop, retailing at £95 a bottle. Plus, there’s more to come as later this year, as the hotel will launch a collection of single cask whiskies in partnership with Broom and Bruce.
It’s all international summer vibes courtesy of Tanqueray
Tanqueray Gin’s Summer Garden lands in London
Tanqueray Gin’s Summer Garden has just opened in Flat Iron Square, London, giving us a chance to visit Seville, France and India through the different Tanqueray gins and botanicals. In classic British style, it was wet and rainy when we attended, but we just renamed it the English Summer Garden and drank our cocktails under a bit of shelter – we’re all used to the weather by now. Thankfully the rain did clear up and we were able to sit on a fetching swing bench covered in orange flowers and orange trees, wander around the fountain flowing with actual Negroni, and try some delicious food. These included a chicken bao bun, pumpkin boa buns, and pink(!) pasta. But we were really there for the gin. You can treat yourself to a gin masterclass where you taste the Tanqueray range, including five cocktails and snack pairing. You can also get stuck into a magnificent gin tree, taking you all around the world through different Tanqueray & Tonics: Tanqueray Rangpur, Blackcurrant Royale, and Flor de Sevilla all feature, or you can build your own. There is even the chance to win weekly prizes if you can find the hidden QR codes dotted around the garden. We particularly enjoyed playing a spot of boules, which is the perfect way to spend your day while sipping on a cocktail. You can book a visit here – it’s running until 30 August.
Bowmore and Aston Martin’s new collaboration
You might remember back in 2019 Bowmore and luxury British car maker Aston Martin teamed up to create Black Bowmore DB5 1964 whisky which was presented in a bottle incorporating a genuine Aston Martin DB5 piston. This was followed by the first automotive offering, the DBX Bowmore. Now the duo is launching a new range, the Designed by Aston Martin collection. It has given three classic Bowmore whiskies a new look, inspired by some of Aston Martin’s rarest and most influential cars. The new-look limited-edition collection features Bowmore 10, 15, and 18 Years Old single malts which will be released annually exclusively in global travel retail outlets. The Bowmore 10 Years Old is paired with the Aston Martin factory Team Car, the LM10, which first raced at Le Mans in 1932; the 15 Years Old takes inspiration from the Aston Martin Atom, and the 18 Years Old celebrates the Aston Martin DB Mk III. “These limited-edition releases not only celebrate our partnership but also give some of our wonderful whiskies a whole new look which I know will excite Bowmore fans and collectors around the world,” says David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager. “By bringing together our skills and passions, we are inviting drinkers to explore our stunning and exclusive GTR collection whilst also showcasing how our shared commitment to heritage and craftsmanship can truly come to life.” Travelers can find the collection in Duty-Free stores from this month.
Glen Grant is one of the distilleries that benefit from Forsyth’s expertise
Forsyths opens Irish division
Forsyths has big news this week as the Moray copper still maker and fabrication firm has opened a division in Ireland. Meeting increasing demand from the distilling industry, the Rothes-based group is involved in a number of projects in the country, including the construction of a new distillery in which U2 rock star Bono is a shareholder. Richard Forsyth, managing director of the family-run business, said it had launched a facility north of Dublin, where a coppersmith and pipefitters are based. “Business has been very buoyant for us in Ireland,” he added. “The famous Bushmills Distillery has just been doubled in production and we are also building a distillery called Monasterevin”. Forsyths’ international operations have been in full flight recently, having just shipped a distillery to China not long ago, with Mr. Forsyth confirming activities in the Far East market were “continuing to flourish.” It’s a demonstration of how much the Irish whiskey industry continues to thrive and grow and it’s fantastic to hear that the category will be welcoming the copper works experts, who have been supplying the whiskey world with copper stills and distillation equipment since the mid-1850s.
Frazer Thompson (left) and Mark Harvey from Chapel Down
Frazer Thompson leaves Chapel Down after 20 years
Big news in the world of wine as Frazer Thompson who has helmed England’s largest wine producer Chapel Down for two decades announced this week that he is retiring. He said: “Over the last twenty years we have started to change the way people think about English wines forever. There is still much to do, but there has never been a more exciting time for our young industry and our business in particular.” Thompson will be replaced by Andrew Carter who is currently MD of Chase Distillery in Herefordshire, which was acquired earlier this year by Diageo. Thompson was full of praise for Carter: “I know he will bring the energy, enthusiasm, experience and the skills to drive the business to even greater heights.” He has some big shoes to fill as it was under Thompson stewardship that Chapel Down became England’s largest wine producer and, according to chairman Martin Glenn: “helped put English wine on the map.” But it hasn’t all been glorious, the team never managed to make the Curious Beer and Cider work, and ended up selling off the brands and the Curious Brewery and Restaurant earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Kent-based company is currently conducting a crowdfunding campaign to raise £7 million. So far they have raised 90% of the total, £6.3m, from around 3,600 investors. So it’s an interesting time for Carter to take over.
Cold, harsh, and unforgiving. The new policy will not be popular.
Antarctic research stations alcohol allowance halved
For those living and working in remote Antarctic research locations, making homemade beer has been something of a tradition. A new policy change, however, means that the alcohol allowance has been slashed at Australia’s four stations as the dangerous conditions have prompted representatives in the region to strike a cautious note. The controversial new ruling bans homebrewing outright and halves the amount of alcohol that people living and working in the research stations are allowed to drink, citing the division’s inability to “safely manage consumption, hygiene standards and alcohol content” as the reason behind it. This amounts to a pretty measly sum of seven cans of beer, one and a half bottles of wine, or half a bottle of distilled spirits per person per week. “Antarctica is a unique environment, and very small mistakes can lead to very big consequences,” AAD division director Kim Ellis told American television channel ABC. She pretty bluntly added that, while it is perfectly possible to sit out in the yard and stargaze after having a drink in Australia, “If you do that in Antarctica – you’re drunk and you go stare at the stars – we will find your body in the morning.” Regardless, it’s going to be an unpopular decision, particularly given Italy’s neighbouring station offers beer, wine, and spirits alongside food items.
Digging up a bottle of Tito’s vodka that was buried three weeks ago. #Lolla
And finally… Man digs up hidden bottle of vodka at festival
A Lollapalooza festival-goer is being hailed as the star act of the weekend. Why? Because he went through the effort of burying a bottle of vodka in the field weeks before the event and then digging it up once inside the festival. The video of him demonstrating his creative side went viral, understandably. There is something truly wonderful about somebody rallying so hard against paying marked-up prices that they went through the trouble of burying a bottle of Tito’s Vodka and digging it up a reported three weeks later. One tweet showing the man in action has currently racked up over 22k likes, commenting “Guy buried a bottle of vodka at Grant Park a week before Lollapalooza and dug it up when he got inside…..gotta give it up to the man it’s a straight up pro move”. It’s a straight-up pro move, indeed. Although, we do like to think we can put booze in your hands at least slightly more efficiently than this.
Finding a roof with a view and a decent drink can sometimes be a challenge. You might get the view, but what’s in the glass ends up being a bit…
Finding a roof with a view and a decent drink can sometimes be a challenge. You might get the view, but what’s in the glass ends up being a bit of a dud. Luckily the team at MoM has been scaling tall buildings to find the good stuff. Spider-Man ain’t got nothing on us. So, here are some our favourite bars with a view
2021 might just be the year of the roof terrace, as venues up and down the UK look to make the most of any outdoor space. I love a good cityscape as much as the next roof terrace tourist, but I also want it to come with a decent drink.
For this particular rooftop round-up, the focus is on two of my favourite cities: London and Edinburgh. The former is full of great bars with a view, while the latter is really an excuse for us to mention just how excited we are about the soon-to-be-open malt Disneyland that will be Johnnie Walker Princes Street.
Who’s a pretty boy then?
Starting in London and the talk of the town has to be The Dorchester’s new space, aptly named The Dorchester Rooftop. The top deck offers views over Hyde Park, with live music, making it a great place for sunset cocktails. And we’re talking The Dorch, so you know the drinks are going to be on point. The new cocktail line-up (from 10 May) features some serious drinks. The Colombo Sour is a mix of Colombo gin, peach liqueur, kümmel, lemon and Angostura orange bitters; while Hikkaduwa sounds like the perfect sundowner, a blend of tropical mix, peach, Aperol and Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label.
Next is a personal favourite of fellow MoM writer Millie Milliken’s. Yep, it’s Seabird at The Hoxton, Southwark (see photo in header). The Insta-worthy drink here is The Toucan (above) – it’s a heady mix of Olmeca Altos Tequila, mango, cinnamon and aji pepper, served in a sort of ceramic parrot. Fortunately, it can’t fly away.
But if you want to drink and dine like a professional, then take note of Milliken’s wise words: “It was actually at Seabird that I first tried the combination of straight mezcal and oysters – and I’m never going back,” she says, pointing out that the bar has seven mezcals on its menu to choose from. “I’d go for something herbaceous and vegetal like the Derrumbes Zacatecas to marry with a Jersey No.3’s crisp, green and lemony flavours.”
A few miles north and there’s another new kid on (top of) the block: The Standard. The vista at this London outpost of the US hotel group takes in the beautiful St Pancras Station, and Eder Neto, head of bars has got the recs. He suggests a Spicy Tommy’s Margarita from Black Lines with blanco Tequila, chilli, lime, agave nectar. “It’s refreshing, so it’s great for the summer, yet still packs a punch with a spicy kick,” he says.
The massive roof garden at the Glasshouse in Edinburgh
While you’re near Kings Cross, you could just hop on the train to Edinburgh? And if The Standard roof terrace was a bit small for your tastes, head to The Glasshouse. This place has a two-acre roof garden. According to Google, that’s the same size as an actual football pitch!
Tom Gibson, general manager at The Glasshouse recommends a touch of Islay goodness for a summer evening, in the form of the Peaty Kiss signature cocktail. “With a base ingredient of Laphroaig 10 year old single malt, the flavour is delicately offset with fresh grapefruit and orange juice, with a sweet touch of honey and a small drop of Jägermeister,” he explains. “Scotland can do exotic and traditional all at the same time.”
If actual smoke (rather than peat smoke) is your bag, the hotel is also a great place for whisky and cigar pairings. Especially since the bar stocks about 100 whiskies.
“We recommend pairing the profound flavours of The Dalmore King Alexander III single malt with one of our individually picked cigars such as the Partagas Series,” says Gibson. “The deep and complex flavours of the whisky blend harmoniously with the bold and powerful aromas of these Habano cigars, making this a delectable combination.”
Artist’s impression of Johnnie Walker’s soon-to-open brand home in Edinburgh
Staying in Edinburgh and this summer promises another magical roof space – and good drinks here should go without saying. Yep, it’s nearly time to say hello to Johnnie Walker Princes Street. This eight-floor ‘experiential’ space features everything from a shop and entertainment space to an ‘interactive flavour activity’, all under the 1820 Rooftop Bar. There may even be ‘bars’ plural up there – and they will have views to the castle and across the city skyline to east, west and north.
Artists’ impressionssuggest there’s an indoor-outdoor vibe to the roof space, which is handy to know. And while there’s not much more to tell until the space opens this summer, there’s always time to fix yourself a highball and dream of dizzy heights. Try a Johnnie & Lemon: 50ml Johnnie Walker Red Label, 150ml lemonade. Pour over ice and garnish with lemon zest and a lemon verbena sprig – or an orange wedge if you’re fresh out of lemon verbena sprigs.
There’s no reason why we can’t raise the bar and the roof this summer.
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!
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.
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 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 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Blends are the backbone of the Scotch whisky industry but they don’t always get the love they deserve. So we decided to put together this list of some of our…
Blends are the backbone of the Scotch whisky industry but they don’t always get the love they deserve. So we decided to put together this list of some of our favourite bargain bottles of blended Scotch whisky. There’s something here for all palates.
While some whisky fans will always argue single malts are superior, we’re firm in the belief that you should never underestimate blended Scotch whisky. It’s the category that brought Scotch to the world and today they are still the best selling of all whisky. These marriages of malt and grain whisky continue to fill back bars and liquor cabinets, being celebrated for their ability to taste great neat or in cocktails and mixed drinks.
That’s why we’ve put together this selection of some of the finest blended Scotch whiskies. This isn’t simply a list of the ten biggest names, because we want to give some love to a couple of overlooked or underloved expressions. The fact we’ve had to omit a couple of big names really speaks to what an amazing category this is. Slainte!
We start with one of the world’s most famous blends. Dating back to 1909, Black Label is one of those bottles that everyone loves: bartenders, consumers, whisky writers. We can all unite and agree that this blend of around 40 whiskies with a distinctive mellow smoky note is deserving of a place in any good drinks collection.
What does it taste like?
Rich and full with notes of wood smoke, winter spice, sultanas, treacle, hints of white pepper and a little citrus.
Another absolute classic. Ballantine’s will tell you that it’s Europe no.1 Scotch whisky and that its recipe has stayed true to the original since 1910. And we’ll tell you that it’s a good thing it did. We love playing around with this blend and its elegant, subtle and sweet profile. Soda water. Cola. Whatever you’re pairing with this beauty, it’s hard to go wrong.
What does it taste like?
Rich and sweet with crisp barley sugars, toffee, apples, very gentle peat, heather, honey and some floral notes.
If you’re an Islay whisky fan and are on the lookout for something with a little more smoke and sea, we’ve got just the thing. From the makers of The Character of Islay Whisky Company, Green Isle is a blend with a core of Islay malt alongside some complementary Speyside malt and Lowland grain whiskies. This is an approachable blend that mixes tremendously and would serve as a great introduction to those who would like to explore the smoker side of Scotch.
What does it taste like?
Softly toasted barley, warming oak, honey glazed apples and cut grass. Then, vanilla pod earthiness, coastal peat, pear drops, dry smoke, buttery biscuits and crushed peppercorns.
Compass Box rarely gets its wrong and the distinctive brand was certainly on the money when it put together this blend. A tribute to the golden age of blends in the 19th century, Great King Street draws on archive recipes while utilising its own cask maturation techniques to create this delightful dram. It has a high single malt content from distilleries including Linkwood and Clynelish as well as a portion of grain whisky from Cameronbridge. And it tastes smashing. Makes a great Penicillin when combined with Peat Monster too…
What does it taste like?
Sweet, rich and creamy, with lots of cereal notes, vanilla, dried fruits, Christmas spices, lemon, Bakewell tart, rose petals, citrus and buttery apple crumble.
Master blender Alexander Cameron was responsible for Dewar’s first blended whisky in 1903. He was something of a pioneer in the trade, allowing malt and grain spirits to rest for a few months before blending them together. This practice is continued today with The Ancestor, which is essentially a successor to Dewar’s classic ‘Double Aged 12 Year Old’. The name refers to the additional six-month marriage the whisky enjoys in oak after the initial maturation and blending. Dewar’s co-founder Tommy Dewar once said “The only thing you can get in a hurry is trouble!”… and it’s good to see the brand still heeding his advice.
What does it taste like?
Juicy fruit and thick, creamy malt leads. There’s also floral and sweet notes of toasted almond and honey as well as some aniseed spiciness.
As an outstanding independent bottler, Adelphi is already adept at taking the best of Scotland and moulding it into something new. It’s a skill that clearly came in handy when making its own blend. It’s made with whisky from its private stock which is kept in a solera system. We don’t quite know the exact composition. But, tasting this blend we think you can detect whiskies from Islay, Speyside and Campbeltown. And they’re all delicious.
What does it taste like?
A pleasing fusion of salty peat, estery fruitiness and rich nuttiness.
Label 5 is known for its tremendous value, its core of fruity Speyside malts and for being the creation of a Frenchman, Jean Cayard. He established La Martiniquaise in 1934 and in 1969 turned his hand to Scotch whisky. In 2008 the company bought Glen Moray, who supplies a major component of the blend. Today, it’s mainly sold in France, where it shifts bottles like hotcakes to make it one of the world’s best-selling whiskies. And we think it’s worth you checking out what all the fuss is about.
What does it taste like?
Rather sweet with vanilla, sticky toffee pudding, apples and brown sugar. There’s also hints of ginger and cinnamon as well as a subtle grassy note.
There once was a ship that put to sea and the name of the ship was the Cutty Sark. The famed 19th-century tea clipper was the inspiration behind this Berry Bros & Rudd. brand, whose classic blend of twenty or so single malt and grain whiskies, most of which are from Speyside, is a firm favourite for many. The Prohibition Edition, however, is a higher strength expression (upped from 40% to 50% ABV) made as a tip of the hat to another nautical legend, Prohibition-era rum-runner Captain William McCoy. Its intriguing story and full-bodied, complex profile mean it stands out from a busy crowd while still being an absolute bargain.
What does it taste like?
There’s custard notes paired with citrus, pear and fudge cubes, dark chocolate and golden malt. As well as a touch of grassy malt and crushed nuts.
A wholly overlooked beauty of a blend, more people should know about this expression. An approachable, affordable expression made with malt and grains, Peg Whisky Blended Scotch Whisky can be enjoyed neat and in cocktails and mixed drinks. And if you don’t believe us, just check out those user reviews. 5 star city.
What does it taste like?
Toffee pennies, citrus peels, apricots, peanut brittle, buttered bread, honeycomb, black pepper and a generous helping of malt.
A swanky Hankey will always win us over. The brand is so good at making expert blends that pack a pretty punch in the bottle, but not in the wallet. And while we adore the original, we also love the story behind this one. Upon uncovering a rare 1920s bottle, the brand tried to recreate a piece of whisky history. Using the original as a starting point, older and peated malts were then added to match the older flavour profile. It tastes great and is a fascinating window into what Hankey Bannister was like a century ago.
What does it taste like?
Fresh, fruity and delicately smoky with honeydew melon, ripe grapes, campfire smoke, apple peel, honey and raisins.
This week we tried to keep up with fancy new booze from Midleton, Macallan, and Kendall Jenner. It’s The Nightcap! Man, where is the time going? Before you know it…
This week we tried to keep up with fancy new booze from Midleton, Macallan, and Kendall Jenner. It’s The Nightcap!
Man, where is the time going? Before you know it we’ll be in March and the clocks will be going forward and we might even start to live a life that resembles the Before Times. The only thing that’s really helping us keep track of things at the moment is the weekly familiarity of The Nightcap. Especially because our calendar has pictures of kittens on it. How are you supposed to know what day it is when there’s something distracting right next to the key information? It’s a design flaw. Fortunately, there’s no such issue with The Nightcap. All you’ll find here is the biggest boozy news from this week. Speaking of which, let’s get on with the Nightcap: 19 February edition.
An Estate, A Community and A Distillery will arrive at MoM Towers soon…
Macallan launches The Anecdotes of Ages collection
If there’s one thing The Macallan does exceptionally well, it’s put together fancy collections featuring incredible sounding whiskies we know deep down we’ll never taste. Still, it’s nice to look at them and dream, and in this case, they make for particularly good viewing. The latest series, The Anecdotes of Ages, is the Macallan’s third collaboration with iconic pop artist Sir Peter Blake and each individual bottle features an original Blake collage art on the label. Blake, as we are sure you know, created the artwork for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and that should be enough for anyone, frankly. Back to the whisky, there are 13 one-of-a-kind bottles in total, each from 1967, and every label tells a different story. It could be about The Macallan’s history, community, estate or that advert. Ok, so we made the last one up. Jokes aside, collectors will be pleased to know the bottles have been signed by Blake and come in a European oak case with photography that shows Blake’s journey with The Macallan, along with a leather-bound book and a certificate of authenticity. Price is likely to be in the region of £50,000. For those who don’t think they’ll get their hands on a bottle, you can always check out this 360-degree virtual art exhibit. The brand has also revealed that one of the bottles will be auctioned next month by Sotheby’s to raise funds to benefit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Additionally, The Macallan will soon be releasing a new more affordable whisky, a snip at £750, called An Estate, A Community and A Distillery, to commemorate Blake’s visit to the distillery. This reminds us of our favourite palindrome: a man, a plan, a canal, Panama. Anyway, this more affordable expression, will be displayed in a custom box inspired by Blake’s art and available from Master of Malt soon. Yep, you read that right. So keep those eyes peeled…
Jenner’s brand has attracted a lot of attention already, but not all of it is positive
Kendall Jenner creates Tequila brand 818
Keeping up with the Kardashians star and model Kendall Jenner has revealed on Instagram that her latest project is a Tequila brand called ‘818’, and quickly found out this particular boozy bandwagon isn’t always pleasant. “For almost four years I’ve been on a journey to create the best tasting Tequila. After dozens of blind taste tests, trips to our distillery, entering into world tasting competitions anonymously and WINNING (🥳). 3.5 years later I think we’ve done it”, the post’s caption read. “This is all we’ve been drinking for the last year and I can’t wait for everyone else to get their hands on this to enjoy it as much as we do! @drinks818 coming soon 🥃🤤.” But the reality star has faced backlash after being accused of cultural appropriation and “exploiting Mexican culture”, the former of which is not a new concern for her family. Although, oddly the same charges were not levelled at other celebrity Tequila hawkers like George Clooney or The Rock. Nothing to read into there. It’s fair to say we’re not exactly cheerily raising a glass to another famous person helping themselves to a bundle of precious agave and as we were writing this story we learned that American comedian Kevin Hart is doing the same thing (other spirits do exist, people). But it’s also worth noting that it’s fairly common for a Tequila distillery to sell its booze to various brands and few can honestly claim to truly represent Mexico in any deep or meaningful way. In fact, you can look up the product’s NOM number (Norma Oficial Mexicana) and it will tell you where the Tequila is made and assure you that production meets the required certification standards of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT). You’ll find that the distillery (which 818 hasn’t disclosed, so we won’t either) makes booze for a number of brands is made so 818 really isn’t doing anything new. For anyone who actually cares about the Tequila, the range features a blanco, a reposado and an añejo made from 100% Agave Azul in Jalisco, Mexico and bottled at 40% ABV.
Keep your eyes peeled for more reaction to this beauty on this MoM blog
Kevin O’ Gorman blends his first Midleton Very Rare
In the past, only two master distillers have blended Midleton Very Rare, Barry Crockett and Brian Nation. Now, there’s a new signature on the bottle: Kevin O’Gorman stepped into Nation’s enormous shoes last year and has now released the 38th edition of possibly Ireland’s greatest whisky. We have to be honest, it’s a belter. As usual, it’s a blend of long-aged pot still and grain whiskies aged entirely in ex-bourbon casks. We spoke with O’ Gorman at a press conference last night and he told us that he narrowed the blend down to two samples and then spent a night agonising over them. The one he chose is heavier on the grain than last year’s pot still-dominated blend. It’s more like the Very Rare from the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, he said. It majors on the sweet chocolate, caramel and vanilla notes but still with plenty of pot still spice. O’ Gorman revealed that the Very Rare 2021 contains a cask of pot still laid down by Barry Crockett in 1984. He was on ebullient form describing it as “the pinnacle of my career presenting the pinnacle of Irish whiskey.” We’ll have the full story including a closer look at the component parts when we get stock in a couple of weeks.
VCL director Tim Ashley says invest in cask whisky… or else
Whisky investors getting younger says cask broker
Business is booming for whisky cask broker VCL Vintners. Apparently, sales are up 300% in January 2021 compared to the previous year. Not only that, but its customers are getting younger. No, this isn’t because of the magical age-defying properties of whisky, what the company means is that the average age of whisky investors is decreasing. The PR team sent us some figures that showed that the largest category, 26% of business, is people between the ages of 25 and 34. While well over half their investors are under 44. Casks start from around £5,000 but most of the trade is in the £10-30,000 range so some young people are clearly doing well despite the panny (as we’re calling the pandemic). Stuart Thom, director at VCL Vintners, commented: “It’s encouraging that the demographic is becoming a smarter, younger City audience with longer investment horizons.” He went on to explain exactly why there is so much interest, something we have reported on before: “With the markets going sideways for now and a tech bubble being rumoured in the States, whisky is being seen more and more as a stable long-term investment.” The great thing about investing in whisky is even if you don’t make any money, and there’s no guarantee the market will keep going up, at the end of the day, you have a barrel of single malt.
This story has everything: history, romance, and an enormous clock.
Since 1960, Edinburgh’s lovers, young and old, have been meeting under a colourful clock on the corner of Hope Street and Princes Street. Known as the Binns Clock after the now disappeared department store that installed it. In its prime, the clock would play ‘Caller Herrin’ and ‘Scotland the Brave’ at seven and 37 minutes past the hour as kilted Highland figures would jig about. Sadly, in recent years the clock had fallen into disrepair and the Highlanders danced no more. Now, as part of Diageo’s plans for a swanky Johnnie Walker HQ which is due to open this year in Scotland’s capital, it was restored by the Cumbria Clock Company which has also worked on some pretty impressive clocks such as the Royal Liver Building and the big one, Big Ben. Bong! Restorer Mark Crangle described the laborious process: “We had to delicately strip back worn paintwork to source and match the clock’s original colours and gold trimmings, and we spent a great amount of time on the speed and timings of the bells, tunes and pipers to ensure it all matched perfectly.” Happily, Crangle and the team managed to get it all done for Valentine’s Day last Sunday, just in time for Edinburgh’s lovers to meet.
Casks are all the rage this week it seems
Caskshare unveils new cask-buying platform
It must be the week of casks, as we have even more oak-scented news for you. Last Friday, we joined David Nicol, co-founder of the new venture, Alasdair Day from Isle of Raasay Distillery, plus Thom Solberg of Little Bat for a bit of a Zoom-based whisky extravaganza. The celebrations were to mark the launch of Caskshare, an initiative to make single cask whisky, and by extension buying shares in casks, more accessible. For mature whisky, customers can simply snap up a share (which equates to a bottle), and once all those shares have been snapped up, everyone gets their booze! For spirit yet to come of age, whisky fans can buy a share and the bottles will be sent when its ready. To demonstrate some of the whiskies available, Day shared samples from Raasay, and talked us through Tullibardine single malt and Cambus expressions. And, as it was Valentine’s Day Eve-Eve, Solberg treated us to a demo of a 14 February-appropriate serve. We all made Glen Moray-based (from Caskshare, natch) Roffignacs: the whisky, plus pomegranate syrup, cider vinegar, and ginger ale all built in a glass with ice. Delish! For more Caskshare deets, check out Caskshare.com – and what an evening of whisky love!
And finally… we need a G&T emoji now
Whether you’re fluent in emoji language like Kendall Jenner or the sort of person who gets in trouble for misjudged aubergines in the company Slack channels, here’s an emoji that we can all use without embarrassment, especially on a Friday at 6pm: a G&T emoji. Sadly, amazingly, it doesn’t exist yet! And so tonic water and mixer business Lixir Drinks has launched a petition to persuade Unicode to create an emoji for one of Britain’s favourite drinks. Yes, it’s a PR stunt, but a useful one. The company is hoping to get 10,000 signatures, so what are you waiting for, sign here and you’ll never have to write out the words Gin & Tonic again. Which reminds us, it’s getting on for 6pm now, G&T anyone? See wouldn’t that have been so much easier with an emoji?
We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings! Well, we’re…
We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings!
Well, we’re one week into 2021 and it wasn’t exactly the turnaround we might have hoped for. But, while you might be inclined to cancel your subscription to the new year after a pretty underwhelming 7-day free trial, we’re optimistic here at MoM Towers. Why? Well, if there’s one thing The Nightcap demonstrates is that each week is filled with something that will make you laugh or get you excited and 2020 proved that nothing can stop the influx of brilliant and bonkers boozy stories. So, assuming aliens don’t invade or a chunky asteroid doesn’t land in Speyside, we think there’s cause for optimism. And if you don’t believe, wait until you read this week’s And Finally…
You’ll be pleased to know that 2020 ended with a rare bit of good news for the drinks industry as it was announced that the law regarding wine and distilled spirits containers in the US were amended to allow the importation of European 700ml bottles. The Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcoholic beverages at the federal level, published new regulations on 29 December 2020 which updated the so-called “standards of fill” for wine (355ml, 250ml and 200ml) and spirits (1.8L, 900ml, 720ml and 700ml), which means that brands will no longer have the burden of spending time and money making unique US size bottles, granting producers greater flexibility and consumers with more choice. Previously drinks makers were forced to produce 700ml bottlings for the European market and special 750ml bottlings to sell in the US, which led to many small independent producers opting to avoid the extra costs by not exporting their tasty goods to the US. While there’s still some work to be done (allowing for 3+ litre sizes for spirits to save on packaging, for example) it’s a welcome bit of economic and logistical relief after a torrid year for the industry. Now wouldn’t it be great if we could reciprocate by allowing 750ml in the UK which would help a lot of small US distillers?
The Walking Man’s impressive new home edges ever closer to opening…
Johnnie Walker offers glimpse inside Princes Street
If you’re a Nightcap regular you’ll have read all about Johnnie Walker’s exciting new whisky visitor experience in Princes Street, Edinburgh, which is set to open in the summer of 2021. But now, for the first time, the Scotch whisky giant has revealed a glimpse of the eagerly anticipated attraction to fans, which will feature rooftop bars, private dining areas, modern sensory tasting rooms, personalised tour and tasting experiences, and live performance areas. The interior of the building, a closely-guarded secret, is on show, as is The 1820 bar, a cocktail bar and outdoor terrace with views of the Edinburgh famous skyline, The Explorers’ Bothy, a whisky bar that will stock over 150 rare bottles and one-of-a-kind cask editions, and the Johnnie Walker Label Studio, a performance space that will host live events and performances. For more info, click here. The Johnnie Walker Princes Street visitor attraction is at the centre of Diageo’s £185m investment into the transformation of its Scotch whisky tourism, having already revamped Glenkinchie Distillery, while further investment into the remainder of Diageo’s 11 Scotch whisky brand homes as well as the revival of lost distilleries Port Ellen and Brora is also in the works. So there’s something to look forward to in 2021!
Water of Life film to launch among virtual festivities
The Water of Life, a new feature documentary that focuses on those at the heart of the Scotch whisky revolution that turned the industry of the 1980s into the titan it is today, is on the way. Which is exciting. Even more thrilling, however, is that the film won’t launch with an ordinary premiere, but instead a week-long Burns Night Celebration that you can take part in! Kicking off on the 22nd January and running through the 27th January, the virtual online program includes a screening of the film followed each night by a unique hour-long session featuring the stars of the film. There will also be an option to purchase tasting kits specifically curated to accompany the film and take viewers on a taste journey. “Our biggest challenge, as with any food or drink film, is you can’t taste the screen. When putting this event together it was important that we found a way to bring not just the story to the screen but to engage the audience in a way whisky does,” said director Greg Swartz. “Our Burns Night Celebration will bring all the senses together through watching the movie, pairing that with the tasting kits, and offering the opportunity to join the stars to hear them talk more about their passions.” For tickets, tasting kits and more info just click here and if you’d like to see a trailer for The Water of Life, featuring Bruichladdich legends Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier as well as Billy Walker, Dr Rachel Barrie, David Stewart, Kelsey McKechnie, Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison and more, then simply click on the video above!
Could bars and pubs switch from dispensing beer to dispensing vaccines?
Brewers offer their pubs as vaccination centres.
Like many things in the modern age, it began with a tweet. Keir Shiels, consultant paediatrician at the Great Ormond Street hospital in London, suggested on the 31 December: “Pubs could be turned into vaccination hubs. There’s space. There’s staff. There’s fridges. There’s refreshment facilities. There’s one in every village.” Since then things have snowballed with both Brewdog and Shepherd Neame pledging their help. Jonathan Neame CEO at Shepherd Neame commented: “We have offered up some of our pubs to act as vaccination hubs, in target areas, in the main they are well located, spacious and with large refrigeration capacity.” Nothing has happened yet though James Watt from Brewdog announced that he is in talks with the Government. Let’s hope something comes off this as it would really help speed up distribution of the vaccine especially if brewers could offer a pint to enjoy while you wait. We’d be first in the queue.
Some good news from 2020 was that fortified wine got some well-deserved love
A bumper year for fortified wine
Port and sherry have been rocking this year. There was an article on the BBC website about the so-called ‘tapas effect’ as people unable to travel recreated their summer trips at home with a bottle of sherry. Meanwhile, we reported back in October that Taylor’s Port sales had grown despite, or maybe because of lockdown. Figures just released by the WSTA bear this out: the fortified wine category has seen an increase in sales of nearly 10% in 2020, a remarkable feat considering the impact lockdown has had on on-trade sales. Despite on-trade orders being down 42% (by volume), the category grew from £270 million in 2019 to £303 million last year. This increase was coupled with the category’s best quarter for five years, giving hope that despite such a tough year, Christmas traditions remained as strong as ever in 2020. Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “In such a difficult year, the news that we have been enjoying more Ports and sherries at home recently to arrest slow stagnation in the category is welcome… Santa loves his sherry, and in 2020 many consumers will also be rekindling their festive love affairs with fortifieds!” But as we always say, fortified wine is not just for Christmas and if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got some great wines right here.
Nightcap favourite Miles Beale is back for 2021
WSTA reacts to Brexit deal
It’s a very special Nightcap this week as we have two stories featuring everyone’s favourite chief executive Mr Miles Beale from the WSTA. Beale has been one of the most vocal voices standing up for the drinks industry and warning of the perils of a no-deal Brexit, so he more than most was relieved that the EU and the British government managed to come to an agreement at the end of last year. Doesn’t it seem like a long time ago? Anyway, here’s what Beale had to say: “Today’s announcement will be a welcome relief to the UK’s wine and spirit sector. We look forward to seeing the detail and to its swift ratification. The threat of the introduction of wine tariffs and the uncertainty over the ability to move goods into and out of the EU were weighing heavy on the minds of businesses already reeling from the effect of Covid restrictions, while also having to prepare for the end of the transition period in a week’s time.” But it wasn’t all good, Beale added: “Businesses have been working hard to prepare for the introduction of new customs processes and systems, new labelling rules, new import certification rules for wine all of which will add to the cost of importing and exporting wine and spirits. And yet, astonishingly, those businesses are still waiting for the government to grip the reins and confirm some of the details to allow trade with Ireland and the rest of the EU to continue next year.” So plenty more work to be done, we haven’t heard the last of Miles Beale in 2021.
Richard Paterson was one of the drinks industry figures honoured
Richard Paterson and Kate Nicholls honoured by Queen
The New Year’s Honours list had plenty of interesting names as usual on it for 2021 (although nothing for Sam Smith yet. Give the people what they want, your majesty), including some drinks industry giants such as UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls and The Dalmore whisky blender Richard Paterson. Nicholls, who was appointed an OBE for service to the hospitality, was singled out for her tireless support of the beleaguered hospitality industry during the ongoing Covid crisis, while Paterson was also appointed an OBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry, including over a half a century at Whyte & Mackay. It caps quite a year for the legendary master blender, aka ‘The Nose’, who made the move to step back from some of his Whyte & Mackay duties and also lend his expertise to the exciting Wolfcraig Distillery project. Other members of the hospitality industry recognised included Michelin-starred chef Fergus Henderson and Richard Curtis, the landlord of the Portsmouth Arms in Basingstoke (not the director of Notting Hill and Love Actually) was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) after raising over £52,500 for local charities by holding weekly virtual quizzes in his pub after it was closed in March. Given what a rough time this industry is having at the moment, it is at least nice to see these efforts being appreciated.
American whiskey lost one of its greats this week
Michter’s master distiller Willie Pratt dies at 78
We were sad to hear this week about the death of an American whisky legend, Willie Pratt, master distiller at Michter’s. Born in Kentucky in 1942, he began his career with Brown-Forman where he worked in all aspects of the business before retiring at the age of 65. But in 2007 he was lured out of retirement and took up the role of head distiller at Michter’s where he became known as Dr No for his refusal to bottle any whiskey until he thought it was ready. Here he oversaw the design and building of Michter’s ultra-modern new Shively Distillery. In 2017 he was inducted into The Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. Michter’s president Joseph J. Magliocco commented: “To work with Willie and to have him as a friend was a tremendous gift. When the challenges seemed overwhelming, that’s when Willie’s leadership would shine through. He was a paradigm of strength and courage.” Distilling is now in the safe hands of Dan McKee who added: “Times like this make me realise how fortunate I was to be able to learn from one of the greats in the industry. I’m going to miss standing back in the distillery with Willie, talking about making whiskey and listening to his life stories.” Thank you Willie, we’re raising a tumbler of Michter’s Rye to you now.
And finally… Gin flavoured with car?
We’ve had some pretty strange gins on the Nightcap: gin infused with Brussel sprouts, gin made from peas, we even stock a gin that has been into space, but gin flavoured with car? Sounds like something from the fevered imagination of Jeremy Clarkson but Piston distillery in Worcester has come up with just such a spirit. It’s infused with leftovers from the production of Morgan cars in nearby Malvern. If you had images of bits of oily steel steeping in neutral grain alcohol then think again because Morgan produces gorgeous cars that in many ways haven’t changed much since the 1930s. Part of the car is made from wood, ash to be specific, and it’s these ash shavings that are used to flavour the gin (which is available from Morgan’s online shop for £45). Toby Blythe from the Morgan Motor Company explained:“Ash wood forms one of Morgan’s three core materials, alongside aluminium and leather, and as such is intrinsic to our coachbuilding identity. When we worked with the expert distillers at Piston Gin, we were curious to find out how this material could be infused with their acclaimed gins. The result, we believe, speaks for itself.” Grace Stringer, distillery manager at Piston Distillery, explained to us how the gin was made: ash is distilled with the company’s London dry gin with a little apple to sweeten it, and then some ash is added at the end for colour and mouthfeel. Apple and ash-infused gin, not so barmy after all.
It’s been a bumper year on the blog with over 500 fascinating articles appearing. Earlier this week, we wrote about our most-read ones, but we thought it would be interesting…
It’s been a bumper year on the blog with over 500 fascinating articles appearing. Earlier this week, we wrote about our most-read ones, but we thought it would be interesting to pick our personal favourites too. So here they are!
Our most read posts tend to be whisky news because Master of Malt customers really want to know about in-coming new whiskies. But we also publish more in-depth features with producers, opinion pieces and some good silly stuff. In 2020, despite not being able to travel for most of the year, we managed to continue publishing fascinating, amusing and thought-provoking articles. And not from just in-house scribblers, this year we’ve been proud to commission some of the country’s best drinks writers on a diverse array of topics.
So, we thought we’d pick some of our highlights. It was not easy to narrow it down to just ten but we’ve got everything from articles aimed squarely at whisky geeks to important scientific research on what snacks go with which spirit. Something for everyone.
We love animals almost as much as we love booze here at MoM so this important article by Lucy Britner was an instant choice. That gorgeous creature above with the film star eyes is Otis from Badachro Distillery.
There really was only one story this year, and bartender and MoM occasional columnist Nate Brown tackled it head on in this moving look at the difficulties of running a bar with the Covid-19 rules changing the whole time.
Some great writing here from Adam O’Connell. The article manages to do two difficult things extremely well: transport the reader to another country and describe the flavour of a highly distinctive spirit.
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.
Now, onto the last Nightcap of 2020. We hope all our lovely readers have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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 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.
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.”
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…
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 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.
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!