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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Luxardo Maraschino

The Nightcap: 23 July

Dwayne Johnson’s Tequila bus, 70,000 free Pistonhead Beers, and Kraken Rum’s protest ice cream all make an appearance in another cracker of a Nightcap.  Good afternoon folks. We hope you’ve…

Dwayne Johnson’s Tequila bus, 70,000 free Pistonhead Beers, and Kraken Rum’s protest ice cream all make an appearance in another cracker of a Nightcap. 

Good afternoon folks. We hope you’ve all survived the wacky weather and got to enjoy the full return of the hospitality industry. Tomorrow just so happens to be National Tequila Day, so you’ve got even more of an excuse to keep the good times going. You might have noticed that we spent a fair amount of time this week celebrating this event. This is because Tequila is tremendous and we’ll never pass up a chance to chat all about how much we love it. 

This is why we’ve been doing that on the blog the last few days. We put together a competition with El Rayo Tequila, enjoyed a Tommy’s Margarita, welcomed Volcan Tequila and recommended some cracking Tequila cocktails that you may not have tried. Our content wasn’t all agave-based, however. Henry revisited Copper Rivet’s distillery to observe its impressive operation, Ian Buxton was charmed, Millie demonstrated how to make the most of her favourite soft drink, iced tea, and Adam tasted a blend of whisky and rum, before looking at what to expect from the exciting O’Shaughnessy Distillery.  

On the Clubhouse App, meanwhile, we’ve got rum on our minds as we delve into some of the challenges the category faces with guests Peter Holland, Gayle Seale and Philip Everett-Lyons at 3pm. Do join us!

Now on with the Nightcap: 23 July edition!

The Nightcap: 23 July

Dwayne Johnson’s Tequila brand will tour the US in this beauty

National Tequila Day success for Clooney, The Rock, and Kylie Jenner

Ok, last thing on National Tequila Day. Promise. But we couldn’t help but notice there were a lot of stories this week about how the industry is thriving at the moment. Celebrity-backed brands, in particular, are enjoying the spoils of this success. First, Casamigos Tequila revealed it is now a million-case-a-year brand, hitting the sales milestone at the end of 2020. Founders George Clooney and Rande Gerber sold the brand to drinks giant Diageo in 2017 for US$1 billion, but are still involved in what appears to be an incredible investment all-around. The same is true of Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila, which has already exceeded the figures forecast for its first two years of business in the two months since its launch in May, according to the company’s president. Celebrity publication Page Six even claimed that stores had sold out of stock within four hours of its first release. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson meanwhile, is spreading the word about his brand Teremana Tequila with a road trip. The ‘Great American Mana Mobile Road Trip’ will tour across the United States, calling at military bases, firehouses, hospitals, and other locations to show gratitude to the nation’s first responders. The Tequila tour bus will also visit main streets across America to encourage the public to support local businesses while serving Teremana-based cocktails, where allowed, and dishes including brioche French toast with Teremana Tequila-infused maple syrup.

The Nightcap: 23 July

You can expect Ian Burrell to be in top form as usual

RumFest returns with new Spiced Rum Show

We got wonderful news from the folks at London-based RumFest this week: it’s back in non-virtual form! Yes, organisers expect to welcome more than 3,000 actual human people across 15-17 October at the ILEC Conference Centre in west London following 2020’s mostly virtual event. The festival, founded by rum expert Ian Burrell, will host a trade exclusive day on the 15th, providing an opportunity to sample new and rare rums, network and attend educational talks. On the 16th, consumers can then enjoy demonstrations, tastings and talks from distillers and blenders, as well as live music, dancing and food. A line-up of digital events will also be available for those who are not able to attend in person. Finally, on 17 October, the festival will hold its first dedicated Spiced Rum Show. RumFest will once again serve as the culmination of London Rum Week (11-17 October), in which partner bars and restaurants across the city will host consumer events, including special menus, cocktails, pop-ups and supper clubs. The full line-up of events can be found at londonrumweek.com. If you want to pick up tickets for RumFest Live, they are available from rumfest.co.uk for £30, with ‘Golden Tot’ tokens for samples of particularly high-end rums are available to purchase for £5 each. 

The Nightcap: 23 July

The new expression has just arrived here!

The Balvenie unveils new 25-year-old whisky

When The Balvenie releases new whisky, we stand up and take note. The brand and malt master David C. Stewart MBE rarely does things by half measures and the newest expression is no exception. The Balvenie Twenty-Five will form part of the Rare Marriages range, a tribute to Stewart’s dedication to designing and building exceptional flavour through the marriage of rare casks and will join the acclaimed The Balvenie Thirty and The Balvenie Forty within the collection. The Speyside distillery tells us to expect a dram packed with soft autumn fruits, runny honey, crystallised ginger, bold vanilla oak, layers of toasted marshmallow, fresh fruit terrine and cinnamon-infused apple tart, complete with an exceptionally long-lasting sweetness. Stewart says the expression is made from casks that have “stood the important test of time” and that this “special whisky has a distinct profile and experience which we have designed to reveal the wonderful depth of The Balvenie single malt.” You don’t have to take his word for it, however, as we have some. Look. Just click here. Wonderful, isn’t it?

The Nightcap: 23 July

Gregg Glass heads up the innovative initiative

Whyte & Mackay expands its Scottish Oak Programme 

Whyte & Mackay’s exciting Scottish Oak Programme is getting even more love, according to the brand, which will expand its efforts across all its distilleries. The aim is to establish the use of native oak as a quality raw material for the wider spirits industry, starting with Scotch. Spearheaded by master whisky maker Gregg Glass, the programme aims to address some of the historical challenges around working with Scottish oak, such as porosity, quality, consistency of the wood, and cost versus true value. Inspired by his time exploring local sawmills with his Grandfather on the Black Isle, Glass wanted to explore how to harness the local environment and the programme is part of Whyte & Mackay’s commitment to sustainability. The responsible sourcing of Scottish Oak allows full traceability and will create tree planting initiatives in rural and urban communities as well as helping support forest stewardship across Scotland. Glass has been leading this project since he joined Whyte and Mackay in 2016, developing partnerships with organisations like local landowning estates, sawmills and coopers. We’re really looking forward to seeing how it develops from there.

The Nightcap: 23 July

You can be in with a chance of winning a pair of these unique trainers

1800 Tequila launches pop-up with streetwear artist Daniel Cordas

Hand painting artist Daniel Cordas, who counts the likes of Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, and Stormzy as fans, is teaming up with 1800 Tequila for a cool little collaboration next month. A visitor experience will launch at 15 Bateman Street in Soho, London on 14 and 15 August, from 11am to 7pm that will offer those that attend the chance to customise their own trainers from a curated menu of designs while enjoying 1800 Tequila cocktails (that’s cocktails by the brand 1800, not literally 1,800 different serves). Visitors can also collar Tequila educator Oliver Pergl for a tequila masterclass, while limited-edition pieces from merging sustainable streetwear brands will be featured. The main event, however, is the three trainers Cordas will customise ahead of the event with colours inspired by Tequila cocktails. He’ll use bright blue for the Tequila and Tonic, pinky-orange for the Paloma and lemon-lime for the Margarita, each infused with real splashes of 1800 Tequila. These one-of-a-kind trainers will be on display at the event and be awarded to three lucky winners. To be in with the chance to win a hand-painted bottle of 1800 Tequila or Tequila-inspired trainers, keep an eye on 1800’s Instagram page and you’ll soon be able to enter an online ballot.

The Nightcap: 23 July

If you want to try Luxardo’s new expressions, there’s no better place

Luxardo marks 200th anniversary with booze and a bash

Did you know that Luxardo is turning 200 this year? Yes, the legendary Italian booze maker is celebrating a remarkable anniversary in 2021 and, while the brand won’t be able to do all the things it had planned thanks to the pandemic, that doesn’t mean it can’t throw a party or two. One such bash is taking place at Hush bar & restaurant in Mayfair from 5 July until 30 September 2021, offering the public a season of Italian alfresco drinks and food. In absence of a big party, Luxardo will host a sun-kissed Mediterranean experience with a small masterclass tasting of new products, the Luxardo Antico Aperitivo and the limited edition, prestige Luxardo Maraschino Perla Dry Riserva Bicentenario. We had a chance to attend this week and can say from experience that it’s well worth a visit. And don’t pass up a chance to try the Maraschino Perla Dry Riserva Bicentenario. It’s sublime.

The Nightcap: 23 July

It’s a fantastic gesture. Who doesn’t like free beer?

70,000 free Pistonhead Beers offered to grassroots music venues 

As we’re sure you’re all aware, the last 18 months have been devastating for the hospitality and music sectors, with hundreds of venues closing and thousands of live events and festivals being cancelled. It has been brutal but Pistonhead is doing its bit to offer a helping hand. The leading craft beer specialists is throwing its support behind grassroots venues and the reopening on July 19th by giving away 70,000 free cans of Pistonhead Kustom Lager via an online application. With a resale value in excess of £300k, the donation should help grassroots venues to help get cash in the tills, punters at the bar and musicians back performing. Venues can apply for an allocation of this stock through The Pistonhead Foundation right here. I think we can all agree that this is exactly the kind of initiative we need right now, so kudos to you Pistonhead.

The Nightcap: 23 July

Anyone for ice cream?

And finally… Kraken Rum launches protest ice cream

Kraken Rum has something to say. It’s screaming for clean seas and spreading its message with punk rock attitude and rum. And ice cream. No, really. Partnering with marine conservation charity PADI AWARE Foundation, the rum brand’s ‘Ice Clean’ campaign aims to remind millions of staycationing Brits of the impact of litter on the UK’s oceans and beaches. Each ice cream sold will see £1 contributed to the PADI AWARE Foundation, with Kraken promising to match each and every donation helping to support and build the success of the foundation’s Marine Debris Programme. Bursting with tropical flavours, the Kraken-infused ice cream is black, so you know it’s punk rock still. But you can also expect to bite into flavoured 3D-printed edible toppings representing the top polluters in the ocean, including plastic bags, single-use cutlery, milk cartons, plastic bottles, plastic ring-pulls and aluminium cans. It’s basically like consuming a polluted ocean. Only it tastes like rummy ice cream. Hopefully. If you want to get a taste, Kraken will tour the UK across locations including Manchester, Leeds, Brighton and Glasgow, before finishing at music festival All Points East in London. To find out more about The Kraken’s ‘Ice Clean’, visit the brand’s social media pages, while if you want to donate to the PADI AWARE Foundation, head here

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A liquid history of Luxardo

We recently have the pleasure of being hosted by one of the world’s oldest and most intriguing distilleries, Luxardo, to hear its story of defiance, family and home. Also, booze….

We recently have the pleasure of being hosted by one of the world’s oldest and most intriguing distilleries, Luxardo, to hear its story of defiance, family and home. Also, booze.

Some say Venice is the most romantic destination in the world. The former capital of a maritime empire certainly features an enchanting combination of contemporary and ancient, quaint and grandiose. Our host, Nicolò Luxardo, appreciates its charm. But he’s quick to point out that Venice has no monopoly on beauty or heritage in these parts. 

Less than an hour’s drive away is Padua. The oldest university town in Italy is home to over 100,000 students, as well as bars and local markets that grapple for space in the charming town squares. It’s also the base for a family that has been making a considerable range of liqueurs and spirits, including its signature maraschino liqueur and cherries, for nearly two centuries: Luxardo. Family member and assistant export manager Nicolò was kind enough to show us around the family distillery and tell us the story behind the brand.

Luxardo

Nicolò Luxardo 

In 2021, Luxardo will turn 200 years old, but it’s still family-owned. “We are one of the few family-owned businesses in this industry and one of the oldest in the industry which is still family-owned. There is a family member at the top of each strategic line of the company,” Nicolò explains. “Eight Luxardo family members in total work together today, representing three different generations (one member of the fifth generation, five members of the sixth generation and two members of the seventh generation)”. 

The Luxardo brand was founded by Girolamo Luxardo, who came from a small village called Santa Margherita Ligure in the northwestern part of Italy. “He used to trade clothes and ropes, especially with the navy and during one of these trips he ended up in Zadar, which is now Croatia. There he fell in love with the traditional liqueur that was made by the housewives at that time from marasca cherries, which are smaller in size than regular cherries, darker in colour and very, very sour. They are almost impossible to eat raw,” explains Nicolò. “Housewives in those days used to pick these cherries and make a homemade cordial or liqueur which was then given to all the people who were coming over for lunch or for dinner”. 

Girolamo settled there with his wife, Maria Canevari, who started producing her own maraschino. “Girolamo, an entrepreneur, saw an opportunity after her maraschino was proclaimed the best you could find in the city by those who dined with them. The key was they added distillation to the creation process of maraschino,” says Nicolò. In 1821 Girolamo and Maria Canevari founded Girolamo Luxardo and it wasn’t long before they started to produce other classic Italian liqueurs, from limoncello, to triple sec and even new inventions such as the Sangue Morlacco. “We also started producing a juniper-based distillate back in 1835, which is essentially an ancestor of the more modern gin,” says Nicolò. 

Luxardo

The old distillery and Luxardo family home in Zadar

The innovation and quality of drink Luxardo produced made it one of the biggest distilleries in Europe by the early 1900s and one of the first Italian companies to export almost worldwide all of our products. “We began to feature in a lot of old-school classic cocktail books, like Jerry Thomas’ first books. As the bartending culture grew, we grew with it, and part of our success was definitely down to bar culture and the emergence of cocktail bartending,” says global brand ambassador Gareth ‘G’ Franklin. By 1913, the third generation heir Michelangelo Luxardo had built a striking modern distillery on the harbour. “If you still go into Zadar today you can see a very big yellow building. That was ours. The house of the family was on the last two floors and the first two floors were the offices of the company. Production took place behind this building,” says Nicolò. 

The First World War inevitably halted progress, but by its end, Luxardo was able to recover and to become even more successful than before. Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Dalmatian coast came under Italian rule. “At this time we were making all sorts of things, including gin, brandies, whisky, everything!” says Franklin. “But a lot of these recipes were lost due to the troubles of World War II.”

Troubles might be an understatement. The War was a complete disaster for the family. “Zadar was bombed 57 times in one year and the city was almost completely destroyed, as well as the company. Three members of the family were killed and the rest managed to escape,” explains Nicolò. “From the ashes of our company the Communist Party [the city was now part of Tito’s Yugoslavia] started a new company called The Marasca. Everything had been taken from us. In the beginning, they sold Luxardo Maraschino bottles and for 50 years we have fought them with lawsuits and won them all. But it has been very difficult for us.” 

Luxardo

The current Luxardo Distillery

The family could no longer call Zadar home or produce drinks so they relocated in 1947 to Torreglia in the Province of Padua, Italy, led by Giorgio, a fourth-generation Luxardo family member and Nicolò III (our host’s grandfather, who was from the fifth generation). “We started from scratch, from zero, with nothing,” says Nicolò. “The maraschino making process lasts roughly around four years. We could not just open the taps and have maraschino flowing out.”

The Luxardo way was not lost, however. The location of Torreglia was a strategic choice. The PH of the soil was very similar to that of Zadar, so it was particularly suitable for growing marasca cherries. What happened next was remarkable. The family got in touch with Professor Morettini, who worked at the University of Florence. In the 1930s-1940s they had sent some cherry tree samples from Zadar to Professor Morettini, so the family attempted to get some cherry tree plans from him so that they could plant them back again in Torreglia. It worked.

Luxardo has gone from strength to strength since. Today, every single Luxardo bottle is produced in Torreglia and the flagship maraschino is still made in the exact same way as it was made back in 1821. The brand has exported its products to over 87 different countries, with its sambuca proving to be the biggest selling bottling, followed by the Limoncello and then the Amaretto. The Maraschino liqueur, however, is the fastest-growing product in the last ten years, however, and Franklin reveals it is growing far faster than the others.

Luxardo

The marasca cherry trees in the scenic Torreglian hills

The marasca cherry is the heart of Luxardo. So much so that the firm cultivates a unique variety. “We’ve been growing these cherries for so long that they actually have their own genus. Our cherries are scientifically called the ‘Luxardo marasca cherry’”, says Franklin. In total there are more than 30,000 trees in the Torreglian hills that produce this type of cherry.

Luxardo does not own all those trees, however. “These plants are planted in soil which is not ours, but back when we started here in Torreglia we found farmers who were willing to cultivate them. We gave them the plants for free and they signed an exclusivity agreement to sell all the existing products at the end of the year to us, but at market price,” says Nicolò. “The farmers are very happy to work with us because they get the plant for free, they know they will sell all the existing product at the end of the season without having to go and find customers and they’ll get paid the market price of the cherries of that year. The only risk that they take is if the plants get ill or if there is a bad season for the fruits.” 

“We have two different souls in this company. One is more ancient, with more heritage, and the other one is modern and highly technological. Products like the sambuca and limoncello are made in a high-quality way that’s very fast and very modern. Products like the maraschino and the Sangue Morlacco could be done that way, but we’d rather still make them as they were made back in 1821,” says Nicolò. “We have been in business for almost 200 years because those products were made in the best possible way. We are the only producer of maraschino who still makes it in the traditional way.” Franklin agrees that the process has to be kept true to its roots, “We can do it faster, we have the technology, but we will be sacrificing integrity and taste”. 

Luxardo

The traditional copper pot stills. Distillation is a key part of Luxardo’s production of maraschino liqueur

It can take up to four years to produce a bottle of maraschino liqueur. The marasca cherries are harvested in late June/beginning of July. The pulp, the pits, the juice and the cherry are separated and the tree is also pruned as the leaves and branches are one of the most important ingredients. Inside larch wood vats neutral alcohol is added to this mixture of leaves, branches, pulp, skin, stem, the stones and a little bit of juice and it macerates for two to three years. 

Two of those larch wood vats are the original ones installed in 1947. “The older they get, the better they are because in this process the oxygen that comes in and out of these vats changes and matures the product,” says Nicolò. “That’s why we use larch wood, it’s a very porous wood, so this allows this oxidation to happen. We use dark wood as it has tannins inside which interact with the product that is contained inside the barrel.”

From here the liquid is distilled and the solid parts, the leaves, the branches, the pulp, are put inside bags and placed inside the traditional copper pot stills, which are heated with steam. “We only use the heart of the distillation for the maraschino. The heads and tails are separated and then reused in the next distillation,” says Nicolò, who then points to an array of machines around us that are used to make the other recipes for the other products. “The Amaro Abano is infused and is the only product for which they make a complete maceration. For the Bitter Bianco a small infuser is used to make separate infusions of each herb.” 

Luxardo

The Finnish ash wood butts

The blending process for the maraschino liqueur takes place in Finnish ash wood butts, complete with pores because oxygen is still required to interact with the product inside. The liqueur rests inside here for roughly six and 12 months. “This is where you get control. The Finnish ash wood butts are smaller and allow us to get more contact between the liquid and the wood. This is the step that allows us to get that consistent flavour and taste,” says Franklin.  “The whole process means we don’t make a regular cherry liqueur. What you get at the end is like a cross between a fortified wine and a cherry liqueur. So you get a big rich, bold cherry flavour but this has got a port-like richness to it as well.”

To finish, sugar and water are added in the mixing tanks, then the liqueur is stored in elliptical vats (shaped like this purely for storage reasons, they contain the same amount of liquid but they take away less space) until it is ready to be bottled. While there are mechanical bottling lines, built in 2013 and 2015 on-site, that can process 6000 bottles per hour, for all the technology the maraschino liqueur still has the same distinctive cardboard label produced by hand.

Nicolò finishes our tour by showing us the on-going construction of a whole new visitor centre and talks excitedly of the future. Franklin concurs, “The world of liqueurs is a funny world. It’s by far the biggest category there is. Mainly because liqueurs are all about flavours, so if you can think of a flavour, it has the ability to be a liqueur. But also if you can think of a combination of flavours then they also have abilities to be liqueurs as well. The possibilities are truly endless.” 

Luxardo

It’s been a long road for the Luxardo family, but there’s more to come from them…

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The Nightcap: 29 March

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap. You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master…

Carbon neutral distilleries, robots that scare birds away from grapes and a farewell to vintages. It’s a particularly varied week for The Nightcap.

You’re tuned in to The Nightcap, Master of Malt’s round-up of booze news stories from the week that was. If there was a way to make sound happen automatically when you open The Nightcap in a way that wasn’t completely terrifying (it scares us every time a website just randomly decides that we’d love for a video to make noise right away, or that we just have to hear this royalty-free classical music while reading about something on the internet), you bet it would be one of those cool ‘dun-dun-dun-da-daaaah’ type melodies that all good news shows on TV have.

So, what have been the happenings on the MoM Blog this week? Adam got a taste for new releases, firstly showing off HYKE Gin, and then even more lip-smacking new arrivals to MoM Towers. Annie got out a magnifying glass to check out what could be the smallest gin distilleries in Britain, and followed it up with a look at the rise of cocktail-specific booze. Henry mixed up a French 75 for Cocktail of the Week, and met with Glenlivet’s Alan Winchester to taste a 50 year old single malt. Jess headed to London for a night of perfume and cocktails with Theodore Pictish Gin. Kristy was lucky enough to try something completely new from Tobermory – a gin!

More news? More news!

Balblair

No more vintages: the new Balblair core range

Balblair replaces vintages with age-statement whiskies

Some of us thought we’d never see the day. Age statements instead of vintages at Balblair? That’s the news this week from the Highland distillery, who confirmed a departure from the distillery’s ‘vintage-only’ approach in favour of four age-statement expressions. The new collection of single malt Scotch whiskies will be available in the UK this month and globally from April 2019. It consists of: a 12 Year Old, matured in American oak ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks; a 15 Year Old, aged initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; an 18 Year Old, matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first-fill Spanish oak butts; and finally, the standout in the range is a 25 Year Old that was initially aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks then re-casked in Spanish oak oloroso casks. John MacDonald, Distillery Manager at Balblair, said: “As one of the oldest working distilleries in the Scottish Highlands, Balblair has a long and rich history of crafting premium single malt Scotch whisky. Our new collection is intrinsically linked to our heritage and is testament to the place and the people behind our whisky, while being emblematic of our ‘True Highland Spirit’.” We’re sad to see the vintages go, but we’re looking forward to seeing what’s to come from this new era for Balblair – and tasting those age-statement whiskies!

don julio

The ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila in a White Negroni

Don Julio brings ‘world’s first’ Añejo Claro Tequila to the UK

As everyone who is studying for the WSET Level 2 knows, or should know, Tequila Añejo is aged for a minimum of one year in oak so that it takes on colour and flavour from the cask. Well, that was true up until now because Don Julio Tequila has just launched an Añejo Claro into the UK market. It is aged for 18 months in American oak barrels but then filtered, rather as with some white rums, so you have all (or most) of the flavour of an aged spirit but without that pesky colour. It’s called Don Julio 70 and, coincidentally, will retail for around £70. Richard Larkin, head of Diageo Reserve GB, said: “This first-of-its-kind Tequila showcases the talent and skill of master distiller Enrique de Colsa who has created an Añejo Claro to challenge conventions and support the growth of super premium tequila in the UK. It’s a masterpiece of innovation.” First of its kind? Masterpiece of innovation? We’re always a bit sceptical when we hear that. So we did some investigating. It’s certainly new to the UK, although it sounds very much like a product called Hornitos Cristalino, also a filtered colourless Añejo. The folks at Diageo got in touch to tell us Don Julio 70 was first conceived in 2011 though, so it does indeed have claim to the ‘first-ever’ Añejo Claro title after all.*

ailsa bay

The new technological tipple

Ailsa Bay unveils blockchain whisky bottle

News that will please whisky geeks and, well, geeks in general came from William Grant & Sons this week, which announced the launch of a new Ailsa Bay expression that features blockchain technology. For those of you scratching your head, blockchain is a list of registers, or blocks, that contain information about the previous block and transaction data between the two blocks. Essentially, it acts as an open ledger to track authenticity and (in this case) allows shoppers to digitally track the whisky’s production journey. This new whisky features data acquired from William Grant & Sons including cask types, filling dates and bottling dates. The brand’s use of blockchain captures the full distilling and manufacturing process, allowing customers to track their whisky from source to store and trace the origins of their whisky via a web experience, which is individually tailored to each bottle. All you have to do is scan the QR code and you’ll be presented with a visual history of your whisky. William Grant & Sons partnered with specialist blockchain technology company Arc-Net to create this bottling. Dominic Parfitt, head of E-commerce at William Grant & Sons, said: “Innovation is a key part of our business. We’re constantly looking to evolve our offering and learn new things in order to push the boundaries within the drinks industry. We’re doing something now that we hope will set the bar for the future experience of spirits, and we look forward to seeing how other brands follow suit as innovation within the industry continues to develop in the next few years.”

greensand ridge

Greensand Ridge becomes carbon neutral

Kent-based Greensand Ridge is the UK’s first carbon neutral distillery

It’s 2019, and with environmental concerns becoming more pressing than ever we are happy to announce that craft distillery Greensand Ridge in Kent has become carbon neutral. It’s the first distillery in the UK to achieve this milestone, so we’ll certainly raise a glass to that! When the distillery opened in 2015, it already had the goal of having as little impact on the environment as possible, and it’s taken the last four years of hard work to reach this point. It uses surplus produce from local farmers that supermarkets won’t take, which is why you’ll see a fair few fruit spirits from the distillery such as Apple Brandy or Raspberry Ghost. With a zero target for chemical use and non-recyclable waste, and powered by 100% renewable electricity, Greensand Ridge truly has its eye on the sustainability ball. Greensand Ridge founder and distiller Will Edge says that becoming carbon neutral “doesn’t change our spirits, but it’s a statement of what is important to us as a new and growing business.” If you happen to be in the area, you can visit the distillery and even make your own bottle of carbon-neutral gin! Let’s hope more follow suit.

patron

Best of luck and many thanks to Dave Wilson!

Patrón global president and chief operations officer Dave Wilson to retire

Bacardi Limited has announced this week that Dave Wilson, global president and chief operations officer of Patrón Spirits International and the Patrón Spirits Company, will retire as of 1 April 2019. During his tenure, Wilson helped establish Patrón, which was acquired by Bacardi Limited in April 2018, in the ultra-premium Tequila category and to become one of the most recognisable agave-spirit brands around. With Wilson’s retirement, Pete Carr, president of Bacardi North America, will now lead both the Bacardi and Patrón organisations for North America, while Wilson will continue as a senior adviser to Patrón. Mahesh Madhavan, CEO of Bacardi Limited commented: “During his tremendously successful 40-year career, Dave has made an everlasting imprint in the spirits industry driving pioneering marketing, world-class operations, and innovative environmental programs. On behalf of Bacardi and our newest colleagues from Patrón, I thank Dave for his contributions to the industry and for supporting the union of two incredible organisations that are Bacardi and Patrón.” Best of luck in all future endeavours, Mr. Wilson!

valour

Is there anything more fashionable these days than gin?

Fashion designer partners with start-up distillery to launch bespoke designer gin

It seems that fashion and booze go hand-in-hand these days. Fashion designer Scott Henshall has partnered with Cooper King Distillery as part of Henshall’s new ‘Valour’ brand which launched during York Fashion Week. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget any prefixes, this is Yorkshire’s very own fashion week. Henshall, who has worked with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Paris Hilton, became, at the age of 22, the youngest designer to show during London Fashion Week. Originally from York, he wanted to celebrate his 21st year in the fashion industry by going back to his roots. The Valour range urges people to ‘be courageous in all you do’. Co-founder of Cooper King Distillery Chris Jaume said that it had been great fun working on “a unique gin which articulates the luxury and courage which Scott’s Valour brand signifies”. Among the botanicals is local honey from Cooper King’s own beehives, and lemongrass. With at least 1% of all proceeds going to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of Cooper King Distillery’s 1% for the Planet initiative, the gin not only looks fabulous and tastes amazing, but even has a positive environmental impact. If that’s not fashionable, we don’t know what is.

luxardo

Gareth Franklin, Luxardo global brand ambassador

Luxardo launches ‘Modify This’ masterclass tour

Italian drinks company Luxardo is taking its products on the road with a series of guest nights and masterclasses at bars around the country. The initiative is called ‘Modify This!’ and it’s fronted by global brand ambassador Gareth ‘G’ Franklin. The journey begins in Wales at Pennyroyal in Cardiff on 10 April and will take him all over this great country of ours. The point is to encourage bartenders and customers alike to look at liqueurs like Luxardo Maraschino or Bitter Bianco as the headliner rather than the supporting act. Mr G said: “Liqueurs are by far the largest and most diverse category out there, but they are often seen as a lower priority on the list and in terms of the location where they are placed at the bar. I want to change this. With fresh thinking, bartenders will re-discover the benefits, authentic style and distinctive flavours of liqueurs, and how they can transform popular, simple spirit plus mixer drinks into original cocktails.” To make his point, G has come up with a special serve called the Iceberg Slim consisting of Luxardo Bitter Bianco mixed with tonic, lemon essential oils and fresh dill. Sounds like a definite contender for Cocktail of the Week.

Yeah, you can chuck those out

Gin: from mother’s ruin to Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, but on the same day the clocks go forward meaning less time in bed. What’s that all about? Better make sure you have a good present for the mother in your life to make up for that extra hour awake. According to the WSTA, gin is now the gift du jour on Mothering Sunday. Figures released yesterday show that in the last two years gin sales spiked in March. In the first quarter of 2017, 6.4m bottles of gin were sold in UK shops, and of that 2.6m, 41%, were sold in March. Last year was even stronger, with 9m bottles of gin sold in January, February and March of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those were sold in the run up to Mother’s Day. Marcus Pickering of Pickering’s Gin whose company offers a personalised gin wrapping service said: “After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mums really want is gin”.

bombay sapphire

Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition English Estate is a summer-inspired gin

Bombay Sapphire launches new gin inspired by the English countryside

Bombay Sapphire announced this week that it planned to release more gin-based deliciousness in the form of Bombay Sapphire Limited Edition: English Estate. It’s a gin inspired by the landscape surrounding the brand’s home at Laverstoke Mill in the Hampshire countryside. The first in a series of limited editions, Bombay Sapphire English Estate was made with an infusion of three new botanicals: Pennyroyal mint, rosehip and toasted hazelnut to create a summery profile. But be warned, this gin will only be available for 12 months from April 2019. Two bespoke cocktails were created to showcase this drink, ‘The Secret English Garden’, which blends English Estate gin with Fever-Tree ginger ale and cloudy apple juice served long with lemon, apple, thyme and ice, as well as a twist on the classic G&T, combining English Estate gin with Fever-Tree tonic over ice, garnished with mint and a lemon wedge. Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire master of botanicals, commented on the expression: “Each botanical in our gin is carefully balanced to create a smooth and complex taste and the new Bombay Sapphire English Estate is no different. Hand-selected from the English countryside and drawing creative inspiration from the Hampshire home of Bombay Sapphire, the additional botanicals produce a summer-inspired vibrant gin.”

bird that hates grapes

It’s saying: “I’m gonna eat your graaaaaaaapes!”

And finally… Drone to deter birds from stealing wine grapes

Grapes have made a few enemies over the years. Phylloxera, for example. One grape enemy you may be more familiar with is birds. Birds have trouble resisting those little globes of deliciousness, and while making sure birds enjoy a balanced breakfast is a noble cause, we can all agree that this should not come at the cost of wine. In a report from The HeraldDarren Fahey, the viticulture development officer for NSW Department of Primary Industries, estimated that birds cause $300 million-a-year crop and winegrape losses in Australia. That’s where Zi Wang, a Sydney University School of Aerospace Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering PhD candidate, comes in with his plan to use a drone to scare away the hungry birds from Australian vineyards. The drone, which is being trialled in Hunter valley, Hilltops and Orange vineyards, can be piloted remotely, and the aim is to make it so the system can detect birds and automatically launch into action. It can emit mimicked bird distress calls, and even has a dummy crow attached to it, to make it look like the drone has just caught it. Perhaps if Heathrow starts having drone problems again, the way to defeat them is to send out a rival drone with another drone attached to it…

That’s it for The Nightcap this week, folks. Have a good one!

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Hornitos Cristalino was first to market – apologies, folks. 

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Master of Cocktails – The Penultimate Paragraph

Right then all – we all ready for a cocktail? Time for #MasterofCocktails… Today’s drink is a creation based around this bad boy. It’s Bathtub Gin aged in an ex-Ardbeg…

Master of Cocktails Penultimate Paragraph

Right then all – we all ready for a cocktail? Time for #MasterofCocktails

Today’s drink is a creation based around this bad boy. It’s Bathtub Gin aged in an ex-Ardbeg cask. This batch is all sold out (I did tell you all to buy it…), but there’s a new batch available from the second-fill. Why, here it is.

So – this week’s #MasterofCocktails is going to be a variation on the Last Word cocktail. One of my all time favourites.

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Master of Cocktails – Bijou Cocktail

Right then Ladies and Gentlemen – it’s time for another #MasterofCocktails. Excited? Oh yes. This week we’re making a Chartreuse-heavy ‘Bijou Cocktail‘ recipe, though we’re making it with slightly less…

Master of Cocktails Bijou Cocktail

Right then Ladies and Gentlemen – it’s time for another #MasterofCocktails. Excited? Oh yes.

This week we’re making a Chartreuse-heavy ‘Bijou Cocktail‘ recipe, though we’re making it with slightly less Green Chartreuse as to not overwhelm the drink.

‘Bijou’ of course, is French for ‘Jewel’, and the cocktail’s name comes from the colours of precious jewels (emerald, diamond and ruby) being similar to the colour of the ingredients (Chartreuse, Gin and Vermouth).

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Master of Cocktails – De La Louisiane

Well hello there cocktail fans. Hope you all had a wonderful Burns Night (apostrophe?)! In celebration, for #MasterofCocktails on Sunday we made a De La Louisiane recipe, which is a……

Master of Cocktails The De La Louisiane

Well hello there cocktail fans. Hope you all had a wonderful Burns Night (apostrophe?)! In celebration, for #MasterofCocktails on Sunday we made a De La Louisiane recipe, which is a… erm… a cocktail with American Whiskey.

Should’ve thought that one through a bit better really, eh?

Nevertheless – this really is a good ‘un. It’s sort of a halfway house between a Manhattan and a Vieux Carre.

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Master of Cocktails – The Hemingway Daiquiri

After a break from Daiquiris on #MasterofCocktails last week, they’re back in force with probably the finest evolution of the drink – maybe with the exception of Artesian’s Frozen Banana…

Master of Cocktails Hemingway Daiquiri

After a break from Daiquiris on #MasterofCocktails last week, they’re back in force with probably the finest evolution of the drink – maybe with the exception of Artesian’s Frozen Banana with Caviar… and I’ll be having a crack at recreating that one in a few weeks’ time incidentally… but this week we’re going with The Hemingway Daiquiri.

He liked a drink or two did old Ernie, and this recipe is a fine legacy indeed. The theory here is essentially unchanged from the standard, only we’re going to be replacing boring old sugar syrup with Maraschino. The original recipe also calls for a splidge of Grapefruit Juice. Not convinced it needs it myself but we’ll stick it in anyway and you can easily omit it if you’ve not got grapefruits in (who does, usually?).

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Master of Cocktails – The Corpse Reviver No. 2

Right then chaps – it’s #MasterofCocktails time once again. This week we made another real classic – The Corpse Reviver No. 2. It’s yet another excellent recipe taken from The…

Master of Cocktails Corpse Reviver No 2

Right then chaps – it’s #MasterofCocktails time once again. This week we made another real classic – The Corpse Reviver No. 2.

It’s yet another excellent recipe taken from The Savoy Cocktail Book – a superb compendium you all should own.

The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is also one of those drinks that manages to lives up to the awesome name it’s been given. Unsurprisingly, it was originally a hair of the dog drink, with Craddock warning readers that “four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again”! It can certainly be enjoyed at any time though. We’ve made a few substitutions here – most notably Pierre Ferrand Curaçao has been brought in on account of its yumminess.

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Master of Cocktails – Piña Colada

This week’s #MasterofCocktails is a bank holiday treat – Piña Coladas! Now, there are two reasonably important ‘tricks’ to this drink, well, one really… The first trick is NO ICE….

Master of Cocktails Pina Colada

This week’s #MasterofCocktails is a bank holiday treat – Piña Coladas! Now, there are two reasonably important ‘tricks’ to this drink, well, one really…

The first trick is NO ICE. We’re not using any in the preparation of this drink – instead we’re using frozen pineapple. The second trick is to use an uber-ripe pineapple. All of the sweetness from this drink comes from the fruit. So, like I said – sort of one trick, but nevertheless.

We’re also going to be weighing all the ingredients this time around, just for ease of reference.

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Master of Cocktails – The Aviation

Right then chaps – we’re going to be making something that’s very much en-vogue at the moment for this week’s #MasterofCocktails: an Aviation. Essentially, this cocktail is just a gin-sour…

Master of Cocktails The Aviation

Right then chaps – we’re going to be making something that’s very much en-vogue at the moment for this week’s #MasterofCocktails: an Aviation.

Essentially, this cocktail is just a gin-sour with a dab of Violet Liqueur in it, but the sum of the parts is so much more than this. Also, as it’s probably one of the least sweet sours you’ll come across, it can still legitimately be called an aperitif.

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