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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Macallan

New Arrival of the Week: The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1

Our New Arrival of the Week is the first in a series of releases, all of which are set to be heavily influenced by sherry casks. Meet The Lakes Whiskymaker’s…

Our New Arrival of the Week is the first in a series of releases, all of which are set to be heavily influenced by sherry casks. Meet The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1!

When we spoke with Dhavall Gandhi, whisky-maker-in-chief at The Lakes Distillery, back in May 2018, he explained that the distillery’s “main flagship is still a little way away but we are coming out with different styles, and these are much more intense in character and very, very sherry-orientated. So if you like sherry bombs you are going to like the initial releases of Lakes Distillery!”

Fast forward to September 2019, and the Cumbria-based distillery has launched the expression Gandhi teased us about: The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1. Unlike previous whiskies from the National Park’s first legal spirits producer, The ONE and Steel Bonnets, this is a single malt and it’s also the first whisky to form part of a range. The Whiskymaker’s Reserve is tipped to showcase the sherry-led house style defined by Gandhi, or the “artistic exploration of maturation, blending and flavour evolution”, as it was put in the press release.

Happily, the Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 does not fail to live up to the billing Gandhi gave it last year. It was matured in Pedro Ximénez sherry and red wine casks, comprising of American, Spanish and French oak, and to taste it has all the hallmarks of a sherry bomb (more on that later). Such distinctive styles of cask and the varying breeds of oak point to a distillery flexing its maturation muscles, as promised. The Lakes Distillery also made it known in the press materials that it has matured its spirits in PX, cream and fino sherry casks, from 500-litre butts to 205-litre hogsheads, and in our interview, Gandhi spoke of using orange wine casks from Andalusia, Spain and innovating with various types of bourbon casks too.

Lakes Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1

The distillery’s first single malt was made to showcase the sherry-led house style.

Gandhi’s decision to join The Lakes Distillery was partly for the opportunity to define the house style of a new distillery. The former Macallan-man (a role which presumably influenced his love for maturing whisky in sherry-casks) seems to be wasting no time in making his mark. A quote from Nigel Mills, co-founder of The Lakes Distillery, revealed the extent of his creative licence: “Unusually, Dhavall is actively involved at every stage of the process. From the choice of barley to the intricacy of bespoke cask production and selection, and knowing each cask intimately as it matures. It’s holistic whisky-making”.

The name ‘Whiskymaker’s Reserve’ appears to be quite apt, then. What we’re tasting here is not only a presentation of the character of the Lakes Distillery’s or its already impressive cask selection but something of a personal statement from the whisky maker. The question is, what does The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 say about Gandhi?

Firstly, his desire to experiment with various styles of casks suggests that he finds the fact that English whisky doesn’t have quite the historical precedent or legislative structure of Scotch to be liberating. “Creating a new whisky requires a framework of sorts, but there must be room within it to play, to follow gut feeling and instinct,” says Gandhi. “At The Lakes, we respect the conventions of Scotch whisky heritage but are open to a world of other influences, interpreting what we believe is right to make The Lakes Single Malt one of the finest whiskies in the world.”

Lakes Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1

The Lakes Distillery is one of the leading producers of English whisky.

The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 also demonstrates that Gandhi is a patient and methodical worker. This bottling wasn’t exactly rushed out of the door (we’ve been waiting over a year here Dhavall, mate). Furthermore, the combination of two distinctive cask types like this could have given Gandhi an expensive and complex self-inflicted problem. Nobody wants barrel upon barrel of unbalanced, unusable spirit. Bottling the expression without chill-filtration or any additional colouring at cask strength 60.6% ABV also gives him nowhere to hide.

For Gandhi, however, this very much seems to be the point. “We don’t believe in taking the easy option if there’s another way to add a new dimension of flavour – for the Lakes, that means not only creating flavour in the new make spirit but also opening up more flavour possibilities through the entire whisky-making process,” he says. This means we can expect more intriguing bottlings in the future, folks.

For now, we get to enjoy The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1. So, what do we make of it? Well, we like it and so will anyone else who loves a heavily-sherried whisky. It’s sweet, spicy, nutty and just a little bit funky. Both casks rush to centre stage on both the nose and palate, but both are impressively balanced and instead of competing with each other, the profile is actually quite complementary. Plus the distillery character manages to avoid being drowned in this cask-forward fun. The first batch is limited to 5,922 bottles, which is a shame, and the price tag might be a touch high for a no-age-statement bottling for some people’s taste, but overall it’s fair to we’re fans, and we’re very excited to see what’s next.

The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1:

Nose: Black wine gums, marmalade and resinous sherried funk initially, with winter spice and rich caramel. There’s nutty malted barley and sugared almonds underneath, as well as a hint of Crunchie chocolate bar.

Palate: A rich, yet refined palate leads with succulent blackcurrants, dried orange peel and vanilla fudge, with wine-stained oak, bitter herbs and a touch of flint in support.

Finish: Woody tannins sparkle into life among dried fruit, apples and dark chocolate.

Overall: Hugely satisfying, it’s a funky, fruity and undoubtedly sherry-tastic dram.

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The Nightcap: 20 September

Your order of bite-sized bits of booze news has been filled once again, courtesy of The Nightcap! This week we’ve got stories about beer from 1936, colourful Macallan whisky and…

Your order of bite-sized bits of booze news has been filled once again, courtesy of The Nightcap! This week we’ve got stories about beer from 1936, colourful Macallan whisky and the return of a drink-filled Amazon Prime TV series.

We’ve spent some time in the office this week talking about how Jeff Goldblum is pretty much the perfect person. To be honest, we spend a lot of weeks doing that. In a way, he’s quite like the booze industry. We enjoy what they produce, we’re excited to see what they come out with next and they both make us thirsty. Only one, however, can be the true focus of The Nightcap. Sorry, Jeff. But needs must.

So what’s been going on here on the MoM Blog? Well, we announced winner of our Salcombe Gin competition, so congratulations are in order. Elsewhere, Jess witnessed the journey of a whisky from tree to barrel to glass courtesy of Jura Seven Wood and Henry enjoyed some Rum Punch as this is International Punch Day (happy IPD, folks!). Annie, meanwhile, had an eco-themed week, first dispelling some eco myths and then looking at some the finest eco distilleries. Adam’s theme was more sherry-tastic as he rounded-up some delicious and delightful sherried whiskies and then made an amontillado sherry cask-finished Tomatin single malt Scotch whisky our New Arrival of the Week, before finding time to talk about the new Jameson Caskmates release.

Despite all of that boozy goodness, there’s still more news stories to cover. It’s The Nightcap!

The Macallan Edition No. 5 launches in collaboration with Pantone

Sound the ‘New Macallan‘ alert folks, because the Speyside distillery has just launched a bottling as a “homage to the diversity and complexity of natural colour.” It may sound more Pantene then Pantone, but the expression is supposed to champion the spectrum of natural colour you’ll find across the Macallan range and features a collaboration with the Pantone Color Institute. The company created the shade of purple you’ll see on the label especially for this particular release, which has been named The Macallan Edition Purple. The Macallan Edition No.5 was matured in American oak casks and is said to have notes of caramel, vanilla, lemon basil and fresh fruit combined with oak spices, but more importantly, it’s a colour the brand describes as “sunlit barley” (I’m thinking of having my spare room painted that). “We can find much common ground between whisky making and colour creation and with Edition No.5 we have been able to explore and celebrate these two art forms,” said Sarah Burgess, The Macallan whisky maker. “Whilst colour development starts with mixing basic colours with precision to achieve different shades, for whisky-making, it is the knowledge and understanding of a specific palette of colours from the cask which is the starting point. From here we can craft the desired character and specific colour of the final whisky”. Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, added: “As the rainbow’s most complex colour, purple naturally felt like the ideal shade to highlight the equally complex process involved in The Macallan’s whisky-making”.

The Nightcap

The remarkable historical beers

Britain’s earliest surviving canned beers go for £2,250 at auction

We’re used to old bottles of whisky selling for thousands of pounds but with beer less so. Which is why we were surprised when two old cans went for £2,250 at Chiswick Auctions in London yesterday. That’s a lot of bread for beer. But these weren’t just any cans. Oh no, these babies date back to 1936 and come from the Felinfoel Brewery in Llanelli which was the first brewery in Britain and the second in the world to produce a canned beer. Similar cans were shipped out to North Africa to keep General Montgomery’s army aka the Desert Rats refreshed. Handily at the time, the brewery also owned a tinplate works. The cans were lined with wax to stop the beer corroding the metal. It seems to have worked because both the contents of one can are entirely intact, whereas the second has suffered some evaporation. Not bad for 83-year-old beer cans. As for the taste of the beer, we are unlikely to find out whether they are drinkable as the cans were snapped up by the very company that brewed them (still in family hands after all these years) to go into its museum.

The Nightcap

Havana Club Tributo 2019, which we can confirm is very tasty

Havana Club brings Tributo 2019 to the UK

At The Churchill Bar & Terrace in Portman Square, London we were treated to live Cuban music, delicious cocktails, a sublime menu and, best of all, the 2019 edition of Havana Club Tributo this week. The fourth bottling in Havana Club’s Tributo range, which was first launched in February 2019 at the Habanos Festival in Havana, Cuba, was created by three generations of masters of Cuban rum (maestros del ron Cubano) including Don José Navarro, Asbel Morales and Salomé Aleman, the first and only female maestra del ron Cubano, who each selected a rare and extra-aged rum base which were first left to mature in the 1970s, 1990s and 2010s respectively. These were then blended together with a rum that was matured for more than 25 years in French oak barrels to form the 2019 edition of Tributo. “Once again, the Havana Club Tributo collection praises the richness and variety of styles that form the base of the authentic Cuban rum category,” said Morales. “Each rum in the Tributo range uniquely focuses on a different element of the production process, from our ancient rum bases to cask experimentation and the 2019 edition continues this story by honouring the craftsmanship of three of the maestros del ron Cubano.” Rich, refined and intense, Havana Club Tributo 2019 possesses notes of dark chocolate, dried fruit, baking spice, coffee, brown sugar and exotic fruit. It certainly earns our seal of approval and will be available at MoM Towers soon…

The Nightcap

A delightful cause, courtesy of a delightful beer!

Beer for good! Camden Town Brewery heads to London for UK’s first Can-for-Can Swap with The Felix Project

We’re all lucky enough to be able to enjoy delicious food and mouth-watering drinks on a regular basis, though it’s a harsh reality that that’s not true for everyone. That’s why we were super stoked to hear that Camden Town Brewery has launched a new autumnal seasonal beer, dubbed Harvest Hells Lager, in partnership with The Felix Project, a charity with a mission in raising awareness for food poverty in the UK. This is a problem which affects 8.4 million people nationally. Harvest Hells gets its autumnal notes from darker roasted speciality malts, making for a richer flavour while poetically turning its summery yellow hue to the reddish-brown of autumn leaves. Mmm, autumn leaves… But how does lager help food poverty, you ask? Well, from 24 September there’s going to be a Harvest Hells van gallivanting between London, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool with the UK’s first ‘Can-for-Can’ swap initiative! Bring a can of any tinned food and you’ll secure a can of Harvest Hells lager in return, while your tins will be donated to local food banks in each city. The when and whereabouts of the Harvest Hells Van can be found here. What’s more, Camden Town Brewery is donating 20p from every can of Harvest Hells Lager sold within the first month to The Felix Project. “Food poverty in the UK is a growing problem, with many people struggling to afford fresh and healthy food for themselves and their families,” Mark Curtin, CEO of The Felix Project, says. “We are delighted that Camden is not only helping to raise awareness of these crucial issues and the work we do at The Felix Project to tackle them, but also getting people involved in supporting the cause to help to reduce waste and eradicate food insecurity.” If there was ever a more appropriate time to do the can-can, it would have to be now.

The Nightcap

Distillation here will begin in 2021. We’d like all artist’s impressions to include dogs, on another note.

Ardgowan releases Coppersmith malt inspired by the Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage

This week Ardgowan announced the first in a series of limited-editions whiskies. The company has received planning permission for a new distillery to commence operation in 2021 but in the meantime will be selling blended whiskies created by Max McFarlane. CEO Martin McAdam described McFarlane, former whisky maker for Edrington looking after brands such as Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu and Highland Park, as a “whisky legend.” The first release is called Coppersmith and it’s a blend of Speyside and Highland distilleries wholly matured in first-fill oloroso sherry casks. McFarlane, who is from Inverkip on the west coast, said: “Coppersmith is the first in the Clydebuilt series of whiskies which Ardgowan Distillery will release in the years ahead. Each bottle in the series will celebrate the pride shown by generations of workers on the Clyde, who together built some of the world’s most illustrious ships.” He went on to say: “I wanted to produce a top-drawer blended malt and I believe that is what we have achieved.” It will be available from the distillery for £49.99 and from a certain online retailer soon.

The Nightcap

The Three Drinkers return to Amazon Prime, and indeed to Scotland!

The Three Drinkers returns to Amazon Prime

The Three Drinkers are back, and this time it’s personal. We were pleased to learn this week that the irreverent boozy Amazon Prime show is back for another series. The Three Drinkers are, for those who don’t know, actress and wine buff Helena Nicklin, journalist and social media sensation Adrian Smith, and whisky writer and photographer Colin Hampden-White. The first series was called The Three Drinkers do Scotch whisky and for the second series they haven’t travelled very far, it’s called The Three Drinkers Return to Scotland. At this rate it’s going to be years before they even leave the British Isles. Anyway, we aren’t complaining as there’s a lot of good booze in Scotland; the dynamic trio will be visiting: Dalmore, Jura, Fettercairn, Glen Scotia, Glen Moray, Loch Lomond and Firkin Gin distilleries. “We’ve been blown away by how well the series has done in such a short time,” Nicklin commented. “We’re looking forward to playing up the fun side of our travels with more experimentation with food and drink, eerie ghost stories, ridiculous challenges and all the weird and wonderful tidbits people never knew about Scotland and whisky.” The new series will be available to view on your TV, tablet or one of those computer watches that are all the rage these days from early December.

The Nightcap

This is Tails, the downstairs, at what we presume is Harvey Dent’s favourite bar

West Hampstead’s Heads + Tails bar channels two sides of a coin

If you’ve ever flipped a coin to try and decide which bar you should venture to, then Heads + Tails may be just what you’ve been waiting for. The West Hampstead bar was created by London mixologists Will Partridge and Chris Dennis, with the idea of having two complimenting counterparts to the bar: Heads, the top floor, and Tails, the downstairs. Each bar has a different menu, and we started off upstairs in Heads where there are spritzes galore and lighter cocktails, surrounded by light blue decor, filament light bulbs and a marble bar. We went for the Corpse Reviver No. 175, which marries Fords Gin, Dolin Blanc, Italicus and Chocolate & Mace Flower Bitters. Now, we weren’t with any corpses, though if there’s one cocktail that could revive the dead, it may well be this one. Beautifully light and citrussy, with a subtle rich creamy back note from the bitters. Then, there was Smoke on the Water, which takes Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila, mezcal verde, lime and watermelon syrup. Again, wonderfully well balanced, with juicy fruit tempered perfectly by the rich smokiness and grassy notes of the agave spirits. Then, you head downstairs to Tails, covered in dark oak and moodily lit by candles. It’s literally darker down there, and so are the spirits. Here we tried Twist of Fate, comprised of Wild Turkey bourbon, ginger and cinnamon syrup topped off with orange blossom water. Richer without being heavy, you can feel and certainly taste the difference between the two floors. A unique idea and a wonderful spot, and if you can’t decide from the list of delicious drinks you could always… flip a coin.

The Nightcap

If it’s good enough for TripAdvisor, it’s good enough for us!

Rum experience comes to Manchester

The Manchester Rum Experience sounds like the most exciting experience to come to Manchester since the Jimi Hendrix Experience played at the Twisted Wheel in 1967. It’s the brainchild of Dave Rigby from the City of Manchester Distillery, the city’s premier attraction according to never-wrong website Tripadvisor. Tell us more Dave! “Our motivation with the new ‘Rum Experience’ was to pay homage to some of the influences which drove us to build the distillery at the outset. As a collective, we have been on an amazing journey over the last few years and as such, we wanted to share some of these incredible experiences, stories and some of the fun we’d had, through a range of new and diverse, interactive events at the distillery”, Rigby said. Tickets have now gone on sale for the experience which consists of a three-hour immersion in all things rum with Dave Marsland from the Manchester Rum Festival including history, cocktails and the opportunity to fill your own min barrel in ‘The Lab’. Best of all, the new experience is being supported by some of our favourite brands including Chairman’s Reserve, Bacardi, Don Q, Appleton Estate, Diplomatico, Pussers, Wray & Nephew, Doorly’s, Plantation and Gosling’s. Beat that Jimi!

The Nightcap

Munich comes to London, only without any of the tradition. Still lots of beer, though

Inclusive Oktoberfests arrive in London

Once upon a time, you knew what you were letting yourself in for if you decided to go to the Oktoberfest. There would be men in leather shorts, mile after mile of pork sausages, oceans of beer, oh and you’d have to go to Munich to experience the whole thing. Well not anymore because this autumn there are three London Oktoberfests happening at Doc X in Surrey Quays: a fancy one, a gay one and a spooky one for Hallow’en. Go to http://www.doktoberfest.co.uk for more information. These differ from the original Bavarian festival in other ways: you don’t have to drink beer as there will be Champagne and non-alcoholic drinks served, or indeed eat traditional German sausages as at all three events there will be halal, kosher and vegan options. You don’t even have to wear leather shorts but you must be tolerant of those who choose to.

The Nightcap

Asparagus this, Brussels sprouts that… you can’t beat a good ol’ G&T!

And finally… asparagus becomes latest wacky gin flavour

In what has essentially become our, ‘look at this weird gin’ slot, an asparagus-flavoured expression has added to the endless nonsense of novelty-flavoured gins. It’s one of the spirits on offer at the inaugural Malvern Gin Show which showcases “some of the finest spirits from the Three Counties region” and giving visitors the opportunity to sample a wide range of drinks from local and surrounding gin distilleries. A competition will even declare one distillery ‘the people’s champion’. The event, part of the Malvern Autumn Show, runs the weekend of September 28 and 29, and will include a brand new Gin Pod Theatre to host to gin-tastic talks and for visitors to get inspiration for recipe ideas. Some of the confirmed distilleries at the show include Hussingtree Gin (who are responsible for the asparagus gin), Brennan and Brown and Haven Distillery. “The Malvern Gin Show is a new addition and we’re all rather excited about it,” said Richard Heath, show executive responsible for the new classes “We have a rich selection of distilleries which are local to the Three Counties, and what better way to celebrate than to hold a series of classes, and of course give our visitors ample opportunity to do some tasting.” Run in association with Westons Cider Mill, the Malvern Autumn Show will host over 65,000 people at the two-day celebration right in the heart of the beautiful British countryside, and you can get your tickets now at malvernautumn.co.uk.

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The Nightcap: 19 July

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about Lizzo, Champagne, crystal, Snoop Dog and millennials. What a time to be alive. Welcome to yet another Friday! No, it’s…

It’s a bumper week for The Nightcap, with stories about Lizzo, Champagne, crystal, Snoop Dog and millennials. What a time to be alive.

Welcome to yet another Friday! No, it’s not a surprise sequel to the classic ‘90s flick Friday, though that would be pretty great. However, another Friday means another edition of The Nightcap, our weekly round-up of all the booze news stories. It’s almost like a movie, except much shorter. Which, honestly, probably a good thing. Did you see that superhero movie from earlier in the year? It was like nine hours long and didn’t even have an intermission to let me go get an ice cream. Take all the breaks you want reading The Nightcap this week. Grab me a Cornetto if you think about it.

So, on the MoM Blog this week we had Annie in charge of Cocktail of the Week, mixing up a Piña Fumada, and then she chatted to Ron Zacapa master blender Lorena Vásquez. Adam checked out the upcoming releases from Royal Salute – a blended malt and a peated treat. Henry took on a fun New Arrival of the Week which doesn’t even have a name, had a good nosey at some new Ocho Tequilas and continued the agave theme by having a natter with Björn Kjellberg.  Guest columnist Nate Brown turned his eye to the word ‘terroir’ and what it means for spirits marketing. Kristy met with Highland Park’s Martin Markvardsen and filmed a pretty detailed video interview with him, getting the scoop on all things Orkney. 

Oh, and then there was all this…

Yayyyyy Team MoM!

MoM marketing team scoops digital award!

We got all glammed up and headed to the big smoke on Wednesday night. Not just for cocktails (although we did head to the wonderful Swift afterwards) but to the UK Digital Growth Awards! And it was a particularly exciting evening. We picked up the In-House Team of the Year trophy for our marketing squad! It’s fair to say we were over the moon, and so proud of each other’s achievements. From the editorial and content teams to campaigns, film, email and proper geeky stuff like PPC, we genuinely love what we do. And it all loops back to sending the good people their booze! Hurrah!

Francois Saurel (The Serious)

Macallan parent company picks new leader for Asia Pacific region

Some big news just in from Edrington, The Macallan’s parent company. Frenchman Francois Saurel will be the new regional marketing director for Asia Pacific. The vacancy was created in March when the previous occupant, Igor Boyadjian, became managing director of The Macallan. Saurel who previously worked with beauty company Coty has spent over 20 years with luxury brands in both Europe and Asia. He will report to Boyadjian who commented: “I am pleased to welcome Francois to Edrington as the next regional managing director, Asia Pacific. His leadership skills, global luxury brands experience and his proven commercial track record, make him an excellent addition to an already talented team. Saurel said: “It is an honour to be leading the Edrington teams across Asia Pacific, a key strategic region for the business with many exciting opportunities and where Edrington is ideally placed to capitalise on premiumisation trends. Edrington is set up for significant long term growth, thanks to its unrivalled portfolio of brands, great people and unique culture.” Bon chance, Francois!

Seafood-specific Champers? Go on, then.

Piper-Heidsieck launches special seafood-friendly Champagne with Wright Brothers

Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck has created a special cuvée in conjunction with Wright Brothers. No, not the aviation pioneers from Ohio, that would be strange. No, these Wright Brothers are the London fishmongers. Glad we’ve cleared that one up. Anyway, this extra brut Champagne is called Essentiel by Wright Brothers. It’s drier than most Champagnes (only 5g of sugar per bottle) and it’s specifically designed to go with seafood, especially oysters and other shellfish. “We believe together we have created the perfect accompaniment for seafood and shellfish,” said Robin Hancock, co-founder of Wright Brothers. Emilien Boutillat, chef de cave at Piper-Heidsieck added: “A shared vision of sustainability and excellence made Wright Brothers the natural choice to visit us and take part in the creation of a bespoke Champagne to suit their seafood-focused restaurants. Champagne and oysters both strongly express their place of origin, and when enjoyed together make for a memorable moment.” Not so keen on seafood? We expect Essentiel probably tastes delicious with vegetarian options, too.

The Glencairn glass: taking over the world.

Glencairn now sells 65,000 whisky glasses a week

Award-winning Glasgow glassware firm Glencairn Crystal has just released some impressive figures. The company which supplies the likes of the Houses of Parliament, Liverpool Football Club, Diageo and the SWA with whisky tasting glasses, has been growing without a pause for 15 years. Sales have doubled sales every five years since 2004; in the latest figures Glencairn turned over £11.3m, up from £858k in 2004; now more than 65,000 Glencairn glasses are now sold per week globally. The world whisky boom has been great news for this family-owned business. Scott Davidson, new product development director said: “We are so proud of the success we have achieved in this past year. Our hardworking team and the worldwide growth of the spirits market, specifically whisky, has meant that we have been able to capitalise on what we do best – provide clients with a high-end customer service they can’t get anywhere else.” So let’s raise a glass, a Glencairn Tasting Glass, to this great Scottish success story. 

Happy 5th birthday, team ELLC!

Happy fifth birthday, East London Liquor Company!

On Monday we headed to deepest, darkest Bow to join some very special celebrations: East London Liquor Company just turned five! The distillery, bar and restaurant made the most of the weather, with guests spilling out across the courtyard, enjoying a barbeque, G&Ts and, in true ELLC style, Negronis on tap. It was a delight! An additional highlight? A gorgeous cake with sparklers for candles, and a really cute dog pottering about the place. Yes please. We highly recommend a visit: there’s a cocktail bar complete with seasonal menu, the food has a strong Italian emphasis, and you can check out the gorgeous stills while you sip! The distillery is open for tours, too. Check out the ELLC site for more details, or snap up a gin, vodka or rum right here. More whisky to follow!

I mean, fizz always makes travel better

Searcys Art of Travel launch with Sipsmith and Veuve Clicquot 

If your Eurostar trip feels like it’s missing that final touch, we might have just the ticket! Searcys Champagne Bar at St Pancras station is kicking off the summer with its brand new The Art of Travel Afternoon Tea, a collaboration with Veuve Clicquot, GlobeTrotter and Sipsmith Gin. Each of the 12 booths (it’s the longest Champagne bar in Europe, don’t you know) represents a different European destination, while the table has been transformed into a map alongside rather aesthetic pastel seating. Meanwhile, the tea itself brings together tasty delicacies from different European cities, from passion fruit Swiss meringue pie to smoked salmon crumpets. There’s even an avocado and quinoa wrap for the more health-conscious. The best part is, it’s even served in a suitcase! No kidding. To sip on, of course there’s a selection of delicious Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Rosé and other cuvées, or a whole host of cocktails showcasing Sipsmith Gin. Best of both worlds is the scrumptious ‘Take on the French 75’, which marries both gin and fizz! It’s available now until 9 September, and while you’re there just don’t forget to push the ‘Press for Champagne’ button. You’re welcome.

Drop it like it’s hot

The Coral Room brings actual Gin & Juice to Snoop collab

Have you heard the news? The Coral Room will be channelling its inner Snoop. How, you wonder? Well, the team will be serving Gin & Juice slushies at Soho’s Dogg House. It’s all in aid of one of the summer’s biggest footwear collaborations – Duke + Dexter and Snoop Dogg’s Limited edition loafers and sliders. There’s a delicious colour palette too:  leafy and acid greens against coral – that’s the shoes and the drinks. The Coral Room team will be bringing the West Coast lifestyle with its Gin & Juice serves. To add to the atmosphere, a DJ will play some of the iconic artist’s most famous work, while screening his best music videos. It’s the perfect backdrop to the limited-run collaboration. The Coral Room and its Gin & Juice will take up residence at 40 Berwick Street until 21 July, where the artists will be showcasing all 15 styles from the collection.

She like chardonnay, get better over time

Absolut teams up with Lizzo for a juicy summer

The new drink of the summer? According to Absolut, Absolut Juice is set to be the must-have spirit of the season. A new base for spritzy serves, it’s available in two delicious flavours: Strawberry and Apple. There are no artificial flavours, each drink is made with 5% real fruit juice, and at 99 calories per serving, it’s a lighter option, too. The most exciting thing? It’s in partnership with actual Lizzo! “When I heard Absolut was launching a new product called, ‘Absolut Juice’ it was like they made it just for me,” the Juice and Cuz I Love You singer said.  “It’s an honour to celebrate the success of my first single with Absolut’s new product launch and the synergy is almost too perfect.” The drinks you could make with the new ‘juicy surprises’ include the Absolut Juice & Soda (you’ll need 1 part Absolut Juice and 2 parts Club Soda) and the Absolut Juice Spritz (1 part Absolut Juice, 1 part Club Soda and 1 part Sparkling wine). If you’re feeling more adventurous, there’s also the Absolut Juice Strawberry Punch, with 1 ½ parts Absolut Juice Strawberry, 1 part lemonade, ½ part cranberry and a splash of club soda, garnished with a lemon peel. Another plus? They have a recommended price of US$19.99. We’re hoping both Strawberry and Apple will arrive at MoM Towers later in the summer!  

What cycling in 40°C looks like

Mentzendorff cycling team braves heatwave to raise £35,000 for The Benevolent

From 24-28 June, Equipo Mentzendorff slipped into their skin-tight cycling gear, got on their bikes and rode around Tuscany to raise money for The Benevolent Charity, an organisation that provides help and support to members of the UK drinks industry and their families. During the so-called ‘Giro di Toscana’, the team, made up of Mentzendorff staff members, customers and consumers, covered 300km during the recent heatwave with the thermometer hitting 40°C every day. Tough work – but they raised £35,000 for the charity! Mentzendorff is the agent for Bollingers Champagne, Taylor’s Port and many other big names, as well as producing a legendary brand of kummel. Team leader Andrew Hawes said: “I would like to thank the twelve riders, our support team and our incredible hosts, Ciacci Piccolomini and Fertuna, for their amazing efforts. Thank you also to everyone who has supported us and donated to this great cause.” Ross Carter, CEO of The Benevolent added: “We are incredibly thankful to Team Mentzendorff for their on-going support of The Benevolent and a huge congratulations for nearly doubling their fundraising target and for doing so in such intense climatic conditions!” Well done to everyone concerned. 

Join the Zero Likes revolution

And finally… Kahlúa reckons millennials are missing out on life’s key moments because phones

Kahlúa brings us some hilarious and somewhat concerning news this week, as the brand took it upon itself to survey a group of millennials about social media. The stats are… interesting. Over 90 percent believe it’s important to live in the moment, while, rather conversely more than half have also missed an important moment because they were too busy trying to capture it on social media! Perhaps even more alarmingly, one third of those surveyed said they would miss social media more than sex if they were stranded on an desert island. Geez. So, Kahlúa teamed up with actress Jackie Cruz (who you’ll likely recognise as Flaca from Orange is the New Black) to put on the Zero Likes Given exhibition in New York! Fabulous pictures without a single like on Instagram will be displayed, to ease the pressure of likes. Speaking of which, the coffee liqueur brand also created the Bottom Nine website, which generates your nine least liked pictures on Instagram! Go on, try it. We promise it’ll be funny.

Have a wonderful, phone-free weekend, folks!

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Whisky and honours

Today Ian Buxton toasts Dr Jim Beveridge from Johnnie Walker who has just received an OBE and looks into the occasionally murky world of whisky and honours. As you may…

Today Ian Buxton toasts Dr Jim Beveridge from Johnnie Walker who has just received an OBE and looks into the occasionally murky world of whisky and honours.

As you may have read recently, Dr Jim Beveridge, master blender for Johnnie Walker has been appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the latest Queen’s Honours list.  It couldn’t happen to a nicer or more modest chap – and he joins an exclusive group of whisky notables. In 2016 David Stewart, the long-serving malt Master at the Balvenie, was awarded the MBE while his opposite number at Glen Grant, Dennis Malcolm received an OBE – one rung up the awards ladder.  More recently, Nigel Mills, co-founder and chairman of The Lakes Distillery was appointed a CBE (a couple of steps up the awards hierarchy) while, at the same time, David Gosnell of Bushmills received the OBE.

Dr Jim Beveridge

Dr Jim himself!

So I expect by now you’re wondering, what are these awards, who else in whisky has received one and, most interesting of all, how are they decided?  There is no particular mystery about the British awards system. The aim is to recognise people who have made achievements in public life, or committed themselves to serving and helping Britain: “they’ll usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do.” as it says on the www.gov.uk/honoursThere’s nothing obscure about that and, other than the staunch republicans among us, we can probably agree that it is appropriate to recognise exceptional achievement or national service.  But who decides and how do they know who is worthy?

Though these are the Queen’s Awards, it’s not actually Her Majesty who decides. Specialist committees, comprising senior civil servants along with people who are independent of government, recommend awards to a main committee who then forward them to the Prime Minister’s office and then to the Queen. If you know someone particularly deserving, you can nominate them on the website. 

This system was introduced by John Major as Prime Minister but previously the basis for an award was, at best, opaque and, at worst, corrupt. There may have been some skulduggery surrounding the so-called ‘Whisky Barons’ of the 1920s ennobled by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, most notably the creation of Lord Woolavington (formerly James Buchanan). It is said that he paid handsomely for his peerage – allegedly, the sum of £50,000, or about £2m today – but signed the cheque with his new title and dated it for one day after the announcement was due, to ensure that the wily Lloyd George would honour the new honour!  But rest assured Messrs Beveridge, Stewart and Malcolm haven’t written any dodgy cheques! Their awards are strictly on merit.

Jim Beveridge

Dr Jim in action

Though there have been some involved with whisky production who have received gongs, like Ronald Martin from United Distillers (1931-2005, awarded OBE in 1991) or Professor Geoffrey Palmer from Heriot Watt University who received an OBE in 2003, the most senior awards, including knighthoods tend to come from the commercial side of the business.  Examples include Sir Anthony Tennant (1930 – 2011), knighted in 1992 for his work at IDV and at Guinness following the ignominious departure of Ernest Saunders, and Sir George Bull, knighted 1998, having been one of the principal architects of the then-largest merger in UK corporate history with the union of Grand Metropolitan with Guinness to create Diageo. A more recent business knight is Sir Ian Good, chairman of the Edrington Group from 1994 to 2013.  He was knighted in 2008. Interestingly, his predecessor John Macphail (1923-2004) received the lesser award of CBE, despite his obituary describing him as “one of the most inspirational and influential figures in the Scotch whisky industry”.

So here’s to all the distinguished individuals mentioned here, and all the others that I should have saluted but have omitted. Let’s raise a glass to their contribution to whisky, along with the hope that the new generation of distinguished whisky women will shortly have their special place in history.  

Who will be the first women in whisky to be honoured?  I leave it to you to speculate…..

Though he has neither a beard nor any visible tattoos or piercings, Ian Buxton is well-placed to write about drinks.  A former Marketing Director of one of Scotland’s favourite single malts, his is a bitter-sweet love affair with Scotland’s national drink – not to mention gin and rum, or whatever the nearest PR is pouring. Once, apparently without noticing, he bought a derelict distillery. Follow his passionate, authentic hand-crafted artisanal journey on the Master of Malt blog.  Or just buy his books.  It’s what he really wants.

 

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The Nightcap: 26 April

Another short week, but that has not stopped the deluge of booze news occurring – get ready for another edition of The Nightcap! The super-long weekend continued into this week…

Another short week, but that has not stopped the deluge of booze news occurring – get ready for another edition of The Nightcap!

The super-long weekend continued into this week for us here at MoM Towers, meaning Monday was spent as far away from office desks as possible. However, by Tuesday, we were eager to get back to it – and clearly so was everyone else in the world of booze, as there is plenty of news to go through in The Nightcap! Let’s get to it, shall we?

On the MoM Blog this week, Ian Buxton was back to ask the difficult questions once again, this time concerning investment in whisky, before Adam championed English-made booze to mark St. George’s Day. Then he explored Scotch whiskies from Speyside, as we look forward to the upcoming Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Annie was busy checking out the new Super Lyan bar in Amsterdam, but still made time to acknowledge Earth Day and Patrón Tequila’s contribution to it. Henry looked into how we can tackle the Malaria crisis with gin, while his Cocktail of the Week was The Iceberg Slim. Kristy also demonstrated an affinity to a Compass Box release for our New Arrival of the Week.

That’s a whole lot of news for a shorter week, but hold on to your hats because we’ve got even more – it’s The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Samples are flowing off the stills!

Lagg Distillery kicks off whisky production

Some very exciting news came our way this week via Isle of Arran Distillers. Distillation has begun at Lagg Distillery! The very first middle cut of spirit was recorded back on Tuesday 19 March at 14.35, to be precise. The commissioning phase has now been completed and Cask Number One, a sherry butt reserved exclusively for members of the Lagg Cask Society, was filled on Wednesday 10 April with a heavily-peated (50ppm) spirit at 63.5% ABV. So, what can we expect from the eventual Lagg Single Malt? Well, the distillery hopes it will become a rich, earthy and smoky dram, making it something of a departure from the character of whisky currently produced at the original distillery in Lochranza. James MacTaggart, master distiller, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to be taking the very first steps in producing what will eventually be a magnificent Lagg whisky and something truly unique to anything we’ve produced previously.” The news comes as construction of the new distillery and visitor centre enters its final stages, with the outer structure now complete and many of the elements of internal design starting to come together. Lagg Distillery is expected to open fully in early summer, with the brand projecting that the distillery and visitor centre will increase total visitor numbers at both sites to over 200,000 by 2020. It’s all coming together, folks!

The Winchester Distillery’s range – for now…

Winchester Distillery reveals expansion (and crowdfunding!) details

As fifth birthday celebrations go, this is a pretty exciting one. Winchester Distillery has unveiled plans to expand its Hampshire-based production facilities! There’s a new higher-volume still going in, so the team can continue to explore new categories (it’s already got rum and whisky in the pipeline). It’s also looking into using locally-grown malted barley for its gin, vodka and whisky, too! But these adventures all need money, which is where the new Crowdcube crowdfunding campaign comes in. “With Winchester Distillery’s fifth birthday in May we are delighted to be in the position, with our annual average sales growth of 82% year on year, to take the business to the next level,” said Paul Bowler, the distillery’s managing director. “Having more capacity will mean we can make more of our well-loved spirits so we can enter new markets both here in the UK and overseas. We also intend to upgrade the current space here among the watercress beds in Old Alresford so that we can host more visitors for tours and tastings, and open a gift shop.” Thrilling stuff, indeed!

The mouthwatering result of globe-spanning teamwork

Diageo teams up with baijiu producer for ‘east-meets-west’ whisky

Exciting news if you’re a fan of intriguing whiskies: Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits player, has formed a joint venture with Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery, China’s third-largest baijiu-maker, to launch something brand-new in the country. It’s a whisky called Zhong Shi Ji, and while production details are scarce, it sounds like a curious thing indeed. Diageo’s Scotch master blender, Craig Wallace, and China Alcoholic Drinks Association’s baijiu master, Zhou Xinhu, worked on the project, which included some maturation in Chinese ceramic pots. We’ve not found out much else, except the result is said to be “unique, full-flavoured” and “exceptionally smooth”. “We believe that Zhong Shi Ji can play an important role in the Chinese dining occasion, launching a new era for whisky drinkers in China,” said C.H. Chu, MD at Diageo Greater China. Zhu Wei, vice president of Yanghe, added: “I firmly believe Zhong Shi Ji will quickly become Chinese consumers’ new favourite, with its ultra-smooth taste and superior quality, created through unique processes and craftsmanship from both China and the West.” If you come across it in the wild, let us know what it tastes like!

The Nightcap

It’s about time we got to enjoy whisky on the high seas!

The Dalmore sets sail on Queen Mary 2 cruise ship

Batten down the hatches, this week The Dalmore revealed an exclusive ‘whisky flight at sea’ on board the world’s only ocean liner, Queen Mary 2! This takes whisky to a whole new level (although we suppose it’s only sea level), as the Highlander can be sipped and savoured on board the ship between Southampton and New York. At the same time, an exclusive whisky experience will be offered on board during the Transatlantic crossing. To round off the whisky experience, master distiller Richard Paterson will be giving a presentation on board the ship. “The Dalmore is celebrated in iconic locations around the world,” Paterson said. “We see celebrations of The Dalmore at Baccarat Hotel New York, at 40,000 feet on board Emirates First Class, and now a unique opportunity to savour the Cunard whisky flight at 28 knots.” Also aboard the Queen Mary 2 will be two rare expressions from The Dalmore Constellation Collection, a limited edition collection of individual rare casks released by the distillery. We’ll certainly say ‘aye aye’ to that.

The Nightcap

Delicious booze and a good cause? We’re in!

Hedgepig gives a helping hand to hedgehogs with new gin liqueur

Hedgepig has increased its range of small batch gin liqueurs to four with the launch of a new flavour, Zesty Elderflower. The reveal coincides with and will benefit Hedgehog Awareness Week (5-11 May). By donating 50p for every bottle sold to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the brand is doing its bit to alleviate the plight of the tiny, spiny mammals, who really don’t have it easy. Hedgepig was created by the team behind Pinkster gin, and crafts all its liqueurs from locally-grown or foraged fruits – Zesty Elderflower was made from wild elderflower. It’s said to have a ‘delicate’ flavour with subtle citrus notes and is best enjoyed cold with pudding or as a cocktail topped up with Prosecco. “We’re thrilled to be supporting the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, especially during their awareness week,” said Hedgepig founder, Stephen Marsh. “The plight of the hedgehog makes for desperate reading. In rural areas, numbers have fallen by half over the past two decades. We’re delighted to be supporting the fine work of the unsung heroes at this cracking little charity. Every little counts.” Don’t forget to check out The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which offers help and advice to those with sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs, if you’d like to do your bit to help those snuffly little fellows.

The Nightcap

Congratulations to Nick Savage, the new master distiller of Bladnoch!

Macallan master distiller joins Bladnoch

Lowland distillery Bladnoch has a new master distiller! Nick Savage will join the team from 1 July. This is big news, not only because the brand has replaced Ian MacMillan, who left the distillery to establish his own whisky consultancy firm in January, but because Savage has stepped down as master distiller of The Macallan to work with Bladnoch. Savage, who prior to his three-year tenure at Macallan was a distilling technical leader at Girvan Distillery and had a four-year stint at Diageo, will work alongside newly-appointed distillery manager Neil Bulloch. He explained his decision was down to “the vision and ambition shown by David Prior and the team at Bladnoch distillery”. He continued: “The opportunity also allows me a new challenge in single malt Lowland Scotch whisky from a 200-year-old distillery.” Prior, Bladnoch CEO and owner, added: “It’s a great privilege to welcome Nick Savage to the Bladnoch business. His youthful, positive and energetic approach will add great value to our team and business, as will his technical and operational skills.” As for Macallan, this announcement follows the departures of whisky maker Bob Dalgarno and former creative director Ken Grier to lead the team at Glenturret Distillery. There could be some interesting times ahead for the Speyside brand, which celebrated the opening of a state-of-the-art distillery in 2018 and seems to break numerous auction whisky records on a weekly basis. As of yet, there is no word on who will be replacing Savage in the role of the master distiller, but we’re sure it won’t take them too long to… make the call.

What time is it? It’s time to get tropical!

Laki Kane’s Georgi Radev launches tiki tome

Love tiki cocktails? Then you’ll probably already know of Georgi Radev. After managing London’s tiki outpost Mahiki for more than a decade, he opened his own rum embassy, Laki Kane, in 2018. It’s even got its own rum microdistillery upstairs (head on down and you can even re-distil your own!). Now he’s evangelising about all things rum through the written word with Let’s Get Tropical, a recipe book detailing over 60 delicious serves. The best bit? They’re all curated so we can make them easily at home! It starts with super-easy how-tos, from how to make a sugar syrup to learning to swizzle properly. Then Radev cracks on to the good stuff. He’s packed in the classics (the likes of Daiquiris and Mai Tais, with optional twists and reinventions) and then he’s treated us to some ‘Modern Tropical’ cocktails form his own imagination. There are punches, if you need to impress the masses, and even treats from the current Laki Kane menu, including the mouth-watering watermelon-based Wiki Tiki (we tasted it at the book launch. It was wonderful). If you’re prepping for a summer party, Let’s Get Tropical is essential reading. It’s priced at £9.99, and hits UK shelves in May!

The Nightcap

Introducing: Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 Batch 1

Benromach launches new cask strength expression

We do love a story about more new whisky, and that’s exactly what Benromach Distillery has given us this week. The family-owned distillery has a new addition to its Classic Range, Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 Batch 1. The limited-run single malt whisky was laid down in 2008 and matured in a combination of first-fill sherry and bourbon casks. It was then bottled in 2019 at a cask strength 57.9% ABV with an outturn of 5,500 bottles. According to Benromach, the rich and full-bodied dram has notes of cracked black pepper, fruits and milk chocolate, with a delicate smoky edge on the palate. The bottle itself was created to mirror the shapes and textures of the Speyside distillery and will detail the vintage year, batch number and age. “By offering the opportunity to own and enjoy batch releases, we are able to further showcase the expertise of our distilling team while determining the right time to bottle each batch to take full advantage of the remarkable single malt whiskies we produce,” said Keith Cruickshank, Benromach distillery manager. “We believe this expression will allow Benromach drinkers to understand more about the provenance of the whisky they are drinking.” We’ve got some on the way to MoM Towers so keep an eye out, folks!

The Nightcap

We think it’s safe a bottle of this beauty wouldn’t be Money for Nothing

Sultans of Gin! Former Dire Straits frontman teams up with Portobello Road

London dry gin brand Portobello Road has partnered with the legendary Mark Knopfler OBE (if you haven’t heard of him or Dire Straits, then get your act together) to make a distinctive, special edition ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ gin, Local Heroes No.3. It’s a move that’s as awesome as it was inevitable. (He had a song called Portobello Belle, folks. It was only ever a matter of time.) Local Heroes No.3 was created by Knopfler and Portobello Road Gin’s co-founder, Jake F. Burger using the nine botanicals from its Portobello Road Gin with the addition of lime zest, fresh cucumber peel and olive oil, which were distilled in the 400-litre copper alembic still King Henry, then bottled and labelled by hand. The label design is understandably guitar-themed, and each bottle even comes with a miniature version of Knopfler’s iconic sweatband from his Dire Straits gigs. “As a gin fan, it is a wonderful opportunity to work with a prestigious brand like Portobello Road Gin to craft my own blend,” said Knopfler. “It is robust in flavour and strong in spice – exactly the kind of gin that I enjoy and I hope my fans will too.” Burger added: “It is a huge honour to be able to work with Mark to create a London Dry Gin with a rock n roll edge. As expected, the flavours are totally unique and we believe the result is extremely exciting. So why not mix yourself a cocktail, turn the stereo up and listen to one of Mark’s many classic albums?”

The Nightcap

Founder Annabel Thomas wants to encourage more women to work in whisky

Ncn’ean offers whisky-making internships for women

Scotland’s first 100% organic whisky distillery is offering two women the opportunity to learn to make whisky, from mashing and distilling through to maturation, with two all-expenses-paid summer internships. Ncn’ean Distillery, situated in converted farm steadings on the grounds of the historic Drimnin Estate on the Morvern peninsula, will also teach interns how to forage for the local plants that are used in Ncn’ean’s Botanical Spirit and how to make cocktails. Annabel Thomas, founder of Ncn’ean, launched the initiative to raise the profile of distilling as a career option among women. “I wanted to challenge the outdated views a lot of people still have,” she explained. “The number of times people ask me ‘do you actually like whisky?’ just because I am a woman, and the lack of gender balance in the industry in Scotland, suggests we all still have more work to do.” She said she hopes women from all walks of life will apply. So, if you fancy trying your hand as a distiller then you should probably get applying! The internships are open to all women aged 18 or over and will take place from 15-20 July. All travel, accommodation and food are included. It sounds like it could be the opportunity of a lifetime!

Hannah Lanfear, Phil Duffy, and plenty of Cognac

Culture Cognac champions Cognac cocktails – we approve

This week, we hot-footed it over to East London for an educational Cognac immersion with the UK’s brand of the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac – and it was brilliant! The UK Cognac Bureau put on the Culture Cognac workshop for the trade to highlight the spirit’s role in contemporary cocktails. Phil Duffy and Hannah Lanfear chatted through production choices (think: terroir, grapes, barrels, ageing and more) and how they influence flavour – clearly vital when it comes to cocktails. “It’s so positive to see the Cognac category continuing to grow in popularity, now more than ever, which is of course due to London’s love of cocktails being at an all-time high,” said Duffy. “Cognac is no doubt one of the most versatile spirits and is one of the hottest cocktail ingredients going.” The team from The Devil’s Darling bar helped out with the serves. Feeling inspired? Why not check out the Brandy Sour and give it a go this weekend?

Think about playing Monopoly with your Tequila-loving friends? Maybe think again…

And finally… Science suggests we shouldn’t trust Tequila drinkers

This week a mighty intriguing press release crossed our desks. Apparently, you can tell how likely someone is to cheat by their booze preference. This is from ghost-writing company EduBirdie, and is clearly Highly Scientific. Ahem. Anyway, it surveyed 18-24 year olds in the US and from more than 2,000 responses, somehow concluded that wine drinkers are by far the most reliable: only 16% admitted to cheating at school, with just 8% fessing up to cheating romantically. Whisky drinkers were less angelic; just over a third said they had cheated on a partner, and 78%(!) cheated at school. Beer drinkers were (slightly) more honest academically, with 68% saying they’d cheated at school – but almost half had cheated in a relationship. Then, we have the Tequila fans. While a third said they’d cheated at school, a whopping 81% said they’d cheated on a partner. We’re an office of whisky and agave lovers, and we’re shook.

On that revelatory note – that’s it for The Nightcap this week. Have a great weekend (and if you’ve got a date, give the Tequila a wide berth).

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Is investment money bad for whisky’s soul?

In the last few years prices for the world’s top whiskies have gone through the roof. Whisky is now an asset like fine wine, art and classic cars. Ian Buxton…

In the last few years prices for the world’s top whiskies have gone through the roof. Whisky is now an asset like fine wine, art and classic cars. Ian Buxton does not approve. In fact, he’s downright furious.

I’ve been banging on about the ‘investment in whisky’ trend for quite a while – and for some while I’ve got it wrong, as least as far as the prices of certain whiskies go. The sky, it would seem, is the limit and my doom-laden prognostications of a crash in prices have yet to be fulfilled.

So that’s that, then.  Fill yer boots and make money while you can would seem to be the moral.

Never mind whisky’s soul.

Lovely box, but will it ever be drunk?

However, if you care about whisky, really sincerely care, then you will readily appreciate that ‘investment grade’ whisky such as limited edition Macallans, virtually all Port Ellens these days and anything in a ‘collectable’ box is not simply a specious concept but a damaging one. Whisky that is never going to be drunk, whisky whose future is to be traded like an ingot of bullion, whisky forever condemned to be the slave of the spreadsheet is whisky that will never fully live. It’s whisky devoid of meaning, whisky without a soul, reduced to a barren commodity. There may as well be cold tea in the bottle, no matter the lavish packaging.  Remember the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes and you may look on the most elegant of bottles and see a rotting corpse beneath the silk.

Whisky attains its highest state when it is consumed; its apotheosis poignantly coinciding with the moment of its destruction. Only then is its destiny fulfilled. Whisky is disputation, conviviality, a metaphor for a nation’s identity and sense of self-belief. Whisky is romantic, metaphysical and phantasmagorical. As Burns relates, whisky is “the poor man’s wine”.

‘Investment grade’ bottles are the vampire squid wrapped around whisky’s face, relentlessly jamming their blood funnels into anything that smells like money careless of the consequences and conscious only of the sterile arithmetic of the profit and loss account.  Leave these trophies, the fevered creation of huckstering spinmeisters and their band of useful idiots, to the Gollum-like investor, poring over soulless spreadsheets and taking joy only in the bloodless contemplation of a paper return on investment. “My precious,” indeed.

Here we see the triumph of packaging over content. All too often these whiskies are lavishly draped in the most luxurious wrapping that the ingenuity of the design world can conceive – hand-blown bottles, silver stoppers, exquisitely-crafted oak cabinets and leather-bound volumes filled with ever more baroque and far-flown tasting notes. All of which costs money, lots of it, which leads me to suggest that this market is driven as much by presentation as product.

whisky crash

Ian Buxton about to drink some whisky

If you doubt my word, consider the following intriguing tale.  Back in June 2013, The Macallan released a pack of two 35cl bottles to commemorate HM Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th anniversary.  There were a mere 1,953 packs produced (to mark the 1953 Coronation – geddit?). What you got was two half bottles in a handsome box with a colour leaflet, released at £350.  While the strength of the whisky was indicated, there was no age statement – but as this was designed to sit in a vault, why would anyone care?

Naturally, they were all snapped up as fast as you could sing the national anthem and, equally quickly, they appeared on auction sites where they changed hands for up to £2,300 (before commission). But, interestingly, in the November 2018 on-line auction of a well-known Glasgow site an orphan bottle appeared all on its own, only to be knocked down for £400. Given this was a 35cl bottle, that suggests the market valued the whisky content of a standard bottle at £800. In the same sale a complete pack reached £1,900.  Or, to put it another way, someone paid £1,100 for an admittedly lovely box and a brochure. It’s an interesting set of priorities.

By all means collect whisky and enjoy it as you will but do not succumb to the siren calls of self-serving false prophets.  If you want an investment, buy Diageo shares (up around 27% in the past 12 months and 65% over the last five years; easily traded and paying a dividend). Remember, as Shakespeare tells us “All that glisters is not gold” or, as they say in Edinburgh, “all fur coat and nae knickers!”

Though he has neither a beard nor any visible tattoos or piercings, Ian Buxton is well-placed to write about drinks.  A former Marketing Director of one of Scotland’s favourite single malts, his is a bitter-sweet love affair with Scotland’s national drink – not to mention gin and rum, or whatever the nearest PR is pouring. Once, apparently without noticing, he bought a derelict distillery. Follow his passionate, authentic hand-crafted artisanal journey on the Master of Malt blog.  Or just buy his books.  It’s what he really wants.

 

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Tears before bedtime: are we heading for a whisky crash?

Today we are honoured to introduce Ian Buxton who is going to be writing a series of columns for us. In this his first article he looks back at whisky’s…

Today we are honoured to introduce Ian Buxton who is going to be writing a series of columns for us. In this his first article he looks back at whisky’s turbulent past and asks when the next bust is coming. 

According to Mark Twain, “too much good whiskey is barely enough.”  Well, uncomfortably soon, we might find out if that’s true. Whisky – be that Scotch, American or Irish – has, with monotonous regularity, a very bad habit of shooting off its own foot.  Bear with me: short and grossly simplified history lesson coming up.

whisky crash

Ian Buxton at Glenfiddich

At the end of the 19th century, the Irish whiskey industry, which was heavily invested both financially and emotionally in its large pot stills and regarded grain spirit as ‘sham whisky’ and blending as adulteration, turned its back on the future.  While other factors then came into play, it’s taken the industry more than a century to recover. Our American friends, having just got over the self-inflicted wound of Prohibition, decided that rye was finished and bourbon belonged on the bottom shelf.  That’s taken a while to sort out.

And the Scots, contrary to their national reputation for caution and parsimony, are overly fond of some boom and bust, be it the Pattison crisis of the late 1890s or the closures of the 1920s, which – lesson not learned – were neatly repeated in the mid-1980s when the industry finally confronted the consequences of over-production. Not to be outdone, shortly afterwards, the Japanese industry thought seppuku a smart move. Reacting to economic recession and dropping sales, a series of cutbacks and closures explain why Japanese whisky of any age is so very expensive today.

So, that’s one thing the world of whisky has in common.  Here’s another: we may be on the brink of repeating the same mistake because, wherever you look, distilleries are being expanded and new ones built as if the current good times will never end. The thing is, top-line numbers don’t tell the whole story. While there may be literally thousands of boutique distilleries being built anywhere you can cast a quaich, they don’t actually matter all that much.  Sure, they do if you’re an investor. Furthermore, they add to the gaiety of life and people like me get to write articles about them, but in terms of the volume they add to total production they’re insignificant.

whisky crash

Macallan’s spanking new distillery

If you doubt that, here’s a sum: it would take 125 (that’s one hundred and twenty-five, count ‘em) tiddlers of 100,000 litres annual capacity to equal the output of one Roseisle.  By the way, 100,000 litres is a perfectly decent little distillery: more, for example, than the projected individual outputs of Daftmill, Abhainn Dearg, Strathearn, Eden Mill or Dornoch .  And, while a lot of new boutique distilleries are being built in Scotland, the total doesn’t approach 125.

So, I’m not that worried about the small fry, fascinating though they are.  The problem (if there is one) comes with the less heralded fact that the big are getting very much bigger: Inchdairnie (up to 4 million litres); Ailsa Bay (12.5m); Roseisle (12.5m); Dalmunach (10m); Macallan (15m) and Borders (2m). That’s without considering expansion at Glenfiddich (to 20m), The Glenlivet, Glen Moray (now a 5m-litre plant), Glen Ord, Glenmorangie and the re-opening of Glen Keith.  I could go on.

In fact, I shall.  Exactly the same thing is happening in Kentucky and elsewhere in the USA.  That’s without mentioning the States’ reputed 1,500 plus craft distillers which, however small any one of them may be, does eventually add up to an awful lot of liquor. Expansion in Ireland, chiefly at Tullamore and Midleton, but not forgetting Waterford and Bushmills, has also seen a headlong rush into micro-distilling – which is interesting, given how Jameson continues to dominate the category.  Does the world need twenty or more tiny Irish distilleries? In Japan, following years of under-production and a sudden dramatic rise in demand (and hence those prices), they’re scrambling to catch up.

whisky crash

Artist impression of the new Port Ellen distillery

Now, while you can, of course, keep whisky in cask almost indefinitely, that requires barrels and warehouses, scarce and expensive resources that tax the patience of the most saintly accountant. Because a lot of this expansion has happened within a short period of time, a tsunami of newly-mature spirit can be expected on the market within the next five years.  

In fact, the world has never seen so much whisky. Where will it all go? Who is going to drink it all?

I would like to conclude with the thought that the last time whisky grew this fast it all ended badly. Which is true, but I can’t because whisky has never grown this fast. The size of some of these giant distilleries is unheard of for single malt, and, for the industry as a whole, the scale of expansion is unprecedented. That’s worth thinking about, because it means an unprecedented level of risk of a very messy end to our current golden age.

Though he has neither a beard nor any visible tattoos or piercings, Ian Buxton is well-placed to write about drinks.  A former Marketing Director of one of Scotland’s favourite single malts, his is a bitter-sweet love affair with Scotland’s national drink – not to mention gin and rum, or whatever the nearest PR is pouring. Once, apparently without noticing, he bought a derelict distillery. Follow his passionate, authentic hand-crafted artisanal journey on the Master of Malt blog.  Or just buy his books.  It’s what he really wants.

 

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The Nightcap: 8 March

The weekend is almost here, and we wouldn’t want you to go into a wonderful Saturday without a whole heap of booze news – hence, The Nightcap! It has been…

The weekend is almost here, and we wouldn’t want you to go into a wonderful Saturday without a whole heap of booze news – hence, The Nightcap!

It has been a long ol’ week, despite being around the same number of hours as every other week for about… Well, since weeks were invented. Whoever did that should have made them shorter, because then you would get more editions of our weekly round-up of stories from the world of boozes. Maybe write a letter to the week inventor. See if they can get rid of a day or two somewhere. Thursday has always felt a bit extraneous.

Anyway, what’s been happening on the MoM Blog this week? Well, Kristy has been chatting to some of the amazing women who work here at MoM Towers in celebration of International Women’s Day (it’s today, by the way) – you can read all of those interviews right here. Annie once again did her best Mystic Meg impression and looked at the bars of the future that exist today. Henry watched whisky on the big screen, found out more about Israel’s Milk & Honey distillery and brewed up something tasty for Cocktail of the Week – the Espresso Martini. Adam greeted the new season with open arms and tasty garnishes as he looked at delicious spring spirits. We also did some more winning, this time at the UK eCommerce Awards.

Say hello to Diageo’s first women apprentice coopers

Diageo recruits first women apprentice coopers!

In case it had escaped your attention, today is International Women’s Day. And there was some exciting news from Diageo this week which makes a fitting top Nightcap post! The drinks group has recruited the world’s first female coopering apprentices at its Cambus Cooperage in Scotland. Angela Cochrane and Kirsty Olychick are part of a 16-strong team of apprentices at the Coopering School, where traditional coopering skills are taught over the four-year course. Both women are in their 30s, not just shattering the stereotype that coopering is exclusively a career for men, but also that apprenticeships are only open to school-leavers. “I’ve never been put off by gender stereotypes,” said Cochrane. “I don’t think that should stop anyone from doing what they want to do. And knowing you’re contributing to the growing whisky industry is an amazing feeling.” Olychick added: “Coming into a male-dominated workplace didn’t put me off at all, in fact I found it really empowering to be one of the first women to take up the craft and make my mark in history. It’s such an exciting prospect to think that I’ll be contributing to the next generation of Scotch.” We’re raising a dram to them both – while hoping that at some point soon stories like this won’t be newsworthy as there will be genuine equal representation across the spirits industry.

We should celebrate, with some Aperol of course!

Aperol sales soar by 28% as Campari Group reports ‘strong’ results

Financial results time! And Campari’s full-year stats make for interesting reading. Vibrantly-hued Aperol continued its global charge, with sales soaring by more than 28% over the year, while Campari saw sales climb by 5.1% (Negronis are still ON). Wild Turkey (+7%), Grand Marnier (+5.2%), Bulldog Gin (+7.2%), and the Jamaican rum portfolio (+8.3%, includes the likes of Appleton Estate and Wray & Nephew Overproof) all did very well. Not so good for Skyy vodka though, which saw 8.1% declines, blamed on weaknesses in the US, or Glen Grant, which saw sales fall by 5.7%. An agave price hike impacted profitability, although its Espolòn Tequila brand posted emphatic 26.1% gains. Overall, total group organic sales climbed by +5.3%, and CEO, Bob Kunze-Concewitz, is happy. “We remain confident in achieving a positive performance across the key underlying business indicators in 2019,” he said.

Meet Igor Boyadjian!

All change at the top: The Macallan names new MD

Single malt Scotch brand The Macallan is about to get a new managing director! Following news that Scott McCroskie, current MD, is off to lead parent company Edrington, Igor Boyadjian has been named as his successor. Boyadjian leads Asia Pacific & India at Edrington, and will take up his new post – and a spot on the Edrington executive team – from 1 April. He first joined Edrington in 2017 to lead the travel retail operations, but had partnered with the company for more than a decade before that as part of its Edrington-F.I.X. Middle East joint venture. “I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to help chart the next stage in the journey of The Macallan,” Boyadjian said. “Under Scott’s leadership, The Macallan has demonstrated a constant pursuit of excellence and dedication to creating the finest single malt Scotch whisky. It is both an honour and a privilege to work alongside a dedicated and talented group of people all over the world, whose mastery, creativity and pride for the brand have helped push the boundaries to make The Macallan what it is today.” Congrats, Igor!

These bourbon and rye whiskies were distilled before Prohibition.

Rare 1920s bourbon for sale in Kentucky

Lovers of good old time sippin’ whiskey should head to the Frazier Museum in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to a change in the state alcohol laws, the museum is now allowed to sell some of its collection of rare whiskeys. Known colloquially as “dusty bottles”, they are likely to get bourbon lovers salivating. The first releases of what will become a regular thing are pint bottles of Old Hickory Canadian Rye bottled in 1925, Old Jim Gore Bourbon, distilled 1912 and bottled in 1925, and John Poindexter Old Bourbon, distilled in 1916 and bottled in 1928. The last two were distilled by Wigglesworth Brothers of Harrison County, Kentucky. The bourbons are $2,000 a pop, with the rye a snip at $1,500. Andrew Treinen from the museum told us: “There was a guy waiting to buy one of all three when we opened the morning after the release. We have a small inventory of all brands still available and hopefully more on the way.” Readers will note that they were bottled during Prohibition. How was this even possible? Well, to get around the law forbidding the sale of alcohol, at the time they were sold for medicinal use only. We imagine that doctors were pretty popular people in 1920s America.

The value of rare Scotch whisky has increased by a staggering 600%.

Whisky now a better investment than art, cars or coins

If you’ve got some spare cash to invest, then you could do a lot worse than ploughing it into rare whisky, according to The Wealth Report 2019, released this week. Whisky currently tops the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) which tracks the value of assets including cars, art and rare coins. The whisky index, based on the auction values of 100 bottles of rare Scotch, has increased in value by 40% in the last 12 months. In the past ten years, prices have risen by nearly 600%! That’s a lot of moolah. Much of this growth is driven by the Asian market. “The stunning price growth of rare single malt whiskies shows that the appetite for new ‘alternative’ asset classes remains strong among high-net-worth investors,” said Andrew Shirley, editor of The Wealth Report and the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index. Andy Simpson, co-founder Rare Whisky 101 added: “While rare whisky remains a somewhat fledgling asset class compared to some other passion investments, the market for rare and vintage bottles has witnessed extraordinary growth over the past ten years.” We should point out, of course, that assets can go down in value as well as up. Nothing is guaranteed. However, the great thing about whisky is that if prices do collapse, at least you will have something to drown your sorrows with.

Even more Irish whiskey to come!

Ireland officially has another working distillery – welcome to the party, Clonakilty!

We all know Irish whiskey is booming, and now there’s another distillery to add to the must-visit list. On 5 March, the waterfront Clonakilty Distillery and Visitor Experience in West Cork opened its doors! In addition to its three-still stillhouse and whiskey and gin production, the site has a story room which tells the tale of Clonakilty town’s brewing and smuggling history, a gin school, a bistro, and a fancy gift shop. The distillery is open to the public from Tuesday through to Sunday, and tours can be booked on the distillery website. Clonakilty becomes Ireland’s 23rd operational distillery, and reckons it will attract as many as 35,000 visitors a year. Congrats, all!

Say hello to Tamdhu’s new 15 Year Old!

Raise a glass to Tamdhu’s new 15 Year Old

It wouldn’t be the Nightcap if there wasn’t news of delicious new whisky. Scotch single malt distillery Tamdhu has done the decent thing this week and launched a new limited edition 15-year-old annual release. Fans of the Speyside drop will be pleased to know it’s as sherry-tastic as ever, having been matured in American and European oloroso-seasoned casks for the full 15 years. Tamdhu 15 Year Old was bottled at 46% ABV without any chill-filtration or additional colouring, and is said to be a complex and rich dram that delivers notes of apple pastry, spiced currants, orange zest, juicy apricot, vibrant raspberry, almonds, malt biscuit, cream sherry and vanilla. The bespoke bottle sports Tamdhu’s new packaging, which tells the history of the distillery and highlights the significance of sherry casks in its maturation. “We’re extremely proud of our new Tamdhu 15 Year Old,” said Sandy McIntyre, Tamdhu distillery manager. “When you taste a dram of Tamdhu 15 Year Old, you can really taste the time and care that has gone into creating this incredible whisky. We hope Tamdhu drinkers around the world will savour it as much as we do.” You’ll be pleased to know that Tamdhu 15 Year Old is on its way to MoM Towers, so keep an eye out…

The Signature Range has arrived!

Glasgow Distillery Company to launch all kinds of new whisky!

The Glasgow Distillery Company, founded in 2014, has made the sort of announcement that makes us geek out in excitement here at MoM Towers. Glasgow’s first independent single malt whisky distillery since 1902 is poised to release not one but three new Scotch whiskies! Alongside the return of its 1770 Single Malt Scotch Whisky in the form a 2019 edition, meet peated and triple-distilled expressions, 1770 Peated and 1770 Triple Distilled. Most excitingly, these three together will form one awesome collective, like the Power Rangers, except this one is called the Signature Range. The first 1770 release sold out in 2018, so many will be delighted to welcome it back. Matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks, finished in virgin oak and non-chill filtered, the new 1770 Single Malt is available to pre-order now from the brand’s website. The first peated expression will follow in late 2019 and the triple-distilled bottling will appear in early 2020. “Innovation is very important to us, and the announcement of the 1770 Signature Range is no different,” said Liam Hughes, CEO and co-founder. “We’re proud to be one of a select few distilleries in Scotland to have three different styles of single malt as part of their core whisky offering.” Exciting stuff!

Congratulations to Hannah Lanfear!

Hannah Lanfear is the new Armagnac educator for the UK

The wonderful Hannah Lanfear (who we spoke to as part of last year’s International Woman’s Day series) now has another exciting role: she is the new Armagnac educator for the UK! Working closely with Amanda Garnham of the BNIA (Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l’Armagnac), Lanfear will present Armagnac masterclasses and training sessions over the next few months to take Armagnac to thrilling new brandy-based heights. The Mixing Class founder has a wealth of experience as a spirits educator for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) up her sleeve. She’s previously hosted WSET classes on Armagnac at Brooklyn Bar Convent in the US, and is an Armagnac judge at spirits competitions. There’s an ever-growing interest in the category, particularly within the bar community, and the versatile, complex brandy looks set for a bright future. “Since travelling to Gascony during distillation season I have completely fallen for this historic brandy,” said Lanfear. “Not only is it an immensely interesting spirit to study the production of, it has a wonderful depth of flavour and is utterly enigmatic in a cocktail. I am thrilled to be able to share the story of Armagnac in London.”

The London Classics

Bimber celebrates London with new drinks range!

Introducing The London Classics, a collection of spirits from Bimber Distillery featuring a London Vodka, a London Gin and a London Rum, all distilled, packaged and labelled by hand at the brand’s West London site. This means the London Classics are 100% made in London, which is very pleasing. The trio was created to offer an alternative to the standard house spirits found in the speed rail of many a bar, pub, restaurant and hotel. Bimber set itself the challenge of rallying against a perceived lack of creativity, individuality and value for money in these tipples. The plan was to create a new range based on character and flavour, housed in stylish, minimalist and convenient bottles that are easy to pour, while being affordable and fun. A lofty ambition, but seeing as we already stock the vodka, gin and rum, you can decide for yourself if these handcrafted, small-batch spirits live up to it.

The Winchester Collection Vintage 1967. The Glenlivet has wowed us.

The Glenlivet teams up with British designer for 50 year old(!) bottling

Today, just literally today, The Glenlivet unveiled The Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, a super-rare 50 year old limited-edition single malt whisky worth $25,000 (around £19,000), with a bottle and display case designed by award-winning British designer Bethan Gray. The whisky marries malts from a number of casks, the youngest of which was filled in December 1967. That’s right, the youngest. With whiskies this old, around 60-80% of the liquid has been lost to the angels’ share – what remains is like gold dust. Or liquid gold, perhaps. No wonder only 150 bottles have been released worldwide. Gray’s grandfather lived and worked in the Cairngorms, close to The Glenlivet, and the misty landscape around the valleys inspired the Dhow pattern that adorns the case. The glass bottle is hand-blown, while the ombré glass mirrors the ageing process of the whisky. The hand-stained maple case, decorated with mother-of-pearl, is made using solid copper overlays, reflecting The Glenlivet’s copper stills, crafted with a technique that was specially invented for this curved case – now try telling us that isn’t special! This is certainly a collector’s item, though beneath all of this is simply some truly outstanding whisky!

The launch of Rémy Martin’s cigar terrace at Dukes didn’t go entirely to plan… (It wasn’t us).

And finally… Rémy Martin smokes out Dukes Bar. Accidentally.

We try to make sure that there’s a Master of Malt representative at all the swankiest events, so naturally we sent someone to cover the opening of the Rémy Martin Cognac and Cigar Garden at Dukes London Mayfair. But while everyone was sipping Rémy XO and puffing on a Romeo Y Julieta, there was trouble brewing. Someone (not us, we hasten to add) had left the door to the terrace open. Consequently, the waft of fine cigar smoke was permeating the entire hotel, including the famous bar presided over by Alessandro Palazzi (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Class Bar Awards). He came striding through the hotel and told us firmly and politely to keep the door shut. Normally the most genial and relaxed of hosts, it’s the only time we have seen Palazzi looking the tiniest bit flappable. A newsworthy moment indeed. Everyone assumed the naughty schoolkid pose. Sorry, Alessandro!

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Buyer found for Scotland’s oldest distillery, Glenturret

Good news for whisky lovers and for whisky workers, Glenturret distillery has found a buyer! We reported back in June that The Macallan owner, Edrington, was selling Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest…

Good news for whisky lovers and for whisky workers, Glenturret distillery has found a buyer!

We reported back in June that The Macallan owner, Edrington, was selling Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest working distillery, as well as the Cutty Sark brand. Last month, Cutty Sark was bought by French spirits group La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, the owner of Glen Moray. Now Glenturret has gone to high-end wine distributor Art & Terroir as it makes its first foray into whisky. It’s like its Scotch transfer season.

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The Nightcap: 14 December

Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing…

Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing novelty reindeer antlers. It’s up to you. But first, the Nightcap!

A great way to make those winter days go a bit quicker is with a Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar. We’ve been counting down the days and this week we had a surfeit of K sounds in our whiskies: Kilchoman, Kirkwall Bay, Kavalan, Cotswold, Cardhu and Nikka. Plus Glenrothes standing aloof refusing to have anything to do with all those noisy Cs and Ks. For the Super Wish on Monday, #WhiskySanta was giving away a bottle of The Macallan M worth £3,300. And there was an opportunity to win £250 to spend at Master of Malt by finding #WhiskySanta in a Where’s Wally-style game. Head on over to our YouTube page to join in!

And that’s not all. Round 3 of the Master of Malt Auctions is under way; Annie talked to the people behind the Port of Leith distillery, Edinburgh’s first single malt distillery in more than 100 years; Henry wrote a bit about his favourite cocktail, the Negroni; and picked the best booze books of the year. Some excellent stocking fillers there.

Now on with the news!

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