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Tag: Maker’s Mark

A spotlight on… Maker’s Mark

It’s a brand of steady reliability, iconic appearance, and signature taste. But how did Maker’s Mark turn a family recipe based on loaves of bread and a bottle dipped in…

It’s a brand of steady reliability, iconic appearance, and signature taste. But how did Maker’s Mark turn a family recipe based on loaves of bread and a bottle dipped in red wax into a global brand that changed bourbon? We find out.

Imagine you’ve got your hands on the only copy of a 170-year-old family recipe for making bourbon. Do you a) make several copies and create lots of lovely bourbon; b) hide it away in the garden like a mad greedy squirrel so nobody else can ever learn it; or c) burn it to a crisp along with a set of drapes.  

Maker’s Mark founder Bill Samuels Sr. did the latter. Not deliberately of course, but after disaster struck he became a sixth-generation distiller without a mashbill to make bourbon. Which is something of a stumbling block. 

His wife Margie, however, had a clever idea. To save time and money, she suggested they bake loaves of bread with various grain combinations instead of distilling them to find the flavour profile they desired.

It was this process that led to the creation of the Makers Mark mash bill that was first produced in 1954 and is still used today. The eventual recipe was made with a desire to challenge the notion that bourbon was harsh and that people shouldn’t have to learn to love whiskey. 

That’s why Samuels Sr. decided to eschew the traditional choice of rye as part of his mashbill and instead opted for soft red winter wheat. It proved to be one of many flavour-based decisions that ended up setting Maker’s Mark apart.

Maker's Mark

Margie and Bill, the brains behind Maker’s Mark

Making the flavour

The core of the mashbill is 70% corn which is rounded out with Maker’s signature ingredient (16%) as well as malted barley (14%). The brand continues to partner with local, family farms in Loretto, Kentucky to source its grain, including a 60-plus-year relationship with the Mattinglys for corn and the Petersons for wheat. 

A roller mill is still preferred over a hammer mill, it’s a slower more labour-intensive process but the family believes it allows them to be precise with how each grain is processed. An heirloom yeast strain that’s more than 150 years old is still favoured, which ferments in tanks that are original to the old Burks Distillery (which Samuels Sr purchased in 1953 for $35,000). 

Maker’s Mark is also the only Kentucky bourbon distillery with its own water source and watershed, with Kentucky limestone filtering out iron from its water and leaving them with pure calcium- and magnesium-rich water. 

The whiskey is double distilled in Vendome Copper & Brass Works stills that are an exact replica of the original, and the whiskey is aged to taste, not time. Generally, however, Maker’s Mark whiskey spends six to seven years inside number-three char virgin American white oak barrels that are seasoned outdoors for nine months by the cooperage, a lengthy process but one preferred for its ability to remove some bitter woody tannins. 

The distillery still rotates its barrels by hand. Each spends a minimum of three hot Kentucky summers in the top of the rackhouse where they are exposed to the greatest temperature variations before every batch is tested to determine where in the warehouse it would be optimal to be hand-rolled next. The whiskey is then filtered and diluted to a considerable 45% ABV. For four days in February 2013 this strength was reduced, presumably to save money, but the backlash was so strong that Maker’s reversed its decision. 

Maker's Mark

The Maker’s Mark bottle is among the most distinctive

Margie Samuels: making her mark

While the name Bill Samuels might be the one people associate with Makers Mark the most, the shape of the bottle, look of the label and even the name itself are all thanks to Margie Samuels, the first woman associated with a distillery to become a Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer. 

She was a shrewd marketer who ensured no two bottles were exactly alike. “Margie was smart enough to know that the whiskey had to look the part too and that it needed a home as good as the whiskey itself,” says Nicole Sykes, brand ambassador for Maker’s Mark. “I don’t think she knew what she had created at the time. Marketing wasn’t her background, neither was whiskey making. But she had such an enormous impact”.

Her mark was certainly considerable. The distinctive bottle shape and red wax was inspired by her collection of 19th-century cognac bottles and she hand-dipped the first bottle in the family deep-fat-frier herself. The labels are another of her ideas, and are still cut on a hand-operated, 1935 Chandler & Price printing press, while Margie came up with the name after being inspired by the ‘maker’s marks’ that pewter whitesmiths put on their best work. 

Her own mark features a star for Star Hill Farm, the Bardstown farm where the family resided, an ‘S’ for Samuels, and the Roman numeral IV to symbolize her husband’s status as a fourth-generation distiller. It was later discovered that Bill Samuels Snr. was actually a sixth-generation distiller (the first in the family to make whiskey was Robert Samuels in 1783), but the mark has stuck. 

It’s often said at the distillery that, while the whiskey Bill made kept people coming back, it was Margie that was the reason most folks bought their first bottle of Maker’s Mark. “I still notice the bottle if I’m watching a tv show or a film because it’s so eye-catching. It’s genius,” Sykes says.

Margie, who of course had the idea to bake the mashbills into loaves of bread, was also a pioneer of bourbon tourism. “For every dollar her husband made, she demanded a dollar back to make the distillery a real home for the bourbon,” Sykes explains. “She really created a sense of community in the bourbon world. Without her the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and to be frank premium bourbon, wouldn’t be where it is today”.

Maker's Mark

The Maker’s Mark distillery

A family tradition

Over the years a number of brands have owned Maker’s Mark, beginning with Hiram Walker & Sons in 1981 and then Allied Domecq in 1987 before it eventually ended up with its current owners Beam Suntory in 2014. 

But the running of the distillery has remained in family hands, with Bill Samuels Jr. taking his father’s legacy as far as April 2011 when his own son Rob Samuels took over. He’s been around the distillery since the ripe old age of nine and has worked at virtually every position in the distillery. 

This family link means you don’t see “loads of crazy things coming out of the distillery,” as Skyes puts it, because Maker’s Mark is a “family tradition”. She continues, “it’s easy to communicate what the brand is all about because we’re still doing the same rituals as we did in the 1950s, despite the growth of bourbon around us. We’re still staying true to hand rotating the barrels, hand-dipping the bottles, using the roller mill. There’s an old joke at the distillery that goes, ‘If we could make it any faster, we wouldn’t.'” 

Many similar-size brands have flocked to the trendy world of endless flavours, RTDs, and experimental casks, but Maker’s Mark has remained relatively steady for a brand of its size. Maker’s Mark 46 was the first new major product in 60 years, and even then the original recipe is used. The extra dimension comes from inserting seared French oak staves into the barrels.

The distillery launched a single barrel lineup in 1997 and over the years has had some cask strength editions, as well as a few limited-edition releases with signature labels. The only time it truly departed the Maker’s style, however, was its Mint Julep Liqueur.

Keeping the family tradition intact, Maker’s Mark has retained its position as one of the go-to choices for many a bourbon lover thanks to its reasonable pricing, consistent profile, and genuinely iconic look. It’s no mean feat to make a difference while sticking to your guns, but by doing just that Maker’s Mark has changed bourbon, being at the forefront of its premiumisation, pioneering marketing, and tourism while retaining its signature style.

Maybe we should all start burning the family recipes and popping bread in the oven…

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IWD 2021 interview: Nicole Sykes from Maker’s Mark

Kicking off our coverage for International Women’s Day 2021, Millie Milliken talks to Nicole Sykes, who has worked in some of the UK’s most revered bars. Now, she takes on…

Kicking off our coverage for International Women’s Day 2021, Millie Milliken talks to Nicole Sykes, who has worked in some of the UK’s most revered bars. Now, she takes on the challenge of representing one of Kentucky’s most famous bourbons, Maker’s Mark.

Nicole Sykes was aware of whisky from a very young age. Having spent many of her childhood summers with her grandparents in her hometown of Lanark, Scotland, she was surrounded by people who were proud of their Scotch whisky heritage.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and Sykes, as of January 2021, is the UK Diplomat for Maker’s Mark. It’s her first role brand-side, having spent her career so far behind the bar of some of the UK’s best-known cocktail bars: from Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms, to London’s Lyaness and most recently east London’s Satan’s Whiskers as its general manager.

And while Sykes has enjoyed success in both Tequila and rum competitions (Patron Perfectionists and Bacardi Legacy), it seems whisky has ultimately stolen her heart. “When I got into bartending, bourbon, Scotch, any kind of whisky was my spirit of choice,” she tells me. “I started bartending during the gin boom, so consumers weren’t asking about it as much and I think that really drove my love for it.”

Nicole Sykes Patron Perfectionist winner

Nicole Sykes, Patron Perfectionist

Time to represent

So, what does being the Maker’s Mark UK Diplomat involve? “Sharing the unique, handcrafted story of Maker’s Mark with bartenders and bourbon enthusiasts, being the face of the brand, and supporting people and bartenders through education,” she said.

That story starts in Loretto, Kentucky, 1953, when Bill Samuels Sr recreated a 170-year-old family recipe, creating his own pioneering mash bill (via the method of baking several loaves of bread with different grains) and swapping the traditional rye for Maker’s trademark red winter wheat grain. The bottle shape and design are the work of Margie Samuels. The first woman to be inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, she was responsible for the name, the recognisable rectangular-bottomed bottle and the signature red-wax seal.

It’s this story, the liquid and Maker’s Marks ethos of working (a lot by hand) that drew Sykes away from the bar. “The decision [to leave Satan’s Whiskers] was based solely on it being Maker’s Mark,” she explains. “It’s a brand I’ve followed and loved in my career and something kind of sparked inside of me… I wanted to continue the work that Amanda has done.”

Maker's Mark label

Each Maker’s Mark bottle is labelled by hand

Women in whisky

Amanda being Amanda Humphrey, who held the position prior to Sykes, before moving to Kentucky to take on the brand’s education and drinks program. It’s encouraging to see the position remain in the hands of a woman – the whisky category continues to grapple with its representation of women, something that has begun to be reported on more widely this side of the pond.

It’s a reflection of our times: The Guardian reported in 2020 that women in the UK now drink 40 million more glasses of whisky a year than in 2010. More female distillers are rising through the ranks too, but the industry still has a way to go to shake off the ‘boys club’ image.

Thankfully, Sykes hasn’t come up against any stigma in her whisky journey so far. “I haven’t had to think about it. We’ve had a really good response and there is a really good representation of women working for EBS [Edrington-Beam Suntory, the brand’s UK importer] and for Maker’s Mark as a company – having their support has been great.”

When it comes to other women championing the industry she cites Georgie Bell (now hat Bacardi and serial whisky ambassador) and Becky Paskin (IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year) who co-founded the Our Whisky initiative to challenge whisky’s perception as a man’s drink back in 2018. She also vividly recalls meeting EBS’ Terri Botherston and Lucy Morton for the first time when she was bartending. “They were the first women who had ever hosted a whisky tasting for me” – they clearly left an impression.

Nicole Sykes, Maker's Mark bourbon

You need excellent balance to be a bartender

Liquid dreams

When I speak to Sykes, she’s only been in the job for five weeks but she admits that she’s already fallen for the people that surround the whisky industry. She describes a real sense of community, especially in bourbon, from distillery to distillery, something she finds refreshing to see.

She should have also spent her first two weeks of induction at the Star Hill Farm distillery in Kentucky – having never been to an American distillery, once Covid allows, she’ll be on the first plane over.

Until then however, she’s having fun playing with her new toy: “With my classic cocktail background I love putting Maker’s Mark into those kinds of drinks, especially bourbon Espresso Martinis.’ She also likes to bake with it – her bourbon butter pancakes recipe on Instagram brought a tear to my eye.

She’s looking forward to bringing the passion that emanates out of 3350 Burks Spring Road, Loretto, Kentucky, to the people of the UK: “I can’t wait to continue to proudly share the great liquid, the genuine story behind the brand and the passion of the people behind it. It’s in their veins – they grew up with it and are so passionate about it.” Perhaps Loretto and Lanark have more in common than meets the eye.

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What makes a bottle design iconic?

Mankind has been storing spirits in glass for hundreds of years but what does it take to make a particular bottle design iconic? We touch on the most fascinating aspects…

Mankind has been storing spirits in glass for hundreds of years but what does it take to make a particular bottle design iconic? We touch on the most fascinating aspects of booze bottle design – from historic, barely-changed labels to pricy, record-breaking vessels – and speculate about the future of spirited packaging…

When a spirit goes global, so too does its bottle. Not only are the most famous brands defined by their shape and label – Jack Daniel’s and Patrón Tequila, for example, are recognisable by the silhouette alone – but often, clever design is part of what makes them so coveted in the first place. The right bottle can communicate elements of the spirit’s character, such as sense of place, but it can also work on an emotional level, appealing to a potential’s buyer’s sense of self. With brands jostling for space on back bars, websites and retail shelves in a crowded market, this personal connection is increasingly important.

Fittingly, many bottles are a real labour of love. The Maker’s Mark design is near-identical to the original prototype by Margie Samuels, wife of founder Bill, in the early 1950’s. Made in their kitchen from papier-mâché, it was inspired by her collection of antique Cognac bottles. “My favourite detail is the indent at the bottom of the neck – it was deliberately intended to create that ‘glug’ when pouring the liquid,” says brand diplomat Nicole Sykes. Margie’s creative influence extends far beyond bottle shape, to the hand-dipped red wax beading – fashioned using a melted candle stick and a deep-fat fryer – and the font on the label, which is die cut, by hand, on a 1930’s print press to this very day. “We say, ‘Margie is the reason you buy your first bottle of Maker’s Mark, and Bill is the reason you buy your second’,” says Sykes.

Highland Liquor Company bottles

Highland Liquor Company’s design inspired by classic genever bottles

Plenty has changed since the fifties, but when it comes to attracting new drinkers, the bottle is as important as ever. For independent producers without vast marketing budgets to fall back on, it can be make or break. “It’s everything,” says Robert Hicks, co-founder of the Highland Liquor Company, which produces Seven Crofts and Fisherman’s Strength gins. “At the very start, a drinks industry veteran said to us, ‘you need a bottle that stops traffic, but what’s inside has to be even better’.” The bottles reflect the distillery’s wild, scenic location – green ombre for the woods meeting the North Atlantic; blue ombre for the sea. “We always wanted a tall genever-style bottle that’s classic in look and tactile in feel,” he says. “The label had to sit high so even if we find ourselves at the back of a shelf, we’re never hidden away.”

Presenting the fruits of your labour in eye-catching packaging is a phenomenon that reaches back hundreds of years – just ask Ireland’s Old Bushmills Distillery. Dating back to the early 1608, it’s the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. “The oldest bottle we have on-site is from 1882,” says master distiller Colum Egan. “It represents the very earliest stages in Bushmills bottling, as before this, whiskey would have been sold more typically in earthenware jugs, or in barrel form with it being bottled on-site by the customer. It’s believed that the square shape was chosen to stand out among other brands at the time.” Clearly it worked – the design has survived largely unchanged in the 140 or so years since.

In those early days of bottle design, transporting booze was a precarious undertaking, so functional packaging came foremost. When the Luxardo family began bottling Maraschino liqueur in northern Italy 200 years ago, they could never have known that protective packing would become a trademark. “Early bottles were made on Murano island off Venice, famous for its glass,” says global brand ambassador Gareth Franklin. “They were protected with a straw wrap for their journey to Luxardo for filling. The wraps also helped to ensure safe transit to far off new markets such as America. Ever since, the distinctive wrap has been a feature of authentic Luxardo Maraschino. The green bottle, white label, and red bottle cap were proudly designed to reflect the Italian flag.”

EH Taylor new (left) and old (right) packaging 1

The EH Taylor bottle has barely changed in an 100 years

Besides looking attractive and traveling well, distinctive bottles pledge authenticity and craftsmanship. They represent a handshake between the distiller and the drinker; something Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr. knew all too well when he designed the Old Taylor bottle more than a century ago. “Taylor’s design assured quality and honesty by stating, ‘let the label tell the truth’,” says Kris Comstock, senior marketing director for premium whiskey at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Today’s design is a tribute to the great man. “The Old Taylor brand name is now Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. and his portrait on the label features Taylor wearing a top hat – otherwise the label is very much the same as Taylor’s original design,” Comstock says.

In the last few decades, we’ve seen a rise in ultra-expensive designs. From bottles dipped in 24 carat gold to hand-blown crystal decanters, producers have presented their rarest liquids in one-of-a-kind vessels worth eye-watering amounts of money. The priciest? D’Amalfi Limoncello Supreme, embedded with one of the world’s rarest diamonds, of which just two bottles were ever made. Yours for a cool £27 million. If that’s too pricey, Pasión Azteca Tequila 2010, studded with 6,400 diamonds, is slightly more affordable at £2.1m. The Macallan Fine & Rare 60 Year Old 1926, which fetched a record-breaking £1.5m at auction in 2019 – making it the most expensive bottle of wine or spirit sold under the hammer – seems like a comparative bargain.

Among us regular mortals, sustainability has been established as a marker of quality – and this eco-friendly ethos is growing prominent in packaging. Scotland’s Nc’Nean Distillery made headlines by presenting its inaugural single malt, Annir, in a 100% recycled clear glass bottle. Last year, Diageo developed a 100% plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle for Johnnie Walker, made from sustainably sourced wood. Bacardi is trialling a biodegradable bottle made from plant polymer, with plans to roll it out across the company’s portfolio by 2023. Amsterdam-based Fitzroy Rum, meanwhile, rescues washed-up Coca-Cola labels from the North Sea and repurposes them into toppers for its arty bottles.

No matter whether it’s a traditional brand or a contemporary bottling, one thing is clear: much time, effort and care goes into the bottle design. Next time you pour a dram or mix up a cocktail, take a closer look at the bottle. There’s probably a good story behind it.

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Check out our winter spirits sale!

From Boxing Day to Burns Night you’ll be able to save some serious dough on this sensational selection of spirits thanks to our winter sale… Everybody loves a good bargain…

From Boxing Day to Burns Night you’ll be able to save some serious dough on this sensational selection of spirits thanks to our winter sale…

Everybody loves a good bargain and January is filled with them. For those not doing Dry January (we salute you), you’re probably scouring the web looking for the best deals on delicious booze. Consider your search concluded. Just head on over to our winter spirit sale page and you’ll find rafts of delicious products available for stonking good prices. To get an idea of the kind of the delights that await you, we’ve highlighted some of the best deals in this neat little round-up.

Enjoy!

Boozy Advent Calendars

It’s no longer Advent or Christmas. Which is bad. But that means that Advent Calendars filled with delicious booze are available for low, low prices! Which is good. Due to their popularity, some have sold out. Which is bad. But there are still calendars available that contain whisky, from Japanese, Irish, American, That Boutique-y, Premium, as well as gin, rum, vodka and Tequila. Which is good. They don’t come with any frozen yoghurt. Which is bad. They do come with 24 individual 30ml drams for your pleasure. Which is good. You can move on now.

WhistlePig 12 Year Old Oloroso Cask – Old World (Master of Malt)

A Master of Malt exclusive bottling, this 12 year old rye whiskey from WhistlePig was finished exclusively in Oloroso sherry casks, and was released as part of the Old World series. It’s rich, spicy and extremely delicious and available with a serious discount. Tell me there’s a better way to kick off 2020 then with a whiskey this good.

What does it taste like?:

Bucketfuls of dried fruit, with sweet caramel, new leather, rich sherry, a pinch of tobacco and vanilla alongside prominent baking spice notes and orange oil.

Salt Marsh Gin Greensand Ridge (That Boutique-y Gin Company)

This is sure to be another year where we indulge in all kinds of tasty gins, so why not take the opportunity as 2020 starts to enjoy one of the more intriguing bottlings you’ll find at MoM Towers? Greensand Ridge created this beautiful gin featuring an array of unique botanicals for That Boutique-y Gin Company using the salt marshes of Whitstable as inspiration.

What does it taste like?:

There’s plenty of salt – and a little marsh. The juniper is floral, teeming with lavender, bay leaves, a mossy earthiness persists, warming cardamom, creamy angelica, orange blossom, black pepper, vibrant grapefruit peel and liquorice root.

Laphroaig Lore

Said to be the richest ever expression from the Islay distillery, Laphroaig Lore is one for fans of peated whisky to enjoy. Created by distillery manager John Campbell, Lore was matured in a combination of casks including first-fill sherry butts and quarter casks and is said to contain some of Laphroaig’s “most precious stock”. Which sounds beyond tempting, frankly.

What does it taste like?:

Rich and smoky with seaside minerals, vanilla, chestnuts, fudge, creamy clotted cream, malty sweetness, rich peat, spicy chilli, a hint of ash and bitter chocolate drops. 

Larios 12 Botanicals Premium Gin

Gin is massive in Spain. If you thought England was the only country in Europe that goes gaga for the good stuff, you’d be mistaken. So it’s no surprise that our friends in Spain make some seriously delicious bottlings, like Larios 12 Botanicals Premium Gin. As you might have guessed, it was created using 12 botanicals including wild juniper, nutmeg, angelica root, coriander, Mediterranean lemon, orange, tangerine, mandarin, clementine, grapefruit, lime and orange blossom, which were distilled five times.

What does it taste like?:

Tangy, aromatic and herbal, with huge citrus notes, fresh flowers, coriander, juniper, potpourri and cardamom.

Maker’s Mark 46

If the first new Maker’s Mark recipe for at least 50 years doesn’t get fans of American whiskey excited, then nothing will. Maker’s 46 is an alternative to the standard expression that was created for those that like spicier bourbon. The Kentucky distillers inserted seared French oak staves into the barrels (with the stave profile “number 46” – hence the name) to make the spice-forward profile.

What does it taste like?:

Toffee sweetness, sawdust from freshly cut wood, nutmeg, mulled wine spices, allspice, cinnamon, hot apple juice and a slight grassy note.

Novo Fogo 3 Year Old (That Boutique-y Cachaça Company) 

Cachaça is such a fantastic and sadly often overlooked spirit but this aged expression produced by Brazil’s Novo Fogo Distillery and bottled by That Boutique-y Cachaça Company should please connoisseurs and newcomers alike. What makes this beauty stand out is that it was matured in a combination of Amburana and American oak, whereas most cachaças are aged in purely the latter cask type. 

What does it taste like?:

Butterscotch, caramel, liquorice allsorts, cardamom, pine needles, dark jammy blackcurrant, fresh mango sweetness, floral honey, spice and intense woody notes.

 

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The Nightcap: 29 November

Need to decompress after all the Black Friday sales hubbub? We’ve got just the thing – it’s The Nightcap! If you find yourself exclaiming out loud “How on earth did…

Need to decompress after all the Black Friday sales hubbub? We’ve got just the thing it’s The Nightcap!

If you find yourself exclaiming out loud “How on earth did it get to be 3 o’clock?!” almost every day, you might be very surprised to find out November is almost over. You were probably getting ready to go to the beach or hide chocolate eggs in the toaster or something. Go dig out a Santa hat and glue it to your forehead so you’re constantly aware of what’s going on. And to keep your noggin warm. It’s quite chilly out there if you’re dressed for a spring morning stroll. We’re also ready to help bring you up to date. Behold, it’s another edition of The Nightcap, our round-up of booze news from the week that was!

On the MoM blog this week you probably noticed that #WhiskySanta announced that he was giving away an Old and Rare Whisky Advent Calendar worth nearly £1,000. That wasn’t only the bargain on the blog, however, as we rounded-up some of our best Black Friday deals. Ian Buxton returned to investigate a curious phenomenon while Adam caught up with Billy Walker, owner and master blender at Glenallachie Distillery. Elsewhere, Annie looked at a blended Scotch you’ll want for your next Highball, and talked over 400 years of distillation with Sandie van Doorne at Lucas Bols. Henry’s week involved a lot of Martini-based fun, from enjoying its predecessor The Martinez, to interviewing Alessandro Palazzi from the esteemed Dukes Bar, although he did find time to make a Kentucky whiskey aged in barrels that are toasted rather than charred our New Arrival of the Week.

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Congratulations to you David!

The Balvenie’s David Stewart MBE nabs top gong at IWSC

Last night saw the glittering International Wine & Spirit (IWSC) Awards Banquet take place at London’s Guildhall (the most Harry Potter-esque venue you ever did see). It was the 50th anniversary of the awards, which celebrate all kinds of things, from tip-top wine and spirits producers and their wares (obvs), but also communicators, and outstanding achievers, too. And step forward The Balvenie malt master David Stewart! He was honoured for his Outstanding Achievement in Scotch Whisky over his whopping 57-year career, garnering praise from peers and whisky drinkers right across the globe. Other big winners include Ryan Chetiyawardana who scooped Spirits Communicator of the Year, and William Grant, which bagged the Outstanding Spirits Producer 2019 gong. Congrats all!

The Nightcap

You can find out what your ‘perfect dram’ is now!

Diageo sets AI What’s Your Whisky quiz

We’re sure many of you whisky-lovers have a selection of favourite expressions, from go-to bottles to desert-island drams. But have these preferences been verified by the wonders of technology? Because Diageo has created a ‘digital experience’, said to help people find their perfect whisky based on their preferences for certain flavours. What’s Your Whisky uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse a user’s personal palate, asking eleven questions to understand their preferences, such as “how often do you eat bananas?” and “how do you feel about chillies?”. The data collected is then used to create a ‘Flavour Print’, which matches the user with a single malt whisky that the AI thinks they will love. “We are using our extensive consumer knowledge, whisky expertise gathered over hundreds of years and cutting-edge AI to help consumers discover, explore and enjoy Scotch in new and exciting ways,” said Dr Adeline Koay, principal scientist, research and development for Diageo. Andy Parton, senior regional manager for Diageo, added: “We’re excited to roll this out at scale and help many thousands of people find their perfect Whisky based on the innovative FlavorPrint AI technology.” I took the test and found the questions amusing, but slightly limiting. It did recommend Talisker, which I admittedly do love. So maybe it does work. Although if your dream dram isn’t made by Diageo I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of it coming up… What’s Your Whisky launched on 28 November in nine countries (UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands) – check out the website or scan a QR codes in participating bars, restaurants and shops. 

The Nightcap

The inimitable Ronnie Cox, as drawn by Alasdair ‘Loon’ Hilleary, red socks and all!

Berry Bros. & Rudd launches Ronnie’s Reserve

Ronnie Cox has worked in this industry for 43 years, spending more than three decades of that at Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR). He’s a Master of the Quaich and a member of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. He’s also part of the seventh generation of the Cumming family, which previously owned Cardhu distillery. Now, as BBR’s legendary brands heritage director “edges towards retirement”, he’s been tasked with curating a range of single malt Scotch whiskies. The seven single cask bottlings are all from one undisclosed distillery (it’s very easy to figure out if you know the brand’s history). Two of the bottlings are from casks laid down in the 1990s, one is from the ‘80s, two are from the ‘70s and two are from the ‘60s, including the remarkable Tempus Fugit 1968 Cask No. 13497, which produced 65 bottles and is priced at £3,800 (this is the one that you’ll have to wait until June 2020 to purchase). Cox explained that he had his eye on these for many years, and he counted himself “incredibly fortunate to be able to select these whiskies to bottle under my name”. The first six bottlings will be launched on St. Andrew’s Day (30 November), available from Berry Bros. & Rudd. The illustrations on the bottle were drawn by Alasdair ‘Loon’ Hilleary, a lifelong friend, who depicts Cox wearing his classic red socks, which he’s made something of a trademark. If you do happen to get your hands on a bottle or two, do be sure to don your best scarlet stockings as you imbibe. 

The Nightcap

It’s a wintery dose of Swiss-esque bliss in London

Möet opens Alpine Lodge in Soho

Many people like the idea of apres-ski. Think cosy cabins, Last Christmas I Gave you my Heart knitwear and wintery drinks, without all the palaver with snow, salopettes and chair lifts. Möet has cleverly spotted this by opening an Alpine lodge, not in Gstaad or Whistler, but in London. Located in 100 Wardour in Soho, it’s open now and runs until the end of January. We popped in this week and can confirm that it’s just like being halfway up a mountain in Switzerland, only much easier to get to from Tottenham Court Road Underground station. On arrival, we wrapped ourselves in blankets and got stuck into the cocktails; as you might expect from the world’s largest Champagne company, they were pretty good. We were particularly taken with the Snowed Under which combines Tanqueray Export Strength, Möet & Chandon Impérial, lavender syrup, lemon juice, and icing sugar; and the Ice Ice Baby, made with Antica Formula, Campari, Möet & Chandon Impérial, plum bitters, crusta sugar, and a dried orange. Nothing says ‘Christmas is coming’ like a dried orange. And then rather than having to cross country ski home, like they do in the Alps, we took a train. Much more civilised. 

The Nightcap

Things are getting festive at the German Gymnasium!

Maker’s Mark reveals gingerbread pop-up at German Gymnasium

Sticking with Christmas for a moment, and we’re spotting a micro-trend for all things gingerbread this season. After Fentimans unveiled a life-size gingerbread house at London’s Skylight, bar and restaurant German Gymnasium has opened its very own tasty terrace, this time in partnership with bourbon brand Maker’s Mark. Described as a “sugar-filled wonderland”, the space features wooden huts, lights and lanterns galore, cosy blankets, and, of course, a mouthwatering, sweet-themed cocktail list. Serves include a Gingerbread Old Fashioned (made with Maker’s Mark and gingerbread syrup, topped with toasted marshmallow), and Maker’s Milk (Maker’s Mark, Kahlua, rum, vanilla, double cream and egg white, served in a milk bottle). Hot serves will also be on-hand in case of chilliness. Head to King’s Cross with haste if you’ve got a sweet tooth this December and January!

The Nightcap

This should put a stop to people judging a dram by its colour…

Glencairn releases black glass for Black Friday

In honour of Black Friday (which for better or worse, is now very much a thing), top Scottish glassmakers Glencairn has released a limited-edition glass that might be the blackest thing on the planet. It’s blacker than Darth Vader’s helmet, blacker even than Back in Black by AC/DC, the previous holder of this title. The colour not only looks very metal, but will stop you judging your dram by its colour, putting your olfactory system firmly in charge. Each glass costs £7 and comes in a black box, naturally. Only 1,000 have been produced and they go on sale first thing on Black Friday (so may be already gone by the time you read this). This season, black is very much back. 

The Nightcap

Good things come in small pubs

Guinness opens pint-sized pub for a cosy Christmas

Guinness is opening a tiny pub in Flat Iron Square in London from Thursday 5 till Sunday 8 December. From 1pm until 11.30pm, punters will be able to enjoy food, fire and more Christmas tunes than you can shake a stick at. There will also be a certain famous Dublin stout on tap. Here’s the best thing: it won’t cost you a penny. That’s right, free Guinness! Before you book your travel to central London though, we should let you know that it’s a very small space indeed so there’s only room for five people (not including the bartender) and you have to book.  Simply sign up via Design my Night and you can reserve the entire pub for you and a few friends. Oh, and you’re only allowed two pints each. Still, it sounds pretty ace. So gather your nearest and dearest, huddle into a tiny pub, and enjoy free beer. If you can think of a better way to keep out the cold, we’d like to hear it.

The Nightcap

The GlenDronach Traditionally Peated will be at MoM Towers soon…

The GlenDronach reveals its new release, Traditionally Peated

GlenDronach is showing us its smoky side with a brand new peated single malt! The GlenDronach Traditionally Peated harks back to the days in 1826 when the distillery was founded, and it was common practice in the Highlands to burn peat in the kiln towards the end of the barley malting. For the whisky, the distillery has kept it traditional sherried style, marrying liquid from a range of Pedro Ximénez, oloroso sherry and Port casks, all bottled up at 48% ABV. “The GlenDronach Traditionally Peated offers connoisseurs a rare opportunity to explore the distillery’s rich depths of sherry cask maturation, while paying homage to the robust peat-smoked earthy character of the early 19th century, that James Allardice himself would likely have enjoyed,” says master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie. “This wonderfully complex single malt presents notes of Highland toffee, dark honey and coal-smoked barley. Burnt orange and treacle glide over the palate, on a base of cloves and smoked bramble. Liquorice and dark fruits linger and intensify into the rich and earthy finish.” Sounds like a smoky Highland lip-smacker to us! Keep an eye out, it should be landing on our shores very soon…

The Nightcap

Getting your haircut so often you’re basically bald for the free Metaxa is most certainly a ‘mood’

Come for a shave, stay for a drink

There are few things more pleasurable than getting your haircut while enjoying a drink. Now, this could be some Wray & Nephew overproof rum drunk out of a teacup at Kyrie’s in Kensal Rise, or a single malt Scotch at Blades in Soho. Both we would highly recommend. But there’s a new contender in London town for best drink/cut combo. From now until the end of December, you will receive a free Metaxa Ginger Rock, a combination of ginger ale and Metaxa 12 Stars, when you book a haircut or a shave at Sharps Barber Shop in Great Windmill Street. For those who have never been to Greece where no meal is complete without a little glass, Metaxa is a blend of brandy, Muscat wine and botanicals, and, especially in 12 Stars form, is utterly delicious. We can see ourselves going for repeat utterly unnecessary haircuts just for the free Metaxa. 

The Nightcap

Sobar. Sober. So-bar… Oh, yep. I get it. Nice one, guys.

And finally… A snack bar claims it can make you less drunk

It’s not that we’re sceptical here at MoM Towers, but a piece of news reached us from across the pond this week that had our eyebrows raised pretty much to the roof. Sobar, a brand of snack-sized protein bars, is claiming it’s found a magic formula that will make us less giddy after one too many drams. Sort of. Apparently a study has found it reduces alcohol absorption, and, in comparison to other similar foods, it was about twice as effective per calorie. Each Sobar weighs in at 210 calories, and apparently it works because a thing called Alco-HOLD keeps the booze in your stomach for longer so it can be “inactivated”. “This research project started after I had too much to drink on an empty stomach at a wedding,” said SOBAR inventor Joseph Fisher, MD PhD.  “After that experience I thought that there was a huge need for a specialised, low-calorie snack that could efficiently and effectively reduce alcohol absorption.” Or you could. . . sip not gulp in the first place? Just a thought. 

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The Nightcap: 8 November

Greetings, one and all! Another week has been and gone, so that means there’s a fresh harvest of stories for The Nightcap! OK, so Halloween is done. Bonfire Night has…

Greetings, one and all! Another week has been and gone, so that means there’s a fresh harvest of stories for The Nightcap!

OK, so Halloween is done. Bonfire Night has passed. Pancake Day was ages ago. I wonder if there are any other events coming up that people are very excited about and won’t stop posting about on the internet and making us slightly panic…? If only we could see past the piles of mince pies and giant sock-shaped boxes of chocolate bars in the shops, we might be able to see if they’re advertising something (as that is where we look to find out what’s happening in the world – the displays in shops).Well, I’m sure we’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, let’s see what’s been going on in the world of boozes this week – it’s The Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week we excitedly announced the launch of The Three Drinkers Cask Selection No. 1, the first official whisky bottling released by the Amazon Prime TV show released exclusively with, well, us! Elsewhere you’ll have noticed the return of Dram Club and Ian Buxton, who celebrated a true whisky hero in his guest feature this week. Annie then talked with Kirsteen Campbell, the new master whisky maker at The Macallan, and then created a handy little guide to sherry. We also marked Old Fashioned Week by making the classic serve our Cocktail of the Week, while Adam round-up some sublime whiskies that feature intriguing cask-finishes. Oh, and don’t forget to check out video tour of Glenrinnes Distillery!

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Six Kingdoms, the new 15 Year Old Mortlach expression

Diageo reveals bonus ninth Game of Thrones single malt Scotch

Now, deep down we all knew that when Game of Thrones ended back in May that this wasn’t really going to be the end. The worlds of Westeros will live on through prequels (if they don’t all get cancelled) and, more importantly, through whisky! You guessed it, there’s another Game of Thrones expression out. Diageo announced the ninth and final bottling in the Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection, and it’s a 15 Year Old Mortlach dubbed Six Kingdoms. If your memory is a bit hazy, Westeros’ Seven Kingdoms, mentioned many times throughout the show, became six in the finale. Remember the independence of the North and all that? Anyway, the single malt was matured in first-fill sherry casks, with a finish in American oak bourbon casks. Flavour-wise, we can expect those hallmark beasty notes with “vanilla and spice befitting of those with a noble palate”. “Eight fantastic scotches toasted the coming of the final season of the show, and we now look back on the most captivating television show of all time and raise a ninth glass in celebration,” said Jeff Peters, vice president, licensing and retail, at HBO. It comes in a metallic gold presentation tube, decorated with an intricate pen and ink drawing of the three-eyed raven, who we’re sure would be great company to share a dram with. If this all sounds right up your street, then keep an eye (or three) on our New Arrivals page!

The Nightcap

Be sure to have an Old Fashioned yourself!

The UK celebrates five years of Old Fashioned Week

A landmark of the international cocktail year stirred up some action once again as Old Fashioned Week returned to bars around the world. It was the fifth anniversary of the event and in such a short amount of time it’s become quite the success. Last year 1,300 bars participated across 60 countries, an estimated 205,000 Old Fashioned cocktails were sold and the likes of Cambodia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam took part for the first time. But what was on offer to enjoy this year? Aside from the obvious answer, sponsors Woodford Reserve hosted an array of experiences, events and limited edition menus with 285 bars from London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and Cardiff. Working alongside some of its leading bartenders, the American whiskey brand created a map across the UK, featuring the likes of Swift, Murder Inc, Discount Suit Company, Three Sheets and Homeboy. “Woodford Reserve really is the perfect base for all kinds of twists on the Old Fashioned, our most popular serve,” said Mia Johansson, co-owner of Swift, Soho. We’ve taken inspiration from the ‘sweet aromatics’ flavour segment of Distiller’s Select – the backbone of the complex whiskey flavour – to craft a complex, wholesome Old Fashioned with notes directly from the award-winning mashbill. We’re delighted to have partnered with Woodford Reserve for Old Fashioned Week and look forward to welcoming cocktail lovers from across the country.”

The Nightcap

The new-look Blue Label

Timorous Beasties reveals limited edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Last night we attended the launch of a new-look Johnnie Walker Blue Label entitled the Rare Side of Scotland. It features a limited-edition bottle and pack designed by the Timorous Beasties, an award-winning Glasgow-based textile design studio. The aspect of the design you’ll notice first is the image of Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights), shining theatrically over the Scottish Highlands, which serves as a backdrop for three of Scotland’s rare large birds: the white-tailed eagle, the curlew and the rapid eider duck (best bird name ever). These aren’t the only ‘beasties’ you’ll find, there’s also the narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth, and Scotland’s smallest butterfly – the Small Blue, as well as floral depictions of machair, saxifrage and mountain havens. “Exploring the rarest spirits from the four corners of Scotland has been a remarkable privilege and a personal passion throughout my four decades at Johnnie Walker,” says Johnnie Walker master blender Dr. Jim Beveridge. “The celebration of rare, exceptional Scotch whiskies – paired with the rare craftsmanship of our team of expert whisky makers – will always be at the very heart of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. We know that our devotion to our craft is mirrored by Timorous Beasties, and this is highlighted by these beautiful bottle designs.” Johnnie Walker Blue Label Rare Side of Scotland will be available from MoM Towers soon.

The Nightcap

Winter rooftop terraces are all the rage this year, darling.

It’s festive rooftop winter terrace season!

You may be thinking that, as we descend into the cooler months, it’s time to stay inside and wrap up warm. You’re mistaken! This year it looks like winter rooftop terraces are all the rage, so we thought we’d give you a sneak-peek roundup of what to expect. Firstly, Fentimans has an exciting new release, Pink Ginger, a lightly spiced botanically-brewed soft drink combining pear juice, orange and herbal extracts. To celebrate, the brand is taking over the ninth floor of London’s Skylight, which will now be home to a life size, pink gingerbread house! We’re not joking. It will be decorated with icing, candy canes, and inside you’ll find edible sweet-filled walls. (Okay, so the sweets are edible, the walls aren’t. Just to be clear.) Hansel and Gretel, eat your heart out (literally). It’s available to book in three-hour slots for groups of eight throughout the festive season, with each group receiving a cockle-warming Fentimans hot Pink Ginger cocktail on arrival. You can also just visit Skylight itself and treat yourself to a whole menu of festive Fentimans ginger drinks. Get ready to fill your boots with pink, gingery goodness from Thursday 14 November until January. Secondly, the iconic Madison’s in St Paul’s is teaming up with Belvedere Vodka and being transformed into a winter haven, dubbed The Enchanted Woods, filled with fairy lights, warm cocktails and blankets to boot. We particularly like the sound of ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, which sees a warming blend of Hennessy VS, Quaglia Chamomile Liquore and Italicus, with lemon and chamomile tea. It’s certainly a panoramic spot to snuggle up at and enjoy the festive views of London, and opened this week on 6 November and is running all the way through to February. So go on, get out there and get into the Christmas spirit(s)!

The Nightcap

At Balthazar London you’ll find a unique bottling of Maker’s Mark

Balthazar London launches whiskey in collaboration with Maker’s Mark

Not many restaurants can boast its own signature whiskey, but Balthazar, the New York-style brasserie in Covent Garden, is one of the few that can, following its partnership with Maker’s Mark Private Select. A first-of-its-kind barrelling programme, Private Select allows brands to purchase a barrel from the Kentucky distillery and create a truly bespoke spirit that encapsulates the restaurant’s distinct character. Two of Balthazar’s team spent a day at the distillery creating eight different blends, eventually settling on a mix of French and American oak finishing staves, as a nod to the inspiration behind the restaurant. Essentially a variation of Maker’s Mark 46, the whiskey was then aged for an additional nine weeks and bottled in bespoke-labelled Balthazar whiskey bottles. Expect notes of sweet butterscotch, honey, cinnamon, coffee, wood oak smoke, tobacco and dark bitter chocolate. “Balthazar was the ideal partner to work with on this new whiskey. The restaurant already boasts such an impressive collection of American whiskies so we were pleased to work with them on a unique blend,” commented Amanda Humphrey, brand ambassador for Maker’s Mark. “Its flavours of vanilla and butterscotch, mixed with bitter chocolate and cured tobacco, make it the perfect drink for both seasoned whiskey drinkers as well as the uninitiated.” Guests can enjoy the whiskey as part of a cocktail or on its own, while the chefs have also created two specially-paired dishes: a Chestnut Tortellini with Smoked Delica pumpkin and vanilla beurre noisette as well as a Gingerbread soufflé and whiskey ice cream for dessert. We can say from personal experience that they’re both delicious, as is the whiskey. You can purchase the bottling from the restaurant itself, or online for £100.

The Nightcap

The Chosen – due to land at MoM Towers soon!

JJ Corry unveils 27 year old The Chosen

In a really rather exciting treat for our taste buds, JJ Corry has teamed up with J. Hill’s Standard Crystal and John Galvin Design for something really rather special: The Chosen. Just 100 hand-cut decanters of the 27 year old Irish single malt single cask have been released. We checked it out at the official launch this week, and can confirm each decanter is both slightly different and as beautiful as they look, evoking the grasses on the beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way, close to the JJ Corry brand home. The ash wood cabinet is pretty swanky, too. “The Chosen is a celebration of excellence in Irish whiskey and contemporary Irish design,” said Louise McGuane, JJ Corry founder. “Irish whiskey has not been celebrated for its quality and rarity, as perhaps other categories have. We have some of the finest mature stock of whiskey in the world and yet I feel the industry undersells itself. I wanted to change that. Our approach to making Irish whiskey celebrates tradition, embraces change and has the modern whiskey drinker front of mind. All of this is reflected in The Chosen.” Each 52% ABV decanter is priced at £6,500 – keep your eyes peeled on our New Arrivals feed, they’re due in soon!

The Nightcap

The sign. The sign has wisdom.

On Tuesday evening, we hot-footed it up to London for one of the liveliest and most affirming bar takeovers of 2019. For one night only, Artesian bar manager Anna Sebastian brought together a dream team/army of talented women bartenders from across the industry for an evening called Celebrate Her. There were too many epic faces behind the bar to possibly name everyone, but with the likes of Pippa Guy, Sophie Bratt, Megs Miller, Cami Vidal and Sebastian herself crafting an array of signature drinks, the packed room was treated to delicious serve after delicious serve. The evening even ended with sparklers. And £1 from every drink spent went to industry wellness platform Healthy Hospo! “Celebrate her every day, celebrate this industry, celebrate each other, celebrate yourself, but above all, build a community and make the industry better,” Sebastian wrote on social after the event. Cheers to that!

The Nightcap

Nightcap favourite Miles Beale

Boris Johnson promises to review alcohol taxation

Boris Johnson has pledged to review Britain’s alcohol taxation system if the Conservative government win the next election. On a visit to Diageo’s Roseisle Maltings near Elgin, he said that he would conduct a “review into excise on Scotch whisky”. This is partly to alleviate the effect of the 25% tariffs that have been imposed by the US administration on Scotch whisky imports. Britain currently has some of the highest taxation on spirits in the world with an average of £3 in every £4 spent going to the state. Karen Betts from the Scotch Whisky Association commented: “A simplified alcohol duty regime in the UK to better reflect alcohol content would be fairer for consumers, increase competitiveness and remain an important driver of tax revenue.” Nightcap favourite Miles Beale, from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, also had something to say: “The current excise duty regime doesn’t work for UK business, consumers or the Exchequer. The EU framework is unnecessarily complex and has created a distorted market and an uneven competitive playing field. Once the UK has left the EU, it would be appropriate to review the operation of excise duty. A thorough review will, however, take time. In the short term, and in order to maintain the UK position at the heart of the world wine and spirit trade, the next Chancellor should take the opportunity to take immediate action and cut excise duty ahead of any review. This would benefit UK consumers, business and increase revenue to the Exchequer.” We can but hope.

The Nightcap

It’s like the Terminator. But with booze.

Coming soon, a gin created by AI

The team at Circumstance Distillery in Bristol are not afraid to do things differently, whether it’s issuing their own cryptocurrency or experimenting with yeast and cereal (triticale anyone?). But this time they’ve really taken the biscuit with a gin created by artificial intelligence. Yes, just like in the Terminator, but with booze. The gin is a collaboration with technology scientists Tiny Giant and Rewrite Digital who have created a neural network that they have christened Ginette which was fed information on botanicals, recipes, labels etc. with some of the data coming from Master of Malt (that’s us!). She even came up with the gin’s name, Monker’s Garkel, from analysing 500 different brands. Oh well, at least it tastes good. Liam Hirt, co-founder of Circumstance Distillery, commented: “AI and machine learning are exciting new tools. We do a lot of contract distilling and wanted to know if these tools could make a meaningful contribution to new product development. At present they are not a substitute for the skill of the distiller, but we have clearly shown that they can make a valuable contribution to all aspects of the development process, from the recipe to the naming and labelling. We trained Ginette well, and with a little human help and guidance, her product is interesting, attractive and, most importantly, delicious.” Kerry Harrison, co-founder of Tiny Giant, added: “The creation of Monker’s Garkel has demonstrated that it’s perfectly possible to align machine predictive power and human creativity to make something delicious, valuable and commercial”. The gin will only be available from Master of Malt or direct from the distillery for £42 for a 50cl bottle.

The Nightcap

Graham’s 1977 was the Queen Mother’s favourite

And finally… Queen Mum’s undrunk Port goes up for auction

The Queen Mum had quite a reputation for being fond of the sauce, so when she visited The Winter Gardens Theatre in Margate in 1983, the team got in plenty of her favourite Port, Graham’s 1977. It seems they rather over-catered because 36 years later, there are still 40 bottles of the stuff left. Apparently it’s been counted in stock takes all this time, but when the last food and beverage manager retired, the new one had the brilliant idea to auction it. It goes under the hammer at Chiswick Auctions in London on 5 December. The three sealed cases of 12 are expected to go for £700-800, with an odd lot of four bottles expected to go for £100-150. Back in 1983, this wine would have been much too young to drink, perhaps why the dear old Queen Mum didn’t get through much of it. But now it should be perfectly mature. Sam Hellyer, head of Chiswick Auctions wine department, described the wines as: “Luscious, smooth, with the last hurrah of thick tannins lining the tongue and laying down a plush carpet for the chewy fig and lingering acidity to mingle on. With them came a hint of smoky and chocolately notes, the smell of cigar boxes and freshly sanded wood.” Cor!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 8 November

London Cocktail Week: 10 things to look out for

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings. What…

We’ve rounded up some of the standout events from the upcoming London Cocktail Week (4-14 October) so you can focus your energy on enjoying its many delightful boozy offerings.

What was already one of the biggest dates in the drinks industry calendar is even bigger this year. London Cocktail Week has returned and has chosen to mark its 10th anniversary by broadening its showcase of the capital’s best bars, mixologists and drinks with an extended ten-day celebration. Because what’s better than a week of cocktails? Ten days of cocktails, that’s what.

Ten years already. Where does the time go? It’s been quite the journey since DrinkUp.London’s Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne founded LCW (as we in the ‘biz’ call it) as a pop-up in Selfridge’s to showcase London’s cocktail scene in 2010. Great oaks from little acorns grow: there are now over 300 bars taking part, tons of quirky pop-ups making temporary homes across London, and endless masterclasses where you can improve your shaking and stirring skills. There’s even a cocktail-meets-doughnut van courtesy of Maker’s Mark and Crosstown Doughnuts, for goodness sake.

As such, many of you will be looking forward to making yourself at home in the Cocktail Village at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane between 4-14 October. But, you also might be feeling slightly overwhelmed by the significant number of events on offer. That’s why we’re here to offer a helping hand by highlighting some of the most intriguing, exciting and engaging opportunities London Cocktail Week has presented for 2019.

London Cocktail Week: the events

Ten options are listed below, but before we start it’s worth noting that you will need to purchase your £10 festival pass and download the DrinkUp.London app to activate it to enjoy London Cocktail Week. This will give you access to £6 drink deals at participating bars as well as entry to the Cocktail Village, so even if you don’t have the chance to make it to the good times below, there’s still plenty to be had all around this fair capital city of ours.

Now, let’s check out some events!

London Cocktail Week

All kinds of whisky-based shenanigans are to be expected

The Whisky House take over at Black Rock

Where?: Black Rock Tavern, 9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

When?: Friday 4 October to Saturday 12 October

What’s it all about?: The fabulous Black Rock Tavern hosts brands like Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, Talisker, Copper Dog, Johnnie Walker and Roe & Co for a series of amazing events. The blend of pop-up whisky takeovers, experiences and late-night DJs across nine days will take place within the newly furbished first floor Blending Room and ground floor Tavern at East London’s specialist whisky bar.

Why would I like this, Adam?: There’s endless whisky-based fun to be had and a 185-year old interactive cocktail ageing tree trunk. Yes, you read that right.

London Cocktail Week

An award-winning G&T in a sauna? We’re in.

Kyrö Gin Sauna

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Monday 14 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm)

What’s it all about?: Kyrö Distillery conceived in a Finnish sauna by a group of friends with a shared love of rye. That’s the kind of back-story that deserves to be celebrated, and that’s exactly what this feature is all about! Plenty of rye gin and, yes, an actual sauna, will be present in the Cocktail Village once again this year, as well as an opportunity to blend your own gin in a gin-blending masterclass. Tickets for the blending workshops can be found here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Because there’s a sauna involved, for goodness sake. Plus plenty of Kyrö’s award-winning G&Ts.

London Cocktail Week

Refreshment is guaranteed

That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service

Where?: The Cocktail Village, 146 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU.

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (Wed-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-7pm).

What’s it all about?: That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Instant Refreshment Service means one thing: lots of delicious and easily accessible cocktails. You can help yourself to the independent bottler’s range of Craft Cocktails via a brilliantly Boutique-y vending machine, which will also be available on draft.

Why would I like this, Adam?: That Boutique-y Gin Company has made it clear its dream is for every attendee of London Cocktail Week to be fully refreshed at all times. This is a noble goal, and it involves consuming delicious cocktails. Which is the whole point of the entire enterprise, people.

London Cocktail Week

Is this the death of the whisky tumbler? No, but it’s still lots of fun

The Glenlivet’s Capsule Collection

Where?: Tayér + Elementary, 152 Old St, London EC1V 9BW

When?: Friday 4 October from 4-6pm.

What’s it all about?: Ever had an edible cocktail capsule before? No? Well, here’s your chance. A partnership between co-owner of Tayēr + Elementary, Alex Kratena and Scotch whisky distillery The Glenlivet has resulted in this selection of glassless cocktails, which will attempt to redefine the way whisky is traditionally enjoyed. The edible capsules are 23ml in size, fully biodegradable and housed in a seaweed-extract casing courtesy capsule designers Notpla. Simply pop them in your mouth an enjoy three original cocktails inspired by the elements and flavours of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve: Citrus, Wood and Spice.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to eat cocktails. There’s no need for glass, ice or cocktail stirrers here.

London Cocktail Week

The ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail awaits

Alfred Cointreau at The K Bar in celebration of London Cocktail Week

Where?: The K Bar, 109 – 113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5LP.

When?: Thursday 10 October from 6-9pm.

What’s it all about?: A celebration of both the week and Cointreau’s 170th Anniversary, this event sees Alfred Cointreau (the clue is in the name) taking the reins behind the wonderful K Bar in Kensignton to mix up classic and twists on the iconic Margarita while telling the story of Cointreau.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You get to meet some drinks industry royalty and learn how to make the ultimate Cointreau Margarita cocktail.

London Cocktail Week

Go wild in the isles, folks!

Supermarket Sweep

Where?: London Cocktail Club Shoreditch, Unit 12, 29 Sclater Street, London, E1 6HR

When?: Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October (3.30-9pm)

What’s it all about?: If you’re somebody who’s looking for any excuse to get their 90s game show vibe on, then London Cocktail Club Shoreditch’s pop-up is the one for you. Inside the re-creation of a miniature supermarket you’ll get an opportunity to make a cocktail from JJ Goodman’s book ‘Kitchen Cocktails’ and sample cocktail recipes made from everyday ingredients like angel delight to Coco Pops. Best of all, you can whizz around the aisles Supermarket Sweep-style. So, choose your teams, grab your basket and indulge in some nostalgia! To book your ticket you’ll need to email [email protected]

Why would I like this, Adam?: You can channel your best Dale Winton impression while enjoying some unorthodox cocktails.

London Cocktail Week

Karaoke and cocktails is a good night by anybody’s estimation

The House of Suntory Masterclass & Cocktail Karaoke

Where?: Shochu Lounge, Roka Charlotte Street, 37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR

When?: Monday 7 October to Tuesday 8 October (6-11.30pm)

What’s it all about?: An evening of learning about Japanese culture while imbibing Suntory’s Roku Gin, Haku Vodka and Toki Whisky in the company of UK ambassador James Bowker sounds pretty great. But the Japanese distillery has turned a great night into an unforgettable one by also hosting ‘Cocktail Karaoke’. Simply you choose your base spirit (gin/vodka/whisky) and your favourite classic track then the team at Roka will create a Japanese riff on your song choice. How good does that sound? You can book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: Two words: Cocktail. Karaoke.

London Cocktail Week

How often do you get to create your own whisky?

The Blend by Chivas Regal

Where?: Mac & Wild, 9A Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YN

When?: Monday 7 October to Thursday 10 October (various slots from 6.30pm)

What’s it all about?: A chance to create a whisky you can call your own should never be passed up. That’s exactly what Chivas Regal is offering at a special masterclass at Mac & Wild, Devonshire Square, to celebrate the launch of The Blend campaign. The guided tasting sessions will provide a window into the life of a master blender as you learn the history of Chivas Regal and how to make your own whisky highball twists with UK brand ambassador Phil Huckle. But best of all, you’ll leave this event 200ml of your very own whisky, blended from a combination of floral, citrus, fruity, creamy and smoky flavours. Book your ticket here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You literally get to make a whisky of your own. What are you waiting for?

London Cocktail Week

Science is finally put to good use

The Essence House by the London Essence Company

Where?: 5 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB

When?: Thursday 3 October to Saturday 5 October (12-10pm)

What’s it all about?: If there’s one thing you want from London Cocktail Week, it’s amazing cocktails. Thanks to The London Essence Company you can do just that as it treats you to a bespoke cocktail, matched to your palate using real science by some of the world’s top bartenders. The Essence House, described as an “interactive journey of flavour discovery”, is an experience curated by Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart, an expert in gastronomy and flavour perception, who will help you to get hands-on with botanicals, flavours and aromas over the course of a 45 minute session that includes that personal palate profiling experience and two cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available). Tickets are available here.

Why would I like this, Adam?: You know you want tasty cocktails, and The London Essence Company know what you find tasty…

London Cocktail Week

Over the last century, the Negroni has stood the test of time

The Experimental Negroni Club

Where?: Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta St, London, WC2E 8QG

When?: Friday 4 October to Sunday 13 October (12pm-close)

What’s it all about?: It’s been 100 years since the Negroni first entered our lives and we haven’t looked back. The Experimental Group, however, will actually be looking back to celebrate this illustrious history through the Experimental Negroni Club a partnership with Campari at the Henrietta Hotel. Vintage ingredients selected in partnership with the Old Spirit Company will ensure the recreation of cocktails served in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and to make the perfect vintage Negroni, which will be accompanied by a light show created by Frankie Boyle (not the Scottish comedian, thankfully).

Why would I like this, Adam?: We love Negronis. You love Negronis. Go forth and toast its brilliance the only way how. With a Negroni.

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The Nightcap: 9 November

We’ve got another edition of The Nightcap ready – time for your brain to hungrily digest these delicious morsels of drinks news! It’s Friday, fair folks that read the MoM…

We’ve got another edition of The Nightcap ready – time for your brain to hungrily digest these delicious morsels of drinks news!

It’s Friday, fair folks that read the MoM Blog! While this of course means that it’s time for your regularly scheduled instalment of The Nightcap, it’s also the day of the week that new CDs get released. So why not enjoy The Nightcap while listening to some fresh new jams – like a jazz album by Jeff Goldblum? Yes, that Jeff Goldblum. Jeff “Life finds a way” Goldblum. What does that have to do with booze? Nothing, we just think Jeff Goldblum is cool.

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The Nightcap: 19 October

Another work week is coming to a close, which means it’s time to open up a treasure chest of booze news – it’s The Nightcap! It’s Friday once again, folks….

Another work week is coming to a close, which means it’s time to open up a treasure chest of booze news – it’s The Nightcap!

It’s Friday once again, folks. We’re certain many of you will be taking this weekend as a chance to continue working on those intricate Halloween costumes (I’m going to be dressed as a hogshead this year – still lots of coopering and hot glue application to be done). However, we’re also sure that there are a few of you with plenty of space in your plans to swot up on the latest booze news, which is exactly what The Nightcap is here for!

As ever, let’s have a gander at the goings-on with the MoM blog this week. Annie chatted to the folks from the UK’s first alcohol-free brewery and had a nose around Bache-Gabrielsen’s cellars. Henry took a trip down the Old Fashioned memory lane and looked to the future of Irish distillers. Adam wrapped up warm with a selection of toasty tipples perfect for autumnal nights. We also announced the winners of our VIP BenRiach trips – congratulations to the winners once again!

Now on with the news! Although it starts on a sombre note this week.

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The Bourbon Series: Part Three… with Rob Samuels of Maker’s Mark

Our Bourbon Series concludes with Maker’s Mark, one of the world’s most beloved wheated bourbons. Rob Samuels, chief operating officer – and grandson of the brand’s founder, Bill Samuels –…

Our Bourbon Series concludes with Maker’s Mark, one of the world’s most beloved wheated bourbons. Rob Samuels, chief operating officer – and grandson of the brand’s founder, Bill Samuels – shares Scottish roots, ‘ageing to taste’, and the story behind the bottle’s iconic red wax seal.

Founded in the 1950s, Maker’s Mark may be among the youngest of the traditional bourbon brands, but there are old hands behind the stills. In fact, the Samuels family has been distilling whiskey for more than 500 years.

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