On The Nightcap this week we’ve got a battle for the Peaky Blinders, a new Islay whisky distillery, and Spiderman making cocktails. It’s never nice when something you love changes…
On The Nightcap this week we’ve got a battle for the Peaky Blinders, a new Islay whisky distillery, and Spiderman making cocktails.
It’s never nice when something you love changes for the worse. If you’re a Wordle fan then you’ll have noticed that the site has gotten a new coat of paint with some troubling New York Times branding splashed all over the place. It won’t be long before it isn’t free anymore. Although maybe they could change the name to something that’s actually five letters. That always felt like a weird oversight. Anyway, you won’t find us slapping a price tag on The Nightcap. It’s going to be free and fun and full of boozy happenings like it was every week before.
As will the rest of our blog, which had the pleasure of reviewing Charles MacLean’s new book, continued our journey through whisky flavour, and took a ride on the Norwest Europe Express with That Boutique-y Whisky Company. We also visited some great distilleries, including Clynelish, Ramsbury, and The Oxford Artisan Distillery. Plus there was time to enjoy National Margarita Day with a cracking cocktail recipe and a new competition with Rooster Tequila.
Now, it’s time get on with The Nightcap: 25 February edition!
Midleton Very Rare 2022 is en route
The 39th edition from the ever-popular Midleton Very Rare series is coming to town! Scores of casks have been sampled, a super-fancy bottle has been whipped up, and one tasty Irish whiskey has been blended from a selection of single pot still and single grain whiskeys to create the latest addition to the range that began over four decades ago. In the marketing bumf, Irish Distillers said this bottling was sourced with whiskey from Midleton’s “much-coveted ‘A2’ traditional stone warehouse”, which dates back to the 1860s, and that the final blend contains whiskeys aged between 12 and 33 years that were matured in lightly-charred first-fill and refill ex-bourbon American oak barrels before being bottled from a single vatting during January 2022 at 40% ABV. “Drawing predominantly from our historic A2 warehouse, we have selected a blend of whiskeys that work together beautifully – from superb grain whiskeys dating back to 1989 with beautiful floral and rosewater notes, to some truly wonderful pot still whiskeys from 2009 that offer a delightful fruit element with citrus,” master distiller Kevin O’Gorman says. Sounds delightful as always, and you’ll be even more delighted to learn that Midleton Very Rare 2022 will be here at MoM Towers very soon…
Distilleries battle for Peaky Blinders trademark approval
It’s all heating up in the battle to capitalise on the success of the TV show Peaky Blinders. You’re probably aware Sadler’s Brewhouse already makes booze using the name, but this week Bushmills has also applied for approval to make a Peaky Blinders-themed whiskey. This is despite the fact that there’s a five-year legal dispute rumbling on between Sadler’s and Caryn Mandabach Productions, the production company for the hit show. Proximo Spirits, which owns Bushmills, made the application to the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in January 2022. Caryn Mandabach Productions is thought to be mentioned on the proposed Bushmills label, which also allegedly says the whiskey is licensed by series distributor Banijay Group. Sadler’s first applied to the Intellectual Property Office for a US trademark and put plans in motion to create its own Peaky Blinders Distillery and Bar in 2017. A stern warning letter in 2018 from the show’s producer was the response, despite the former owner of Sadler’s being a descendent of a real gang member. This injunction was denied last year, however, with a judge ruling that Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd was not able to prove that it owned a protectable trademark in the name, that Sadler’s Brewhouse Ltd’s products were likely to cause confusion, or that the alleged confusion caused it irreparable harm. The production company has its own plans to open a line of Peaky Blinders-themed bars and restaurants. It seems everyone wants a slice of the Peaky Blinders pie.
Compass Box launches two new whiskies
This week we had the pleasure of popping two new Compass Box whiskies on our site. The first was Experimental Grain Whisky, which is composed of conventionally made grain whiskies aged in re-charred barrels and hogsheads paired with a parcel sourced from Loch Lomond Distillery that’s one 100% malt whisky, but has to be classified as a grain by SWA regulations because it is produced in a column still rather than a pot still. It’s a tasty number with label artwork that draws on technical distillation textbooks and Picasso doodlings, and is joined on our shelves by the mighty Vellichor. That’s actually a new word that describes the fragrance of old books, a personal touch from Compass Box whiskymaker and founder John Glaser, and Compass Box whiskymaker James Saxon, who both studied literature, and explains the aesthetic of aged, well-used paper. Compass Box combined sherry-matured malt whiskies from Highland Park and Macallan for this one, together with a small amount of very old whisky from the Caol Ila Distillery, which each component meant to represent a character in the story of Vellichor. It was the dustily smoky and tropical fruity nature of this set of casks from the famous Orkney Distillery that inspired the idea in the first place. We know how much people love a good Compass Box, so we suggest you get them while they’re hot, particularly as we’ve tasted them and we like. Very much.
Plans submitted for new Islay whisky distillery
If you thought there was surely no more room on Islay for whisky distilleries, then think again. London practice Alan Higgs has applied to local planners to construct a new whisky distillery on the island of Islay. If it all goes ahead, Ili Distillery will overlook Loch Gearach near Port Charlotte on the island. According to the architect, it will be a drum-like building with roughly textured solid stone walls reclaimed from redundant structures on the farm where it will be located. That farm has been owned by Bertram Nesselrode for many years, who is the co-applicant with Scott McLellan, another local farmer. The proposed distillery will have a target capacity of 200,000 litres per annum (think Kilchoman pre-expansion), while on-site warehousing will be used. There is likely to be some peat on site and the plan is to abstract water directly from Loch Gearach, while the duo aim to make the distillery self-sufficient in its operation. If the project receives approval, construction work will begin in summer 2022, with a projected opening in summer 2023.
Welsh rugby heroes launch low ABV ‘spirit’ Perthyn
We aren’t rugby experts here at Master of Malt, but what we do know is that you probably shouldn’t play after a stiff G&T. Not a good idea. But maybe you can now thanks to four former Wales internationals, Shane Williams, James Hook, Lee Byrne, and Mike Phillips. The quartet has just released a new drink called Perthyn (pronounced ‘pear thin’ – it’s a Welsh word meaning ‘belonging’) just in time for the Wales vs England match at Twickenham on 26 February. Produced by the Cardiff Distillery, it’s a citrus, cardamon, and thyme-flavoured botanical drink weighing in at 10% and designed to be drunk with tonic. So in two parts tonic to one part spirit G&T, that’s only 3.3%. Co-founder Shane Williams explained: “We created Perthyn Low Alcohol Spirit to find a sense of belonging and share that with other individuals who value authenticity, reciprocity, and quality. Perthyn is perfect for health focussed individuals who want to feel included without having to compromise on taste or well-being. Perthyn is a constant reminder of how you want to live, so you can try to embody that happiness and bring it with you every day.” Whatever that means. At the moment Perthyn is only available from the Cardiff Distillery for £21.95, but we will let you know if we get some in here at Master of Malt.
The Drinks Trust launches vocational hardship programme: Develop
The Drinks Trust’s new vocational programme, Develop, is officially open to applicants. For the first time in its 135-year history, The Trust has introduced an initiative to alleviate long-term hardship with a proactive funding and training programme that delivers opportunity and skills to those within and looking to enter our industry. Campari Group UK will be the Official Spirits Partner of the scheme, and Moët Hennessy UK will support it as Official Champagne Partner. “Since the announcement of the Develop initiative to the industry last year, The Drinks Trust has received funding and support from brands and operators who recognise the vital importance of the scheme for the welfare of the entire drinks hospitality industry and the many people living in hardship in the U.K,” says Ross Carter, CEO of The Drinks Trust. The Develop initiative aims to help around 750 beneficiaries in its first year of operation, with a variety of training and development options. These range from self-guided CV writing and interview skills workshops, through to sector-specific CPD accredited training with top industry providers, including Wine & Spirit Education Trust, Institute of Brewing & Distilling, Mixology and European Bartender School, amongst others. It’s another fantastic initiative from the group and we hope it gets lots of applicants.
And finally… did Tom Holland make your cocktail?
You might have noticed there’s a new movie about called Uncharted, which is based on the video game series and stars Tom Holland (the current Spiderman). His character is a bartender, and to prepare for the role the Hollywood star secretly worked shifts doing the same gig at a London bar. Holland revealed to Sirius XM’s Pop Culture Spotlight programme that he was so covert that even the bar’s general manager didn’t know about it… “I went to a bartending school. I ended up doing a few shifts at this bar in London, which was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it. And it’s a nice little set-piece in the movie,” says Holland. He’s believed to have pulled off the stunt at Chiltern Firehouse by literally trading places with a bartender who was meant to be on shift. “I had to have a white tuxedo and everything. I would go in there and take the bartender’s clothes and be in there undercover,” Holland said. So, there’s a good chance if you went to this establishment in the last few months, you might have been served a drink by Spiderman. Fancy that.