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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Redbreast

The Nightcap: 21 May

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap. Happy…

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap.

Happy Friday everyone. We hope you all got to spend some time inside one of the many fine hospitality venues and had a nice drink away from all the wind and rain. While there’s something reassuringly British about somebody trying to sip from a pint glass while they get battered by a storm, I think we all agree that things are better this way. Inside it’s warm, there’s music and there’s wi-fi so you can load the latest version of The Nightcap, settle in and enjoy. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Good thing we’ve got another new edition to read. Here it is.

People who love a good competition will have been delighted to see us launch a brand new one with Redbreast. Just find the golden cork and you can win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask whiskey! If gin and vodka are more your speed, then make sure you throw your hat in the ring for a chance to win a VIP trip to the Boatyard Distillery. Elsewhere, we welcomed the news that Brora is back (!) after 38 long years, understood how distilleries have coped launching during Covid, and asked 10 drinks industry experts what they were toasting the grand reopening with. We also heard from Sandy Hyslop on the art of blending whisky and Jon Darby on how to create a brand as unique as Sin Gusano while enjoying five great gins from around the world, a delicious bottle of Argentine red, and a cocktail that brings together bourbon and cider.

Don’t forget to join us on the Clubhouse App at 3pm where you can hear us greedily feast on another week of brilliantly boozy stories and embrace our inner mixologist by insisting on the joy of a whisky cocktail. Now, to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 21 May

This dram comes Bob Dylan approved

Heaven’s Door and Redbreast make whiskey together

Clearly, Redbreast Irish Whiskey felt it wasn’t on the blog enough this week what with our new Dream Cask competition and so revealed that it has teamed up with Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door whiskey for the first time. The collaboration has produced a limited-edition 10-year-old straight bourbon finished in Redbreast Single Pot Still Casks for 15 months called The Master Blenders’ Edition, in honour of the two people who hold the role at Heaven’s Door and Redbreast respectively, Ryan Perry and Billy Leighton. Apparently, Dylan too is actively involved, sampling over a dozen blends before settling on the final selection. Leighton says the legend is a “perfectionist” who “knows his whiskey”. Dylan also created a new gate design in his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio, which was nice of him. The press release believes the end result of this Irish-American marriage is a taste profile “unlike any American whiskey” which Perry says “blew them away”. We’ve been told to expect plenty of nuts, spice, and leather, as well as the influence of “sherry, citrus, dark fruit, and a subtle sweetness of Yellow Man from the Redbreast casks”. The Master Blenders’ Edition is being released in the U.S. for Father’s Day but will also be available in limited quantities in September in the UK and Ireland. Be warned folks: once it’s gone, it is gone for good.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Fancy running things around here for a day? Now’s your chance.

Become a distiller for the day with Annandale

Have you ever dreamed about being a Scotch whisky distiller, even just for a day? Well, now you might just get to live the dream thanks to Annandale. The independent distillery in Dumfries and Galloway, which was first established in 1836 and ‘reborn’ in 2014, is giving people the chance to do just that after listing on Airbnb this summer. The stay is available on the site as part of a new campaign to encourage people to visit the Scottish Lowlands and promises an “immersive two-night stay” in which guests will shadow Annandale’s distillery team and sleep in cottages next to the distillery site. And this isn’t simply pressing a button or tasting a sample at the end. You’ll actually witness each stage of the process, from meeting the malt delivery, to milling and mashing the barley, fermentation, firing up the stills, and filling the casks. Thrown in is a whisky tasting and evening meal at The Globe Inn, Dumfries, a historic pub dating back to 1610 and once frequented by Robert Burns, with two chefs with Michelin star experience at the helm. Plus when you check out you’ll get a bottle of Annandale’s Single Malt Scotch Whisky. And the knowledge of exactly how much work and love goes into making whisky. The stay will be available to book for £480 for two people and you can see which dates are available when you visit airbnb.com/annandaledistillery.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Last Drop hasn’t made its own booze before, so this is quite the entrance

Last Drop Distillers launches first signature blend 

You might remember The Last Drop Distillers was gearing up to create all kinds of delicious booze. Well, the first of the impressive new signature blends range has been unveiled. The creatively titled The Last Drop 50-Year-Old Signature Blended Scotch Whisky was made by esteemed master blender Colin J.P. Scott, who presumably put all his knowledge and experience to good work. He joined Last Drop after a distinguished career with more than 50 years at Chivas Brothers as one of the six founding members of The Assembly, although to put this whisky into context this is just the second 50-year-old blend he’s made in nearly half a century in the industry. The release, just the 22nd in The Last Drop’s history, marks the brand’s first foray into the creation, as well as curation. The whisky began as a new distillate of single malts and grains, which were filled into sherry and bourbon casks more than 50 years ago. But few will get to taste it sadly because as you can imagine for a whisky this old and prestigious, there’s not a lot of it (just 500 bottles worldwide) and it will cost you an arm and a leg (priced at RRP £3,250). Scott says he’s “immensely proud both of the complexity of the whisky and of its significance: as The Last Drop’s first Signature Blend, and as my inaugural release with them”. He adds that he “sincerely hope everyone who tastes it will take as much pleasure in this whisky as I did in blending it.”

The Nightcap: 21 May

Lots of mead awaits if you’ve got what it takes

Help bees, grow sunflowers, win mead

As we’re sure you’re aware, yesterday, 20 May, was World Bee Day. To celebrate these magical pollinating honey-making little creatures, Gosnells Mead, distributed thousands of packets of sunflower seeds across Peckham in south London. The idea is that ‘guerilla gardeners’ plant them in all sorts of places to help bees. And also sunflowers look splendid too. As the founder of London’s only mead producer Tom Gosnell put it: “There are so many patches of bare earth in cities just waiting to be loved, and we hope that our packs will bring an irregular army of smiling sunflowers to urban Peckham and beyond.” He went on to say: “We are doing our bit to enrich biodiversity, something we started in April by making our new Mead Garden & Bar into a flowering jungle. It is a pretty unlikely sight in an industrial estate in Peckham SE15: And now, we’ll be giving out thousands of sunflower planting kits to the likes of community groups, churches, local gardens, shops and care homes.” What’s more, Gosnells is happy to send seeds to people in the UK to grow their own sunflowers. The person who grows the tallest will win the height of the flower in Gosnell’s cans. What a prize! Let’s hope we get some sunshine. 

New #LooksLikeGuinness advert makes us want a pint

England’s pubs opened fully this week and to celebrate/cash-in Guinness unveiled a new campaign called #LooksLikeGuinness. The 40-second advert is based on how when you want a pint, everything from socks on a washing line, to a white cat napping on a black bin looks like a pint of Guinness. The song playing is, naturally, ‘Always on my Mind’. Head of Guinness GB Neil Shah commented: “We want to do all that we can to make sure that the opening week of indoor hospitality is as successful as it can be. We’re pleased to be able to mark this momentous occasion with the #LooksLikeGuinness campaign – the reopening of the pubs has been a long time coming but as we say at Guinness, ‘Good things Come to those who wait’” The advert was created by Jack Watts and James Cambridge at ad agency AMV BBDO, and we think it’s a worthy successor to the great Guinness adverts of old.  Just watch it because it will make you smile and make you want a pint of Guinness – so job done ad people.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Get yourself off the grid. Just as soon as you, errr.. go online first

Go off-grid with Shackleton whisky

We don’t know about you, but being permanently online as many of us have been in the past year has been exhausting. Wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere with no Twitter, email, Slack, Zoom, Instagram, spreadsheets, Clubhouse, or Whatsapp? Well, Shackleton whisky has the answer with its #GoOffGrid interactive map of the best off-grid destinations in the UK. From hidden caves in the Lake District to a shepherd’s hut on the Welsh hillside, these are places where there is no mobile reception or wifi. So you can switch off your phone, enjoy the company of friends and family, get back to nature or appreciate a fine whisky without having to post about it on Instagram. Kenny Nicholson from Shackleton Whisky explained: “After more than a year being stuck indoors, our need to get in touch with our adventurous side and to enjoy quality time with others has never been stronger. When we step outside and put our phones down, we free ourselves of distractions – and that’s why we wanted to build on the map and to give people some inspiration to have longer off-grid adventures through these staycations this year.” To launch the #GoOffGrid campaign, Shackleton is offering a prize for up to six people to stay at a mystery destination over the bank holiday weekend (28-30 May). Sadly, you do have to go online to enter, via the brand’s Instagram channel. If you want to see what you could win, Richard Rankin from Outlander visited the secret location and, erm, recorded his experiences on Instagram. Doesn’t that defeat the whole point of the exercise?

The Nightcap: 21 May

There’s some big brand beef to get stuck into this week

Bacardi avoids £51m claim in Brown-Forman lawsuit

There was some big brand drama in the news this week after a London court determined on Wednesday (19 May) that Bacardi UK has escaped a £51.5 million lawsuit raised by its former distribution partner Brown-Forman. The duo first formed a UK distribution alliance in 2002 and officially ended the relationship in April 2020, after 18 years, severing the alignment between the considerable portfolios which includes brands such as Bombay Sapphire gin (Bacardi) and Jack Daniel’s whiskey (Brown-Forman). In a written argument to the court, Brown-Forman stated the companies decided to go their own ways after Bacardi brought on a new global chief executive who sought structural changes and sued them citing payments owed from a cost-sharing agreement inked with a Bacardi subsidiary in 2016. The Bacardi subsidiary responded with its own cross-claim seeking remuneration for its work as a commercial agent. Now both claims will move forward to arbitration. So this isn’t over yet. Brown-Forman has declined to comment on the ruling, while a spokesperson from Bacardi told The Spirits Business the company was “pleased” with the court’s decision and that “the ruling demonstrates we have acted properly and with integrity”. We suspect this won’t be the last we hear of this.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Everyone, meet Rocco!

And finally… Girvan Distillery hires sniffer dog

News from Girvan Distillery emerged this week regarding possibly the most important story we’ll ever cover. The distillery has hired a dog. Yes, you read that correctly. The Ayrshire-based site does not have a new pet. It has an employee. One-year-old cocker spaniel Rocco has been brought in as a full-time sniffer dog, tasked with nosing any imperfections in wood used to make the distillery’s casks. He’ll then report back to his boss should he detect any issues with the barrels at the cooperage. And what would be his boss’ name, I hear you ask? Why, it’s associate global brand director Chris Wooff. The dog works for a guy called Mr. Wooff, folks. Speaking about the new appointment, Mr. Wooff (hahaha, how is this a real story?) said: “The sense of smell of a dog like Rocco is 40 times stronger than a human’s, and we’ve specially selected and trained Rocco to pick up the scent of anything that’s not quite right as the whisky matures.” Rocco was trained for the role for six months in Pembrokeshire by dog expert Stuart Phillips and reports suggest he is indeed a good boy. Team leader Lianne Noble says the atmosphere lifts wherever Rocco is working, and that people “can’t help but smile in his presence”, adding: “He’s a working dog rather than a workplace pet, so we have guidelines in place to make sure he doesn’t get disturbed when he’s taking a break between shifts, but the boost in morale has been a joy to see.” What a tremendous story this is, and it’s made us realise that it’s vital that we hire a dog as soon as possible. If you know any good candidates tell them to chuck a CV our way. We do require that the pup is toilet-trained and can shake and sit, however. So no timewasters.

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Win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask!

Redbreast is doing its best Willy Wonka impression with its latest competition. Just find the golden ticket cork and you’ll win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask whiskey. When Redbreast…

Redbreast is doing its best Willy Wonka impression with its latest competition. Just find the golden ticket cork and you’ll win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask whiskey.

When Redbreast launches a new Irish whiskey, you stand up and take note. The brand has an exceptional core range as well as an array of much-loved limited edition bottlings, like its annual Dream Cask releases. 

Each whiskey is selected by master blender Billy Leighton in collaboration with blender Dave McCabe. Last year’s edition was a dram matured for a minimum of 28 years in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels, an Oloroso sherry butt, and a ruby Port-seasoned cask, which was then married in the ruby Port cask to mature further as a single Dream Cask before being bottled at 51.5% ABV. 

Win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask

Introducing: Redbreast Dream Cask Oloroso Sherry Edition

A new Dream Cask

This year’s bottling is Redbreast Dream Cask Oloroso Sherry Edition. It’s a 29-year-old single pot still Irish whiskey aged in ex-bourbon, sherry and ruby Port-seasoned casks which were then married together in a single Oloroso sherry butt and left to mature for a further 15 months before being bottled at 51.2% ABV.

Expect all the luxury, complexity, and rich sherried goodness you’ve come to love from Redbreast in this one. Leighton describes it as “undeniably special and yet unmistakably Redbreast” and says to expect notes of dried fruits, herbs, and toasted oak and a complex aroma of liquorice, leather, and nutmeg.

Seeing as these expressions usually sell out quicker than Daniel O’Donnell tickets at an Irish monastery (nuns love him), Redbreast introduced a new balloting system in 2020 to cope with demand. Redbreast Dream Cask Oloroso Sherry Edition will be similarly available in limited quantities via the brand’s private members’ club, The Birdhouse

Win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask

Here’s how you can win a bottle

And another route that involves us. How? With a competition straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Simply buy a bottle of Redbreast 12 Year Old and you might just find one of six golden corks hidden among them. If you do, a bottle of the Redbreast Dream Cask Oloroso Sherry edition could be heading your way. 

Let’s clarify exactly how this works so you don’t miss out: 

  • Buy a bottle of tasty whisky here (multiple entries are allowed)
  • If you find a golden cork, you’ve won.
  • Make sure you check. Don’t just throw away the cork. 
  • If you are one of the lucky Golden Cork Winners, take a photo of the cork and code on the side. Email the photo with your contact details to [email protected] and they will be in touch with the next steps.
  • There will be six prizes for six winners. 
  • And the prize is a 50cl bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask Oloroso Sherry Edition, including packaging and carriage. 

Clear? Great, now get entering and best of luck everyone!

MoM Redbreast Dream Cask Competition 2021 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 12:00:01 GMT on 17 May to 23:59:59 GMT on 31 December 2021. UK only excluding Northern Ireland. Prizes not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash equivalent. See full T&Cs for details.

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The Nightcap: 12 March

For all the latest on Conor McGregor’s big whiskey sale, a Prosecco-infused Easter egg and the world’s smallest(ish) Irish pub, you’re in the right place. It’s the Nightcap! The Nightcap…

For all the latest on Conor McGregor’s big whiskey sale, a Prosecco-infused Easter egg and the world’s smallest(ish) Irish pub, you’re in the right place. It’s the Nightcap!

The Nightcap is full of Easter and St. Patrick’s Day cheer this week. Which reminds us how much there is to look forward to. Sitting in a beer garden and just whiling the hours away. Making friends for life in the smoking area. Finally giving Future Nostalgia the respect it deserves by dancing to every minute of it with other people. But we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. There’s still plenty to enjoy at the moment. Like all those new pets. And, of course, some light reading regarding the drinks industry’s latest shenanigans. Let’s get on with it. It’s The Nightcap: 12 March edition!

This week you might have noticed that things were a little different in the blog as we marked International Women’s Day by celebrating the women behind the drinks you love. We were delighted to be joined by brewer and broadcaster Jaega Wise, Widow Jane head distiller Lisa Roper Wicker, Maker’s Mark diplomat Nicole Sykes, Diageo coppersmith Kirstin Neil and The Story associate director Tarita Mullings. Elsewhere, Adam recommended some sensationally smoky spirits, while Henry explained how the Negroni became a classic and then enjoyed a sherry-soaked treat from the Cotswolds distillery, and our occasional MoM Loves partnership series was back with a lesson in foraged cocktails from The Botanist Gin. Oh, and if you’ve left it to the last minute to sort out Mother’s Day don’t worry, we’ve got you covered

On The Nightcap this week we remember Steven Spurrier

The wine world mourns one of its most lively, popular and influential figures, Steven Spurrier

Wine world pays tribute to Steven Spurrier

The wine world lost one of its most important and colourful figures in Steven Spurrier this week. There aren’t many wine writers who have been played by Alan Rickman in a film but then few, if any, have proved as influential as Spurrier. He was best known for organising the 1976 Judgement of Paris wherein a blind tasting by French judges, the best wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux lost out to some upstart producers from California. It’s a story that has resonated down the years but there’s so much more to Spurrier than that. He was born in 1941, and had a varied career as a wine merchant, publisher, writer and entrepreneur. In his later years, when most people would think about retiring he was involved in founding a publisher, Acadamie de Vin, and planted a vineyard at his home in Dorset to produce a highly-regarded sparkling wine, Bride Valley. Jancis Robinson wrote about him yesterday on her site, JancisRobinson.com: “For someone who achieved so much, he acted with such extreme modesty and politeness that there was always a danger of his not being accorded his due”. Adam Lechmere in his touching obituary for Club Oenologique added: “Generations of wine lovers would claim him as their own.” He is survived by his wife Bella and children Kate and Christian. Thank you Steven, we’re raising a glass or two to you this week.

On The Nightcap this week we hear about Redbreast's new whiskey

The belting new dram marks 30 years of the revival of the brand

Redbreast delves into the past for its newest expression

There’s a new Redbreast out there. But before you deluge the MoM switchboard, of whatever the internet equivalent is, we have to say that this limited edition cask strength 10-year-old version is only available from the Birdhouse, the Redbreast members club. Right, got that out of the way. Is it any good, you’ll want to know? Yes, it’s fabulous. If you like traditional Irish pot still whiskey then you are going to love this because it’s perhaps the pot stilliest whiskey out there. What do we mean by that? Midleton Distillery makes three types of pot still new make, light, medium and heavy. The light and medium go into younger expressions, whereas the heavy is saved for heavily-aged versions where it’s blended with some light. This is the only Midleton that contains all three levels, and the only young expression to contain heavy. It was inspired by the original Redbreast which came from Jameson’s Dublin distillery but was aged and bottled by Gilbey’s wine merchants. To celebrate 30 years of the rebirth of the brand, archivist Carol Quinn collaborated with blenders Billy Leighton and Dave McCabe to produce this tribute to the original. It was aged in a mixture of ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry-seasoned butts, and bottled at 59.1% ABV. It’s a gorgeous drop with big sweet-spicy flavours, a drop of water reveals a fruitier side with fresh peaches and dried apricots as well as wood tannins. It’s available from today and costs €100 but you’ll have to register at the Birdhouse for a chance to buy a bottle. 7,000 have been filled. It was such a hit on the online tasting that there was a clamour to make it part of the core range. Sadly Leighton confirmed that it was a one-off. Boo! 

On The Nightcap this week we hear about Conor McGregor's big windfall

Conor McGregor is in the money (again)

Conor McGregor bought out of Proper 12 Irish whiskey

Big news in Irish whiskey this week came from Becle, which bought Conor McGregor’s shares in Proper 12 Irish whiskey. The Mexican beverage company, which owns Jose Cuervo Tequila, Kraken Spiced Rum and Bushmills Distillery, revealed it had exercised an option to acquire 51 per cent of the equity interests of Eire Born Spirits, a company founded by McGregor and his manager Audie Attar. Becle initially had a 20% share of Proper 12, having helped EBS get the brand off the ground, and it had already increased its stake to 49% last year. Now it retains full ownership of the brand that McGregor launched in 2018. We’re sure he’s netted a very handsome fee for the sale (reports suggest he Attar will split £112 million), but it does raise the questions over how the Becle will now market Proper 12 without McGregor as the face of the brand. His regular championing of Proper 12 on his social media profiles and at press conferences certainly helped sales. But Becle may be happy to wash its hands of the controversial former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, who will have put some people off the brand. Certainly, our customer reviews paint an interesting picture of Proper 12 as a divisive product. This month alone there’s a range of comments, with one person describing it as a “great tasting whisky that is only hated on by people who don’t like McGregor”, while another calls it “the worst Irish whiskey at the price point”. Of course, you won’t know on what side of the fence you sit until you find out for yourself…

On The Nightcap this week we hear about good tariff news

Get your Cognac orders in because the tariffs have been suspended!

Tariffs on rum and Cognac suspended

Remember last week when the US and the UK decided to shake hands and let sense prevail by suspending those silly tariffs on goods like Scotch whisky? Well, a similar deal has now been struck between the US and the EU. A four-month suspension of tariffs on products from both nations is now in effect, which is very good news for us booze fans. Gone are the 25% EU tariffs on US rum, brandy and vodka. As are the 25% US tariffs on liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain, and certain Cognac and other grape brandies from France and Germany. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen spoke to US president Joe Biden to agree to a temporary removal of the tariffs in relation to the Airbus-Boeing dispute and says the news was excellent for businesses and industries “on both sides of the Atlantic”, adding that it sends a “very positive signal for our economic cooperation in the years to come”. Trade group the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) were similarly pleased with the breakthrough in the long-running spat, saying it “left much destruction to the spirits sector in its wake” and that it comes at a key time for the US hospitality sector. However, Discus also said there was plenty left to discuss (sorry), as the EU and UK continue to impose a 25% tariff on American whiskey, which is due to double on 1 June this year. Discus called the tariff ‘unfair and not sustainable’ and has urged the Biden administration to find a speedy resolution that eliminates these “debilitating tariffs on spirits for good.” We can but hope. At least, for now, things are finally moving in the right direction.

On The Nightcap this week we learn about whisky's representation problem

Right now whisky marketing is failing to adequately represent women and people of colour

New report highlights gender disparity in whisky

An alarming, but sadly not that surprising report was published by Our Whisky this week which found that leading whisky brands’ Instagram accounts posts are sorely lacking when it comes to representing women and people of colour. The Women and Whisky: Female Representation in Social Media Marketing, which analysed the Instagram accounts of the world’s 150 largest and most influential whisky brands, reveals that men outnumber women by 228%, with women accounting for just 36% of people represented in 2020. Meanwhile, non-white ethnicities were represented in just 17.9% of posts that featured people. Becky Paskin, the co-founder of OurWhisky, says the study demonstrates we’re still far away from achieving gender equality. “Whisky brands have the power to normalise the fact women make and drink whisky by what they choose to show in their advertising and marketing,” Paskin explains. “They don’t need to feminise their brands, but by simply being more inclusive they can change the narrative and appeal to a wider demographic of potential customers, which has obvious business benefits as well.” With International Women’s Day this week, we’ve seen brands highlight some of the incredible women in our industry. But, while Paskin appreciates acknowledging female achievements, she adds that to really honour these women and make whisky truly inclusive, brands should consider how their year-round marketing is representative of today’s drinkers. 

On The Nightcap this week we learn about Pernod's new investment

La Hechicera Rum has joined Pernod Ricard’s considerable portfolio

Pernod Ricard acquires majority stake in La Hechicera Rum

Pernod Ricard’s considerable portfolio continues to swell as after it bought a big chunk of La Hechicera Rum. The purchase, for an undisclosed size and sum, is expected to be completed in the coming weeks and will give Pernod Ricard a majority stake in the Colombian rum brand which was launched in 2012 by Miguel and Laura Riascos along with their friend Martamaria Carrillo. La Hechicera’s flagship rum, as well as the Experimental expressions, will join Havana Club in Pernod’s rum ranks. It’s a move that’s pretty familiar to anyone who knows the drinks industry, as the French drinks giant made similar purchases  of Monkey 47, Smooth Ambler and Ojo de Tigre. This obviously appeals to La Hechicera Rum co-founder and marketing director Miguel Riascos, who says that thanks to these previous successful collaborations, “Pernod Ricard has shown itself to be the partner of choice for La Hechicera”. He adds that the company’s “passion for terroir and its extensive distribution network will ensure that our brand remains true to its Colombian roots and the vision of its creators, while reaching new consumers.” If it means more people get to discover this delightful rum, then we’re behind the move. Of course, you could always just check the MoM blog instead

On The Nightcap this week we learn about world's smallest(ish) Irish pub

Pint of Guinness, please. No logo in the foam.

Irish whiskey brands mark St. Patrick’s Day

As well as a new Redbreast whiskey, we’ve also been inundated with Irish whiskey brands excitedly informing us about St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The Irish patron saint’s day, (next Wednesday 17 March), is usually a major celebration but Irish whiskey’s finest have had to be a bit more creative thanks to lockdown. The Sexton has created a nocturnal cocktail kit, made of ingredients that thrive in the night-time and designed to be enjoyed in the dark, while Slane will host an online gig this weekend starring Damien Dempsey and Irish rock band THUMPER on the Hot Press YouTube channel. Elsewhere, Tullamore D.E.W got around the fact that we can’t get into pubs in time to celebrate by opening The World’s Smallest(ish) Irish pub. It invites virtual visitors to curate their own experience, with choices including comedy musings from Irish comedian Alison Spittle, traditional Irish toasts, music singalongs, and various Tullamore D.E.W. cocktail making masterclasses. Jameson, meanwhile, decided that a month-long series of virtual events was the way to go. To find out more about the Irish whiskey giants other plans, which include a competition to win a “once-in-a-lifetime” St. Paddy’s experience for 2022, you should visit the Jameson Connects platform or its social media pages. As long as there’s not a Fabergé egg in sight, we’re happy to spend the day with a dram of something Irish and delicious, but it’s nice to know there’s options a-plenty if we fancy making a bit more of a fuss.

On The Nightcap this week we check out The Last Drop's new initiative

‘The Assembly’ will help the brand launch some intriguing new creations.

The Last Drop creates new booze with worldwide spirits experts

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to drink booze created by an Avengers-style worldwide coalition of some of the best and brightest the industry has to offer, then you’re in luck. The Last Drop has created pretty much that with ‘The Assembly’. Featuring an independent panel of experts, innovators, and leaders drawn from across the spirits industry, the plan is that they will create a series of new signature blends. This is exciting because it marks a big change for The Last Drop, who you’ll have known best as curators but not creators. It includes the legendary Colin Scott, current master blender for The Last Drop, we well as JJ Corry Irish Whiskey founder Louise McGuane, the cellar master for Domaine de Sazerac Cognac, Denis Lahouratate, as well as Richard Seale, Drew Mayville and Michael d’Souza of Foursquare Rum, Sazerac and Paul John Whisky fame. The first release will be a limited-edition aged blended Scotch whisky created by Scott, who previously worked at Chivas Brothers for 43 years before joining The Last Drop. The brand’s managing director, Rebecca Jago, says it’s a hugely exciting milestone for The Last Drop and that The Assembly will play an “instrumental role as we develop, given our common focus on extraordinary quality and our shared philosophy of celebrating the remarkable”. She added that Last Drop is “delighted and immensely proud that such respected figures from across the industry have agreed to join us.” The only issue we can see is that “The Assembly, assemble!” is a proper rubbish call-to-arms. That will need some work.

On The Nightcap this week we've got world class bartenders!

Best of luck to you all!

GB Diageo World Class competition finalists announced… virtually!

Despite locky d’s, the annual Diageo World Class bartending competition has been taking place this year. Back in September three bartenders Stevie Kane, Kuba Korzynski and James Rawcliffe were chosen during London Cocktail Week. Now five more have triumphed. Their brief was to make a cocktail with The Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old. The winners were Alexa Farrow and Mark McClintock both from London, Stefanie Anderson and Murray Drysdale from Edinburgh, and Matt Arnold from Birmingham. All the judging was done virtually by Jo Last, World Class and malt whisky ambassador, and Pippa Guy, World Class and Tanqueray ambassador. Last commented: “Taking World Class virtual this year has been a new experience, but we’re overjoyed with its success so far. It was important for us to stay connected with our community of bartenders and to innovate, by adding new challenges to match the increased standards of competitors.” Pippa Guy adds: “We have really enjoyed being able to spend time with each of our competitors albeit virtual, and pleased to have been able to continue showcasing the amazing talent that the GB hospitality and drinks sector have to offer.” These eight will now go into the final that takes place in April. Virtually, naturally. The prize is a 12-month contract with bartender talent agency, Global Bartending, and a place on a WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits course. Good luck to all the finalists.

On The Nightcap this week we learn this world's fanciest Easter egg

It seems wrong to make so many egg puns about something so classy. But then, they are eggscellent fun…

And finally…. Have an eggstravagant Easter with Prosecco-infused chocolate 

Last week it was beer made with Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. This week our chocolate/ booze mash-up is a little more up-market. It’s a chocolate Easter egg infused with real Prosecco. Hang on, that doesn’t sound that classy. What about Champagne? But this isn’t any Prosecco. It’s Asolo Superiore 2020 from The Emissary. According to top chocolatier William Curley, the wine is “low in sugar, fresher and more versatile than most other sparkling wines, it pairs effortlessly with Amedei’s dark, rich and smooth chocolate flavours, without being overpowering.” He should know as he used to work in Michelin-starred restaurants and was the youngest ever chef pâtissier at The Savoy. As well as Prosecco, the eggs is made with a mango and passionfruit dark chocolate ganache. So a Yorkie bar, this ain’t. The price is pretty fancy too, £59 for a 400g egg. You’d be pretty eggcited to find one of these in your Easter basket.

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Check out these awesome autumn sippers!

Autumn… it’s the time of year when you start to crave delicious, hearty, comforting drinks. Luckily, we’ve got a huge range and we’ve picked some of our favourites. The temperature…

Autumn… it’s the time of year when you start to crave delicious, hearty, comforting drinks. Luckily, we’ve got a huge range and we’ve picked some of our favourites.

The temperature is dropping, the days are becoming shorter and suddenly pumpkins are popping up all over the place like arcade moles ready to be whacked. You know what that means. Autumn has arrived. We’re optimists here at MoM Towers, so we like to celebrate the change in seasons by enjoying a dram or two of the heartiest and tastiest spirits around. We don’t want you to miss out on all the fun though, so we’ve whipped up a selection of drinks just right for cosying up with on cooler days.

 autumn sippers    

Benriach The Smoky Twelve

When Benriach released a new core range this year we were very excited, and rightly so. One of the highlights is this brilliantly peaty 12-year-old whisky created by Dr Rachel Barrie, who matured this Scotch in a combination of bourbon, sherry and Marsala wine casks. Perfect for those chilly evenings.

What does it taste like?

Flamed orange peel, chocolate brownies fresh from the oven, raisins, walnuts, peppercorn, hickory, woody smoke and a hint of clove.

autumn sippers

6 O’Clock Damson Gin

A dark and delicious flavoured gin from the wonderful folks at 6 O’Clock Gin, this beauty was crafted in the traditional way; in small batches, using hand-picked British damsons and a moderate amount of sugar. Lovely stuff, this.

What does it taste like?

Fruity, aromatic and drying. Fragrant spices integrate perfectly with the damsons rightly taking the lead.

autumn sippers

Redbreast 12 Year Old

One of the finest single pot still Irish whiskies ever created, what’s not love about Redbreast 12 Year Old? The rich and rewarding dram was made from malted and unmalted barley, and then matured in a combination of American oak bourbon barrels and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts. We can’t get enough of it.

What does it taste like?

Nutty, rich and oily, with notes of dried peels, ginger, linseed, cut fruits, marzipan and a hint of sherry. 

autumn sippers

The Gin Kitchen Ginger Cat Gin

There aren’t many gins that count tonka beans as a signature botanical, but this delightful gin makes us wonder if that’s something on an oversight. This aromatic expression also features cinnamon, orange zest and, of course, ginger as ingredients and comes presented in a rather quaint ceramic bottle with a lovely little cat on it. Paired with tonic or Cointreau and ginger beer if you’re feeling more adventurous.

What does it taste like?

Peppery juniper leads into spicy ginger, with earthy vanilla notes, aromatic cinnamon and a citrus finish.

autumn sippers

Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof Whiskey

Rye whiskey was a giant of the American drinks industry that was devastated by Prohibition, but thankfully things are changing and Heaven Hill’s Rittenhouse is one of the leading brands of this welcome rye renaissance. Possessing plenty of that classic spicy, chewy and full-bodied Pennsylvanian rye style, Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof Whiskey is a bartender’s favourite for good reason.

What does it taste like?

Dried fruits, soft spices, cocoa, butterscotch, marmalade, cinnamon and caramel.

autumn sippers

Project #173 Pineapple Rum

For those who immediately think of warming, spicy and fruity rums when someone mentions autumn, then we recommend this terrific Pineapple Rum here from Project #173. Handsomely presented in a bottle adorned with 23 karat gold leaf, you can enjoy this cracking flavour combo neat or in a Rum Old Fashioned, for our money.

What does it taste like?

Citrus, kiwi and the unmistakable funkiness of pineapple, with underlying cinnamon. allspice. toasted brown sugar, upside-down cake and a touch of mint.

autumn sippers

Talisker 18 Year Old

There are few distilleries that can boast a range as good as Talisker and the 18 Year Old bottling is arguably its standout expression. Matured for nearly two decades in casks which previously held bourbon and sherry, this sweet and smoky malt has picked up multiple awards and won the plaudits of critics and fans alike.

What does it taste like?

Thick, rich and full-bodied with notes of spicy, peppery oak, espresso beans, wood smoke, allspice and there is a certain zesty character lurking somewhere.

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The Nightcap: 2 October

On the Nightcap this week there’s a CGI robin, the “most awaited whisky launch in a generation” and a gin housed in a genuine snowglobe. The brilliant and bonkers world…

On the Nightcap this week there’s a CGI robin, the “most awaited whisky launch in a generation” and a gin housed in a genuine snowglobe. The brilliant and bonkers world of booze never fails to disappoint.

Apparently, there was all sorts going on in US politics this week, but to be honest something even more troubling caught our attention. It’s October. Ten whole months have somehow passed and the year that will be forever known as that year is almost over. We’re not really sure how to feel about all this, so when the working day draws to a close today we’re going to settle in with some home comforts. A tasty dram of something boozy and some light reading is just what the doctor ordered. Good thing The Nightcap is here, as always.  

On the blog this week we were delighted to announce the launch of another delightful #BagThisBundle competition, this time with that small craft distillery Jack Daniel’s. You probably haven’t heard of them. We also kicked-off our Sober October coverage by selecting seven delicious low and no alcohol drinks for you to try before having a taste of Tamdhu’s latest Batch Strength bottling and making a dynamite Martini with Palo Cortado sherry. If you’re a lover of all things rum you probably enjoyed our breakdown of the wonderful world of Jamaican rum, while fans of our Five Minutes with… series will have noticed we had two big names join us this week, Johnny Neill, of Whitley Neill fame, and Dr Nick Savage, master distiller at Bladnoch Distillery.

Redbreast whiskey launches new look and partnership

Redbreast may be one of the most well-known Irish whiskeys in the world, with IMPACT recently naming it as one of the top five-selling Irish whiskeys in the US, but the brand has announced a new strategy this week to broaden its audience and “drive discovery with more whiskey fans by creating a distinctive and memorable character for the beloved range”. That character in question is a CGI robin called Robin (no shock there) who has made his debut in a number of videos on the Redbreast YouTube channel, explaining how Redbreast got its name, recommending how you should enjoy Redbreast whiskey and blushing at awards. The move brings the brand’s trademark robin to life as a plucky, witty character with plenty of irreverent Irish humour, very much in the vein of Sipsmith’s excellent Wes Anderson-style ‘We Make Gin Not Compromises’ advert or Ryan Reynolds’ marketing of Aviation Gin. As well as introducing Robin, Redbreast has also unveiled a new look carved from wood, paying homage to casks, and a global partnership with leading bird conservation charity, BirdLife International. “With the Robin being one of the world’s most recognisable birds, Redbreast Irish Whiskey is delighted to take the opportunity of the launch of its new character to announce its commitment to supporting BirdLife International and the welfare of not only Robins but all birds,” explains Laura Hanratty, head of prestige and speciality brands at Irish Distillers. Expect to see more of the little scamp in the future.

The Nightcap

Lyaness will welcome Angel’s Envy ahead of the brand’s launch in the UK

Check out London Cocktail Week’s month-long schedule

You might have heard that, in order to support the recovery of the hospitality industry, London Cocktail Week has decided to expand upon its usual boozy extravaganza by hosting events across the capital for a whole month! Among the experiences are an immersive tasting masterclass with Santa Teresa rum and specialist rum bar Burlock where guests will enjoy food, cocktails and live music, while Craigellachie and Milroy’s have collaborated to ‘Share the Rare’, an event in which measures of the rare and spectacular Craigellachie 31 Year Old are available to win! Lyaness will welcome Angel’s Envy for a ‘Tasting & Finishing School’, meanwhile, the Sun Tavern will host the eagerly awaited ‘Return of the Hatch’ courtesy of Aberfeldy with takeaway hot and cold honey-infused cocktails. We can personally recommend you check out the bars and pay tribute to your favourite haunts throughout October as we were lucky enough to head to Swift Shoreditch last night to sample drinks from the Noilly Prat and St Germain spritz trolley, accompanied by food from Masterchef finalist Yan Florio. You don’t need to ask us twice if we’re willing to have a great time and help out the hospitality industry. If you’re of a similar mindset, then find out more at londoncocktailweek.com.

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Exciting times ahead for Torabhaig, whose whisky will soon be available here!

“Most awaited whisky launch in a generation” announced

Torabhaig, the second legal distillery ever to be built on the Isle of Skye (you know, the one with Talisker on it), has revealed that it plans to join the peated single malt market by releasing some whisky. It’s Torabhaig Legacy Series 2017 and what we know about it at the moment is that it’s a limited-edition expression bottled at 46% ABV. Oh, and the brand has described it as the “most awaited whisky launch in a generation”. So that’s something. Production started at the island distillery, which is owned by Mossburn Distillers, back in January 2017 with a local team of nine distillers, many new to the industry. Torabhaig is also launching a member’s club called The Peat Elite complete with a subscription service, set to launch in November 2020. It will include two exclusive bottlings per year, the first being a cask strength pre-release 70cl bottle drawn from single casks. More details on how to sign up to The Peat Elite will follow closer to launch date. “By opening the second-ever licensed Single Malt Scotch Whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye we have from the start been mindful of the legacy we are leaving, it was never enough to make ‘just another whisky’,” says Neil Mathieson, chief executive at Mossburn Distillers. “We have created a characterful whisky with real depth and complexity, and an elegance and refinement which belies the extremely high phenol levels in the barley. It is a distinctive take on peat, and it is the first expression of our distillery’s signature style, a flavour profile we call Well-Tempered Peat, which we hope will help define the future of Torabhaig.” Sounds lovely. Good thing Torabhaig whisky will be available at MoM Towers in the future…

The Nightcap

The English Whisky Festival will feature the likes of the Cotswolds Distillery, The Lakes Distillery and more!

The first-ever English Whisky Festival is coming 

The Whisky Show isn’t the only whisky-based fun you can have online this month. The first-ever English Whisky Festival will be taking place on 16-17 October. A few years ago the idea of a festival devoted to English whisky would have seemed peculiar but now with a vibrant scene producing a dizzying variety of styles including rye whiskies, Irish-style malted and unmalted barley pot stills and single malts, it’s sure to be an unmissable experience. Distilleries from all over the country are taking part including the Cotswolds Distillery, Kent’s own Copper Rivet Distillery, from Norfolk the English Whisky Company, Adnams of Suffolk, the Lakes Distillery in Cumbria and representing London, Bimber. Panel hosts include TV presenter Matthew Wright, whisky judge Amy Seton and writer, musician and all-round smoothie Felipe Schrieberg. Organiser Richard Foster, the founder of the English Whisky Society, commented: “This is a golden age for English whisky-making, with distillers making a name for themselves around the globe. We may not be able to gather in person, but the Virtual English Whisky Festival will be the first-of-its-kind celebration of the best English whisky has to offer.” Andrew Nelstrop, founder of The English Whisky Company added: “15 years ago when we built England’s first registered whisky distillery for over a century, we could never have imagined that such a vibrant and expansive English whisky scene would emerge as quickly and successfully as it has done. The English Whisky Festival will be a true moment to champion the success stories so far and contemplate a very exciting future for us and our fellow distilleries.” Get involved here. 

The Nightcap

When you see a line-up likes this you know it’s going to be a good auction

Macallan headlines Sotheby’s Inaugural Halloween Spirits Sale

Nearly a year to the day that Sotheby’s made history when its sale of The Ultimate Whisky Collection achieved £7.6 million, the highest total for any whisky collection ever offered at auction, Part II has been announced. Set to take place on Saturday, 31 October in London, or Halloween as it is also known, the collection will feature whiskies from renowned distilleries in Scotland, Ireland and Japan. The headline offering, however, will once again be from The Macallan, fresh off setting an auction record for any bottle of wine or spirit last year when a bottle of The Macallan Fine & Rare 60-Year-Old 1926 sold for £1.5 million. To mark the launch of a new classic aged collection of single malts from the Speyside distillery, the Sotheby’s sale will open with a complete set of six whiskies from age 40 Years Old to the oldest whisky ever released by the brand. The proceeds generated from this one-off offering at auction will be donated to global food charity, City Harvest, which redistributes surplus from the food industry to vulnerable people internationally. Full details will be revealed on 15 October, to coincide with The Macallan’s official launch.

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Which colour is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below

Glencairn Glass celebrates 20 years with a riot of colour

The official glass of the Scottish Whisky Association is 20 this year. To celebrate this auspicious anniversary, the Glencairn Glass is being released in a set of five different colours: black, green, blue, red, and as Spandau Ballet once sang, ‘gold!’. Scott Davidson, new product development director and son of founder, Raymond Davidson, commented: “We were blown away by the massive success of our limited edition black Glencairn Glass last year which sold out almost immediately. So in response to public demand, our 20th-anniversary gift to loyal fans of the Glencairn Glass across the world is the introduction of this colourful new range, which is here to stay. Not only are the coloured glasses a fun addition to any drinks cabinet, tasting your dram blind is the perfect way to develop your senses and to learn all about the wonderful world of whisky”. Yes, these glasses don’t just look snazzy, they help with tasting as your senses won’t be deceived but the sometimes misleading colour of your dram. Glasses cost £8 each or £60 for the set (go to The Glencairn Crystal online store) which will also include a classic clear glass for those old fuddy-duddies who actually like to see their whisky’s colour. 

The Nightcap

New Lowland whisky could well be in the pipeline…

Jedburgh whisky distillery plans back on track

We’re one step closer to having two new whisky distilleries in the Borders, which is part of the Lowland region. Despite fears that the project could be dead in the water after plans to build the £40m complex – close to the former Jedforest Hotel near Jedburgh – expired in January, fresh planning approval has been sought this week. Developers have now lodged a repeat application with Scottish Borders Council with the promise of up to 70 full-time jobs and a report to councillors has recommended they approve the plans as a “significant economic investment”. Backing had been given to the scheme back in December 2016 by the local authority and the proposals remain unchanged. Fresh permission is required, however, since the previous one has now lapsed. The first phase of the development is touted to include a small distillery built to educate visitors in the “craft of making spirit”, while a larger-scale distillery, capable of producing millions of bottles per year, would be completed after that. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we receive more good news on this front.

The Nightcap

We were very happy to taste the latest instalment in the Dictador 2 Masters series this week

Dictador releases new 2 Masters expression with Royal Tokaji

On Tuesday, we were treated to an evening of perhaps epic proportions – and not even just due to the current pandemic times. Colombian rum brand Dictador hosted a cunningly socially distanced but no less fancy dinner at London’s 67 Pall Mall to reveal the next instalment of its always-intriguing 2 Masters series. What’s the proposition? Age wonderful rum for up to 40 years, pass some of these precious casks over to partners from different spirits categories for them to finish, and voila! Previous incarnations include a Glenfarclas expression, plus Hardy Cognac- and Barton 1792 bourbon-finished bottlings. This week, we got to experience Dictador 2 Masters Royal Tokaji! Hernan Parra, Dictador master blender, worked with his Royal Tokaji counterpart Zoltán Kovács for a truly luxurious, unctuous spirit, oozing with elegant rancio notes. To be more precise, a 1977 vintage Dictador rum travelled all the way to Poland (more adventure than most of us have seen recently…) where it matured for seven months more in Royal Tokaji’s 12-year-old, 300-litre Zemplén oak barrels that had previously aged the delightful 2016 Royal Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos. (And it really is a delectable wine!) “In the depths of the 13th century Royal Tokaji wine cellar, our rum has developed a new and extraordinary finish,” said Parra. “Its palate is elegant and balanced, smooth and rich, with a good attack and a persistent finish.” He continued: “The Tokaji Aszú aroma has made a remarkable mark too. Dictador 2 Masters Royal Tokaji is complex and rich, with hints of tropical fruits and a nice honey touch on the nose.” At £670, it’s not your average rum – it’s much more special than that. Keep your eye on the New Arrivals feed if you’re interested – could the age of prestige rum be here?!

The Nightcap

This year’s Whisky Show will feature That Boutique-y Whisky Company and our very own editor Kristiane Sherry!

Behold, the virtual Whisky Show is here!

Now in its 12th year, the Whisky Show has to be the highlight of the London or London-adjacent whisky lover’s calendar. It’s normally two days of whisky and rum intensity packed into the Fishmonger’s Hall but obviously, that can’t happen this year. So, it’s going online, and how! Now spread over seven days, 2-9 October, there’s something for everyone (as long as you like whisky and rum). There will be talks and panels on all aspects of whisky plus plenty of rum and some other spirits. We particularly like the sound of: a talk subtitled ‘Why is Blanton’s So Delicious?’; a tour of Sukhinder Singh’s legendary whisky collection and, one for the geekiest of whisky geeks, ‘Good Sulphur v Bad Sulphur’. You can buy tasting sets so can really join in with the fun. All your favourite whisky personalities will be there including Dave Broom, Georgie Bell, Dr Whisky and, of course, Billy Abbot. MoM will be represented in the form of Kristiane Sherry chairing three events with the East London Liquor Company, Teeling Irish Whiskey and That Boutique-y Whisky Company. While Henry Jeffreys will be reading from Empire of Booze: British History Through the Bottom of the Glass on the Whisky Auction stage. Find out more here. Come along and say hello using the magic of high-speed broadband. 

The Nightcap

Decorative and delicious, presumably.

And finally… Nothing says Christmas like a snow globe gin…

There was a time on The Nightcap when it felt like every week we were reporting on some weird and wonderful new gin, so this story coming into our inboxes this week had us tinged with nostalgia. Harvey Nichols has kicked-off the ‘holy crap, is it Christmas already?!’ season of news by announcing the launch of an Orange and Gingerbread Snow Globe Gin Liqueur. As in a gin liqueur presented in an Italian-made Snow Globe Bottle, you didn’t read that wrong. The expression, which contains an edible 23kt gold leaf and comes in a gold-foiled gift box, includes a lamp switch on the base for illumination, so if you give the globe a gentle shake and turn on the lamp you can see the gold leaf cascade around the Christmas scene inside. Harvey Nichols says the spirit has notes of “real zesty Seville orange, warmth from gingerbread and notes of cinnamon and dried cloves which perfectly capture the spirit of Christmas”, and recommend you enjoy it with either Prosecco or tonic water or as part of a festive cocktail or simply neat over ice. So, if you’re in the market for a boujee bottling that could become part of your Christmas decorations, you’re in luck!

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The Nightcap: 22 May

We’ve got another smashing edition of The Nightcap to take you into the long weekend. All the week’s top booze stories in one handy chunk.  It’s always pretty hard to…

We’ve got another smashing edition of The Nightcap to take you into the long weekend. All the week’s top booze stories in one handy chunk. 

It’s always pretty hard to predict things. Even just coin flips are tough to get right every time, and there’s only maybe about two outcomes. I’m not sure many people could have predicted how this year was going to go. It’s a bit like taking a sock full of coins, throwing them in the air and trying to predict which one a magpie will swoop in from the window and steal to buy itself a bag of Jelly Babies. However, you could easily have predicted that we would have another edition of The Nightcap, packed with bite-sized bits of booze news, for you to peruse this Friday! Enjoy!

On the MoM blog this week, we invited you to join our celebrations of all things Islay, in light of the absence of a certain huge whisky festival, on Instagram Live! As today is World Paloma Day (have a great one, guys!), we made Mexico’s favourite cocktail the slightly fancy way, while our New Arrival of the Week was a delightful limited edition fino. Elsewhere, Ian Buxton returned to present a story of great wealth and the Scotch whisky industry, while Henry was given a lesson in the complexities of sherry cask-ageing by the fab folk at Tamdhu. Annie then shared some industry top tips for drinking mindfully during lockdown before enjoying four simple and delicious Scotch whisky, Cognac and vodka-based cocktails courtesy of Moët Hennessy.

Congratulations are in order for Alex Priest, who was the victor of last week’s virtual pub quiz! A huge thanks as well to all those who entered and if you’re curious to see all the answers to last Friday’s quiz, they’re listed below. For those who want some more boozy brain teasers or some sweet, sweet discounts, this week’s edition of the MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always.

The Nightcap

We’re big fans of the 2020 edition of the Redbreast Dream Cask

Redbreast’s new Dream Cask is here!

Regular readers will know we’re pretty keen here at Master of Malt on Redbreast Irish whiskey, in all its many forms. That’s why we’re so excited about the launch of the third limited-edition Dream Cask earlier this week. It’s made up of liquids no younger than 28 years from ex-bourbon casks, an oloroso sherry butt and a Port cask, all brought together and finished in a ruby Port cask. The whiskey was bottled at 51.5% ABV. Master blender Billy Leighton commented: “It’s more than three decades since my predecessors went to the Douro Valley and hand-selected the cask which would become Redbreast Dream Cask 2020. I’m delighted to be able to share its creation with whiskey lovers around the world. Blender Dave McCabe added: “Because a Dream Cask is not constrained by volume, we have great licence to select a unique expression with a bold flavour which couldn’t be replicated in a permanent offering. Thankfully, Billy and I were in absolute agreement that this was the right time to release this year’s Dream Cask.” We were given a little taste and we have to say that we were absolutely knocked out: it’s beautifully creamy and spicy with notes of butterscotch, cooked apple, ginger and walnuts, but what really comes through is cherry: fresh cherry, cooked cherry and then on the finish, the lingering taste of cherryade. Top stuff Midleton! So how do you get your hands on this dreamy release? Well, first you’ll need €490, and then you need to go to Redbreast’s private members’ club, The Birdhouse, where you can take part in a ballot that runs from Monday 25 May until 14:59 (GMT +1) on 2 June for a chance to buy a 500ml bottle. There are 921 available. Good luck!

The Nightcap

The new initiative from California’s Wine Institute should brighten up your Zoom meetings

California wine country comes to Zoom

The team here at MoM has just discovered the joy of changing your background on zoom. It’s brilliant, your friends will think you’re in a tropical paradise or floating in space, and there’s no need to rearrange your bookshelves to remove all those old Jeffrey Archer novels. Now wine lovers can look as if they’re exploring the vineyards of Napa rather than in a semi in Surbiton thanks to a new initiative from California’s Wine Institute. Simply download a jpeg from the link here , go to the menu on the bottom left and click virtual background, and then upload your very own wine wonderland. There are loads to choose from and more available from Visit Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, Visit Temecula Valley, Visit California, and Discover Buellton. Amaze your friends! Brighten up dreary marketing meetings!

The Nightcap

Happy 20th anniversary!

The Glencairn Glass celebrates 20th anniversary

While 2020 may resemble what the Mayans predicted 2012 would be for most of us, for the family-owned and award-winning Scottish crystal company Glencairn Crystal Studio it’s a special anniversary. That’s right, it’s been 20 years since it created its iconic Glencairn Glass. The glass, which was designed by the brand’s founder Raymond Davidson, has become the definitive whisky glass around the world today over the last two decades, with over 3 million being sold each year, across 140 different countries in every corner of the globe. The brand boasts clients such as Liverpool FC, BP, Brown-Forman, Cunard, Diageo, Houses of Parliament and Scottish Parliament, Muller, Google and the majority of the Scottish whisky manufacturers. The Glencairn team have marked this momentous anniversary by launching the Glencairn PodGlass series: a series of podcasts with Davidson and guest appearances by some renowned and respected names like Richard ‘the nose’ Paterson. The brand will also release new versions of the Glencairn glass, launch a fundraising initiative with the proceeds going to the company’s chosen charity partners and open the new expanded Glencairn Crystal Studio site in East Kilbride, which incorporates a refurbishment and a substantial new build on the original Glencairn site to cater for expanding demand – all built by local businesses. Glencairn is also encouraging whisky lovers to follow @TheGlencairnGlass and share their favourite stay at home Glencairn moments with the tag: #beathomewithGlencairn. For more info, go to: http://www.glencairncrystal.co.uk/ or https://whiskyglass.com/.

The Nightcap

Noble sentiments from winner Bréagha Wolfgang, though the skeletal hand is a bit ominous, don’t you think?

Fernet Branca coin winner announced

The winner has been announced in the Fernet Branca coin competition and it’s Bréagha Wolfgang of Draffens cocktail bar in Dundee! As we’ve mentioned on the Nightcap before, the competition has been going since 2010, and every year Fernet Branca picks a design to be made into a coin to be distributed among bartenders. There’s even a game that they can play with the coins. In these incredibly difficult times for the hospitality industry, it’s not surprising that a design has been chosen with a positive message (see above). Wolfgang commented on her winning entry: “My coin design was inspired by reflecting on the tough times and stress we all go through in this industry and how incredible it is that our communities support and lift each other during those times. The ‘cheers’ around the edge of the coin is about seeing each other as an equal part in life, drinking to new friends and to those we’ve lost along the way which I think defines our industry well. Winning this means a whole lot to me, getting given a Fernet coin was such an incredible relief after working so hard for so long and now having my very own coin design! That’s something I will never forget the feeling of.” Poppy Croft, Fratelli Branca brand manager, added: ‘Launching the Fernet Branca Coin Design Challenge just after lock-down was something I felt needed to happen, then more than ever, to show solidarity and support to the incredible bartenders in the UK who, at that point, had literally no idea of what was ahead. Bréagha’s design really stood out, reflecting the camaraderie of the industry in the face of stark adversity, a truly well-deserved win and I’d also like to congratulate all the runners up for their incredible designs,we hope to raise a Fernet with them all soon!” Here’s hoping.

The Nightcap

The Cold Brew Espresso Martini

And finally… Cocktail Porter delivers cocktail kit to your door

The lockdown is an ideal time to work on your cocktail-making skills, but ideally, you wouldn’t have to leave the house to get your hands on the perfect ingredients. Cocktail Porter may well have a solution for the budding bartender trying to stir and shake in the comfort of their home. Since 2018, it has delivered over 500 cocktail boxes a month to the Australian market and it’s now arrived in the UK. From the 18 May 2020, it has been delivering craft cocktail boxes from Global Drinks Agency Sweet&Chilli (you may know them as the guys that brought us the fab Nine Lives cocktail bar in London Bridge) containing individual recipes, bottles of spirits, infusions, cordials, home-grown garnishes, infused tonics and bespoke barware to fill out our drink trolleys. Each cocktail in the collection is designed by professional bartenders and the first collection features the ingredients to create a Passionfruit Margarita (Don Julio Blanco Tequila, fresh passion fruit, fresh limes, passion fruit-infused syrup and dehydrated limes to garnish), an Elderflower ‘Le Fizz’ Spritz (Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Double Dutch Soda Water, fresh lemon and with organic Persian rosebuds to garnish), the Whisky Highball Collection (Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky, Belvoir Farms ginger/lemon & mint/elderflower cordials, Double Dutch soda water and dehydrated lemons & candied ginger to garnish), Cold Brew Espresso Martini (Ketel One Vodka, Kuka’s Cold Brew Espresso, Conker Coffee Liqueur, simple syrup and Halo Raw organic dark chocolate to garnish) and a Seville Orange Negroni (Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla, Campari, sweet vermouth with orange to garnish). It should be stressed, these are not pre-batched cocktails, you do have to do some work yourself. Each cocktail is available in The Petite Kit (£45, 6 serves) and The Porter (Full Size) Kit (£85, 17-20 serves) and if ordered by 3pm will be delivered the next day, while live hosted masterclasses on YouTube will show you how to stir things up whilst staying safe at home. Order from the website: cocktailporter.co.uk

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

1) What Champagne brand is Beyonce drinking in 2013 banger Drunk in Love?

Answer: Armand de Brignac

2) Which sweet wine is known as ‘the king of wines, the wine of kings’?

Answer: Tokay

3) Which lager refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach (according to the ad campaign)?

Answer: Heineken

4) Which brewery serves a beer known colloquially as ‘man in the box’ in its tied pubs?

Answer: Sam Smith’s

5) In Breaking Bad, which spirit does Gus Fring lace with poison and gift to the Cartel?

Answer: Tequila

6) What is the pub called in Shaun of the Dead?

Answer: The Winchester

7) What counts as a ‘hole in one’ in pub golf?

Answer: Downing a drink

8) Rapper and singer Post Malone launched a wine brand this week. But what style is the wine?

Answer: Provence rosé

9) Single Pot Still whiskey can only come from which country?

Answer: Ireland

10)   In the book ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ what wine does Hannibal Lector eat with fava beans and someone’s liver?

Answer: Amarone

 

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Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is next week (Tuesday 17 March) and you know what that means: it’s time to indulge in some delightfully Irish spirits! There are plenty of ways to…

St. Patrick’s Day is next week (Tuesday 17 March) and you know what that means: it’s time to indulge in some delightfully Irish spirits!

There are plenty of ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You could try not patronising your Irish friends with terrible impressions and old stereotypes. That’s always fun. Or you could ditch the horrible green beer and drink deliciously Irish booze and raise a glass to the patron saint. That sounds much better, doesn’t it?

Whether you’re a fan of gin or whiskey, we’ve got plenty of festive Irish fancies for you to enjoy. Oh, and don’t forget that you can still enter our latest fabulous VIP competition, the winner of which will go to the old country to create their very own bottling with J.J. Corry founder Louise McGuane!

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Redbreast 12 Year Old  

Not just one of the best single pot still Irish whiskeys you’ll ever taste, but just hands down one of the best whiskeys you’ll ever enjoy, Redbreast 12 Year Old is a real favourite of ours here at MoM Towers. It was matured in a combination of bourbon-seasoned American oak barrels and 0loroso sherry-seasoned Spanish oak butts to give it that classic nutty, rich and oily profile.

What does it taste like?:

Citrus peels, ginger, linseed, melon, marzipan, dried fruits, custard and a hint of sherry.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton 

If you want to push the boat out this St Patrick’s Day and go for something a little different, then you won’t go wrong with the first-ever single pot still Irish whiskey finished in Bordeaux casks. Matured initially in a mixture of ex-0loroso sherry, fresh American oak and ex-bourbon barrels, this delicious Green Spot whiskey was then finished in the ex-Château Léoville Barton Bordeaux wine casks for 12 to 24 months. What’s so cool about this choice of cask is that Ch. Léoville Barton is not only a highly-regarded grand cru Château, but it was founded by an Irishman, Thomas Barton, and still run by his descendants to this day.

What does it taste like?:

Wild raspberry, a little potpourri, crab apple, honey, gingerbread, toffee, green apple, lemon peel, vanilla, redcurrant and warming spice.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Mór Irish Gin

You probably know of Tullamore D.E.W  and its range of delicious whiskies, but did you know it’s not the only delightful distiller in the town? Mór Irish Gin is made in the Arderin Distillery in Tullamore using a quartet of berries amongst its botanical selection – juniper berry, blackberry, cranberry and raspberry! It also features floral wafts of angelica, rosemary and coriander too. 

What does it taste like?:

Earthy at first, with coriander and rosemary making a big impression. Becomes sweet and juicy with big bundles of fresh berry notes at the core. A slight peppery hint on the finish.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Writers Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey 

If you’re looking for a light, sweet Irish whiskey then we recommend Writers Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey. Made using a mix of single pot still and single malt whiskeys, this tipple is wonderfully easy to drink and would make for a great introduction to Irish whiskey for folks new to the spirit. I should point out that no writers were harmed in the making of this whiskey.

What does it taste like?:

Thick honey spread on granary toast, citrus peels, vanilla, golden malt, green apple skin, caramel and a hint of oak.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin

Some people name their gin brands after their founders, others prefer to honour the place it was made or a key botanical. But this gin from Ballyvolane House was named after Bertha, a Droimeann cow from Kerry that was said to have been the oldest in the world when she died aged 48 in 1993. Which is amazing. Unsurprisingly, given the gin honours a cow, it uses whey alcohol from Irish dairies as its base and is distilled using locally-foraged botanicals.

What does it taste like?:

Almond, hay, dried juniper, orange peel, floral angelica, cumin spiciness, clove, cardamom, creamy vanilla, fresh citrus peels, oily juniper, lime and liquorice root.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

Teeling Small Batch

When the Teeling Whiskey Company released this delicious small-batch blend we learned that this was a distillery that was interested in making unconventional, experimental whiskey and we love them for it. To create this expression, grain and malt whiskies were initially matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being married together in a Central American rum cask for up to 12 months. This one makes a delightful Old Fashioned.

What does it taste like?:

Cut grass, dried herbs, caramel, cinnamon, orange blossom, allspice, vanilla, apple pie, rose petal jelly, lemon curd and blackberries.

Fab Irish whiskey and gin for St. Patrick's Day

J.J. Corry The Gael – Batch 2 

Amazing VIP competitions are not the only thing that’s great about J.J. Corry. It also blends some truly delicious whiskey, like The Gael Irish whiskey. Made from a blend of 60% malt and 40% grain and aged in a combo of ex-bourbon and sherry casks, this expression is meant to serve as a mission statement of sorts – an example of what the team is aiming for when its own whiskey comes of age. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

What does it taste like?:

Sugary shortbread, peaches and cream, lemon drizzle cake, honeycomb, hazelnut spread, apricot yoghurt, mince pie filling, rye bread and thyme.

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Master of Malt tastes… Redbreast 27 Year Old

We got a chance to go to Dublin this week to try the oldest permanent Redbreast expression ever released: Redbreast 27 Year Old Irish Whiskey. We travelled to the Irish…

We got a chance to go to Dublin this week to try the oldest permanent Redbreast expression ever released: Redbreast 27 Year Old Irish Whiskey.

We travelled to the Irish capital this week in the company of Midleton Distillery master blender Billy Leighton, blender Dave McCabe and head of maturation Kevin O’Gorman to launch the most exciting whiskey to come out of the distillery in about a fortnight. All jokes aside, it’s new Redbreast, folks. It’s 27 years old, it’s bottled at a cask strength 54.6% ABV and it’s joining the core range, making the oldest permanent expression from the brand.

It’s an impressive showing from the distillery in a week in which we celebrated Irish Whiskey Day (3 March), chosen because of Ireland’s connection to the number, from the leaves on a shamrock to the colours in the flag and the three types of Irish whiskey: single malt, single grain and single pot still. The latter is a source of particular pride as it can only be made in Ireland. For those unfamiliar with the style, it’s made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley, in contrast to single malt whiskeys which use 100% malted barley, which provides a creamy and spicy character to the spirit.

Redbreast is the biggest-selling pot still whiskey globally and never seems to stop winning awards, notably taking home the prize for World Whisky Trophy at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2019 for Redbreast 12 Year Old, which scored a remarkable 98 points. Although, it may well have competition next year from the latest release, which joins the 15, and 21-year-old whiskies in the Redbreast range, as well as the Lustau Edition.

Redbreast 27 Year Old

Master blender Billy Leighton and blender Dave McCabe crafted the whiskey from four different cask types

Redbreast 27 Year Old, which will be made in “limited quantities on an ongoing basis” and is priced at RRP €495, marks something of a departure from the rest of the range in that it was partially matured in ruby Port barrels. Leighton made it clear at the launch event that it’s a single pot still whiskey made in in the Redbreast style. “On the label, it says ‘enriched by ruby Port casks. I want to make it clear it’s not a Port cask finish, it’s a component,” he says. “Rewind back to 1995 we got some freshly seasoned Port casks and we put a six-year-old single pot still into those casks. What we have here is a combination of four cask types: first-still bourbon and refill bourbon, first-fill oloroso sherry casks and first-fill ruby Port pipes”.

On the brand’s website, there’s a comment that reads, “The sherry flavour profile of our Redbreast whiskey is perhaps the most beloved part of our whiskey for many of our loyal followers”, so it is interesting to see Redbreast flexing its maturation muscles. Fans may be concerned that the classic profile may be lost in this experimentation. In the press release, Leighton says that McCabe and he “Drew on our experience of working with sherry and other wine casks over the years as we have evolved the range. This time, we wanted to push the boundaries and yet create an expression that would seamlessly take its place at the head of the family,” while McCabe added that the ruby Port barrels “contribute notes of mango, pineapple and berry to the robust flavour of Redbreast 27 Year Old, clearly distinguishing it from the previous expressions in the collection, treading a beautiful balance of tradition and innovation.”

It’s worth noting that, while consumers have seen little evidence of this until now, Irish Distillers relationship with Port goes back almost as far as it does with oloroso sherry. It started over 30 years ago, in the late ’80s. Having already established contacts and a supply line for oloroso sherry casks from Jerez de la Frontera, O’Gorman said that “the challenge was to get something different. My predecessor Brendan Monks came up with the idea of going to Portugal”. Irish Distillers was put in contact with the people at Sandeman Port, who at first were a little resistant. The relationship grew, particularly thanks to Alex Burmester, who worked for Sandeman at the time and was also present at the event. He no longer works for Sandeman, but still helps Irish Distillers operate in the world of Port.

Redbreast 27 Year Old

Portugal’s stunning Douro Valley, the home of Port

Once it had established a supply of Port, Irish Distillers then got in contact with the Tacopal cooperage, which has worked with oak for more than a century, to obtain casks. Today, Irish Distillers now imports between 40-60 European oak 500 litre port pipes annually. The wood is medium-toasted and seasoned with red wine for approximately 12 months before ruby Port is added for approximately 12 months. O’Gorman explained that the process was a response to “the challenge of seasoning Port. If you put it into a virgin oak cask, you’re going to get a major wood contribution. One of the techniques we figured out right from the start was that we needed to take some of these tannins and wood compounds out from the start,” O’Gorman explains. Overall it’s a two-year process for Irish Distillers.

The Port is emptied and the pipes are sent over to Cork. “Our friends back in Portugal get a good deal as they get to keep the Port,” O’Gorman explains. “The casks are then inspected at Midleton. We nose them to make sure the aromas and flavours are perfect and then they’re filled with our whiskey to sleep for many years”. If you want a good idea of what Midleton distilled whiskey matured exclusively in the Ruby Port pipe tastes like then all you have to do is get your hands on Midleton Method and Madness Single Pot Still 28 Year Old, because that’s the closest you’ll likely get.

This long-standing relationship with Port demonstrates that Redbreast 27 Year Old is not the brainchild of a marketing department trying to stir-up some intrigue. The truth is, the addition of the Port cask doesn’t compromise the Redbreast character. Instead, it compliments it beautifully. Redbreast 27 Year Old is every bit as impressive as it needs to be. How fruity, ripe and almost youthful it is in parts despite its age and considerable cask influence is remarkable. 

Redbreast 27 Year Old

Redbreast 27 Year Old

“This is traditional Irish pot-still at its richest: well matured and with a generous slug of sherry. For some lovers of this style, Redbreast approaches perfection,” famed whiskey author Michael Jackson once wrote. This event revealed why Redbreast can be that good. It’s a testament to the power of great blenders understanding how to utilise great casks. At the event, Leighton talked at length about how much time, money and effort he and his team spend on casks and how much their role is defined by handpicking the right ones. I can confirm they’re on the money here. 

Redbreast 27 Year Old Irish Whiskey Tasting Note:

Nose: The ex-bourbon cask influence emerges first with a layer of earthy vanilla, desiccated coconut and toffee before a tropical fruit note emerge – mango and pineapple mostly – which is to be expected from well-aged Midleton distillate. In the backdrop, there’s ripe orange citrus, candied walnuts and a touch of oloroso sherry sharpness. Stewed plums, figs and ripe red apples add a rich and fruity undertone.

Palate: The array of dark and red fruits is beautiful, with black cherries, cranberry juice, blackcurrant compote, prunes and nectarines all present. Old leather, peppermint and a little grapefruit tartness develop among more tropical elements of guava and caramelised banana. Charred red chillies bring an earthy warmth which is complemented by exotic spices and a lick of manuka honey.

Finish: The notes from the palate stay for what feels like an age (a very pleasant age). The impressive and long finish has all the complex fruity notes that have defined this dram, as well as nutty antique wood, aromatic nutmeg, a handful of fresh herbs and the slightest hint of wasabi heat.

Overall: The vibrancy of those fruit notes are astonishing and the star of the show. Redbreast 27 Year Old is a beauty and does not disappoint.

Redbreast 27 Year Old Irish Whiskey is available from Master of Malt here

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Top picks for sherried whisky fans

Here’s a round-up of some our favourite sherry-matured expressions, either aged or finished in casks which previously held the delightful Spanish fortified wine. It’s hard to resist a good sherry…

Here’s a round-up of some our favourite sherry-matured expressions, either aged or finished in casks which previously held the delightful Spanish fortified wine.

It’s hard to resist a good sherry bomb. The indulgent, fruity and rich drams are a perfect reminder as to why sherry casks have played a massive part in the Scottish whisky industry for well over 200 years. The style is very popular here at MoM Towers and we know there are many of you booze lovers out there who are equally partial to the sweet, spice and everything nice profile of a well-sherried spirit, particularly as we approach autumn. That’s why we’ve gathered quite the selection of sublime sherried treats here for you to enjoy, from peated Scotch, American rye whiskey and even a Venezuelan rum…

Redbreast 12 Year Old

A classic single pot still Irish whiskey, Redbreast 12 Year Old was made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, triple distilled and matured in a combination of bourbon seasoned American oak barrels and Oloroso sherry seasoned Spanish oak butts. It can’t stop winning awards and stealing our hearts.

What does it taste like?:

Nutty, rich and oily, with notes of citrus peels, ginger, linseed, melon, marzipan, dried fruits, custard and a hint of Sherry.

Bowmore 15 Year Old

For those who desire a rich and complex sherried single malt Scotch whisky with a hearty helping of peat shouldn’t look past Bowmore 15 Year Old. It was matured first in bourbon barrels before it spent its final three years spent in Oloroso sherry casks.

What does it taste like?:

Dark and punchy, with Corinth raisins, baking spices, mochaccino, sweet dates, woody, pine oil, creamy toffee and malt.

Scallywag

From the fantastic Douglas Laing, this blended malt was made entirely from Speyside whiskies, including Mortlach, Macallan and Glenrothes, with spirit matured in Spanish sherry butts and bourbon casks. It was bottled without chill-filtration or additional colouring at 46% ABV.

What does it taste like?:

Icing sugar, sultanas, candied ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, sherry, nutmeg and cereal.

James E. Pepper 3 Year Old – Oloroso Cask Finish (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Something a bit different, a young rye whiskey from James E. Pepper that was independently bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Three different batches were released in the series with each whiskey finished in different types of cask, one an Ale Cask, one Pedro Ximénez and this expression was finished in Oloroso casks. James E. Pepper owner Amir Peay also features on the label, which is pretty neat.

What does it taste like?:

Red cola cubes, sticky toffee pudding made with dates, blood orange rind, creamy vanilla, dusty oak spice, rich dark chocolate, chewy rye notes, red fruit and aromatic warmth from clove and cinnamon.

Glenfarclas 105

Anybody who enjoys Scotch whisky will know that you can always rely on Glenfarclas for a delightfully sherried dram. From one of Scotland’s few family-run distilleries, Glenfarclas 105 was bottled at a cask strength 60% ABV after it was matured for 8-10 years in a combination of both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon barrels. It’s superb value for money and captures everything great about Glenfarclas.

What does it taste like?:

Honey on toast, a touch of smoky coffee, almond, praline, hazelnut, dried peels, Armagnac, a hint of rancio and spicy and peppery oak.

Smögen 5 Year Old 2013 Sherry Project 2:2

We do really enjoy Swedish single malts from the Smögen distillery, and the expressions from the Sherry Project series are no exception. This bottling is Sherry Project 2:2, which was matured in first-fill sherry quarter casks, which are smaller than your run-of-the-mill casks, which allows for more surface area for interaction between the wood and whisky.

What does it taste like?:

Honey-glazed ham, dark chocolate truffle, malt loaf, Sherried sweetness, meaty peat, fudge dotted with raisins, burnt ends and a hint of orange oil freshness.

Mortlach 20 Year Old

The elder statesman of the Mortlach range, Mortlach 20 Year Old is an elegant presentation of what The Beast of Dufftown is all about. The sherry casks this beauty was matured in offers the perfect balance the robust, bold and uncompromising character of the whisky. This single malt is dubbed ‘Cowie’s Blue Seal’ in tribute to one of the original Mortlach bottlings dating back to 1909.

What does it taste like?:

Roast chestnuts, sweet tobacco, dense chocolate, meaty malt, clove, brandy butter, chewy dates, orange peel, mature oak, Christmas spice, cooked summer berries and red berry richness.

Diplomático Single Vintage 2005

A bit of a curveball to end our round-up, we’ve got a sherry-tastic rum. This expression of Diplomático Single Vintage was distilled from the harvest from 2005 before it was aged in bourbon barrels for about 12 years which was blended by the cellar master and then finished in old oloroso sherry casks for a year.

What does it taste like?:

Roasted orchard fruit, soft oak, strawberry and balsamic, espresso, cassia and star anise.

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The Nightcap: 5 July

Tune in to The Nightcap this week for news about new distilleries, very old Talisker, and… Oh, tariffs again. Great. It’s been a busy ol’ week here at MoM Towers,…

Tune in to The Nightcap this week for news about new distilleries, very old Talisker, and… Oh, tariffs again. Great.

It’s been a busy ol’ week here at MoM Towers, only somewhat hindered by the sunburns acquired in a field in Somerset. However, with plenty of after-sun lotion at hand, we have made it all the way through to Friday, and we’re ready to provide you with all the news from the world of booze, because it’s once again time for The Nightcap!

On the blog this week we went competition crazy, announcing a Spirit of America edition in time for the 4th of July, while also declaring the winners of our VIP Bombay Sapphire and Mortlach competitions. Elsewhere, Nate Brown returned to shine a light on two distilleries doing something a bit different with new-make spirit, before we talked all things barley at Bruichladdich. Henry had an action packed week, enjoying an old favourite as his Cocktail of the Week, a new Starward expression for his New Arrival of the Week and four special iterations of Johnnie Walker Black Label inspired by key Scotch whisky regions. He even checked out all the good work the clever clogs at Circumstance Distillery are doing. Adam then reported on the major blaze that engulfed a Jim Beam warehouse facility, while Annie was on hand to spill the beans on Chivas Brothers’ Secret Speyside single malts  before telling us all about the return of Jigger Beaker Glass. If all of that wasn’t enough, we also showed you what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be receiving in July!

Phew. Catch your breath for a moment, we’ve not even started with the rest of the booze news yet…

The Nightcap

Not the Scotch, please anything but the Scotch…

Scotch whisky targeted by new US tariffs

The US continues to play the role of the Darth Vader of the drinks world. This week, Scotch whisky was named among a list of imported products in line for possible new tariffs. Just to underline how significant this is, here are some numbers. They are really big. The US is the world’s largest export market for Scotch whisky by value, snapping up £1.04 billion-worth in 2018. It’s also the second largest by volume, with 137 million 70cl bottles heading its way last year. Scotch also makes up 12% of the total American whisk(e)y market. While we don’t know yet when the tariffs could be imposed, we do know that they could affect European Union imports worth up to $4bn (£3.2bn) including luxury goods: think cheeses like Parmesan and Gouda (please no), pasta (hold me), olives (they wouldn’t dare) and Irish whiskey (now they’ve gone too far). The issue stems from a 15-year long dispute at the World Trade Organization between the US and EU over subsidies given to plane-makers Airbus, from Europe, and the US’s Boeing. It was only back in April that the US announced proposed a whole different set of tariffs on $11bn-worth of EU goods. “Exports of Scotch whisky to the US have been zero-tariff for 20 years, so it is disappointing that Scotch whisky has been drawn into this dispute,” a spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association commented. “The Scotch whisky industry has consistently opposed the imposition of tariffs, which harms economies on both sides of the Atlantic which depend on trade for their continued prosperity.” Scotland’s devolved government also weighed in on this issue, stating it was “deeply concerned” that Scotch whisky was being implicated in the dispute. “We are calling on the UK government to make urgent representations to the EU to ensure that Scotch whisky is not collateral damage to this long-term dispute between the EU and the US,” a spokesperson said. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States was equally condemning of the move, warning that it may harm both jobs and consumers in the country. Hopefully, sense prevails and we can report some good news on this issue soon.

The Nightcap

You can get yourself a bottle of hemp rum here

Dead Man’s Fingers creates CBD-infused rum

The buzz around hemp and spirits just keeps on growing. That’s right, what is said to be the first CBD Hemp Rum has been brought into existence by Dead Man’s Fingers! The original rum has been infused with hemp, which naturally contains around 20% CBD (cannabidiol). Most importantly though, it definitely doesn’t contain any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, try saying that five times fast), which is the psychoactive compound in the plant. “Flavoured and spiced is the fastest-growing rum sub-category, driven by penetration of younger consumers, yet almost a quarter of rum drinkers are frustrated with lack of choice, the highest out of all spirits categories”, says Lucy Cottrell, brand manager for Dead Man’s Fingers. “Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp Rum is an exceptional spirit that pushes the boundaries where others haven’t dared, and fulfils rum drinkers’ very clear expectations for something more exciting and experimental. With this launch, Dead Man’s Fingers will bring fun back to a category which has become stale in recent years.” The rum weighs in at 40% ABV, and is said to have notes of “cola, coffee, hops and pine with a grassy herbal back note”. We rather enjoyed the suggestion of a twist on a classic, a ‘Dankuiri’. If you fancied giving it a go, you’re in luck, because you can nab a bottle from your favourite online retailer!

The Nightcap

Look! It’s all new and shiny and wonderful!

New Lagg Distillery opens on Arran

Good news, everyone: Lagg Distillery has officially opened its doors to the public and is now welcoming visitors to the brand new site! The second distillery on the Isle of Arran, Lagg has already begun whisky production, with the first middle cut of spirit recorded on 19 March 2019. The spirit is expected to mature into a rich, smoky, heavily-peated (50ppm) single malt, a departure from the style produced at the original Isle of Arran Distillers site in Lochranza, which opened in 1995. Both distilleries are expected to draw over 200,000 visitors by 2020. The visitor centre includes a shop, an interactive video showcasing Arran’s whisky history, a café and restaurant, with ingredients sourced locally, as well as two new copper stills and four wooden washbacks. Within the same room. The experience means visitors can be guided through every stage of production, and highlights Arran’s place in the story of Scotch, with frequent references to past distillation in the island, both legal and illicit. Production will be overseen by both distillery manager Graham Omand, an Islay native who has spent the past eight years at the Lochranza distillery, and master distiller James MacTaggart, who has over 40 years of experience in the industry. “We’re all thrilled to be celebrating the opening of our spectacular new Lagg Distillery and to bring production back to the heart of whisky-making on the Isle of Arran,” Omand said. “We can’t wait to start writing the next chapter of this story and welcoming whisky-lovers from around the world to Lagg.”

The Nightcap

It might be small gin, but it packs a big taste!

Hayman’s launches Small Gin as low ABV alternative

Hayman’s of London made its mark on the low-to-no alcohol market this week with the launch of Small Gin, a full-strength tipple with stronger botanical flavours designed to reduce the amount of spirit required to serve a Gin & Tonic. The small 20cl bottle is theoretically so intensely flavoured with botanicals that you need just 5ml of Hayman’s Small Gin to make a balanced G&T, in theory reducing alcohol consumption by 80%. Having tried a cheeky G&T at Imbibe, we can confirm that it does indeed work. It’s one small G&T for us, and perhaps one giant leap for low-alcohol drinks. “Many consumers are actively looking to reduce their alcohol consumption but are keen to continue enjoying that classic gin flavour they have grown to love,” fifth-generation family member Miranda Hayman said. “Small Gin is the perfect solution – a real gin that allows you to mix a true G&T with just a fraction of the alcohol.” Distiller Sam Pembridge added: “We based the flavour profile for Small Gin on a classic London dry and getting all that wonderful botanical character into such a small serving size was an incredible challenge. We are working at the outer limits of what can be achieved but the flavour profile is spot-on. In blind tastings completed at our distillery, even the most experienced of gin drinkers were unable to tell the difference between a Small Gin & Tonic and a London dry Gin & Tonic.” Small Gin will available to pre-order at haymansgin.com for delivery in August, and is priced at £26 per 20cl bottle.

The Nightcap

The impressive second expression from the Bodega series.

Talisker releases oldest official single malt as part of Bodega Series

The Talisker Bodega Series, a range we’ve previously enjoyed in the past, has added a second stunning Scotch to its selection. Are you ready for this? It’s a 41-year-old expression. A 1978 vintage. Matured in Manzanilla sherry casks. Bottled at 50.7% ABV. The oldest official single malt to date from Skye’s oldest distillery. Limited to just 2,000 bottles. All of what you just read there should be said out loud in that sultry voice from those M&S food adverts. It will set you back £2,900 per 70cl bottle, obviously. Nothing can be perfect in this world. The bottling continues Talisker’s exploration of sherry cask finishes on some of its most valuable stock. In this case, the 41-year-old was finished in Manzanilla sherry casks from Delgado Zuleta, the oldest Sherry producer in the famed Sherry Triangle in the Marco de Jerez region. It’s also where Talisker historically enjoyed a trading connection, dating all the way back to 1900. Talisker’s master blender Dr Craig Wilson worked alongside the sherry masters at the bodega to craft the precious liquid. He hand-picked only six casks for finishing, all of which once held La Goya, the Bodega’s flagship wine and a very fine Manzanilla aged in casks for more than a century. The result is said to be a remarkably rich whisky, with notes of sultanas, orange peel, sandalwood, salty sea air, smoky raw sugar. “This is a magnificent example of Talisker, which initially holds back on the nose, but blossoms with spice in the mouth,” whisky writer Charles MacLean said. “It is a privilege to be able to taste such a memorable dram.”

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The new Black Rock Tavern, an izakaya inspired whisky pub

Black Rock becomes London’s first whisky hotel

Many a fellow whisky fan has enjoyed the odd dram at the award-winning Black Rock. A visit will see you sampling cocktails and expressions from its considerable range, and imbibing from its enormous 185-year-old oak tree table because, well, when in Rome. Very soon we’ll also get the chance to extend our experience as the whisky-centric bar is set to undergo a five-floor expansion of its Christopher Street location over the course of the summer! The new space will include a tavern, a blending room and a three-room hotel. Hurrah! The subterranean bar, which was launched in 2016 by spirit enthusiasts Tom Aske and Tristan Stephenson, will extend through the four-storey building above it, but don’t worry – the stripped-back decor and ace soundtrack will remain. And the tavern part opens today! A more casual alternative to the original bar, it will serve five beers on tap alongside a library of 40 to 50 whiskies. The decor will feature Japanese-inspired twists, including a reclaimed oak bar, bamboo ceiling panels and graffiti wall art by artist Ryan Gajda. The upcoming blending room, meanwhile, will host tasting experiences in which guests can enjoy a cocktail and blend their own 500ml bottle of whisky using a flight of single malts. And the best part? You can take your own blended whisky home with you. As for the three lodging rooms, they will be situated on the second and third floors, with two compact lodgings and one larger suite, the style of which will be “minimalist but luxurious”. It sounds fantastic, but good luck getting a reservation. We may have to book up the whole summer for err… research purposes, of course.

Redbreast’s new look has landed

Irish whiskey brand Redbreast is clearly feeling chipper after showing off the results of a makeover for its entire range. The refreshed look includes raised ‘Redbreast’ lettering at the base of the neck and ‘Single Pot Still’ on the reverse, while the labels are now a lighter cream colour with an embossed, textured background. The highlight is the reimagined classic – and let’s face it, adorable – robin redbreast, which is now represented in hand-drawn form by celebrated Irish illustrator Denise Nestor. Nestor, whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Variety and more, reinvented the bird in different flight positions for each whiskey expression. The idea is to represent the evolution of the brand over time and “the continuous journey of discovery that Redbreast drinkers find themselves on”. To complement the illustrations, Redbreast has also introduced a new colour palette of red, copper, navy, green and steel blue to distinguish each variant; with Redbreast 21 Year Old presented in a premium, handmade wooden box. You’ll also find tasting notes on the front labels, presumably with the words ‘delicious’ or ‘yum’. The new designs will be released initially on Redbreast 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old and Lustau in July and August, but you’ll have to wait until autumn to see the revamped Redbreast 21 Year Old and Redbreast 12 Cask Strength.

The Nightcap

Inver House MD, Martin Leonard

Old Pulteney propels Inver House to ‘significant’ growth

Old Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Speyburn and Balmenach parent company Inver House Distillers submitted a financial glowing report this week, with 2018 sales climbing 7.4% year-on-year. The stand-out superstar? Old Pulteney, which enjoyed bumper 20% growth for the 12 months to September. Caorunn gin also notched up double-digit growth, according to the chief bean counters. Seems fitting, interest in Scottish gin, in general, is definitely on the up. “This is the result of having consistently invested in our people, in production at our distilleries, in the quality of our spirits and in their sales and promotion,” said Inver House MD, Martin Leonard. “We also now have the channels in place to grow our brands in markets around the world, so our focus is very much on rolling out some exciting plans and building further success in 2019 and beyond.” If that means more delicious whiskies, we are well on board.

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Delamain Cognac will cultivate its own vines after more than century

Delamain Cognac returns to grape growing after more than 100 years

Big news from on-trade booze fest Imbibe this week. Cognac house Delamain announced it will now be cultivating 20 hectares of vines within the Grande Champagne region. The firm, which makes the legendary Pale & Dry XO, used to own vines until 1910, but since then has made its reputation with bought-in eaux-de-vie. This new venture guarantees the firm’s access to some of the finest grapes in Cognac. Charles Braastad, managing director of Delamain, said: “After over a century, we are very pleased to once again be cultivating vines. We originally abandoned the practice in 1910 upon the sale of our “Bois Clair” property in Saint-Brice which, at the time, allowed us to focus on selection, blending and ageing of Grande Champagne Cognacs. From 2019, the house of Delamain is re-committing to the very first moments in the lives of our Cognacs, to their birth and growth in the vineyards. We are certain that this decision to tend such extraordinary vines will permit us to continue creating ever more exceptional Cognacs for future generations.” It will be interesting to see whether, with its own vineyards, Delamain is tempted to follow Hine with a single vineyard and vintage bottling. That would be really exciting.

The Nightcap

Best of luck to Tim Etherington-Judge!

And Finally… Healthy Hospo’s Tim to run 42 marathons in 42 days

We like a more unusual or outlandish story for And Finally… and this week is no exception. The founder of on-trade wellness initiative Healthy Hospo, Tim Etherington-Judge, is about to undertake an especially ridiculous challenge. He’s preparing to run 42 marathons over 42 consecutive days in the year he turns 42 (a marathon is also 42 kilometres long. All the 42s). It’s a ludicrous feat – but also an incredible one, for an incredible purpose. He’s hoping to raise £42,000 for industry charity The Benevolent to build a brighter, better future for those working in drinks, and especially to shine a light on mental health. Etherington-Judge was diagnosed with severe depression after attempting to take his own life in 2016. Ever since, he’s been an advocate for better mental health across the on-trade and in society in general, and 424242run is a huge part of that. “On January 9 2019 I turn 42 years old, conveniently the same distance as a marathon and I plan to take my mission to the next level, to create as much attention, support and money as I can for improving the mental health of the hospitality industry by putting it all on the line and pushing my mind and body to the very edge,” he writes on Healthy Hospo. “Why am I doing this? Because I can and because we need to take the mental health of people in our industry seriously.” The challenge kicks off at industry event Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans on 20 July, and also takes in New York, Amsterdam and London. To find out more and to support Etherington-Judge, either as a sponsor or to pledge to run with him, check out the 424242run site. Godspeed, sir!

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