fbpx
£

We're just loading our login box for you, hang on!

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Rosebank

The Nightcap: 14 May

On The Nightcap: 14 May edition we’re raising a can for our grans, taking a look at some shiny new Welsh whisky developments and looking at the curious case of…

On The Nightcap: 14 May edition we’re raising a can for our grans, taking a look at some shiny new Welsh whisky developments and looking at the curious case of the Chernobyl apple brandy.

It’s a brave new world, folks. Today we’re going live with our first Master of Malt Clubhouse room at 3 pm. It’s called The Nightcap (because it wasn’t broke, so why fix it?) and we’ll be discussing all of the below and anything else that has caught our eye over the last week. Each week we’ll have special guests joining us to talk about another topic as well. Today it’s our wonderful former editor and now head of spirits at Fine and RareKristiane Sherry and Blair Bowman, drinks writer and founder of World Whisky Day (which is tomorrow). So, if you have the Clubhouse, just search for the Master of Malt club and join us for a fun afternoon of chat.

The MoM blog was as busy as ever this week as we launched a new competition with the fab folk at Zespri kiwis, featured a new contributor in the form of booze sage Richard Legg (who demystifies one of Japan’s lesser-known spirits) and we tackled some big issues such as chill-filtration and how distilleries can become more sustainable. We also celebrated the upcoming World Whisky Day with a range of delicious drams, a new spectacular Talisker release and a weighty cocktail. There was also time to enjoy a refreshing gin Spritz and to run the rule on our favourite bars with a view

Now, let’s get Nightcapping!

Aber Falls first whisky is here, or nearly here

Aber Falls first whisky is here, or nearly here

Aber Falls’ first whisky is (nearly) here!

We were fortunate enough to join an online tasting to try the much-anticipated first whisky release from Aber Falls. It’s North Wales’ first whisky in over 100 years. But not only did we get to try the whisky, more on that at the moment, but managing director James Wright was joined by top Welsh chef Ellis Barrie who cooked with Welsh ingredients. There was definitely a Welsh theme to the tasting so you won’t be surprised to learn that Aber Falls’ whisky is made from only Welsh barley. You can read about the whole process here. The first three-year-old release was aged in a combination of European oak first-fill PX casks with some virgin American oak. So far so conventional, but the team are also using some European oak casks that once held orange wine (a liqueur-like beverage made from oranges). The result is a young whisky that’s just packed with flavour. There’s a distinct orange and toffee note on the nose, a full body and it’s bottled at a nice punchy 46% ABV. Excitingly, there’s an all orange wine cask strength whisky on the horizon. Wright said the aim was to “put a bit of love in the glass, so when you try it everybody loves it.” The first release will be coming to Master of Malt soon but we don’t think it’s going to hang about for long as only 2,000 bottles have been filled. Keep watching that New Arrivals page.

The Nightcap: 14 May

You know it’s a Penderyn distillery when there’s a Faraday still there!

Penderyn opens new £5 Million distillery

A big week for Welsh whisky just got even bigger with the news that on Monday Penderyn will open the doors to its new £5 million Lloyds Street distillery in Llandudno, North Wales. The brand is expanding its operation with the opening of the second site, which has plenty of history. It’s housed in the Grade II listed Old Board School built in 1887 and receives natural spring water from a reservoir that once served the Victorian lighthouse on the Great Orme headland. But what whisky fans will be most excited to know is that it will be the first modern Welsh distillery to focus on creating peated single malt whisky. A new Faraday still (unique to Penderyn) has been installed too. The distillery is also a bonus for Wales’ modest whisky tourism scene, which might explain why the project was assisted by a £1.4 million Welsh Government grant from the ‘Tourism Investment Scheme’ and the ‘Food Business Investment scheme’. According to Penderyn Distillery’s CEO, Stephen Davies, while Penderyn has always had a “loyal following in North Wales, with the South separated from the North by mountains and lakes, Penderyn has finally brought the country together”. He added, “By opening in Llandudno, visited by 9.6 million tourists every year, we’re saying ‘Welcome home to Wales and to Penderyn’. Tours of Penderyn’s new distillery in Lloyd Street, Llandudno will commence from the 1st June 2021 and once everything is truly back up and running, expects to invite about 60,000 visitors a year. We’d love to be one of them.

The Nightcap: 14 May

Chivas Brothers employs a lot of staff across its multiple distilleries, like Strathisla

Chivas Brothers faces strike action

A dispute over pay has led workers at Chivas Brothers to vote in favour of industrial action after talks between the unions and the distiller collapsed. The GMB and Unite unions claim Chivas’ parent company, Pernod Ricard, has been unwilling to lift a pay freeze in Scotland while awarding pay rises to its workers in France earlier this year. Strike action could begin before the end of May, unless Chivas came up with an improved offer, with 84.4% of members backing strike action and 92.7% supporting action short of a strike. The situation wasn’t exactly helped by Pernod Ricard announcing promising financial results at the end of April. Scotland union organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Chivas workers across Scotland have kept the profits rolling in throughout this pandemic, but also against the headwinds of Brexit and a tariffs war with the US. They deserve much better than a real-terms pay cut.” The Scotch whisky giant, whose brands include Glenlivet, Ballantine’s and Royal Salute, employs about 1,600 workers in Scotland, including at the Kilmalid bottling hall, Strathclyde Grain Distillery, Glenlivet and maturation sites in Speyside, Clydebank and Ayrshire. Chivas chairman and chief executive Jean-Christophe Coutures the firm is “deeply disappointed” with the move and that the current proposals are “fair”, and recognise the “hard work of our teams whilst responsibly managing our business for the years ahead”. He added the brand is committed to seeking a resolution. Let’s hope a satisfactory solution is found soon.

The Nightcap: 14 May

An artist’s impression of the revived Rosebank distillery

Rosebank seeking distillery manager

If you’re a fan of Scotch whisky, you’ll almost certainly know Ian Macleod Distillers (IMD). The third-generation family-owned whisky and spirits business owns brands such as Glengoyne, Tamdhu, Edinburgh Gin and Rosebank Distillery, which it bought in 2017, Since then the brand has been working hard on bringing the ‘King of the Lowlands’ back to life. Those plans are clearly accelerating as a job advert inviting people to apply for a new distillery manager was posted recently. The brand is looking for someone with experience, leadership and “an appetite and desire to support bringing personality and a human ‘face’, to our exquisite brand”. In the application, there’s a whole list of ‘key outputs’ and ‘role capabilities’ outlined, including the requirement for a degree level or equivalents such as BSc in Brewing and Distilling. “The distillery manager will be the production leader for our entire Rosebank site, and the success of the production at Rosebank will rest squarely on this person’s shoulders… what an exciting opportunity for an experienced distillery manager to bring back to life this beautiful spirit (well we think so anyway!).” You can apply here if you fancy throwing your hat in the ring, but we’d imagine this will be going to a name we all know. 

The Nightcap: 14 May

Grab a pint and celebrate our golden oldies!

Raise a can for your gran with Brixton Brewery

The pandemic put a strain on a great many services, as Age UK Lambeth knows all too well. Over lockdown, it saw a 233% growth in demand for its services, from 21,000 people to 70,000 people. To honour the key role the local charity plays and to raise money to help with future endeavours Brixton Brewery has created a new beer. The IPA, Generation Pale Ale, is a celebration of the older people, “who are as likely to enjoy a great night out in a pub with a pint as any young whippersnapper”. All proceeds are going to Age UK’s vital services and the beer has been officially approved by its members. The ingredients were donated to the brewery by Charles Faram Hop Merchants and Simpsons Malt to reduce costs and increase proceeds. The beer name and design feature a shopping trolley/boom box for “kickass grandmas and granddads”, and the campaign champions the many faces (and ages) of beer drinkers. Among them is Peter Beaumont, 68, who was model scouted at 65, and has worked with Vivienne Westwood and Vidur Dindayal, 86, who is aiming to pip Justin Bieber to top spot in the charts. Founder of Brixton Brewery Xochitl Benjamin said: “We wanted to create a beer for everyone, that could bring together people of all ages after a long lockdown, and pay tribute to the generation that has helped make Brixton one of the most diverse, inclusive and friendly communities in the country. Brixton wouldn’t be what it is today without them. Every can sold supports long lives well lived in our community.” To purchase Generation Pale Ale in aid of Age UK Lambeth, visit the Brixton Brewery website or head to their taproom in the heart of Brixton and get ready to raise a can for (or with) your gran!

The Nightcap: 14 May

Edrington and Beam Suntory have agreed to some significant swapsies

Beam Suntory and Edrington switch distribution firms

Big trade news came from Edrington and Beam Suntory this week, who have agreed to swap equity stakes in their jointly-owned distribution firms in the UK and Spain. An equity swap is essentially a transaction in which the obligations or debts of a company or individual are exchanged for something of equal value. Like that equity stuff. Lots of lovely, shiny equity. The move means The Macallan owner Edrington will take full ownership of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, while Beam Suntory will become the owner of Maxxium Spain. The agreement is effective from 2 August 2021, subject to regulatory approval. The new agreement will see Edrington-Beam Suntory UK become Edrington UK Distribution, known as Edrington UK. Which is handy as the previous name was quite a mouthful. The press release reckons the move will allow both firms to “reduce complexity, improve agility, make decisive investments and expand opportunities for employees as both businesses become part of larger international companies”. Which are all good things. Right? This kind of marketing isn’t really our speed, to be honest. We do know that it’s great that when the deal is done Edrington will employ more than 1,200 people in the UK, mainly in Scotland, with 35 workers based in London. Folks who love a bit of trade detail will also note the deal marks the first time that Beam Suntory will have full ownership of its route to market in Spain. Hopefully, all this means we’ll have plenty of new and delicious booze to enjoy. Because that’s what we’re all in it for in the end.

The Nightcap: 14 May

200 bottles of wine were sunk off the Kent coast in the name of experimental ageing

English wine merchant ages wines underwater, for some reason

Last week it was wine aged in space, now it’s wine aged underwater. Is there no end to the craziness of the wine trade? This later venture is from online retailer The English Vine, no prizes for guessing its speciality. The company has sunk 200 bottles of wine including some from Ridgeview, Nyetimber and Chapel Down off the Kent coast. The idea is to see how ageing underwater affects the wines. They called in the help of the Whitstable Oyster Company to help get the gyrating palate of wine out to sea on 23 April. With wine sometimes recovered intact and drinkable from shipwrecks, there’s interest in how a dark, high-pressure environment might change the wines. Neil Walker, founder of The English Vine explained: “We were all inspired by the shipwreck Champagne bottle story and the underwater wine ageing process felt like something we wanted to investigate and really get to the bottom of. Is this a myth, or really something which could work? We can’t wait to get the results in spring 2022, whatever they may be, when we’ll have expert tasters and scientists working together to find out what it’s all about”. Walker is inspired in particular by a haul of Veuve Clicquot that spent 70 years beneath the Baltic before being recovered in 2010. We can’t help thinking, however, that only a year beneath the waves is not going to make a noticeable difference. Still great PR for The English Vine!

The Nightcap: 14 May

Whisky fans from Turriff to Tokyo to celebrate Speyside

Fans across the globe celebrate Spirit of Speyside festival

We think it’s fair to say the virtual Spirit of Speyside Festival which ran from 27 April to 2 May this year was a success. 688 guests from 15 countries from around the world logged into the online event, joining virtual booths hosted by distillery managers, brand ambassadors, and whisky experts to chat with like-minded whisky lovers. The festival saw 2,877 visits to the 20 available booths, with guests using a total of 2,254 emojis and enjoying drams from 836 tasting kits. Of all the events, Benriach’s ‘World of Flavour’ proved to be the top pick of the festival as global brand ambassador Stewart Buchanan led a tasting of the core range and gave views a sneak peek behind the scenes of the new visitor centre in Elgin. Virtual distillery tours were also high on the agenda for visitors, with tours of Benromach and Tamdhu distilleries being the second and third most popular events. “This year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival might have been very different from years gone by, but the distilleries rallied to create one of our most engaging and internationally visited events in our 21-year history,” says James Campbell, chairman of the festival. “With guests from every corner of the globe from Australia to the Philippines, Canada, Germany, Mexico and across the UK, whisky lovers rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the whisky industry”. We also attended a few events and very much enjoyed ourselves. Although we’re certainly still looking forward to being there in person when it runs again from 3-8 November 2021… . In real life! Imagine that.

Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson

Tristan Stephenson and Thomas Aske, they ain’t afraid of dragons

Whisky Me wows Dragon’s Den

A whisky subscription service looks set for the big time after it secured backing from all three ‘dragons’, Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani, on BBC1’s Dragons’ Den this week. It’s called Whisky Me and it was set up in 2017 by drinks biz stalwarts Thomas Aske (Black Rock and other bars) and Tristan Stephenson (aka the Curious Bartender). When we spoke to Stephenson earlier this year, he said that business has been booming during lockdown so seeking outside investment was the logical next step. Meadon, Jones and Lalvani have taken 15% of the business in return for £75,000 worth of investment. Apparently, this is only the sixth time when all three ‘dragons’ (do we have to keep calling them ‘dragons’?) have come in on the same deal. Meaden praised the boys’ pitch, Peter Jones said he’d “been waiting for a great whisky business”, while Lalvani said that he shared “a passion for whisky with the guys.” So it sounds like a good fit. Stephenson commented: “We are incredibly excited to have three dragons on board. The expertise that Deborah, Peter and Tej bring to Whisky Me will help take the business to the next level, enabling us to further develop our UK market and expand the club internationally.” And Aske added: “We’ve seen a huge shift in the last year towards better drinking at home, which is a natural reaction to many of our favourite bars and pubs being closed. With this investment we can grow Whisky Me further, introducing amazing whisky to a bigger audience of curious drinkers everywhere.” Sounds like we haven’t heard the last of Whisky Me.

The Nightcap: 14 May

There’s no more than just castles in these rolling hills

Archaeologists find illegal whisky stills 

Archaeologists have discovered 30 sites that they believe were used to produce illegal whisky in Aberdeenshire and Wester Ross this week. According to the Evening Express, the illicit stills found at Mar Lodge and Torridon date back to the 19th century and would have produced whisky for smuggling, selling and stocking unlicensed private houses, known as shebeens. Researchers were able to use old accounts of excisemen to help them find the sites which were well-hidden in hills, deep in the countryside. “Landscape is absolutely key to the illicit distilling process – it provides barley and water as ingredients, and peat and timber for fuel, stone and turf to construct bothies,” says Derek Alexander, head archaeologist at the National Trust for Scotland. “But also the more broken-up and rugged the landscape the less easy it is to find where the bothies have been built and where equipment might be stored or hidden.” It’s Alexander’s belief that whole communities were involved with these illegal stills to spread the cost and minimise risks. It is also thought that, while 30 sites have been uncovered, hundreds more exist in those rolling hills. Let’s hope they find them and uncover their ancient secrets!

The Nightcap: 14 May

This might just be the most bonkers bottle ever featured on The Nightcap. And that’s going some.

And finally… Chernobyl brandy seized by authorities

A brandy made from apples grown near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been seized by Ukrainian authorities according to the BBC. It’s all a bit mysterious but it seems that it has been held up on its journey to the UK not because of its atomic provenance but for bureaucratic reasons. Professor Jim Smith from the Chernobyl Spirit Company commented: “It seems that they are accusing us of using forged Ukrainian excise stamps, but this doesn’t make sense since the bottles are for the UK market and are clearly labelled with valid UK excise stamps.” This isn’t the first time Prof. Smith has hit the headlines, as we reported on the release of Atomik Vodka back in 2019. According to Smith, it was made from “slightly contaminated” rye but after radioactivity levels are “below their limit of detection.” Chernobyl Spirit Company conducts research into whether the contaminated area about the plant can be used for safe agriculture and helps communities in Ukraine that are still affected by the economic consequences of the 1986 explosion. It seems though, that the team is not finding it easy to sell its atomic spirits. We cannot think why.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 14 May

The Nightcap: 23 October

Friday has finally arrived, and you know what that means! It’s time to pour yourself a dram and catch up on another busy week of boozy news with The Nightcap….

Friday has finally arrived, and you know what that means! It’s time to pour yourself a dram and catch up on another busy week of boozy news with The Nightcap.

This week we received some devastating news. Fungie, the world’s oldest solitary dolphin, has not been seen in his 37-year Dingle Harbour home for over a week. The unlikely local celebrity appeared in the seaside town in Kerry, Ireland, in 1983 and he’s been a mainstay of Dingle ever since, becoming a major tourist attraction who even has his own Wikipedia page. News like this really makes you appreciate how quickly things can change and why we take comfort in the things that are always there for us. Like a weekly round-up of news from the drinks industry. Never leave us, sweet Nightcap. Speaking of which, let’s get on with it, there’s plenty to get your teeth into this week!

The MoM blog was jam-packed with boozy goodness, as usual, this week, including the launch of a new #BagThisBundle competition, this time with five bottles of delicious James Eadie whisky, aged up to 26 years, up for grabs. Ian Buxton then returned to outline how your taxes help small distillers, Henry learnt about why it’s been a difficult vintage in the Douro valley and Annie marked 20 years of Compass Box. Adam then continued our Sober October coverage by casting a spotlight on the mimic masters, Lyre’s, tasted the first single malt from the Milk & Honey distillery and recommended some devilishly delicious drinks for Halloween. Jess, meanwhile, welcomed Silent Pool’s shiny new Rare Citrus Gin, while our Cocktail of the Week is a real labour of love which  Aaron Wall, co-owner of London bar Homeboy, talks us through.

The Nightcap

Congratulations on your new role, Richard!

Wolfcraig Distillery appoints Richard Paterson as master blender

Fresh from announcing the plans for its upcoming £15m distillery, Wolfcraig has dropped another huge news bomb: Richard Paterson has been appointed as its master blender. Whyte & Mackay fans need not panic, however, as he will continue his commitments to the brand he recently celebrated his 50th anniversary with. The press reveals that it was Paterson’s “continued passion for Scotch Whisky” that drew him to the Wolfcraig project, which will allow him to play “a leading role in the foundation of a new distillery, in the heart of Scotland”. Paterson, a third-generation master blender who followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, is one of the most highly regarded greatest whisky makers of his generation, even being nicknamed “the nose” for his olfactory skills, so it’s quite a signing for Wolfcraig. How did they do it? Well, Wolfcraig co-founder Michael Lunn is the former chairman and chief executive of Whyte & Mackay Group, so maybe this appointment wasn’t so out of the blue after all. “This will be an opportunity for me to use all the knowledge I have learned over 55 years in the business to create a truly exceptional Highland single malt, one that can be enjoyed the world over,” Paterson said. We look forward to seeing what you create, sir. If you need anyone whose free for taste tests, you know where we are…

The Nightcap

Guinness 0.0 is described as “the Guinness with everything, except alcohol”

Guinness launches non-alcoholic beer

Ever longed for the taste of a fresh (properly poured) pint of Guinness but didn’t want to consume alcohol. Well, you’re in luck, because Diageo’s colossus Irish stout brand has announced the launch of a new expression this week: Guinness 0.0, “the Guinness with everything, except alcohol”. Apparently, it was made using the same ingredients as the original; water, barley, hops and yeast, except that the alcohol is then removed using cold filtration. This process is said to avoid the pitfalls of presenting thermal stress to the beer, “protecting the integrity of its taste and character”. You’d like to think the brewers at St. James’s Gate got this one right because the press release says this zero-alcohol beer was made following a four-year process led by the technical and innovation teams at the brand’s home. “Guinness has always had an unwavering commitment to quality and our entire brewing team is hugely proud of the care and effort that has been put into the four-year development process for Guinness 0.0,” says Aisling Ryan, innovation brewer (sweet job title) at St James’s Gate. “We have created a taste experience that we believe is truly unrivalled in the world of non-alcoholic beer and we can’t wait for people to finally be able to try it!” Guinness 0.0 will be available in pubs across Ireland and Great Britain from Spring 2021 and in more markets throughout the world later in 2021.

The Nightcap

We were given a little taste of the special 30-year-old Rosebank whisky. We enjoyed it

Rosebank releases 30-year-old whisky from 1990

We’ve been eagerly following the revival of the legendary Rosebank distillery in the Lowlands so we were very pleased to be given a sample of a very special single malt from before the distillery closed in 1993. Called Release One, it’s a 30-year-old single malt with only 4,350 bottles made. Every year, Ian MacLeod, the distillery’s now owners, will release a vintage until the whisky from the revived Rosebank is available. As you can imagine, it’s quite expensive, £1,600, but is it any good? Well, in a word, yes. It’s very pale and for such an old whisky, the wood is in no way overpowering. There are delicate peach and lemon fruit all wrapped up with crème brûlée, cinnamon and almonds, with a finish you can taste ten minutes later. Truly, a dram to savour. Robbie Hughes, group distillation manager explained a little further: “It was matured in 62% refill sherry butts and 38% refill bourbon hogsheads for decades, patiently waiting to be awoken, and delivers layers of incredible flavour that you won’t find in other whiskies.” Furthermore, the first 200 buyers to scan a QR code on Release One will be able to enjoy a dram of Release Two at certain outlets (to be confirmed) as well as an early chance to buy a bottle of it. And that’s not all! To celebrate this release, Ian MacLeod has produced a video of top whisky writers including Felipe Schrieberg and Alice Lascelles talking about Rosebank. You are really spoiling us now! At the moment, Release One is only available directly from the distillery but we will let you know if MoM is lucky enough to get any in. 

The Nightcap

English wine producers are very excited about this year’s harvest (photo courtesy of Chapel Down)

2020: a quality year for English wine

This year English wine has snatched triumph from the jaws of defeat. In spring it looked like the vintage would be a disaster with severe frosts damaging delicate buds. But the day was saved by an unusually warm summer (remember that?) and a September heatwave leading to one of the earliest harvests on record. While there hasn’t been a repeat of the bumper grape crops seen in the last two years, there’s an air of excitement among producers with a harvest described as “corking”. Ian Edwards, co-owner of Furleigh Estate in Dorset said: “The quality of the grapes this year is excellent. It’s the ripest fruit we have had in 15 years of growing.” This quality harvest has coincided with a huge increase in visitor numbers to English wineries which, in the midst of difficult economic conditions, has given producers a much needed dose of positivity. Adam Williams, sales director at the Hush Heath Estate in Kent commented: “The increase in visitors to our cellar has been extremely encouraging… all our tours, tastings and dinners remain fully booked. A positive story amongst all this doom and gloom! One can only hope all this adds up to a big boom in English wine!” We are pretty sure it will.

The Nightcap

The face paint comes separately.

Rock band Kiss releases debut rum

Get set to rock and rum all nite – iconic and heavily made-up brand Kiss has released its first expression! Kiss Black Diamond Premium Black Rum is made using Caribbean liquid aged for up to 15 years and references the closing song on the band’s eponymous debut 1974 album. Swedish spirits producer Brands for Fans is behind the release and says the bottling offers apricot, date, vanilla fudge, cinnamon and chocolate notes, along, interestingly, with arrack vibes. The zazzy label references the band’s costumes and aforementioned make-up from the early days, making it a nostalgic treat as well as a tasty one. “It’s an amazing match for a band who were pioneers both musically and visually in the world of rock ’n’ roll,” said Brands for Fans’ Sari H. Wilholm. “When I taste this rum by KISS and look at the bottle, I feel proud of what we’ve achieved with this product. It’s damn good. Listening to Black Diamond still gives me the chills, and the rum makes me just as excited!” It’s available in Sweden now for the equivalent of £33, and it should land at MoM Towers soon!

The Nightcap

A paradise where beautiful rum is made. Why aren’t we living there?!

Takamaka Rum announces distillery expansion

Takamaka Bay Rum will unveil a slick new look in November as it completes a major expansion of its Seychelles-based distillery. The family-owned brand, which has also launched a brand redesign, new bottle and an increase in its international distribution, has added new stainless steel and copper column stills to facilitate the production of molasses rum. Takamaka already makes traditional pure cane sugar pot still rum at its facility in La Plaine St Andre, but can now make 250,000 litres per annum of molasses rum. Given there’s no sugar industry in the Seychelles, the molasses is sourced from East Africa. A new visitor centre will also allow visitors the chance to learn about the rum’s production and the 228-year-old heritage site the distillery is located in, “This expansion is a pivotal part of our plans as a business,” says Richard D’Offay, Takamaka co-founder. “Not only will it allow us to showcase our amazing rum, and how it is produced, to guests visiting the Seychelles, it has also been designed to be scalable to allow for larger production as we increase our international distribution and emerge into new territories.” 

The Nightcap

A 100% sherry-aged, cask strength so rich you can stand a spoon up in. Now we’re talking

Cotswolds latest whisky is sherry heaven  

Cotswolds Distillery has just announced its richest whisky yet. How rich is it? Well imagine Bill Gates marrying the Queen, and you’re nearly there. It’s fully aged in sherry casks, both American and Spanish oak hogsheads and butts, seasoned with both Oloroso and PX sherry. It’s then bottled at a mighty 57.4% ABV. So how does it taste? Pretty rich, as you’d expect. The nose is all about muscovado sugar, dark cherries and chocolate, and the palate is so thick you could stand a spoon up in it, but, paradoxically, that big ABV keeps the richness under control. The finish is all sticky toffee pudding, dark chocolate and pungent gingery spice. Head of production Nickolas Franchino commented: “I love a sherry cask whisky as it is one of the truly iconic single malt whisky styles. Good sherry casks give rich, fruity, spicy and nutty flavours that marry perfectly with the underlying malt character and are a joy to savour.” Available only direct from the distillery, you don’t need to be an oligarch to buy a bottle, all this richness comes in at a very reasonable £64.95.

The Nightcap

We won’t be stocking any sherry as big as the one pictured, before any of you ask (Image credit: Rob Johnson)

And finally… Fake news is so 2016. This year, it’s all about Fake Booze

You may have seen some rather surprising headlines doing the rounds on drinks social media: “Shock find at Jerez dig proves that dinosaurs ‘invented sherry’”, “Bacardi Bat latest victim of Coronavirus” or “Rum celebrates 100 years as ‘next big thing”, and thought that the world has gone mad. Well, it has, but these headlines are in fact creations of a new site that describes itself as the “world’s first satirical drinks magazine”. Called, naturally, Fake Booze, and with the motto “Like Truth But Better”, it is dedicated to mocking an industry that can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously. It’s the creation of former Imbibe editor, booze enthusiast and all-round amusing human Chris Losh. He told us: “It’s basically a chance to raise an eyebrow at the world of drinks the inconsistencies, the misplaced ego and the well-intentioned plans that go awry. Sometimes it’s sharp, sometimes it’s whimsical but I’d hope that it comes from a place of affection not anger”. Thank you, Chris! In these dark times, what we need is a good dose of Fake Booze. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 23 October

The Nightcap: 14 February

It’s 14 February, so you know what that means – it’s time for The Nightcap! Yep, that’s it. Nothing else. People all across the country got out of their beds…

It’s 14 February, so you know what that means – it’s time for The Nightcap! Yep, that’s it. Nothing else.

People all across the country got out of their beds this morning, took a look at their calendars on the wall and said “Oh look, it’s 14 February! That means there’s another edition of The Nightcap today!” As you can clearly tell, this is meant to be a joke. It’s obviously a joke because no one has a physical calendar on the wall anymore. We have phones to remember the date and what’s going on for us. For example, I’m looking at the calendar on my phone for the first time today right now and it’s telling me that it’s a Nightcap day, as well as being Valent… Oh, I have to go to the shop. For no reason. I’ll go after The Nightcap.

Over on the MoM blog this week Ian Buxton championed English fruit brandies with Capreolus Distillery while Annie was particularly inspired this week by a perfume-inspired liqueur and a Bordeaux-inspired cocktail. Adam then tasted a 51-year-old Dalmore single malt (no, really), talked Tequila with VIVIR and made a case for you to explore the world of London dry gin before Henry shone a spotlight on a Cuban rum and Nordic-Aussie gin.

Now, on to the Nightcap!

 

The Nightcap

The two single cask whiskies were distilled the very same year the distillery closed!

Rosebank Distillery returns with two rare single cask expressions

Prepare yourselves, whisky lovers. In huge news, this week the much-loved Rosebank Distillery announced the release of two limited edition, vintage single cask whiskies, distilled the very same year the distillery closed, 1993. Though both cask strength bottlings spent their days in a refill bourbon hogshead, that’s where the similarities end. For Cask Number 433, at 53.3% ABV with a release of 280 bottles, you can expect cranachan and lemon, with gentle floral notes, marzipan, ripe fruit and oak. Contrastingly, Cask Number 625 boasts warm banana loaf, shortbread, chamomile tea, dried herb and citrus, tropical fruit, lime and gentle spice finish, at 50.4% ABV and an outturn of 259 bottles. The most exciting part is, you have a chance to get your hands on the liquid! With only 100 bottles of each expression available, the folks over at Rosebank want to keep things fair, so you can apply for a bottle direct from the website via a ballot process. The ballot launched today (14 February) for Rosebank subscribers, while general release will have to wait until 18 February, and will remain open for two weeks. Whichever expression you go for, a bottle will set you back £2,500. Robbie Hughes, Rosebank distillery manager said: “We are incredibly excited and proud to be releasing our first official bottlings of Rosebank since the distillery’s closure in 1993 – a pivotal milestone for us in bringing back to life this quintessential Lowland malt.” If you manage to get your hands on a bottle (as if that wasn’t lucky enough), you’ll be invited to collect it at a private event in London on 18th March, with the chance to meet Robbie Hughes himself, and even sample the single casks. What a way to get back in the game from the iconic distillery ahead of its long-awaited reopening!

The Nightcap

All hail the Grouse!

Famous Grouse now no. 1 whisky in Britain

Britain has a new champion whisky. The invincible-looking Jack Daniel’s has been unseated from its no. 1 spot and knocked back to no. 2 (though it would be fitting if it was the seventh best-selling brand, think about it). The new winner is a home-grown little blend you may have heard of called. . . the Famous Grouse! The Edrington Group’s flagship blend had a great Christmas in the off-trade with sales over £71m, up 2.6% on the previous year. Whereas its rival from Tennessee dropped by a shocking 9.3%, perhaps a reflection of the so-called Trump tariffs from the US/ EU trade war. Overall the mighty Grouse is bucking the trend for the blended Scotch category which was down 4.1% by value after Christmas (figures are from Nielsen ScanTrack based on off-trade sales for 12 weeks up to 4 January 2020). Mark Riley, managing director at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK commented: “The Famous Grouse for years has been the UK’s favourite whisky and driving force behind the blended Scotch category, so we are delighted to have reclaimed our number one spot in the UK’s largest spirits category. It’s fantastic to see a Scotch back in the top spot.” The Grouse is back!

The Nightcap

The ongoing EU/US trade war isn’t doing wonders for the American whiskey business

Tariffs cause US spirits exports to drop 27% to EU 

That’s right, we bring you more bad tariff news, folks. According to figures just released by Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus), the ongoing EU/US trade war is hitting the American whiskey business hard. In 2019, global exports of American whiskey fell by 16%, to $996 million. What’s more, American whiskey exports to the EU plummeted a whopping 27%, falling to $514m. This crash also comes after years of strong growth in the market. Discus president and CEO Chris Swonger noted that, “while it was another strong year for US spirits sales, the tariffs imposed by the European Union are causing a significant slump in American whiskey exports.” It’s easy to see this when we look at export declines for American whiskey in specific EU countries, with the UK falling 32.7%, France 19.9%, Germany 18.2% and Spain 43.8%. Swonger continued, “if this trade dispute is not resolved soon, we will more than likely be reporting a similar drag on the US spirits sector, jeopardising American jobs and our record of solid growth in the US market.” Politicians, sort it out!

The Nightcap

Better than tap? The jury’s out. At least they were. Then they said it was better.

Larkfire Wild Water triumphs in whisky taste test

This week Master of Malt was invited to the launch of a new water which is meant to be enjoyed with whisky called Larkfire at Boisdale of Belgravia in London. It’s the softest water imaginable as it is collected from Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The local rock, Lewisian gneiss, is incredibly hard and insoluble meaning that the water doesn’t pick up any minerals. It’s about as pure as water can be. The company was so confident in its purity that it put on a little test. A panel of drinks people, experts, journalists and someone from Master of Malt tried a selection of whiskies supplied by LVMH: Ardbeg 10 Year Old, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Glenmorangie 10 Year Old and Glenmorangie Lasanta with two types of water. One row was Larkfire and the other was Belgravia’s finest tap water. But which was which? There was much sipping, gurgling, swallowing and pontificating, it was totally scientific. Then it was time to hand in our papers. After a slap-up Scottish lunch of haggis and venison, the results were revealed: 14 votes for Larkfire wild water; 7 votes for Belgravia tap. So Larkfire the clear winner. Sadly, Master of Malt’s reputation was in tatters as our representative preferred the tap water.

The Nightcap

Congratulations guys!

Family-run pub named the best in the country for the second time

The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire, which has been run by the same family for 250 years, has been crowned the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Pub of the Year. The Bell Inn previously won the award in 1990 when it was run by current landlord Hugh Macaulay’s parents. “Since my grandfather retired nothing has changed about the pub at all, I think that might be one of the things that impressed,” says Macaulay, who added that it was “a wonderful thing to be recognised for driving quality year after year” at the Grade-II listed hostelry. Macaulay also attributed the success to the fact The Bell Inn is a free house, meaning it is not owned by a particular brewery and it is free to sell a variety of beers. “The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away,” said Pub of the Year competition organiser Ben Wilkinson. “It’s clear that the local customers use the pub as a community centre as well as a place to drink, and the warm welcome and knowledgeable staff made us feel right at home. Nothing can beat the combination of good beer, great food and a warm, heritage pub”. Each year volunteers from more than 200 CAMRA branches select their Pub of the Year, before a winner is chosen in each region and they are whittled down to three runners-up and one winner. Runner-ups to the award, which has been running since 1988, include the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire, the George and Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, and the Red Lion in Preston, Hertfordshire. Congratulations to everyone at The Bell Inn!

The Nightcap

Cognac and hip-hop – a combination that never fails

Courvoisier and Pusha-T partner to open US pop-up

The Maison Courvoisier activation, an immersive experience that “pays homage to the brand’s château in France”, is set to open in Chicago this weekend. Those who visit the event will be able to sample the latest offerings from Courvoisier, while experiencing live performances, interactive art galleries, fashion exhibits and a capsule collection from fashion designer, Rhuigi Villaseñor, and contemporary artist, Al-Baseer Holly. Oh, and also the first instalment of Maison Courvoisier was curated by multi-platinum rapper Pusha-T. “Beyond music, I am passionate about fashion and art, so I’m proud to collaborate with Courvoisier to highlight two of my favourite creators,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of Rhuigi and Al-Baseer for years, and I’m excited to be able to highlight their success through Maison Courvoisier.” This is the first in the series of activations taking place throughout 2020 at US cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Houston and Philadelphia. The next experience is planned for New York Fashion Week in September. “We’re excited to open the doors to Maison Courvoisier, as it brings our château in France and portfolio of award-winning liquid to our fans in a modern and interactive way,” said Stephanie Kang, senior marketing director for Courvoisier. “The event also embodies our core value that success is best shared and allows us to give these creative innovators the opportunity to honour their favourite artisans and their work.”

The Nightcap

Happy birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Happy 21st birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail!

In the words of Charli XCX, we do occasionally want to go back to 1999. It was a good year! Toy Story II, Britney Spears, the millennium bug fear… what a time to be alive. It was also the year the Kentucky Distillers’ Association kicked off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and for that we are truly grateful. And we shall celebrate its 21st birthday in fine form! The timetable of festivities was announced this week, getting underway with an 18-stop pop-up party tour in May and culminating in September with a closing do at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center at Whiskey Row’s Frazier History Museum in Louisville. A whole bunch of distilleries are participating, including Bulleit, Evan Williams, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, and more. “We invite everyone to come out and celebrate with us.” said Adam Johnson, senior director of the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences. “This is a momentous occasion and we wouldn’t be here without the millions of devoted fans who have made the pilgrimage to the various KBT destinations and the birthplace of bourbon.” And in 2019, the number of visits stood at almost two million – that’s a significant number of whiskey pilgrims. Happy birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail – we’ll be raising many glasses to you this year!

 

Tullamore D.E.W. debuts new short film in Beauty of Blend campaign 

Tullamore D.E.W.’s ‘Beauty of Blend’ campaign, which began in 2017, continues with a new short film! Ever wondered what motivates people to craft the perfect blend? Well, the world’s second largest Irish whiskey is giving us an insight into the answer, and in short, it’s to bring people together (we assume delicious liquid is also a byproduct of this). Beauty of Blend was shot by the acclaimed director Valentin Petit, enlisting the help of up and coming MCs and poets such as Genesis Elijah, a UK-based spoken word artist, asking them to express their own interpretation of the power of blend. The film shows a single bottle of Tullamore D.E.W. being passed between people throughout different places and cultures, to demonstrate the “connective thread that exists in us”. Very heartwarming indeed. “Tullamore D.E.W. is on a mission to encourage the world to blend. What is true of our whiskey, we are a blend of three types of different Irish whiskeys, we also believe is true of humanity,” global brand director, Chin Ru Foo said. “When we blend with other people and ideas, then we become richer as individuals and in turn, the world becomes a wiser, richer and more open place”. If you happen to be passing through Times Square, you’ll find it there on a giant billboard (is there any other kind in New York?), though seeing as it’s the 21st century, the internet is your first port of call if you’re elsewhere.

The Nightcap

Jameson sales have hit a new high

Jameson whiskey hits 8 million cases sold in 2019

The Jameson juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. Figures just released by Irish Distillers shows that it sold 4.6 million cases of Jameson in the last six months of 2019 taking total sales for the year up to 8 million. Over the Christmas period, the company sold an astonishing 940,000 cases in one month. Sales are up 9% on the previous year. Growth in the last 25 years has been rapid: 1996 was the first year the company sold more than a million cases a year, by 2010 it was triple that. The US market dominates, as you might expect, taking 2 million cases of Jameson in 2019 but there’s growth across the board: UK up 10%, Germany up 34%, and Canda up 13%. The emerging markets are rocking too with China up 76%, India up 37% and Nigeria up a massive 185% (probably from quite a low base, it has to be said.) It’s not only Jameson though, Irish Distillers reports that Redbreast sales grew by 24% and visitor numbers are booming at Bow Street in Dublin and Midleton in Cork. It will be interesting to see what 2020 will bring.

The Nightcap

It’s a 75-minute journey through a century of cocktails. Fingers crossed the flux capacitor can handle it.

And finally. . . Are you telling me you built a time machine. . . out of a bar?

Think of the great time machines from popular culture like the DeLorean in the Back to the Future films, the time machine in HG Wells’ The Time Machine or, greatest of all, the phone box from Bill and Ted’s adventures. All great time machines, no doubt, all useful for messing with the space-time continuum but one thing was missing from all of them: booze. Everything is better with a drink in your hand, right*? Well, at the Timeless Bar in East London, this has been remedied. The team will be firing up their very own Cocktail Time Machine on the day that comes but once every four years, 29 February (that’s a Saturday.) The experience has been created by Funicular, creators of amazing immersive experiences, and consists of a 75-minute journey through a century of cocktails (see video here for a flavour of what to expect) from the Hanky Panky in the 1920s to the Appletini in the ‘00s. Food will be provided by Masterchef finalist Louisa Ellis. To travel on the Cocktail Time Machine, you need to book. All sounds enormous fun as long as you don’t get stuck in the 70s with nothing to drink but Tequila Sunrises. 

*Disclaimer: many things such as driving a car, operating heavy machinery, flying an aeroplane or delivering babies should be done sober.

1 Comment on The Nightcap: 14 February

Behold! Six brilliantly old and rare Boutique-y whiskies are here!

‘Old’ and ‘rare’ are terms often bandied about with much abandon in whisky. Not here, folks. We’ve got six really rather marvellous, hard-to-find That Boutique-y Whisky Company gems that certainly…

‘Old’ and ‘rare’ are terms often bandied about with much abandon in whisky. Not here, folks. We’ve got six really rather marvellous, hard-to-find That Boutique-y Whisky Company gems that certainly live up to that billing, including a Macallan and not one but two Rosebanks!

We’re always on the look-out for unusual bottlings that max out deliciousness. And we love the people behind That Boutique-y Whisky Company because they are after the same: they sniff out incredible whiskies, independently bottle the best of the best, and then share them with the world. They are our kind of folk. And they’ve done it again. Say hello to six incredibly exciting brand-new bottlings: Rosebank 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Rosebank 28 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Ardbeg 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Highland Park 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Macallan 30 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); and Springbank 22 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)!

2 Comments on Behold! Six brilliantly old and rare Boutique-y whiskies are here!

Rosebank: What’s next for the iconic distillery?

Twenty-four hours on from one of the biggest Scotch whisky announcements of the year – challenged only by news of Port Ellen and Brora‘s revival a mere day before –…

Twenty-four hours on from one of the biggest Scotch whisky announcements of the year – challenged only by news of Port Ellen and Brora‘s revival a mere day before – we caught up with Ian Macleod‘s operations director, Gordon Doctor, for the 4-1-1 on Rosebank‘s comeback.

Before we go any further, we can confirm that at the time of writing no further closed distilleries have been lined up for a grand reopening (the way this week is going you just never know!). In any case, it’s safe to say the next few years will be definitive for Scotch whisky as this trinity of cult favourites fires up its (new) stills for the first time in decades.

Rumours of a Rosebank revival have been circulating for some time, so it was the identity of brand’s new owner that came as the biggest shock to most. Ian Macleod’s name was especially surprising, since until recently Rosebank’s previous owner Diageo held trademark rights, and Scottish Canals possessed the land it once resided on.

No Comments on Rosebank: What’s next for the iconic distillery?

Dram good news! Rosebank to rise from the ashes

Tell ya what, it’s a great week to be a mothballed Scotch whisky distillery – Ian Macleod Distillers has announced it will be resurrecting beloved Lowland single malt Rosebank. Yesterday…

Tell ya what, it’s a great week to be a mothballed Scotch whisky distillery – Ian Macleod Distillers has announced it will be resurrecting beloved Lowland single malt Rosebank.

Yesterday the whisky world went wild at the news that Diageo would be dusting off the doormats at its silent Port Ellen and Brora sites. Now, in possibly the most epic “hold my dram” move of all time, the folk at Ian Macleod Distillers have revealed plans to revive cherished Falkirk-based distillery Rosebank, located on the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Ian Macleod Distillers’ managing director, Leonard Russell, called the venture a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. “Rosebank is one of the most respected and sought-after single malts in the world,” he enthused. “As such, this is an extraordinarily exciting project for us.”

No Comments on Dram good news! Rosebank to rise from the ashes

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search