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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Sotheby’s

The Nightcap: 13 November

In this week’s round-up of news from the wide world of drinks, we say hello to some incredible new booze, Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’ and goodbye to a great publication….

In this week’s round-up of news from the wide world of drinks, we say hello to some incredible new booze, Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’ and goodbye to a great publication.

Friday the 13th is meant to be unlucky, but then so are black cats and it’s a known fact that all cats are amazing with no exception. So maybe we should pay no heed to this superstition. After all, today is Friday the 13th and another edition of The Nightcap has arrived, packed to the brim with brilliant boozy happenings as always.

Another week, another chance to win incredible boozy prizes. We do love to spoil you. This time we launched our #MissedMoment competition which runs until the 19 November, so get those entries in! Elsewhere on the MoM blog, there was plenty of exciting whisky coverage, Henry revealed that Irish Distillers relaunched Blue Spot after a 56-year hiatus, got a sneak preview of the upcoming Johnnie Walker film and introduced a mysterious long-aged bourbon from Tennessee. Adam then got a taste of Benromach’s new 21-year-old expression and Annie took a fresh look at New World whisky. Elsewhere, we whipped up the Caipirinha, a Brazilian classic, rounded-up a top ten of bargain gins and then put together a selection of staff favourites chosen by the team here at MoM Towers.

The Nightcap

Thanks for all the amazing drinks coverage guys!

Goodbye to Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com

We said a very sad goodbye this week at MoM Towers to an industry stalwart and our friends at Imbibe magazine and imbibe.com this week, as editor Robyn Black announced they are to be wound up in December 2020. After 13 years of providing us with outstanding coverage of all aspects of the drinks industry, it’s hard to hear that the shutters are coming down. Black revealed in a statement posted on Imbibe’s website that the publication is another unfortunate casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. “It is wreaking its worst on our industry and unfortunately Imbibe has not escaped its clutches,” said Black. “Thanks must go to everyone who has ever been involved in the magazine and website for their hard work in building them into what they are today. It is testimony to Imbibe’s culture that a large number of former staff still write for us and are very much still involved in our portfolio of competitions, tastings and events. It has been a pleasure to work with them all.” Thankfully, the show will, quite literally, go on at least, as Imbibe Live is still scheduled to entertain and delight as usual on 5-6 July 2021 at London’s Olympia. You can click here to register for Imbibe Live 2021. We hope to see you there!

The Nightcap

What the Port of Leith Distillery will hopefully look like by 2022

Work starts on Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’

Foundations have just been laid for The Port of Leith Distillery which is projected to be completed by 2022. The brainchild of boyhood friends Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling, the completed distillery will feature a top floor double-height whisky bar, with views to Edinburgh Castle, two copper stills hand-crafted by the Speyside Copper Works in Elgin and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year. The distillery should provide a welcome boost to the local economy and is supporting more than 30 jobs during construction – including six staff in the distillery team – and will create around 50 long-term jobs once complete. Given the project’s proximity to the Royal Yacht Britannia, visitor numbers play an important part in the distillery’s business plan, however, the success of its Oloroso sherry and award-winning Lind & Lime Gin means this is now less critical to the company’s plans. “Our ambition is to create an outstanding new style of Scotch using a modern approach, based on years of research we have already undertaken – and building on the remarkable heritage of the historic whisky district of Leith,” Stirling says. “Although our distillery has a very modern outlook, we’re very proud to be bringing the whisky trade back to one of the places it all began,” Fletcher concludes.

The Nightcap

That is one swanky Port. Anyone want to start a whip-round for a bottle?

Taylor’s releases 90-year-old Port to toast the new Kingsman film

November is traditionally when wine lovers start to think about Port (though here at MoM, we’re all year-round Port drinkers.) So it’s with perfect timing that Taylor’s has unveiled possibly its snazziest Port yet. It was created to tie in with the release of the latest Kingsman film, The King’s Man, in February now there’s a film franchise that knows how to drink. It’s a very old tawny with an average age of 90 years blended from some of the rarest casks lying in the company’s cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia. Taylor’s MD Adrian Bridge explained: “This Taylor’s limited edition Port will not only appeal to Kingsman devotees, but it is also an exceptional Port of great age which will grace the cellars of collectors and connoisseurs of fine and rare wines. Our blenders have used their skill and expertise to create a unique blend matured for almost nine decades in seasoned oak casks and displaying the multi-layered complexity which only Port can achieve.” The new film is a bit of a change from the previous ones as it is set during the first world war but as before it’s directed by Matthew Vaughn so expect the usual blend of action, sharp suits and general silliness. Bridge described the collaboration as “the perfect fit” while Vaughn said: A true Kingsman will never forget to pass the Port to his left, but this Taylor-made vintage will certainly test his resolve…” Wise words. Only 700 bottles have been filled and will be on sale for £2950. Might be a bit too expensive for us but we will be getting in some 1961 Taylor’s, almost as tasty and much more affordable.  

The Nightcap

The Nightcap is full of seriously impressive booze this week!

Sotheby’s to offer complete Black Bowmore series

Want to get your hands on the complete set of the incredible Black Bowmore series? Well, auction house Sotheby’s and the Islay distillery have announced that you will get the chance to do just that in Hong Kong next spring (date to be confirmed). The five bottles, spanning each release from 1993 to 2016, will be presented in a bespoke ‘Archive Cabinet’ made by the craftsman John Galvin and have a pre-sale estimate of £400,000. The first release of the Black Bowmore was in 1993 when it was 29 years old, with subsequent releases over the following years, most recently, in 2016 at 50 years-old. The spirit, which was distilled in 1964 and aged in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, was initially sold for £100 a bottle but has gone on to become one of the most collectable whiskies in the world, with bottles now going for many thousands of pounds each. “Its value has increased exponentially over the years, which can be attributed to its undeniable quality and, now that so many bottles have been consumed, its newfound rarity,” said Johnny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist and now something of a Nightcap regular. “We are thrilled to partner with Bowmore for this landmark offering in the world of collectable whisky.” David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, added: “Black Bowmore truly is the jewel in our crown and it takes its rightful place in the distillery’s history for firmly putting Bowmore on the map as an iconic, collectable whisky.” The winning bidder will also receive an invitation to the Bowmore distillery for a tasting of other old and rare malts, while the proceeds of the sale will be donated to an Islay-based charity.

The Nightcap

Organic: Gaia 1.1 will be available from MoM Towers soon

Waterford launches Ireland’s first certified organic whiskey

Given that it’s Ireland’s most barley-forward, terroir-driven distiller, it was no surprise to learn this week that Waterford Distillery will launch the country’s first certified organic single malt whisky: Organic: Gaia 1.1. It’s the first part of the brand’s new Arcadian Series, a provenance-driven range of Irish whiskies made from organic, biodynamic and heritage grains, which the brand says “celebrates radical barley growers and alternative farming philosophies”. Organic: Gaia 1.1, which takes its name from the Greek goddess symbol of the Earth, was distilled in 2016 from 100% organic Irish barley grown by six farmers before it was matured in a combination of first-fill US oak (42%), virgin US oak (17%), premium French oak (23%) and Vin Doux Naturel sweet fortified wine casks (18%) and bottled at 50% ABV without any additional colouring or chill-filtration. “At Waterford, we have placed barley – where and how it is grown – at the heart of what we do, curious about where the real whisky flavour may be found,” says Waterford Distillery founder and CEO Mark Reynier. “A natural progression of this philosophy is to see what not only single farm origins can accomplish but what organically grown barley can do when it is given the right platform. We’re not playing at it; we lay down 400 to 600 casks of organic spirit a year, we buy all the Irish grown organic malting barley that can get our hands-on. Waterford Organic will be a main player in our ongoing portfolio for the discerning whisky drinker.” Organic: Gaia 1.1 will be available from MoM Towers soon, so keep an eye out on the New Arrivals page.

The Nightcap

The charming little bird has teamed up with some of the biggest names in rugby.

Famous Grouse renews commitment to rugby union 

It’s fair to say that Britain’s top whisky brand Famous Grouse is pretty committed to rugby. This week it launched a new Spirit of Rugby campaign and announced that it will be the official whisky of the Premiership Rugby for the next three years. The Edrington brand will also sponsor both the British and Irish Lions and the South African team for the forthcoming Lions tour of South Africa. But that’s not all! On top of all that, the brand has announced another three-year partnership with Glasgow Warriors. Aristotelis Baroutsis, Famous Grouse’s global managing director, commented: “The Famous Grouse has been investing in the sport of rugby for the past 30 years, and we are very proud to have reaffirmed our commitment to this great game by agreeing these three exciting new partnerships at both international and club level to celebrate The Famous Grouse as The Spirit of Rugby.” Mark Brittain, chief commercial officer at Premiership Rugby, added: “We’re delighted to welcome The Famous Grouse on board as the official whisky of Premiership Rugby for the next three seasons. It’s fantastic that The Famous Grouse has shown a commitment to Premiership Rugby during these times and is a testament to the growing strength of the competition within the U.K. sporting landscape. The Famous Grouse has a proud track record of developing strong relationships with rugby fans as a result of decades of involvement in this great sport. We’re excited to work with the brand to engage with supporters throughout the season.” Cheers to that!

The Nightcap

Want to hear Alexander McCall Smith do what we does best? Then be sure to tune in!

The Malt Whisky Trail teams up with Book Week Scotland

The Malt Whisky Trail announced this week that it will virtually welcome esteemed author Alexander McCall Smith during Book Week Scotland when he collaborates with The Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside (one of the nine iconic whisky sites that make up the trail) next week. The author of No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the 44 Scotland Street series and more will narrate stories and poetry from his home in Edinburgh in a live stream hosted on The Malt Whisky Trail Instagram channel on 17 November at 1pm (GMT). With a warming Glenlivet dram in hand, McCall Smith will also treat viewers to a special treat in the form of a poem from his new collection, In a Time of Distance. “Visiting The Malt Whisky Trail is a marvellous way for visitors to Scotland, as well as Scots themselves, to discover a part of the country rich in historical associations. Whisky and storytelling in Scotland have more than a passing acquaintanceship,” says McCall Smith. “Book Week Scotland and the Malt Whisky Trail are natural partners, and I am really looking forward to being a part of this.” The Malt Whisky Trail prides itself on taking visitors on a journey to discover the best of whisky country including its landscape, larder, stories, and whisky has partnered with Book Week Scotland which takes place Monday 16 to Sunday 22 November. A full list of 2020’s programme can be found here and you can pick up McCall Smith’s latest works at independent bookstore The Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey.

The Nightcap

Look, the tasty cocktails in store if you take part!

Take part in a virtual Christmas party in aid of the Drinks Trust

Well, it looks like the annual Christmas party won’t be happening this year. There will be no partying responsibly long into the night before ending up in a karaoke bar with your tie around your head belting out ‘I Will Survive’ like every word is deeply significant. Or perhaps that’s just us. But never fear, because those clever cats at the Liana Cocktail Co. have the answer. On 1 December between 6-7.30pm, you can take part in a virtual Christmas cocktail party. Register and purchase here and for only £19.99 you will receive a box of delicious cocktails made by experts with the finest ingredients known to humanity and details of how to attend the party. Best of all, for every ticket sold, LCC will donate £1 to the Drinks Trust; not only will you have fun, but you’ll be doing some good too. So dig out your tackiest reindeer jumper, round up your friends and take part in a virtual Christmas party. And if you’re feeling tired and emotional at the end, no one is going to stop you from putting on Gloria Gaynor. You will survive!

 

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A post shared by Gemma Collins (@gemmacollins)

And finally… TOWIE star gets her very own gin, probably

It’s a case of ‘move over George Clooney’ and ‘Ryan Reynolds, who he?’, because we’ve heard rumours that a proper celeb is about to launch her own drinks brand*. Yes, the word on the street is that Gemma Collins, star of The Only Way is Essex, Dancing on Ice and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of here! will be releasing her own gin in the near future. The most famous person to come out of Romford, after Richard Madeley, may soon be in the distilling business. ‘The GC’ is currently on a mission to reach number one on the music chart with a Christmas charity cover single, proving what a renaissance lady she is. We don’t have many details about the rumoured gin yet, but seeing as Collins is usually pictured in pink, we reckon it is likely to have a pinkish hue. When we know more, we’ll let you know. These babies are likely to fly out the door.

* The rumours were true. More information about the gin liqueur here.

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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.

The Nightcap

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.

The Nightcap

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: 15 May

It’s the eve of World Whisky Day and there’s no better way to prepare yourself for all its boozy brilliance than with a read of another fantastic edition of The…

It’s the eve of World Whisky Day and there’s no better way to prepare yourself for all its boozy brilliance than with a read of another fantastic edition of The Nightcap…

It’s another Friday, and that means another edition of The Nightcap! Tomorrow is World Whisky Day, so if you’re looking to go into it with a brain full of booze news, you’ve come to the right place. Your internet browser. It’s also a good place to go if you’re looking to find out facts about rare species of birds or get into arguments with strangers about what counts as a soup. Of course, you’ll have to visit other websites for that – although we will say that people who think chilli con carne is a soup should reconsider their stance because it’s absolutely not a soup and they’re wrong.

On the MoM blog this week we announced the good news that That Boutique-y Whisky Company has ensured we can still enjoy World Whisky Day together thanks to its World Whisky Summit, which is sponsored by us! We also launched a flash sale (which ended this morning) containing booze from England’s largest wine producer, Chapel Down, before Annie took a peek behind the scenes at Two Drifters’ planet-friendly production process, Adam learned the story behind the Pearse Lyons Distillery and Ian Buxton returned to deliver the second part of his investigation on private cask sales. Elsewhere, Henry enjoyed five minutes in the company of John Little, of Smooth Ambler fame, a deliciously herbaceous Cachaça-based concoction and a bitter bottling from top vermouth producer Carpano.

Once again we’d like to say a huge thank you to all those who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday and salute the winner, Conal Wright. We sincerely hope you enjoy your £25 gift voucher! The answers to last week’s edition are listed below and for those who want a chance to get their hands on the prize or just test their boozy knowledge, the MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always.

The Nightcap

Whisky makers Tomer Goren, Dhavall Gandhi and Michael D’Souza – what a trio!

What’s happening on World Whisky Day…

Wondering how to celebrate World Whisky Day tomorrow (Saturday 16 May)? Well, luckily you’re spoilt for choice, as there’s all sort of fun to get involved with! We’re pretty stoked to be involved with the rather exciting Boutique-y Whisky World Whisky Summit, with quite the lineup of industry greats kicking off at 7pm. Then, if you want to gain some worldwide whisky knowledge, England’s Lakes Distillery has partnered up with Israel’s Milk & Honey and India’s Paul John Distilleries for another virtual celebration at 5pm! You’ll be greeted by Dhavall Gandhi, Tomer Goren and Michael D’Souza,  distillers at each respective distillery, exploring the influence of location on whisky maturation. What a trio! Tune into the Lakes Facebook page for all the goods. Royal Salute has also got in on the act with a series called ‘Behind the Kingdom Doors’, a live stream series that discusses three different topics in style and luxury, taking place over the three weeks. It kicked off this week with a live whisky tasting hosted by master blender Sandy Hyslop and whisky blogger Alex Robertson on Wednesday. Coming up next is a Polo & Lifestyle session hosted by Hyslop and polo star Malcolm Borwick on the 20 May, followed by Around The World With Royal Salute, hosted again by Hyslop and Nathan Wood, prestige whiskies brand ambassador, on the 1 June. What’s more, if it’s a challenge you’re looking for, Whyte and Mackay are hosting a series of online events featuring Jura whisky, and special guests including World Whisky Day founder, Blair Bowman! Head over to the Big Fat Online Whisky Quiz at 7:30pm where none other than Gregg Glass will make an appearance, if you want to test your knowledge. Happy World Whisky Day, folks!

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Cocktail hour is back, but this time it’s virtual!

The Cocktail Hour is back… and it’s virtual 

Though the circumstances that have led to this are less than ideal, we bring you cheerful news: the cocktail hour is back! The last time the cocktail hour was at its peak in Britain was the roaring ‘20s, so it looks like we’ve come full circle. We’ve got some fun cocktail facts for you from a survey by Bacardi for World Cocktail Day (which was this Wednesday, 13 May), which revealed that more than half (53%, if you want numbers) of the Britons asked believe that the cocktail hour has made a comeback in recent weeks, though this time, of course, it’s online. What’s more, it’s not just any old tipple they’re whipping up, with 43% revealed to be experimenting with drinks, and the Mojito taking first place as the number one lockdown serve. Nearly a third are getting real fancy and fishing out their cocktail glasses and shakers, too! Could we be expecting another cocktail renaissance? The good news is that over a quarter of those surveyed said that they will continue hosting virtual cocktail hours with friends and family beyond lockdown. Cheers to that!

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Congratulations on your double win, Dave!

Double win for Dave Broom at the Fortnum and Mason awards

In what will be a popular move in the world of booze, it was announced last night that Dave Broom has won Drinks Writer of the year at the annual Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink awards for his words on whiskymanual.uk. Rather than the usual riot of B list celebs, A-grade champagne and Claudia Winkleman, that normally makes up the awards, it was done online, though still with Claudia Winkleman, obviously. It was a double celebration for Broom as his film, The Amber Light, won the best programme too. Well done Dave! Other winners include the nicest man in food Tom Parker-Bowles as Restaurant Writer of the ear for his column in the Mail on Sunday, Rachel Roddy got the Cookery Writer gong for her mouth-watering Italian food column in the Guardian and we were particularly pleased to see Just the Tonic by Kim Walker and Mark Nesbitt pick up Best Debut Drink book. Congratulations to all the winners and fingers crossed that next year we will be allowed near enough to other people to have a proper party.

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The vineyard features a small quantity of a ‘secret experimental variety’…

Pig hotel man plants vineyard in the South Downs

Imagine you have founded a group of acclaimed upmarket country hotels around England. What’s the next challenge? A racehorse? A football team? A crack at the America’s Cup? Well, the choice was easy for Robin Hutson, he’s long championed English wines in his Pig hotels, so rather than any of the above, he’s just planted his first vineyard in the South Downs. It’s located by Madehurst Lodge which will be the next Pig to open sometime next year. This two-acre south-west-facing site has been planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and a small quantity of a ‘secret experimental variety’. Oooh, mysterious! Hutson enlisted the help of some of his winemaking chums including Ian Kellett from Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire and Charles Simpson from Simpsons Wine Estate in Kent. He’s unlikely to see any fruit until 2022 and wine may take even longer depending on whether he makes still or sparkling. Apparently he hasn’t decided yet. Hutson commented: “I can’t wait to taste that first glass, albeit a couple of years away yet. The investment further endorses our complete commitment to home-grown, to local produce and to local contractors.  We will post regular updates from the vineyard as we progress. Wish us luck!” Good luck!

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Gautier Cognac 1762

And finally… Sotheby’s auctions one of the world’s oldest surviving Cognacs

Sotheby’s certainly know how to put together an auction and it’s latest online sale is no exception. The auction, titled Distilled – Iconic Samaroli, Dalmore 62 and The World’s Oldest Cognac, comprises of 216 lots and is estimated to bring a combined total in the region of £1.1 million. The headline item has to be the oldest vintage Cognac ever to be sold at auction, a bottle of Gautier Cognac 1762. Only three bottles of this vintage still exist, having been held in the same family for generations with their original labels attached. It’s the last and largest of these remaining bottles, known as ‘Grand Frère’, or the ‘Big Brother’, that will feature in Distilled and is expected to fetch between £80,000-160,000. Should your bid prove victorious, you’ll also get to enjoy a bespoke experience at Maison Gautier, courtesy of the distillery. Some people have it all. “The Gautier 1762 is renowned and revered across the world as a Cognac that transcends the world of spirits collecting. This bottle represents not only an example of pre-phylloxera viticulture but also of early cask maturation from the dawn of Gautier’s production and even precedes the French Revolution. This bottle contains a distillation not only of superb brandy, but also of Cognac’s history,” commented Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist. Alongside one of the world’s oldest surviving Cognacs, there’s the aforementioned collection of Samaroli goodies, which comprises of 55 bottles, including three of the legendary Bowmore Bouquet 1966 (estimated at £40,000-55,000 per bottle). Sotheby’s also has two bottles of The Dalmore 62 Year Old which are estimated to fetch £75,000-100,000 each and its first-ever collaboration with a rum distillery. A cask of Dictador’s 1980 single vintage rum will go on sale with the bidding starting at £50 with the proceeds being donated to the Dictador Art Masters Charity Fund to develop an art gallery within the Colombian Jungle, an anchor point for the conservation of the area. The Distilled auction is open for bidding from the 14 to 28 May.

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Pub quiz answers

1) Which classic cocktail is mixed up on a train in Some Like It Hot?

Answer: Manhattan

2) Where was the inventor of the modern carbonation process, whose name is on bottles to this day, born?

Answer: Germany

3) What does Kesha brush her teeth with in the song Tik Tok?

Answer: Jack Daniels

4) In the Friends episode “The One Where Ross is Fine”, which cocktail is Ross drinking?

Answer: Margaritas

5) The founder of which distillery was famous for packing a pair of pistols to deter criminal distillers?

Answer: Glenlivet

6) In the film Sideways, Miles says, “I am not drinking any f**king —–”. What wine does he say?

Answer: Merlot

7) Which fictional character said “I love Scotch. Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.”? 

Answer: Ron Burgundy

8) What is Captain Jack Sparrow’s favourite drink?

Answer: Rum

9) Which whisk(e)y does Rihanna drink in her song Cheers (Drink to That)?

Answer: Jameson

10)  This year which Champagne house opened some recently-discovered bottles of wine that were buried when a cellar collapsed in 1900?

Answer: Pol Roger

 

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The Nightcap: 10 May

Another week with a bank holiday, but as we’ve seen before, that won’t stop the influx of information that we know as news – specifically about tasty booze! The season…

Another week with a bank holiday, but as we’ve seen before, that won’t stop the influx of information that we know as news – specifically about tasty booze!

The season of short weeks continues, keeping us on our toes when it comes to Monday plans. You have to be rather on the ball in April and May, otherwise you could end up at work all alone, or equally alone on a presumably sunny beach. One of those is probably more preferable than the other…

Anyway, you’re tuned in to The Nightcap, so let’s see what has been happening in the world of booze this week. On our very own blog, our very own Adam took a look at the continuing rebirth of Port Ellen, and then got a little musical with some Eurovision-themed tipples. Jess’ New Arrival of the Week was actually a double-header with the duo of new Nelson’s Rums. Ian Buxton’s guest column this week looked at both delicious and questionable innovations in whisky, while Henry recalled his adventure at Ramsbury Estate. Annie checked out five of the world’s most sustainable bars, and then took us through the story of the Bloody Mary for Cocktail of the Week.

And now, the news!

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This dream is one step closer to becoming a reality

Johnnie Walker Edinburgh attraction secures planning permission

If you talk to Diageo people, they are beyond excited about plans to open a Johnnie Walker venue on Princes Street in Edinburgh (as we revealed back in February). Now the dream is one step closer as this week planning permission was granted by Edinburgh Council. The venue on Princes Street will be more than just a shop: it will include a brand storytelling experience, an events space, and a training academy. It’s part of £150m investment in whisky tourism by the drinks giant. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, said: “We have had great support for our proposals from local stakeholders and businesses in Edinburgh and we are grateful to everyone who has helped us to get to this stage. We will continue to work with the local community as we now progress with construction and with making our plans a reality.” Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo Global Scotch whisky director, added: “We have ambitious plans to make this a truly world-leading attraction, drawing people from the four corners of the globe to Scotland and to give them an unforgettable experience in Scotch whisky and Scottish culture.” Construction work on the period building on Edinburgh’s grandest shopping street will begin very soon. The next step is for the City of Edinburgh Licensing Board to grant an alcohol licence. Let’s hope they do, or it’ll be a pretty sad whisky experience.

The Macallan kicks off ‘Experiences’ video series

Speyside-based Scotch whisky distillery The Macallan has unveiled a new video-based campaign to celebrate ‘innovative, interactive and engaging whisky serves’. The series, called The World’s Best Scotch Experiences, sees the whisky-maker team up with leading chefs and bartenders to give behind-the-scenes glimpses at all kinds of drinks creations. Featured in the series are everything from four-course tasting menus to 3D-printed serving vessels, from the likes of Manhattan and Mexico City. “As the leading single malt Scotch whisky, we strive to lead the way when it comes to new, immersive experiences, which in turn creates memorable moments and long-lasting success for The Macallan,” said Alexis Calero, key city and spiritual homes manager at The Macallan. “Through The World’s Best Scotch Experiences series, we were able to create and collaborate with chefs and mixologists that share the same passion we have for creating unique experiences and memories that bring The Macallan to life in an unforgettable way.” Check out US Macallan YouTube, Facebook, Instagram pages, or search the hashtag #DestinationMacallan to check it all out!

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Absolutely beautiful. That bourbon looks nice too.

Matthew McConaughey taps into Texas roots with Wild Turkey

Celebrities getting involved in the world of booze is nothing new. From George Clooney and Conor McGregor, to Derek Zoolander, it feels like half of Hollywood has tried to add some star-power to their chosen spirit (most impressive from Zoolander, given he isn’t actually real). Sometimes these launches can leave a lot to be desired, other times they can turn out alright, alright, alright. (I apologise for nothing). Wild Turkey will be hoping it can achieve the later with Longbranch, a bourbon launched in collaboration between master distiller Eddie Russell and creative director Matthew McConaughey. Longbranch, named to mark the friends that form the longest branches of our family trees, was inspired by the Academy Award-winning actor’s Kentucky and Texas roots. The small-batch release was made with eight-year-old Wild Turkey bourbon and refined with two separate charcoal filtration methods using American white oak and Texas Mesquite wood. It’s said to possess notes of vanilla, caramel, pear, citrus, pepper, toasted oak and a subtle, smoky finish. “Longbranch, in its simplest form, is an extended hand, inviting a friend into your family,” said McConaughey. “So the branch that was extended to me from the Russells was a long one, one that reached from Kentucky to Texas and back again. I offered the Mesquite from my great state to add to their legendary Kentucky whiskey and together we made Longbranch.” Wild Turkey Longbranch will be available in the UK in June for £40, and if it’s as good as McConaughey was in Magic Mike True Detective, then you’ll want a dram.

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Congratulations to Jonny!

Sotheby’s hires first spirits specialist

Unless you’ve been living under some kind of rock, you’ll know whisky auctions have become a Proper Thing in recent times. It’s a fact not lost on the team at Sotheby’s – in light of the zeitgeist, it’s hired its first dedicated spirits specialist. Say hello to Jonny Fowle! Born and raised in Edinburgh, Fowle founded his own whisky training business in 2012 and worked with companies including Mandarin Oriental, JW Marriot and The Peninsula. He also spent time as an ambassador for booze brands across Japanese whisky, gin and rum. More recently, he’s brokered deals on casks and rare whisky bottles. Rather well-qualified, then! “I am very excited to have joined Sotheby’s as the company strengthens its footing in the spirits market,” said Fowle himself. “It is an incredibly exciting time for a growing industry, and alongside the hugely talented Sotheby’s Wine team, we hope to place ourselves at the centre of that growth.” Congrats, Jonny!

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Anyone for an Aviation?

Pickering’s Gin and British Airways create ‘first’ gin for sipping in the sky

How many gins have you come across that were botanically engineered to be enjoyed at 30,000ft? Presumably none, because Pickering’s Gin claims it has achieved a world first. It’s worked with British Airways to launch its Pickering’s British Airways Centenary Gin! The gin was developed at Edinburgh’s Summerhall Distillery using a balance of 10 botanicals specially selected to combat the suppression of our taste and aroma receptors due to in-flight low air pressure and lack of humidity. The botanicals also celebrate British flora and fauna, with juniper, rose petals and heather used alongside Pickering’s signature ingredients of lime, lemon, cardamom and cinnamon. The new release will be available onboard economy flights and as part of a limited-edition triple ‘Gin Flight’ miniature gift pack. Pickering’s British Airways Centenary Gin actually comes with two different tasting notes, depending on the altitude you’re at when you drink it. At 30,000ft, the citrus and sweet spice of cinnamon and cardamom are said to be more prominent, while at 10,000ft and below, the bold, floral juniper and delicate hints of rose and Scottish heather are more accentuated. “To banish so-called airplane ‘taste blindness’, we have carefully designed a botanical flavour profile that enhances what you lack when you’re soaring in the sky,” said Pickering’s head distiller and co-founder, Matt Gammell. “We trialled multiple iterations of the recipe in the air until we were confident that it would taste as good in the sky as it did on the ground.” It’s one small step for gin and one giant leap for enjoyable in-flight refreshments!

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Holyrood Distillery has it all, from cask programmes to a delightfully dapper dog!

Holyrood Distillery intros personalised cask programme

Edinburgh-based Holyrood Distillery – one of the producers in the mix to make the city’s first whisky for almost 100 years – has announced a fancy cask programme where customers can create their own barrel from scratch. How does it work? In consultation with head distiller Dr Jack Mayo and co-founder David Robertson, interested parties can buy a cask, choosing pretty much everything from the type and oak species to previous fill. Not only that, but they’ll be able to shape the production process too! Why not decide how long the barley is dried and roasted for, which yeast should be used during fermentation, and even have a say in distillation approach and date?! It really is the full customisation shebang! 100 casks have been made available in the programme, and production will start shortly after the distillery opens in July. Prices start from £4,500 for a 200-litre barrel, including flavour consultation, whisky creation, storage for ten years, sampling, insurance, labelling and bottling. “Everything we do at Holyrood is driven by flavour,” said Dr Mayo. “That’s why our Cask Programme gives people the unique chance to tailor a cask of our whisky to suit their flavour preferences.” Head to the Holyrood Distillery site to register your interest!

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Yann Bouvignies’ first menu at Scarfes is hitting all the right notes.

Scarfes Bar new cocktail menu

We headed over to the lovely Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel in London for a chat with head bartender Yann Bouvignies about the latest cocktail menu which combines music and drinks! Scarfes Bar is one of the few London hotel bars to boast live music every night, so it was only a matter of time until music made its way into the drinks list. The menu is an interactive journey through the genres, with one famous face representing each style, drawn by caricaturist Gerald Scarfe himself. Each genre is given two cocktails representing the music from the artist. For example, Tupac is the face of hip hop, and the two drinks were named Poetic Justice, a nutty, whisky-based cocktail reflecting the gentler, earlier days of his art, and Tradin’ Old Stories, a somewhat more assertive drink mirroring the development of Tupac’s music. It really is a fabulous idea: Aretha Franklin is the face of soul, Prince of funk, Louis Armstrong representing jazz, even the Spice Girls make an appearance in the name of pop. The new menu focuses more on sustainability (which is always good), and on many of the minimalist cocktails there is no garnish (especially if Bouvignies doesn’t deem it necessary and thinks it will simply be thrown away). With 18 cocktails in total, there is quite literally something for everyone, music and drinks lovers alike.

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Massimo Bottura’s (L) non-profit Food for Soul will receive a windfall from The Dalmore

Dalmore L’Anima raises £108,900 for Food for Soul

Remember when we brought you news of (and then got to taste!) The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years, the mega-fancy bottling set to be auctioned for charity? Well, bidding closed at Sotheby’s yesterday [9 May] at £108,900! A phenomenal amount of money. The full proceeds are going to Food for Soul, the non-profit founded by Massimo Bottura, Chef-Patron of Osteria Francescana, who also co-created the expression. Food for Soul, which he runs with his wife, Lara Gilmore, works to counter food waste through social inclusion. “We are honoured to be part of this great collaboration with The Dalmore, which displays the excellent features of this world-renowned whisky together with an Italian touch,” Bottura said. “I’m even more enthusiastic that this unique project, together with Sotheby’s precious help, will support Food for Soul to build projects that celebrate the culture and the potential of communities around the world.” Good work all-round, folks, and congrats to the winning bidder, who along with that incredible bottle, also gets to enjoy dinner for two at Bottura’s Modena restaurant, Osteria Francescana – voted the world’s best restaurant in 2016 and 2018. Buon Appetito!

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Fans of all things Japanese and boozy will surely be seeing more of James

Suntory appoints James Bowker as first UK ambassador

Hibiki, Yamazaki, Chita, Roku, Haku (check the blog on Monday for more!)… The House of Suntory certainly has deliciousness aplenty in its portfolio of Japanese tipples. And now there’s a dedicated UK brand ambassador to help them shine even brighter! Meet James Bowker, the man in the brand-new role. He’s tasked with spreading the spirit of Japan far and wide through the land and coming up with all kinds of education plans and cocktails. He’s been a bartender for more than 10 years, and developed a passion for Japanese whisky in particular at The Edgbaston Hotel in Birmingham. He then spent time making drinks in actual Tokyo, deepening is knowledge of Japanese cocktail techniques and visiting distilleries. “I’ve always had a passion for spirits and grew very fond of The House of Suntory whisky portfolio during my early days behind the bar,” Bowker said. “I can’t wait to become the face of The House of Suntory in the UK, building strong partnerships with bartenders and venues across the country to broaden the appeal for Japanese spirits, serves and the brands’ founding principles for continued perfection.” Congrats!

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The future is here. And it’s slightly confusing.

And finally… Mackmyra and Microsoft create ‘AI whisky’

Hands up if you’re an expert in artificial intelligence (AI)? Us neither (though if you are, and can shed some light on what our ‘And finally…’ this week means for whisky in general, please drop us a line!). Swedish whisky-maker Mackmyra has become an expert in the field after teaming up with Microsoft, of off computers, and Fourkind, a Finnish tech consultancy, to create the ‘world’s first’ AI whisky. Here’s what we think it means: the whisky recipe has been engineered using data based on consumer flavour preferences. According to the distillery, AI is used to “augment and automate the most time-consuming processes of whisky creation” with the possibility to create more than “70 million” recipes. “We see AI as a part of our digital development, it is really exciting to let AI be a complement to the craft of producing a high-quality whisky,” said Angela D’Orazio, Mackmyra’s master blender. “It is a great achievement to be able to say that I’m now also a mentor for the first ever created AI whisky in the world.” According to a Microsoft spokesperson, AI-generation can have an impact in multiple industries. “These new AI solutions can be used to generate products that retain the spirit, look and feel of the brands behind them, while at the same time being new and unique.” It stressed, however, that AI isn’t designed to replace a master blender, who should always have a curation role in the process. Mackmyra’s AI-generated whisky will be available from Autumn 2019 – but it very much seems like the future is now. The robots are coming!

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