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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: The Nightcap

The Nightcap: 24 January

Need a break from practising your Burns Night speech? Tune into The Nightcap, your weekly source of bite-sized booze news! We sell whisky here at Master of Malt. That shouldn’t…

Need a break from practising your Burns Night speech? Tune into The Nightcap, your weekly source of bite-sized booze news!

We sell whisky here at Master of Malt. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. As such, it also should not be a surprise that we quite enjoy said spirit. A third thing that shouldn’t be a surprise is that Burns Night is happening this weekend – that one shouldn’t be a surprise because we’ve been nattering about it for a little while now, along with everyone else that has an affinity for whisky. If you’re in the same boat and heading to a Burns Night celebration, pack that brain full of booze news in case small talk situations arise between bursts of poetry and toasts.

On the blog this week we turned our attention to all things Burns Night, unsurprisingly, rounding-up some sensational Scotch to enjoy on the night, enjoying a Bobby Burns and reminiscing about the worst Burns Night celebrations ever, all while enjoying your poetic entries to our Burns Night competition… Thank you to all who entered, the competition is now closed and the winner will be announced on Monday!

Elsewhere, we launched a new #BagThisBundle competition, Adam heard Black Lines’ case for why you shouldn’t write off draft cocktails and Henry cast his eye on a baijiu producer that wants to land the spirit in the Western market and a bourbon from the Lone Star state. Annie, meanwhile, checked out the UK’s first sake brewery before going down under to learn about Australian wine and the Archie Rose Distillery.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s boozy news to enjoy!

The Nightcap

Hidden haggis, bingo, London’s first whisky wall and more. It’s must be Burns Night!

Burns Night celebrations in full flow this week

With Burns Night tomorrow, there has been a raft of events this week in celebration, as you can imagine. But plenty are forgoing the tradition to mark the day in all kinds of wacky ways, such as The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), who are planning to hide 18 mini haggises around Glasgow city centre in celebration of their new Members’ Room opening on Bath Street in March 2020. The lucky folk who find them have a chance to win an annual membership to the Society, SMWS bottles or tasting glasses. DrinkUp London, meanwhile, is offering all kinds of deals for its Scotch Whisky Weekend, while still finding time to host BenRiach’s ‘painting by tasting notes’ workshop with landscape artist Ellis O’Connor and master blender Rachel Barrie, in which you can create your own artwork inspired by tasting notes. A night full of bingo shenanigans from Bobby’s Burns Bingo awaits those who go to New York bodega-inspired bar Liquorette, which is celebrating Burns Night with an American twist with Chivas global brand ambassador Rhys Wilson. He will be calling the numbers and handing out the prizes ranging from Chivas 12 and 18 year old bottles, home whisky blending kits, nights out at Liquorette and tickets to Chivas Blend experience. London’s oldest whisky specialist Milroy’s is doing its own more traditional Burns Night in Spitalfields tonight with complimentary drinks thanks to Crabbie Whisky alongside haggis, poetry and music. One event we know for sure was a success was Mac & Wild’s Burns Warm Up Party with Copper Dog last night, which featured live entertainment, masterclasses, London’s first whisky wall, Bone Marrow Whisky Luge experiences and all kinds of tasty Scottish street food. Oh, and Paul Young has been making signature Burns Night chocolate in collaboration with Glen Moray (we can vouch for its deliciousness), proving that chocolate belongs at every occasion. It’s great to see so many so keen to toast Scotland’s national bard. Slange var!

The Nightcap

This could be yours. For free. No, really.

Silk Road Distillers is giving away free rum

This is not a drill. It’s not a scam. There are no pirates involved in this rum, folks. No, free samples of rum (excluding post and package) can truly be yours thanks to the marketing initiative of a startup rum brand in London. Silk Road Distillers is backing 2020 to be the year of rum (it’s not alone) and the spirit producers are so keen to show off their new creation that they are charging absolutely nothing (excluding post and package) for the pleasure. This isn’t any ordinary rum, no. The sample you’ll receive is full of white spiced rum. A white rum that was infused with six botanicals. It truly is a brave new world. “2020 is going to be all about rum, and we can’t wait to be a part of it”, says George Agate, founder of Silk Road Distillers, “We’re hoping to get loads of samples out for Try-January, and we know once someone tries it, it will be their go-to drink for the year”. Silk Road Distillers also wants you to ditch Rum and Coke for this one and instead try out a Rum and Tonic, which admittedly is an often overlooked serve. Each 50ml is only available until the end of the month, 31st January 2020 from hereNow get ordering!

The Nightcap

A section of bookcase opens to reveal this secret bar, James Bond villain-style.

‘Secret’ bar opens in Great Scotland Yard Hotel

When we turned up, rather late, it has to be said, for the launch of a new bar at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel, we were a little confused as there was nobody to be seen. Maybe, we’d got the wrong day. All became clear, however, when the bartender from the hotel’s other bar, 40 Elephants, pressed discreet button and, James Bond villain-style, a section of bookcase opened to reveal a secret bar. It’s called Sibín, as in an Irish drinking den (sometimes spelt shebeen). The drinks menu takes a turn for the unexpected too with old classics given a tune-up. The Rusty Nail is made with two types of Talisker and Drambuie is left to oxidise for two days to mellow. Bars manager Michal Mariarz adds a little PX to his Smokey Cokey, Lagavulin 16 year old and Coke. Most innovative of all was bartender Alex Williams’ concoction, the Clear Conscience. Based on that old classic the Grasshopper, it’s made with poitin, Branca Menta and all kinds of scientific stuff to make something that smells just like a Matchmaker mint. For the more classically-inclined there are unusual whiskies like a 2005 Caol Ila part-matured in Hermitage red wine casks. The hotel located just off Trafalgar Square and housed in the former HQ of the Metropolitan Police, opened last year and already feels like a classic venue.  

Record number of ‘visitations’ at Buffalo Trace

Whiskey tourism in Kentucky is now a big thing: Buffalo Trace has just released figures that show that 294,996 people visited the distillery last year, 35% up on last year and a massive 466% up on 2010. The press release describes it as a “record-breaking visitation streak” which makes it sound like Kentucky has had an unusual number of divine interventions. All these visitors (divine or otherwise) have come during a $1.2 billion investment scheme. Yes, you read the right. 1.2 billion dollars. This includes a new visitor (or should that be visitation) centre, 22 foot (6.7 metres) cookers that required raising the roof of the mash house, four 92,000 gallon (420,000 litre) fermenters, a new cooling tower and six new warehouses which each hold 58,800 barrels. That’s a lot of bourbon. There’s even a special ‘hard hat’ tour so that you can see the work being done. “The growth we are seeing in all aspects of the distillery is really exciting,” Meredith Moody, director of homeplace development said. “We are eager to show all of our distilling upgrades to new and returning guests on our updated Hard Hat Tour. It’s a whole new experience, whether you are a first time visitor or have toured many times.” Oh, and talking of Buffalo Trace, it’s almost time for our annual parcel of Antique Collection rare bourbons from the distillery to arrive. Watch this space.

The Nightcap

The fantastic Passport menu takes you to all corners of the world

We taste St James Bar new Passport cocktail menu 

It’s around about that point in January that we all start getting a bit of wanderlust around MoM Towers. It’s rainy, it’s cold, and suddenly I’m having to resist the urge to book a holiday somewhere. Our wanderlust dreams were answered when we heard about the new Passport menu at St James Bar, Sofitel St James, so we headed over to try it out. The idea is to take you on a journey, and the menu looks like an actual British passport (for now…) boasting 12 cocktails from 12 different countries. We started, appropriately with a 5 to 7, a beautifully balanced bitter aperitif straight from Italy made with Campari-infused coffee, presented in a cafetière. Where would you like to go next, bar manager Kostas Bardas asked us. America! The Maker’s Mark and sherry-based cocktail, 1st Step, comes in a smoking rocketship. How could we not?! Then, to Thailand, where we tried Megong, a blend of Mekhong Thai Spirit, rum and Earl Grey presented alongside a mini gong. Heaven Howler was a tribute to Iceland’s Prohibition period from 1915 to 1989, a unique marriage of Himbrimi Old Tom, Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength, homemade rhubarb and thyme liqueur, pale ale and beer soda. We certainly wouldn’t mind sipping this refreshing serve in a geothermal spring… Then, on recommendation from quite literally everyone behind the bar, we tried the Victory Martini, inspired by Winston Churchill. Well, we are in London after all. A sophisticated blend of Plymouth Gin, Cognac and a brilliant homemade pine honey and wine leaf cordial made this little number outrageously easy to drink. The brilliantly conceived and engaging Passport menu took us to all corners of the world, though all from the luxurious blue plush interior of the bar. Bon voyage!

The Nightcap

I’ve never been so proud of the Brits before. Well in, guys.

British drinking more beer despite Dry January claims Wowcher

You may have noticed that it has become popular in the last few years to give up alcohol in January, a bit like a Lenten fast but without the Christianity. With all the noise in the media about Dry January, you might think that alcohol sales would be seriously affected but, according to figures just released by Wowcher, the discount voucher people, this is not the case. In fact, there has been a 71% increase in beer sales compared with January 2019. It has to be said, that this is based only on data from Wowcher’s website and app so could hardly be described as definitive. Nevertheless, it does seem to suggest that even with all the newspaper articles, TV segments, advertising and general media hubbub, Dry January is still very much a minority pursuit. Britons, never change. 

The Nightcap

It’s a fine donation to a good cause.

Diageo rolls out the barrel for Scottish Rugby charity 

Diageo has announced that it donated a cask of Scotch whisky to raise money for Doddie Weir’s My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to find a cure for MND. The rugby legend and inspirational Motor Neuron Disease campaigner Doddie Weir visited the brand’s new Scottish headquarters in Edinburgh on Monday 20 January to accept the donation. This is also marked the official opening of the offices and reaffirmed Diageo’s support for Scottish Rugby ahead of the forthcoming Six Nations, which will be the first to feature Johnnie Walker as Scottish Rugby’s official whisky partner. “Doddie Weir is an inspiration to people everywhere with the remarkable bravery of his campaign. It was a privilege to welcome him to our new offices and to share his incredible campaign with our people,” said Ewan Andrew, president of global supply & procurement at Diageo. “We have a powerful connection with rugby through our Guinness Title Partnership of the Six Nations Championship and our Johnnie Walker partnership with Scottish Rugby. What better way to celebrate these partnerships and to mark our move to our new office than by supporting Doddie and his campaign.” Doddie Weir added: “I am delighted to accept the donation of this cask of Glenkinchie single malt whisky for my foundation. The momentum behind the campaign keeps growing and it’s terrific to see companies like Diageo and brands like Johnnie Walker stepping up to show their support and to raise funds.” Diageo will now work with the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation team to select a cask of Glenkinchie single malt and to have it bottled for the charity. We wish all involved the best luck in fighting for this fantastic cause.

The Nightcap

The Big Drop Brewing founders are hoping to raise a pretty penny

Big Drop Brewing Co. launches crowdfunding for major expansion

Launched in London in 2016, Big Drop Brewing Co. is shaking up the alcohol-free beer game as one of the very few totally dedicated alcohol-free brewers. In its portfolio, you’ll find stout, pale ale, IPA, lager and other brews, along with a range of gluten free and vegan beers too. For its brews, Big Drop uses a method which removes the need to extract alcohol after fermentation, which is often what affects the taste and mouthfeel of alcohol-free beer. It’s launching a crowdfunding campaign in February, and investors will become a part of the company as well as receiving a few perks alongside, from brand merch to a day with the master brewer. The perks get better depending on how much more you’re willing to invest, of course. The point of the crowdfund is to help it expand into markets outside the UK, as well as within its home country. “We knew there were a lot of people who felt exactly the same way as we did,” says co-founder Rob Fink. “We realised we could create not just the beer we wanted, but a community of like-minded people too. What if we could do for alcohol-free beer what the craft beer revolution had done for, well, beer?” Well, if you want to find out and want a piece of the action, then head over to the site

The 2020 Tap Takeovers at the Tate will feature the likes of Cloudwater Brew Co., Tiny Rebel and more.

Tap Takeovers at the Tate

Lovers of contemporary art, good beer and alliteration are in for a treat as the latest Tap Takeovers at the Tate have just been announced. These consist of an evening at the Tate Modern in London devoted to a particular brewery. The first event on 30 January features Manchester’s very own Cloudwater Brew Co. with its delicious range of beers including a mighty 8.5% ABV Double IPA. And don’t worry if you don’t like beer or alcohol, as the brewery produces a range of zero ABV sodas. Be warned, though, you can’t just turn up and have access to delicious brews, that would be too easy, you need to book in advance here. Tap Takeovers will be running monthly throughout the year with breweries such as Tiny Rebel, Verdant Brewing and Northern Monk Brew, so there’s sure to be something that tickles your fancy.

The Nightcap

Yep. That’s a haggis lasagne alright.

And finally. . . It’s getting Scot in here! Aldi makes Burns Night lasagne with haggis.

Burns Night is, of course, founded on tradition. And tradition is fun, you know what you’re going to get. But this year, Burns Night 2020 will be known as the year that Aldi, everyone’s favourite discount supermarket, really shook things up because it has given Scotland’s national dish, the haggis, an Italian twist with a recipe for haggis lasagne. Yes, really! Literally lasagne with haggis, it’s the greatest Scots-Italian mash-up since Peter Capaldi. Imagine serving that at a traditional Burns Night. If this kind of culture collision isn’t your thing, then you can just buy the haggis from Aldi and enjoy it in its pure form. But if we could time travel, the only place we’d be going is back to the late 1700s to ask Robert Burns himself what he thinks of this. Salute! No, wait. Slange var!

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The Nightcap: 17 January

In the Nightcap this week we’ve got reinvented bar tools, Dry January discounts and news of victors in the World’s Toughest Row.  We’re officially back into the swing of things….

In the Nightcap this week we’ve got reinvented bar tools, Dry January discounts and news of victors in the World’s Toughest Row. 

We’re officially back into the swing of things. Not simply in sense of The Nightcap, but just in general. Those first couple of weeks following that gift-giving occasion and that world-kept-spinning celebration can be somewhat rocky, but we are firmly back in the saddle, and the saddle is back on the horse, and the horse is back on track, and the track is… OK, actually, yeah, that sentence is over, but not because our ducks aren’t in a row, but really it just went on a bit long. Never-the-less, The Nightcap is ready!

On the blog this week announced the return of the Burns Night poetry competition, while also revealing the winner of our Starward competition. Elsewhere, Henry explored the effect of the iStill on distillation and enjoyed a distinctive beer for our New Arrival of the Week. Jess then talked to Reyka Vodka’s Fabiano Latham before Annie looked at how Australia’s wine industry is reacting to the recent bushfires and the new wave of no-and-low-alcohol drinks. Adam then learned the story behind the revival of James E. Pepper and rounded-up some of the finest new arrivals at MoM Towers, before enjoying a Cocktail of the Week that was both trendy and tropical.

The Nightcap

A very moody looking Monkey Shoulder ‘Trigger Jigger’

Monkey Shoulder gets jiggy with it with the ‘Trigger Jigger’

Monkey Shoulder has made a big claim this week by stating it has reinvented one of the most popular bar tools on the planet – the jigger. Coined ‘The Trigger Jigger’, the Scotch whisky brand has said it guarantees 100% accuracy per pour and will save every bartender an average 4 hours and 42 minutes per year. For those unfamiliar with the tool, the jigger is used to measure and pour spirits and you’ll be sure to find them in any good bar across the globe. However, Monkey Shoulder has commented that inferior jigger designs are inaccurate by as much as 20% because of the likelihood for spirits to spill whilst being measured. A statement that will have many a bartender nodding knowingly. Lab technicians at Monkey Shoulder have put this new tool to the test and the results show that while standard jiggers produce one pour per 0.86 seconds, the Trigger Jigger has recorded speeds of one pour per 0.789 seconds. The design is the brainchild of Monkey Shoulder global brand ambassador Joe Petch, who commented: “Some jiggers are just not good for business and can result in slower serving speeds. So inspired by a nickel- and silver-plated jigger from the late 1880s and through countless hours of research with bartenders around the world, I set about righting some wrongs.” He went onto explain that the key was to streamline the design to ensure maximum liquid velocity: “By engineering a piston valve mechanism, I’ve ensured an accurate cut start and stop flow rate. Pour in the liquid and apply some pressure on a trigger using a good old-fashioned finger. The spirit streams out at an optimum rate into the drinking vessel.” The launch of the Trigger Jigger follows previous Monkey Shoulder inventions such as the extendable ‘iSpoon’, cocktail mixer the Konga Shaker and The Claw ice tong. Bars such as The Artesian, Swift Bar, The Beaufort Bar and Callooh Callay have already started using The Trigger Jigger, and others who want to get in on the act can get their hands on the limited stock by getting in touch with either John Wayte (@BarMonkey_ ) or Jody Buchan (@JodySpiritual).

The Nightcap

Duvel Batch No. 4

Duvel launches Batch No. 4 aged in bourbon barrels 

Beer and whisk(e)y share many things, from the base materials, the fermentation process, and even that time those whiskies were put into an IPA cask. Well, now awesome Belgian beer Duvel Moortgat has released Batch No.4 which has been treated to a nine-month maturation in oak barrels which previously held delicious bourbon. And not just any bourbon either, but liquid from Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, George Dickel and Jack Daniels. The limited-edition brew was matured in more than three hundred barrels shipped over to Belgium, with 80,000 bottles released at a burly 11.5% ABV. “The Duvel brewers have not been sitting still in recent months, but our speciality beer has been doing just that,” says Hedwig Neven, brewmaster at Duvel Moortgat. “Lovers of beer, Duvel, and whiskey can once again enjoy Duvel Barrel Aged now that the barrels are opened after their long rest and the bottles have finally been filled!” With toasted flavours of toffee, vanilla and obvious bourbon influence, Batch No. 4 even stole a gold medal in the Brussels Beer Challenge. Said to be a great pairing with raw or smoked fish, sushi, grilled or smoked meat, cheeses, exotic fruit and chocolate, it’s hard to think of an occasion when it wouldn’t fit in!

The Nightcap

2020 looks like another big year for the family firm

Hayman Distillers launches spirit merchant arm, Symposium 

2019 was a big year for Hayman Distillers with the launch of its fiendishly clever Small Gin and Merser & Co. Double Barrel Rum, and 2020 looks every bit as exciting as the London distiller has announced a new venture: Symposium, an independent spirits merchant. Named, no doubt, after the top 90s punk band, Symposium. This arm will involve a variety of spirit brands in categories including gin, vodka, Scotch whisky, rum, Tequila and sambuca. The portfolio will be divided into three parts. At the top is the Heritage range compromising of in-house products, Hayman’s Gin, Small Gin and Merser & Co rum; then the Challenger range with products like Bush Rum, Firean Scotch Whisky, Red Griffin Vodka and Half Crown Gin; and finally the House range. There is also talk of bringing in some agency brands in the future but nothing has been confirmed yet. James Hayman explained: ‘Our mission at Symposium is to create and to sell the finest range of spirits available.” He went on to say: “Symposium will operate at every level of the market with our Challenger brands, in particular, offering an exciting alternative for those who are no longer content to settle for ‘big-name’ brands from large producers and who seek a quality, independent option with a partner they can rely on for the long-term.” It’s all go at Hayman’s.

The Nightcap

We’ll certainly raise a glass to this good news!

The great pub and bar bounce-back is on!

After fifteen years of decline, we have some good news if you like pubs and bars (that’ll be all of us, then…). According to Office for National Statistics paper Economies of ale: changes in the UK pubs and bars sector, 2001 to 2019, the number of such drinking establishments in the UK is on the up once more! (Thumbs up to whoever came up with the name.) Sure, it’s just a 0.4% increase, but at the end of 2019, there were 85 more across the country than in 2018. Taking in larger sites (11+ employees) and chains, the total increase stood at 815. Cheers to that! Some of the trends behind the headline stats: we’re increasingly becoming a nation of foodies, with pubs and bars employing more people on the eating than drinking side of things as we all spend more on eating out than drinking out. But despite that, turnover is at the highest level since the financial crisis. Long live the pub!

The Nightcap

The beautiful original Bar Douro near London Bridge

Bar Douro to open branch in the City

Do you work in the City of London? Do you love Portuguese wine and food? Well, we have good news because Bar Douro is opening a branch in Finsbury Avenue on 28 January. The original opened in 2016 by Max Graham from the family that owns Churchill Port. It quickly picked up rave reviews from critics including Marina O’ Loughlin in the Guardian who wrote: “I have to restrain myself from licking the plate”. The new restaurant will offer food and wines from all over the country. Spirit lovers won’t be short-changed with a selection of specially imported Portuguese spirits including gins and Maven Aguardente aged brandy. And don’t forget, the best White Port & Tonics this side of Oporto. Graham commented: “We have only just scratched the surface of Portugal’s rich culinary traditions and with our second, larger space we are excited to further explore the wealth of Portuguese cuisine”. There will be a soft launch from 28 January until 11 February. Email city@bardouro.co.uk for a reservation. You won’t be disappointed. 

The Nightcap

The team of four Brits made it into safe harbour after winning the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019

Brits crowned champions in Talisker Atlantic Challenge

Remember when Talisker sent teams of intrepid sorts off across the Atlantic Ocean on the World’s Toughest RowWell… we have a victor! Or a team of four victors, to be precise. British team Fortitude IV was the first to make it from La Gomera in the Canary Island to Antigua in the Caribbean in an impressive time of 32 days 12 hours and 35 minutes! They braved 12-metre waves, a capsizing incident, broken oars, and “some of the scariest moments of [our] life”. Not for the faint-hearted, and especially impressive when you realise some teams expect to take eight more weeks to cross. Yikes. We raise our tasting glasses to Ollie Palmer (who also happens to work for Talisker parent company, Diageo), Tom Foley, Hugh Gillum and Max Breet, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019 champions! “Being on the ocean in quite an extreme context, strips back all the noise and makes you realise what is really important to you,” said Gillum. “You have a lot of time to think out there – with no distractions – and that inspires you in different ways. It was an amazing thing to have done – we set off thinking it was a once in a lifetime thing and we can certainly maintain that position. The sum of all the parts is incredible – from seeing the shooting stars, to the arrival here tonight, and the support from all of our family and friends. There are tough times that we perhaps would wish away slightly but standing here now [in Antigua] we just think that the sum of all those parts is incredible.” Time for a well-earned dram, we think. Talisker, of course… 

The Nightcap

The Suntory Group will donate $500,000 AUD in support of those impacted by the bushfires

Suntory pledges AUD$500k to Australia bushfire relief

The devastating bushfires in Australia have broken hearts around the world – but individuals and companies are stepping forward to offer support in all kinds of ways. The latest to join the relief effort is Suntory Group, which makes the likes of Jim Beam bourbon, Hibiki Japanese whisky and Courvoisier Cognac. It’s committed to donating AU$500,000 (about £264,000) to the Australian Red Cross, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and the New South Wales Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service. “We have all been deeply saddened by the spread of these immense fires, which have destroyed lives, towns, homes and wildlife,” said Andrea Parker, managing director at Beam Suntory Oceania. “We are committed to helping rebuild these communities along with the rest of the Suntory Group.” The pledge follows another AU$500k donation from Diageo-owned Bundaberg rum to the Australian Red Cross earlier this week. Want to know more about the bushfires and how you can help? Check out the blog right here for more.

The Nightcap

The new partnership is for those who manage a team behind the bar and want to boost wellbeing

Small Batch Learning and Healthy Hospo team up on wellbeing initiative

Bartenders, (or indeed, anyone who works in hospitality) listen up! Smart-learning company Small Batch Learning has partnered with Healthy Hospo, a non-profit wellness education provider, to offer bars, restaurants and hotels an online tool to promote mental and physical health. Level 1 content is totally free to access and will be inserted into existing Small Batch materials, while Level 2 plans are paid-for, with proceeds reinvested in Healthy Hospo. “A healthy mind, body and workplace should be a non-negotiable, and we’re proud to partner with Healthy Hospo to help address these topics,” says Duncan Campbell, COO of Small Batch Learning. “As we continue our mission to make hospitality training accessible and relevant, this partnership will shine a light on serious issues facing the industry that are often pushed aside or laughed off. We’re thrilled to support Healthy Hospo scale up and help further the impact of its crucial training.” Tim Etherington-Judge, Healthy Hospo founder, added: “From chronic rates of sleep deprivation and substance abuse, to sky-high issues with mental health, we are not a healthy industry – and we often suffer in silence. It’s time to change the conversation and stop putting our health, and that of our colleagues, at the bottom of the to-do list.” If you manage a team in hospitality, check out Small Batch Learning!

The Nightcap

The choice of headline sponsor at SXSW is an example of the rise of hard seltzer

White Claw lines up South by Southwest partnership

If you needed any more indicators that hard seltzers are going to be A Very Big Thing, here’s another for you. White Claw, the US’s best-seltzer brand, has just taken over ‘super sponsorship’ of South by Southwest (SXSW). The actual interesting bit? It’s binned off a beer brand to nab the top spot. All eyes will be on the music, film and tech event, which takes place in Austin, Texas, from 13-22 March, and to have a hard seltzer over a beer marks a shift indeed. “We’re thrilled to bring White Claw to life at SXSW,” said Phil Rosse, president, White Claw Seltzer Works. “This brand has been built through the great passion and celebration by our fans, connecting the brand to culture and sharing it through their social channels. We are excited to support SXSW, an event that has always been ground zero for innovation in culture and technology.” Roland Swenson, SXSW CEO and co-founder, added: “SXSW is excited to work with White Claw. As one of the fastest-growing brands, their sponsorship of SXSW reflects the independent and innovative spirit that SXSW is known for.” Bring on the seltzers!

The Nightcap

Alain Ducasse opposes Dry January, and we salute him

And finally… Alain Ducasse fights Dry January with discount fine wine

Are you getting a bit bored of Dry January? The pious friends who won’t go to the pub, your favourite drinks website brimming with articles about non-alcoholic drinks instead of whisky and the dreaded word ‘mocktail.’ Well, Alain Ducasse feels your pain. He told the Guardian this week: “I’ve noted that trend but I don’t want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it.” And so, he has put his money where his mouth is and slashed the prices of some of his best bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy in an effort to get diners drinking again. So get down to your local Ducasse restaurant, like Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London, order something fancy, and sip away those January blues.

 

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The Nightcap: 10 January

The Nightcap has returned for 2020, and with it a fresh batch of boozy news, including an alcohol-free bar, a £1m crowd-funding campaign, and the UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery. After…

The Nightcap has returned for 2020, and with it a fresh batch of boozy news, including an alcohol-free bar, a £1m crowd-funding campaign, and the UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery.

After a few weeks in a regenerative cocoon made out of Stilton and Yule log, The Nightcap has emerged with wings and those weird bug antlers that are actually eyes, ready to chow down on all the news from the booze world. That was a long-winded way to say that The Nightcap is back after a bit of a Christmas break, but the enthusiasm remains the same. We’re excited to see what drinks news this new year (and new decade) will behold – and it all kicks off… Now!

The blog was still full of fabulous features even throughout the festive period. We announced the winner of our Where’s #WhiskySanta 2019 competition the same week our supernatural, omniscient, festive, heavily-bearded sadly went on his holibobs. We then looked back at 2019: the delightful drinks we enjoyed (bartenders also had their say), the most read posts on our blog and an honest review of our trend predictions, before cracking out the crystal ball and to do it all again for 2020. Not always that seriously.

Our Dry January coverage kicked off at the Small Beer Brew Co., before Fiona Beckett and Claire Warner dropped by for a chat. Annie then explored the world of no-ABV cocktails, embraced #veganuary and the use of plant milk in cocktails and even looked to the future of AI in booze. Elsewhere, Adam enjoyed some warming rums, cast a spotlight on Micil and then Luxardo Distillery, while Jess brushed up on her Armagnac knowledge, and Henry reported on the developments at Port Ellen Distillery. Even among all that content, there was still time for a couple of new arrivals, including Bob Dylan’s own whiskey and a single malt from Yorkshire, as well as a fruity little number for Cocktail of the Week. Oh, and Dram Club returned for 2020.

Phew, talk about blog-mageddon! Now, for the first time in 2020, let’s enjoy the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

The Cat and Fiddle Inn opened in 1813 and is 1,689 ft (515m) above sea level

Funding secured for UK’s ‘highest’ whisky distillery

There’s another new distillery on the way, folks! This one’s got a pretty cool story, too. Take one historic pub, The Cat & Fiddle, situated 1,689ft above sea level in the Peak District. It’s beautiful but didn’t do so well as a pub (the whole driving a long way to it thing wasn’t really working…). It opened in 1813, but ‘reluctantly’ closed its doors in 2015. Business was far from booming. But step in the Forest Distillery team! Eager to expand production, and to find a space for casks to mature, it teamed up with the pub’s Robinson family to kick off a crowdfunder to refurbish and transform the pub into a whisky distillery. An initial crowdfunding exercise raised £55,000, and now the team says it’s well on the way to reaching its eventual £250,000 goal. The site will be renamed The Cat & Fiddle & Weasel, after the adorable motif on the Forest Gin bottle. As well as the pub and distillery, there will also be an onsite shop with takeaway options for picnics and a visitor centre. And the best bit? The Forest Distillery team reckon the new site will be ready to open come August! We’re VERY excited. Wondering the elevation of the current highest whisky distillery in the UK? That title goes to Dalwhinnie, perched at an altitude of 1,164ft. The only way is up!

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The AF Bar features 15 taps of pure draft zero-ABV goodness

BrewDog launches ‘world’s first’ alcohol-free beer bar

Sound the ‘Dry January’ sirens, folks, we’ve got a big one here. BrewDog has launched a bar dedicated to alcohol-free beer. A whole bar. 15 taps of pure draft zero-ABV goodness. Launched this week in Old Street, London, it’s the first time the independent Scottish craft brewer has featured a line-up solely devoted to drinks without alcohol at a bar where visitors will be able to enjoy activities such as Hip Hop Karaoke, Dabbers Bingo, Famous First Words, and more. But, perhaps most excitingly for the thrifty among us, BrewDog will also be running the ‘Drink All You Can Jan’ programme across all its bars, which will offer drinkers unlimited refills of its alcohol-free beers for the entire month. BrewDog previously dipped its toes into low-ABV waters with the release of Nanny State in August 2009, which is now the UK’s best-selling alcohol-free craft beer. It followed that up with an alcohol-free version of the flagship Punk IPA, Punk AF, and two new additions, Wake Up Call, a coffee stout, and Hazy AF, an alcohol-free take on its existing New England IPA, Hazy Jane. BrewDog referenced a UK Beer Market Report from Mintel in 2018 that said that 24% of beer drinkers are choosing more low- or no-alcohol options, and that 28% of beer drinkers are cutting back on consumption because of health concerns, so the brand clearly feels this is a timely initiative. “Drinkers opting for low- or no-alcohol are in danger of compromising on quality, taste and experience. And that’s just the beer – forget about places in which to enjoy it,” said James Watt, who is apparently the ‘captain’ of BrewDog (lame). “We are going to change that. We exist to be a point of difference, and our first BrewDog AF Bar is just that. It is a beacon for anyone in London after an alcohol-free alternative. Alcohol-free does not need to be synonymous with taste-free. ‘Drink all you can Jan’ is our anti-Dry January. Whether you have cut alcohol out or are cutting back, we want to show that alcohol-free doesn’t mean compromising on quality or taste.”

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The new-look Powers range

Powers Irish Whiskey unveils new look

Powers Irish Whiskey has revealed a new bottle design for its range of premium Irish whiskeys, which will debut on core expression Powers Gold Label in the USA from March 2020. The makeover was undertaken to reach a new generation of drinkers to the classic Irish whiskey brand, which is made by Irish Distillers at Midleton Distillery, and follows the launch of Powers Old Fashioned, the brand’s first-ever pre-mixed cocktail and the Powers Quarter initiative, a collaboration between six Dublin bars to tell the story of Powers and its history. The updated design for the bottle shape is inspired by the distinctive pot still silhouette from the brand’s historical home at John’s Lane Distillery and the label is styled on the Powers ‘diamond P’, which was one of the first-ever trademarks registered in Ireland. Each whiskey will also have a different colour label, with Powers Gold Label in red as an homage to the original red Powers diamond marque, Powers Three Swallow in blue as a nod to the bird’s feathers and Powers John’s Lane Release in metallic ink, to reflect the industrial nature of the original distillery established in 1791 on John’s Lane, Dublin. “Powers sense of identity has always focused on the diamond P; that became very clear to me as I worked my way through the historical archive. The diamond P was everywhere; on the casks, stationery, on bills and receipts, emblazoned on everything that left the distillery, and notably on the wonderful Powers mirrors that still hang in Ireland’s pubs today,” says Carol Quinn, archivist at Irish Distillers. “Workers at the old John’s Lane distillery even took to wearing a diamond P pin on their lapel, such was their pride to be part of the Powers family.  For me it’s wonderful to see the diamond P front and centre on this new label, symbolising all the history of this great whiskey since 1791.” Conor McQuaid, chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers, added: “We are excited to introduce this new look to the world and inspire a new generation with the unique history and personality of Powers.”

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The future is bright in the Cotswolds

Cotswolds Distillery raises £1m in crowdfunding campaign

The award-winning Cotswolds Distillery has been feeling the love this week at it delightedly reported that its recent fundraising had already raised £1 million. In early December 2019, the producer of delicious English spirits (we’re big fans of its whisky) launched the campaign through its Angel’s Share 2 fundraising platform in order to “maximise whisky production and continue its brand-building programme”. It’s little surprise that the initiative attracted such interest from investors, as back in 2018 the distillery successfully raised £3m of equity which was subsequently invested in building the brand and senior management team. “We pride ourselves on creating award-winning English whiskies that are enjoyed across the world, and, are always looking for new investors to join us on this journey,” says Dan Szor, founder and CEO of the Cotswolds Distillery. “It is a very exciting time for them to be involved with the company and we’re hoping that this new investment will carry us through the next chapter in the distillery’s evolution and help support us in creating even more delicious whisky!” If you fancy investing yourself, you can do so here before 13 January 2020.  

It’s Alissa!

The Balvenie kicks off Stories tour

Single malt Scotch whisky brand The Balvenie is poised to take its Stories tour of bar takeovers on the road, with stops including London’s Lyaness (Sunday 12 January) and The Artesian (13 January), as well as Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Café (15 January). And there’s an antipodean twist: six of Australia’s leading bartenders are coming along for the ride. Alicia Clarke of Jangling Jack’s in Sydney; Jessica Arnott of Foxtrot Unicorn in Perth; Nicola Dean of Maybe Mae in Adelaide; Kayla Reid of Nick and Norah’s in Melbourne; Chelsea Catherine of The Black Pearl in Melbourne; and, Alissa Gabriel of Mjolner in Sydney will all make drinks using The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 Year Old. Serves have been based on stories shared with the group of bartenders by Kelsey McKechnie, The Balvenie’s apprentice malt master, and creator of the expression. “I’m thrilled to be welcoming such an incredible cohort of bartenders onto UK shores to share stories and these special drinks with UK consumers,” said Alwynne Gwilt, UK ambassador. “Our new whisky series, The Balvenie Stories, is all about connecting through storytelling and I’ve no doubt this latest event series at these leading bars will give us some great tales to tell as the year goes on!” It’s not just about the booze – 10% of drinks sales from the tour will be donated to charities fighting the devastating bushfires in Australia. So what are you waiting for? If you’re in London or Glasgow, head on down!

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The Impact Fund is a commendable cause

Symington Port launches environmental initiative 

2020 has seen Port producer Symington Family Estates off to a flying start, celebrating some rather impressive milestones with the 200th anniversary of Graham’s Port and the 350th anniversary of Warre’s Port. To celebrate, the Symington family didn’t just throw a massive party and sip on the delicious fruits of their own labour (who wouldn’t?), but created a force for good in the world! The family has created a new Impact Fund with an initial pledge of a whopping €1 million euros. The purpose of the fund? It’s threefold: community wellbeing and health, environmental protection and conservation, and cultural heritage and education, all in the Douro and Greater Porto regions as well as the Alto Alentejo. They’re currently working with Volunteer Emergency Services of the Douro region (they’ve donated 13 ambulances so far) and Bagos d’Ouro, a charity that provides education and opportunities for underprivileged children in the Douro. “We have always sought to run our family business in a way that benefits people – be they our employees or the wider community. We are also committed to protecting the beautiful natural environments where we produce our wines,” said Rupert Symington, CEO of Symington Family Estates. “We have consistently reinvested in the Douro region and have a long history of supporting social initiatives in the areas where we work. The Symington Impact Fund is a way of formalising this commitment and ensuring we support projects which are most aligned with our values and where we can have the maximum positive impact.” What a way to celebrate! 

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George Duboeuf, the man who turned Beaujolais into an international sensation, died this week at 86.

The King of Beaujolais dies at 86

This week the wine world lost one of its greats: George Duboeuf, known as the King of Beaujolais. Duboeuf was a marketing genius who took the annual release of the young wine, generally enjoyed only in local bars, and made it a global news story in the 1970s and ‘80s. On the day the wine was released, always the third Thursday of November, there were races to be the first to bring that year’s vintage back where it was sold with the slogan: ‘Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!’. At a time when in Britain wine was still seen as something elitist, Duboeuf made it unpretentious and fun. He was born in 1933 into a vine-growing family in Burgundy and set up his own merchant business in 1964. It came to dominate the region through its own-label wines, with the pretty flowery labels, and by producing wines for retailers. Dominique Piron, head of Inter Beaujolais, commented: “Through his vision and his work, he gave life, colour, aromas and joy to the wines of Beaujolais. He was a catalyst, taking with him other merchants and other winemakers which made Beaujolais the first vineyard in France to make the headlines in newspapers and televisions, in France and around the world.” He went on to say: “The family business is in good hands with his son, Franck Duboeuf, at the helm and the adventure will continue.” Au revoir, Monsieur Duboeuf, and thank you for all the wine.

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Congratulations to WASE!

English start-up chosen for final of $1m Chivas Venture Fund

A London-based company WASE, which makes wastewater treatment systems, has won the England & Wales heat of this year’s Chivas Ventures. This annual competition run by the Scotch whisky company gives away $1 million to help with worthwhile businesses around the world. So far, Chivas has given away $5 million and, according to its figures, benefited over two million lives. WASE will now compete with 25 other companies in the global final in June. Before that, all 26 competitors will go to London for an intensive three-day training programme with experts and industry professionals. Founder Thomas Fudge commented: “I’m super excited and honoured to be representing England and Wales in The Chivas Venture global finals. Can’t wait to show the rest of the world what WASE has to offer and fight for my spot in the finals. Watch this space!” According to the press release: “WASE develops decentralised wastewater treatment systems that embrace a circular economy to recover energy, nutrients and water in wastewater  providing sanitation and energy in under-served communities.” Sounds very worthwhile. Good luck to WASE for the grand final in June!

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The Calming Coral cocktail

The Coral Room and MEDA kick-off 2020 with CBD-infused zero-alcohol cocktails

The Coral Room is getting its zeitgeist on in 2020 by kicking off the new year with a range of cocktails made by head mixologist Stefan Pohlod that are CBD-infused and non-alcoholic. The core ingredient in each serve is a drink from lifestyle brand MEDA’s range, GLOW, CALM, RECOVER and Espresso Medatini SKUs, which were created by blending of 5-15mg of liposomal CBD (cannabidiol) with synergistic ingredients. The offerings include the Glow Spritz which combines lime juice, cardamom bitter and elderflower syrup, the Calming Coral which features lemon juice, peppermint cordial and strawberry purée, the Recover & Revive which mixes Seedlip grove with grapefruit and lime shrub and the Wake Up Call which sees caramel cream, chilli bitters and coffee tonic paired together. The cocktails are priced at £10 each and the brand claims that they are “the perfect way to detox after the prolonged festive celebrations whilst restoring the balance of both body and mind through the inimitable benefits that CBD has to offer”. Apparently. Essentially they should appeal to anybody partaking in an alcohol-free start to the new year and those who are buzzed about CBD cocktails.

 

And finally…  Tottenham Hotspur and Beavertown launch collaboration beer

Tottenham Hotspur’s ‘Official Craft Beer Supplier’ (I didn’t even know that was a thing. Is this a thing now?) Beavertown has launched a new beer in collaboration with the club just in time for the first home game of 2020. Fans of the club (ok, my dad) have described the development as “much needed”, given the team’s performance so far this season. The beer is called One Of Our Own, a name chosen by Tom Rainsford, a Spurs fan who recently joined Beavertown as marketing director, presumably inspired by the North London side’s chant for star player Harry Kane. A Tottenham fan (again, my dad) has described the timing as “typical”. Jokes aside, One Of Our Own is a significant launch as the classic British IPA was crafted with purely European hops (Callista, Mandarina Bavaria and Barbe Rouge) in the microbrewery operated by Tottenham-based Beavertown inside the Club’s new home – a world-first for any football stadium. The beer is said to have notes of stone fruit and malt-sweetness, matching the flavours thirsty supporters have favoured since the stadium opened last April. “Beavertown’s Neck Oil is already a half-time favourite, and we wanted to add to this by offering something new at the start of 2020,” says Rainsford. “Supporting a club is in your bones, and this beer feels the same. It’s familiar, yet distinct. A satisfying pint that makes you feel at home. We see Spurs as the beating heart of the Tottenham community, a central hub for football fans and residents alike. We both share values of bringing people together, creating revolutionary experiences and even world firsts like our microbrewery inside the stadium.”  One Of Our Own will be sold exclusively at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and will be available at tomorrow’s huge Premier League clash against Liverpool. Will it bring them luck?!

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The Nightcap: 20 December

It’s the final Nightcap of 2019, so for the last time year let’s all enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news! Christmas is just around the corner, and then New…

It’s the final Nightcap of 2019, so for the last time year let’s all enjoy a fresh batch of boozy news!

Christmas is just around the corner, and then New Year’s Eve will happen, and then we’ll be in a brand new decade. Yes, another one. They just keep on happening, don’t they? There won’t be a Nightcap next week, for reasons that have nothing to do with being full of pigs within blankets. So, for the very last time of the 2010s, let’s check out what’s going on in the world of boozes with a plethora of brilliant bite-sized news chunks. It’s The Nightcap!

On the blog this week we launched our fabulously festive Where’s #WhiskySanta? competition in which you can win a £250 MoM voucher! Speaking of competitions, you’ve only got a few days left to enter the Starward competition, so be sure to pick yourself up a bottle from the Starward distillery range if you fancy a free boozy holiday down under… Elsewhere, #WhiskySanta announced his final SuperWish, the incredible Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter, while the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar continued to impress with its selection of spirits on days #14, #15, #16, #17, #18 and #19. Adam meanwhile rounded-up some cracking Christmas table tipples to ease your shopping woes, before checking out Amazónico, a new rainforest-inspired bar and restaurant in Mayfair. Henry then enjoyed the company of Cognac maverick Alexandre Gabriel and the spicy, bold WhistlePig Ten Year Old – Pitt Cue Exclusive. Annie made a case for The Alpine Toddy to be your winter warmer of choice this year, and cast her eye on an upcoming trend, the rise of the mini Martini.

Now, for the last time in 2019, let’s motor on with the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

The West Indies Rum Distillery issued a statement this week. Also, look at that view!

Barbados rum GI conflict hots up

The ongoing debate over the proposed geographical indication (GI) for Barbados rum has just gone to DefCon 3, after the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) issued a statement this week. It was signed by Andrew Hassell, managing director of the distillery, and Alexandre Gabriel, owner and master blender, and makes a few notable (and potentially controversial) points about what should be allowed in Barbados rum. Here we go: 1) Ageing off the island. They want a mandatory year’s ageing in Barbados, but the allowance of secondary maturation elsewhere like Cognac or England. “The 350-year-old double ageing historical practice must also be preserved,” they say. 2) Sugar additions should be allowed. “History shows that Barbados rums have been made for centuries both with and without the inclusion of sugar and caramel,” the statement reads. 3) Wood varieties: WIRD wants to continue using varieties of wood other than oak: “We are currently using seven types of sustainable wood for our rums and are studying further with local and international historians and established barrel-makers. Limiting Barbados to American oak barrels would be a great mistake that would obliterate historic practices,” they say. 4) Still types. In addition to pot and column stills, WIRD uses an archaic chamber still which they think should be allowed in the GI. Phew. This statement will no doubt be noticed by Richard Seale from the Foursquare Distillery, who has been vocal in the past about sugar additions, off-island ageing and described maturation in other woods in a recent interview as “marketing novelty”. There are stories of heated online debates over some of these issues. The statement from WIRD ends: “The future of the diversity of Barbados rum depends on this GI outcome.” Looks like this is an argument that will run and run.

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Hendrick’s does love a good pop-up

Hendrick’s Gin brings a giant snow globe to Heathrow Terminal 3

We know that we can always count on Hendrick’s Gin for a marvellously quirky pop-up, and the latest one is a rather festive activation in London Heathrow’s Terminal 3! It takes the form of a giant snow globe that’ll reside there until 7 January, with an army of aproned brand ambassadors ready to talk all things Hendrick’s. Get to the gin already! Alright, alright, yes, you can grab a free sample of either a Hendrick’s G&T, or a Gin Buck, which is paired with ginger ale and lime juice. That’s not all though. If you’re passing through the terminal, you can turn the ‘Key of Curiosity’, and you’ll be treated to a Hendrick’s cracker filled with either a 50ml bottle, a cucumber pin badge, or a Little Guide to Conjuring magic book. It’s like Hendrick’s read our Christmas list! Oh, but we haven’t even got to the best part yet. At some mystery point, one lucky traveller will get to pull an extra special cracker containing the rare stainless steel Hendrick’s penguin pourer, with his top hat on and all. Manjot Riyait, head of marketing for William Grant & Sons GTR, said of the T3 snow globe’s activation: “There has been a constant buzz of passengers around the globe, taking photos and enjoying a Hendrick’s and tonic, and we look forward to delighting many more happy travellers over what we expect to be a busy and fruitful festive period for global travel retail.” Who even needs to go on holiday after you’ve had all this festive fun?

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I think we can all agree that the Safe Ride KY coalition is a superb initiative

Kentucky revellers get free taxis

Here’s a good idea. The Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) has put $10,000 in a kitty so that party-goers can get a free or discounted ride home from a night out (depending on where they live). The initiative, run by the Safe Ride KY coalition, runs from 5pm on Friday 20 December until 5am on Wednesday 1 January. All you have to do is download the Lyft app on your phone, enter promo code SAFERIDEKY2020, and claim $10 in ride credit (more information here). KDA president Eric Gregory said: “We are proud to lead the coalition in offering discounted safe rides this holiday season for the third consecutive year. We encourage all who will be venturing out to celebrate to do so responsibly and plan your transportation ahead of time.” So if you’re going out in Kentucky this Christmas, you can have that Old Fashioned or two, and get home safely. Would be great if someone introduced something similar in Britain. We’re looking at you SWA.

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The delightful 2019 Distillery Exclusive

Royal Lochnagar launches distillery-exclusive bottling for 2019

As the year comes towards an end, Royal Lochnagar has gone and released its 2019 Distillery Exclusive! The Highland distillery matured the single malt in European oak and refill casks, bottled at 48% ABV. What to expect? The distillery tells us there are notes of warming wood spice, green apple, vanilla and toffee, with burnt cocoa and candy floss in there too. The limited-edition bottling has been released with a run of only 5,004 bottles. “This special liquid perfectly captures the spirit of Royal Lochnagar distillery character, with a wide range of outstanding flavours and aromas which are inspired by the experience of being out in the open landscape of our home in the Cairngorm mountains,” Neil Murphy, the senior site manager at Royal Lochnagar said. “This rare and exclusive single malt has been selected by our expert team and represents a rare memento of whisky history for visitors to take and enjoy.” Here’s the catch: if you want a bottle, you’ll have to go to the distillery itself to nab it. Trip to the Highlands, anyone?

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The WSTA feels consumers in the UK pay too much tax on their Christmas booze

WSTA calls for cuts to wine and spirit duty

This time of year might be one for giving, but sharing the boozy love will set you back a pretty penny if you’re in the UK, according to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). Your basket of Christmas booze is set to cost an all-time high this year, with 49% of consumers’ cash going straight to the taxman. The French, by comparison, will pay just 21% tax. In fact, the UK alcohol industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe, with British drinkers paying an extraordinary 69% of all wine duties collected by all 28 EU member states and 25% of all spirits duties. This is by far the most of any member state despite accounting for only 11 per cent of the total EU population. That’s why the WSTA is calling on the government to cut alcohol duty. Wine is the UK’s most popular drink, enjoyed by 33 million Brits, but income from wine receipts actually decreased from last year’s take by 2.1% according to the HMRC Alcohol Bulletin figures released last month. If the 2.1% drop plays out for the whole year then Treasury would be set to lose £92 million compared to 2018. The WSTA attributes this to the chancellor’s decision to single out wine for a duty increase at the last Budget, and claims these figures are proof that raising alcohol duty is not only bad for business and consumers but also bad news for the Treasury. It’s worth remembering that the wine and spirit industry supports some 369,000 jobs and generates £49 billion in economic activity. “Comparing the wine and spirit tax regime in the UK to that in France puts the UK’s excessively high rate of excise duty firmly in the spotlight. The Treasury will be taking more money than ever from British businesses and consumers this Christmas while our French cousins’ booze bill will be much more palatable,” says Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and certified Nightcap legend. “We are calling on the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, to support British consumers, pubs and the wider hospitality trade by cutting alcohol duty.”

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William Borrell, founder of Ladies and Gentlemen and knitwear model

Ladies and Gentlemen goes dry for January

Yes, Dry January’s a thing. And yes, we’re thanking the booze(-free) gods that there are delicious low- and no-ABV alternatives out in the world. And now, London bar Ladies and Gentlemen is doing a full-on alcohol-free takeover, complete with Mindful Thursdays, throughout the month. From 10-31 January, no drink will have a higher ABV than 0.5%, with a menu based on Willow, a low-alcohol spirit that brings together CBD with the flavour of pineapple, star anise, blue agave and cherry tomatoes. Low-alcohol wines and beers with also be available. Feeling especially stressed? Pop down on a Thursday for Lego-based therapy, a mindful activity that will also raise money for The Toy Project, which recycles toys and distributes them globally. There will even be low- and no-ABV cocktail-making workshops, too! “The no & low-alcohol category has kept growing with no sign of slowing since 2001. said William Borrell, Ladies and Gentlemen founder. “With more products available on the market, we wanted to cut through those questions we are asked on a daily basis to help build this exciting category. I believe that no and low is perfect for those who want to hold off on alcoholic beverages and don’t need to miss out on the experience of enjoying a beer with friends or a non-alcoholic cocktail with all the cues of alcohol. What better place to host a month of wine , spirit and beer than a rock and roll dive bar.” Hurrah!

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Big shoes: hip-hop icon Future

Hip-Hop artist Future and 1800 Tequila present ‘1800 Seconds Vol 2.’

1800 Tequila and Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Future have partnered together to curate 1800 Seconds Vol. 2 as part of an initiative to support up-and-coming talent. Seven rising artists chosen by Future and the A+R team were given the platform to write and release new tracks with major label resources and one major co-sign. The seven artists are Aurora Anthony (New York, NY), Herion Young (Memphis, TN), Juiicy2xS (Cincinnati, OH), Lihtz (Philadelphia, PA), Seddy Hendrinx (Jacksonville, FL), Shaun Sloan (Los Angeles, CA) and Test (Baltimore, MD). All beats and executive production came from Nick Papamitrou (aka Papamitrou or Nick Papz), who created the album in one week with Future in November, with the latter guest appearing on a number of tracks. The album, which is being distributed by UnitedMasters, is available now on all music streaming platforms. “When I got into music, I did it my own way, I made a path for myself. I’ve created shoes to walk down my path and I made them big enough for someone else to walk after me,” says Future. “Curating this project with 1800 Tequila gives me a platform to find and collaborate with young artists, help them shape their voice and push their vision.  Everyone has a different vision for themselves – real success and magic happens when we come together and work collectively.” To download the full 1800 Seconds album, meet the artists and watch the behind-the-scenes documentary, you can visit 1800seconds.com. So, grab yourself a Margarita and enjoy the sounds of the future…

The Nightcap

Anyone for a J&B Rare Manhattan?

The Rex Whistler at The TATE Britain reveals the J&B Rare Manhattan

Now, it’s not proven that cocktails that are only available for a limited time taste better, but knowing that not everyone will have the chance to try something may add that extra pizzazz. Which brings us to The Rex Whistler restaurant at The TATE Britain, which has created a J&B Rare Manhattan! Mind you, it’ll only be on there for the next month or so only, until January 2020. If you’re not sure what The Rex Whistler is, it’s been open since 1927 and was described as ‘The Most Amusing Room in Europe’ when it opened because of its unique mural, ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’. Nearly a century on, we wonder if it would still uphold its title. Matthew Randall, General Manager at The Rex Whistler has put his own unique twist on the classic cocktail, having aged in a sherry barrel for two weeks. “The Rex Whistler is a classic restaurant, and we wanted to create a classic cocktail to showcase the different elements of J&B Rare,” Randall said. The barrel-aged sweet sherry matches this timeless whisky to create a delicious seasonal cocktail.” Well, certainly sounds like the kind of treat we’d want after gazing at art for a few hours. Or maybe we’ll just skip that part altogether…

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The seductive Scent of Stilton

And finally… Eau de Stilton

Ah, the seductive scent of. . . . cheese?! Yes, at a Christmas party this year you might be sitting next to someone with a uniquely seasonal smell. No, it’s not because they have some horrible fungal infection, it’s a new limited edition range of fragrances from PerfumeDirect.com. There’s Eau de Christmas Pudding, Pigs in Blanket Parfum and the Stench, sorry, Scent of Stilton. We certainly wouldn’t mind getting close to someone wearing the Christmas pudding perfume containing as it does notes of berries, citrus, almond and apple, vanilla, clove and Cognac, and carnivores might go wild for some of that piggy goodness. But even Jonny Webber from Perfume Direct sounds a bit sceptical about the last one: “The Stilton perfume is certainly different and will probably turn a few heads when the wearer walks past.” And probably not in a good way. But really, who are we to judge. It’s nearly 2020, man, whatever blows your hair back.

And and finally… how do you feel about a lickable beer igloo?

In the spirit of Christmas, we felt it appropriate to have not one, but TWO And Finallys this week. (Also, it’s clearly silly season and neither of these stories are sensible enough to make The Nightcap proper.) News reached MoM Towers this week of a new structure to come to Southwark in London. It comes complete with sleeping bags. You can fit two adults in it. And… you can lick it?! Yes! The Anchor Bankside pub has commissioned an actual igloo made from 1,000 litres of its new Ice Breaker ale. “We’ve never seen a real frozen igloo, particularly one where the walls are made from real beer,” said Matt Starbuck, Greene King managing director. “If it’s successful, we might even roll it out to our pubs up and down the country – it could be the ideal overnight stay for people who don’t fancy getting a taxi home at closing time!” We’re all up for sharing a pint, but licking walls that have been enjoyed by goodness knows how many others… we’re not sure we’re ever going to feel that festive. But if you are? Get to Southwark with haste, the igloo’s only there until it melts…

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The Nightcap: 13 December

In a week with an election (think we can all agree the true winners were the pooches at the polls), the world of booze still managed to churn out plenty…

In a week with an election (think we can all agree the true winners were the pooches at the polls), the world of booze still managed to churn out plenty of news. And it’s all in the Nightcap!

With Christmas on the horizon, you’d think the world of booze news might slow down, that schedules get filled up with gravy tastings, awkward extended family small talk planning meetings and scheduled downtime to watch gift wrapping tutorial videos on YouTube. Nope. The news keeps happening, and we keep on compiling it every week in The Nightcap. Here’s another edition of it. Please, enjoy. 

Before we talk about all the amazing goings-on in blog land, just a quick reminder that there’s still time to enter our fantastic Starward competition, where you’ll visit the actual distillery in actual Australia! Hope you’ve been working on your knifey-spoony game…

Now, back to the fabulous features, you might have missed this week what with that election thing happening. #WhiskySanta announced what this week’s SuperWish would be (it’s another absolute corker, folks), but, not to be outdone, the Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar also gave us some great whisky over the course of the week. Check out days #7, #8, #9, #10, #11 and #12 if you don’t believe us. Elsewhere, plenty of our pals stopped by to revel in the festivities. Diageo brand ambassadors TJ Littlejohn and Colin Dunn tasted their way through the 2019 Diageo Special Releases, Black Rock co-founder Matthew Hastings talked whisky with Annie and Edrington-Beam Suntory’s David Miles caught up with Adam to predict this season’s Christmas trends. Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison (or Noel and Jeal, to their friends) even popped by to talk all about their latest book with Henry, who also enjoyed some exceptional rum and his very first Snowball cocktail

Now, let’s get stuck into the Nightcap!

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The collection is made up of 3,900 bottles worth £8 million. Yes, you read that right,

World’s largest private whisky collection to go to auction unveiled

Earlier this week, the largest private collection of whisky ever to go to auction was revealed! What quantifies the largest, we hear you ask? Well, this particular collection is the most significant by both value and volume, having been dubbed ‘The Perfect Collection’. The impressive array of whisky is courtesy of Mr Richard Gooding, with over 3,900 bottles, primarily consisting of Scotch, estimated to be collectively worth around £8 million. Whisky Auctioneer will be selling the collection next year. You can be sure there are a few iconic names among the thousands of bottles, with The Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank making appearances, as well as some lost distilleries such as Stromness and Dallas Dhu. Some individual bottles are valued at over £1 million! Would you believe it, until recently this magnificent collection was just sitting in the Gooding’s house in Colorado? “It was clear to us as a family that collecting Scotch was one of Richard’s greatest passions,” said Nancy Gooding, wife of the late Mr Gooding. “He was always so pleased to acquire the bottles that he was searching for over the years – his mission was to collect a bottle that represented every single distillery, but his favourite was always Bowmore.” The Perfect Collection by Mr Richard Gooding will go live on Whisky Auctioneer in two separate auctions, from 7 to 17 February and 10 to 20 April 2020, so collectors, get it in your diaries! 

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Lovers of Scotch will wince at the latest development

US threatens to increase Scotch tariffs

In a continuation of a story determined to prove that we can’t have nice things, the US has been talking tariffs in regard to Scotch whisky again. Following the imposition of a 25% import tariff on EU products, including single malt Scotch whisky, single malt Irish whiskey and liqueurs on 18 October, the US is now considering increasing tariffs again in response to an ongoing feud regarding aircraft subsidies (we’ve covered this dispute in greater detail here and here). In early December, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel rejected the EU’s claims that it complied with WTO rules by making adjustments to Airbus subsidies, adding that the WTO recently valued the “harm caused by these subsidies at US$7.5 billion”. As a result, the existing tariff rates are being assessed and additional EU products could be targeted, with tariff hikes focused on imports from France, Germany, Spain and the UK – “the four countries responsible for the illegal subsidies,” according to the USTR. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has reiterated the importance of removing tariffs for Scotch, which it previously warned could result in a 20% decline in exports to the US. “We have been clear that the removal of the tariffs on both Scotch and American whiskies should be the highest priority for governments on both sides of the Atlantic,” said a spokesperson for the SWA. “We continue to urge all parties to get round the table and agree to de-escalate these trade disputes, which are damaging unrelated sectors.” I think I speak for all of us on this issue when I say: Booooooooooooooo!

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It’s another winner from Last Drop Distillers

Last Drop Distillers releases ghost grain whisky from Dumbarton

Specialists in rare spirits Last Drop Distillers has announced another gem. This 17th release from the company is a 1977 single grain from the lost Dumbarton distillery on the banks of the Clyde. The distillery was opened by Canadian firm Hiram Walker in 1938 to produce a maize spirit for its Ballantine’s blends. After changing hands a number of times, it was closed in 2002 and its famous tower was finally demolished in 2017 to make way for houses. A sad day for Scotch whisky. But Last Drop Distillers has managed to get hold of a few lost casks from Dumbarton. One of these yielded just 150 bottles to go into this 1977 releases which will sell for £2,500 ($3,000).  Managing director Rebecca Jago (this week’s Nightcap is quite Jago heavy) commented: “1977 is an extraordinary year in our collective memory, as it is the year that our founders James Espey and my late father, Tom Jago, first met. The two became life-long colleagues and trusted advisors to each other, moving between industry roles, largely in tandem. Our 1977 Dumbarton Single Grain seems a fitting tribute to such an unusually rare and special friendship and will be remembered as a truly rare and covetable gem.” But you don’t have to take her word for it, Jim Murray (for it is he) gave it 97 points and made it his Single Grain of the Year in his 2020 Whisky Bible. So there you go. 

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Which was your favourite? Let us know in the comments below

Shortlist announced for André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards

It’s a bit like the Oscars only much more glamorous; yes, it’s the annual André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards, and the shortlist has just been announced. On the drinks side, we are pleased to see a couple of our favourites chosen: A Brief History of Lager by Mark Dredge and The World Atlas of Wine by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. Joining them are: Christie’s Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine (4th edition) by Tom Stevenson and Essi Avellan MW, Drinkology by Alexis Willett, Tales of the Tea Trade by Michelle and Rob Comins, Wines of the French Alps by Wink Lorch, Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm with Christine Muhlke. There are also some food books but we’re not quite so interested. The judging of the drink books was presided over by former Berry Bros. & Rudd CEO Dan Jago who knows a thing or two about drinks. Johnson and Robinson have to be the favourites but Lorch has form at Simons so might worth having a flutter at Ladbrokes. The winners will be announced on Monday 20 January at the Goring Hotel in London. Time to start planning your outfit. 

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That’s a Copper Gnome Shaker Gift Box, inspired by the gnomes (or ‘tomtar’) featured in traditional Swedish folklore

Absolut Elyx launches pop-up boutique and cocktail bar in Copenhagen’s Magasin du Nord

If you’re in Copenhagen between December 9th – 22nd, then be sure to pop-in to high-end department store Magasin Du Nord to enjoy an exclusive pop-up from Absolut Elyx! Visitors to The Absolut Elyx Pop-up Boutique and Cocktail bar can purchase items from the boutique’s winter 2019/2020 holiday collection, check out the new Absolut Elyx bottle design for the first time and frequent a beautifully decorated copper Absolut Elyx bar, which will serve signature Elyx Martinis and the tropical, coffee-infused Horsepower cocktail, between 4pm-8pm on December 12th-14th and December 19th-21st. The popup boutique’s collection includes industry-standard bartender essentials kits and bespoke glasses, including the Copper Owl Drinking Cup inspired by wildlife found in the forests of Sweden. Because whose life wouldn’t be improved by the addition of a copper owl drinking cup?

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Look at the bloody size of it!

Largest ever bottle of whisky goes to auction

It looks like it’s been a week of fun-filled auction news this week! This large auction is a rather large one, though it’s just one bottle of 14 Year Old Tomintoul. Here’s the best bit: it’s 105.3 litres! That means the bottle itself is around 1.5 metres tall and would fill 5,250 drams. Even the cork is 20cm long! Why does a bottle so large exist, you’ll be wondering? It was commissioned by four Tomintoul residents “who wanted to create something iconic to promote the village and the distillery on a global stage”. Well, that’s certainly been achieved. The bottle was filled at the Speyside distillery on 29 August 2009 and took a team of 14 people led by distillery director Robert Fleming. “Every now and then the opportunity to purchase a truly unique bottle of whisky occurs – this is one of those times,” said Graham Crane, director and co-founder of Just Whisky. Bids for the whisky are open until 8pm on Sunday 15 December at auctioneer Just Whisky’s Christmas auction. Whoever leaves the auction victorious with the bottle will have a fun time getting it home, with it weighing more than 180 kilograms! 

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Good luck to all taking part!

Talisker Atlantic rowing challenge sets off

And they’re off! Competitors in the Talisker Atlantic Whisky Challenge, the world’s toughest rowing race, set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands today. Their destination Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, 3,000 miles away. It’s the biggest edition of the event yet with over 100 people taking part and 35 teams. Competitors include a team made up of American veterans called, natch, Fight Oar Die, a group of four German women inspired by the Four Women On a Boat documentary and the only man who could play both Doctor Who and Prince Phillip, Matt Smith. The day before the start, Talisker created an island wilderness accessible only by sea with wild cocktails from Giorgio Lupi, winner of Talisker’s Wild Spirit Bartender competition, accompanied by foraged food cooked on a FireTable which was created by Guy Ritchie. Yes, that Guy Ritchie, truly he is a man of many talents. Natalia Montigny, head of global marketing for Talisker commented: “For the sixth year, Talisker is proud to be the title sponsor of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challengeone of the world’s most challenging and exhilarating adventures. Our founders, the MacAskill brothers, rowed from Eigg to Skye to found the Talisker Distillery in Scotland almost 200 years ago and so as a brand we share the same sense of passion and adventure as the participants. It’s been incredible to hear the rowers’ stories first hand this week and share special moments with them and our tribe of wild spirited adventurers who joined us at the Talisker Wilderness Bar experience and other events this week. We wish all rowers success as they undertake this incredible journey.” The fastest teams are likely to take around 40 days to make the crossing subsisting entirely on powdered food. You’ll really want a dram after that. 

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These syrups will revamp your Hot Toddy

Aberfeldy teams up with World of Zing to launch Hot Toddy Syrups

There are few things as enjoyable as a good Hot Toddy in the winter months, an opinion Highland Scotch whisky brand Aberfedly and pre-batched cocktail specialist World of Zing clearly shares if its recent collaboration is anything to go by. The duo has created three new interpretations of this traditional cocktail with a range of syrups that, rather pleasingly, are made with a base of British honey to support local beekeepers. The first expression is the Classic, a traditional hot-toddy with seasonal spices, including allspice, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon and Earl Grey  tea which, when mixed with Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, creates an aromatic and warming profile with “crisp apple notes and a smooth honeyed finish”. There’s also Chilli Mocha, a syrup blend that builds on the Classic with the addition of coffee, cacao and smoky chipotle chillies. When mixed, you can expect notes of “rich, robust dried fruit with a gentle chilli warmth and a smooth honeyed finish.” Finally, there’s the fabulously festive Gingerbread expression, again which builds on the Classic with the seasonal favourite flavours of gingerbread using ginger and galangal root. Pair it with the same whisky again and expect a character that is “aromatic and bright with gentle ginger warmth and a smooth honeyed finish.” Part of the appeal of the syrups will be how easy they are to use. Just add 15ml of each syrup into 35ml of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old and top up with hot water and you’re set. Georgie Bell, global malts ambassador for Aberfeldy, commented: “The Hot Toddy is such an iconic whisky serve, it really is a great winter warmer. Each syrup blend we’ve created with World of Zing melds harmoniously with Aberfeldy 12’s honeyed flavour profile to give three different variations on this traditional and sometimes forgotten serve.”

What should you do with waste banana peel? Infuse it into a lip-smacking rum, of course!

Discarded creates rum infused with waste banana peel

Are you tired of leaving rogue banana peels out for your enemies to slip on? Do you think you could be doing something more sustainable with those slippery yellow scoundrels? Enter Discarded, the very same folks who made vermouth from the waste flesh of the fruit from coffee berries, have now created a Banana Peel Rum! The banana peel comes from a flavour house that uses the fruit but throws away the skins. Well, no longer! Now the peel is snatched up by the Discarded folks, dried out, fermented and then steeped in alcohol for two weeks. Then, the rum and banana peel extracts are left for another two days and matured in whisky casks before it’s bottled. Described as ‘liquid banana bread’ by Tom Stannard, global marketing manager, innovation at William Grant & Sons (a catchy title), you can expect notes of toffee, spice and of course, banana sweetness. Daiquiris at the ready, people!

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At last, what we’ve all been waiting for, a gadget that stops ice hitting your teeth when sipping a G&T.

And finally. . .  new gadget prevents ice from touching your teeth

Don’t you just hate it when you’re swigging a drink and the ice hits your teeth? No, you don’t? Well, we can assure you that some people at MoM get quite irate when this happens and they’re very excited about a new gadget called IceBloc designed to prevent this from happening. It’s the creation of Adrian Potter of Hampshire who became irritated with ice preventing him from taking a good swig from his G&T. His invention consists of a bit of plant-based material rather like a bib that holds ice in the glass while letting the boozy goodness out. It turns your glass into a kind of sippy cup for grown-ups and unlike a drinking straw, it’s reusable. Potter commented: “Whilst I wanted to come up with a practical and useful design, the environmental element was also key to me. The IceBloc is made of plants and is completely re-usable, however, I still wanted to contribute more.” All yours for £4.99 for six. We expect to see it next year sitting in G&Ts at the smartest venues in the land.

Correction: 8/1/2020: We originally reported wrongly that the Icebloc was made of plastic. This has now been updated accurately to ‘plant-based material’. We apologise for the error.

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The Nightcap: 6 December

The countdown is on. It’s December and there are only so few editions of The Nightcap left for 2019 – let’s enjoy them! December has arrived, and while some people…

The countdown is on. It’s December and there are only so few editions of The Nightcap left for 2019 – let’s enjoy them!

December has arrived, and while some people are counting down to Christmas, other people are counting down to something completely different, though the event occurs on the same day. I am of course talking about Roast Potatocalypse. The day roast potatoes fear the most. So eagerly I await the day, but to pass the time, let us indulge in another edition of The Nightcap!

Over on the blog #WhiskySanta was feeling particularly festive as he made Bunnahabhain 40 Year Old his Super Wish this week, while we began to tuck into our Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar. Check out each day (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5) to see which delightful dram hid behind each window and for a fabulous Q&A with a key figure at the distillery. Elsewhere, we announced the winner of our Jarrod Dickenson competition and revealed what Dram Club members can expect from December, before Adam cast a spotlight on Ron Izalco. Henry, meanwhile, got stuck into some of 2019’s best drink books and an exotic flavoured gin inspired by a Dutch explorer for our New Arrival of the Week as Annie Hayes hung out with Sir Ranulph Fiennes to talk rum, as you do, and still found time to enjoy a Hard Seltzer.

Now let’s press on, the Nightcap awaits!

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Richard Paterson created the impressive bottling from two ex-sherry casks filled in 1951!

The Dalmore unveils rare 60 Year Old single malt Scotch whisky

There is only one way to celebrate 180 years of creating delicious whiskies, with a limited-edition pink gin. Just kidding. The Dalmore has marked the occasion by releasing a spectacular 60-year-old single malt whisky. The Dalmore 60 Year Old was created by master distiller Richard Paterson, who reunited two extremely rare ex-sherry casks from six decades ago which were first filled with spirit first distilled on 7th June 1951. The two twin casks were the last of the Mackenzie era when the Mackenzie clan owned the distillery, which ended in 1988 when Colonel Hector ‘HAC’ Mackenzie passed away. Under their stewardship, The Dalmore established long-standing relationships with suppliers to source casks that remain to this day and took the decision to adorn each decanter with the distinctive Royal stag. “Over the course of the past 180 years, The Dalmore has constantly strived for perfection, setting the standards for many other whisky makers today. The Dalmore 60 Year Old is a fitting tribute to the masterful talents of our distillers past and present, who have all helped to create an incredible body of work,” said Paterson. “For me personally, nurturing and caring for these two casks has been a true labour of love. The reunion of the two spirits has produced an unforgettable whisky that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.” The Dalmore 60 Years Old is limited to just one decanter, which will be unveiled at an exclusive celebration at The Dalmore’s Highland home, before embarking on a global tour to Shanghai, Los Angeles, Taipei, and London. Further details will be announced in due course, which you can find on the Dalmore website.

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The Times Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish

Royal Salute launches The Times Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish

Royal Salute and insanely old whisky fanatics, hold onto your hats. “Amplified and way more luxurious than anything before,” is how master blender Sandy Hyslop introduced the brand new Royal Salute expression, The Times Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish. This has been a labour of love and immense skill, periodically sampled every 18 months. At 38 years old, Hyslop decided not to bottle the whisky, oh no. He decided it was time to move it to another cask to be finished for 14 more years in American oak. “I desperately didn’t want the cask influence to be too much here,” Hyslop tells us. You’d be forgiven for thinking that over five decades in oak would result in a dry and woody whisky, but this is anything but. It dances between sweet and spicy, with the hallmark Royal Salute syrupy pear notes in there too. When we headed to a mysterious clock tower in St. Pancras to try it (Time Series, clock tower… we see what you did there Royal Salute), we were the only group outside Hyslop and his blending team to try have tasted the liquid in its finished form, which is pretty mind-boggling. Enough of that, we’re sure you’re eager to know how it tastes. The nose is sweet, thick and juicy, with plums, dark chocolate, ginger, cinnamon. The palate is mouth-coating to another level, revealing sweet liquorice, pears in syrup, orange marmalade and candied ginger, with a finish which goes on for almost as long as the whisky was aged itself! Of course, the spectacular whisky is presented with in an individually-numbered hand-blown Dartington Crystal decanter, alongside a stunning box featuring five layers of wood, each representing a decade of the blend. Whisky collectors, this one’s for you. There’s only 106 bottles, and if you have a spare $30,000 burning a hole in your bank account, we’d thoroughly suggest trying it.

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Wright Brothers gin, worth shelling out for

Wright Brothers launch Half Shell Gin

When sustainability and delicious boozes come together, it makes us very happy here at MoM Towers. So, when we were invited to try the new Half Shell Gin from Wright Brothers, made with reused oyster shells from the London-based restaurant group, we jumped at the chance, hook, line and sinker! To create the spirit, Wright Brothers partnered with The Ginstitute distillery of West London, using the thousands of oyster shells which the restaurant goes through each year. “We use Carlingford oyster shells, which are cold-macerated in neutral spirit and then distilled,” says Ivan Ruiz, Wright Brothers beverage manager. “We then add a percentage of the distillation to the gin. The oyster-shell taste is then balanced with a kelp seaweed, and other ingredients like juniper and Amalfi lemon. The result is a savoury gin with high mineral notes and a pink pepper finish.” We can absolutely vouch for that, it was thoroughly delicious. The outstanding seafood was accompanied by a G&T and a Martini, both showcasing Half Shell Gin. The Martini is an absolute winner, slightly savoury, well-balanced and exceptionally smooth. Visually, it’s an absolute joy, and seeing hundreds of oysters served up while we were sitting at the bar sipping on the very gin made from the shells is pretty cool. “We’d thought about creating our own wine, but we feel gin, especially this gin, reflects both our restaurants and the city we call home,” says Robin Hancock, co-founder of Wright Brothers. You can grab a bottle of your own at Wright Brothers restaurants, or choose to sip it in their wonderful cocktails.

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Congratulations, guys!

Irish Distillers takes home the World Whiskey Producer of the Year trophy

It’s fair to say Irish Distillers had a good time at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London last week. It scored the highest number of medals across its portfolio of Irish whiskeys throughout the 2019 awards season, beating distillers from Japan, Ireland and the USA. Midleton Distillery claimed 24 award wins, including the Worldwide Whiskey Trophy for Redbreast 12 Year Old, while there was gold medals for the Powers Three Swallows release, Powers John’s Lane 12 Year Old, Redbreast 15 Year Old and Red Spot 15 Year Old. Jameson Cooper’s Croze and Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy also scored 98 points out of 100, as Irish Distillers ended the evening with the most Gold Outstanding honours within the Irish whiskey category. But above all that, the Irish whiskey producers were given the prestigious title of World Whiskey Producer of the Year. “We are honoured to be recognised as World Whiskey Producer of the Year by one of the most respected awards bodies, and to see such outstanding results across the portfolio,” said Tommy Keane, production director at Irish Distillers. “This trophy is a tribute to the incredibly hard-working passionate and skilled craftsmen and women at Midleton – 2019 has truly been a landmark year for Irish Distillers.”

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Now that’s what we call an immersive floral installation

St. Germain at Heddon Street Kitchen

We know that it’s dark and cold, but one of the best things about winter is all the awesome festive pop-ups! The latest one we popped along to was St-Germain’s Winter Bloom Experience at Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen. The immersive floral installation is golden, shiny and full of fairy lights and all things elderflower. We were told that the semi-dried flowers even have to be touched up every couple of weeks, which is more attention than we give our house plants. Each of the four serves has a suggested food pairing, created in collaboration with the team at Heddon Street Kitchen. Our personal favourites were the cockle-warming Cidre Chaud (St. Germain, Calvados, cider, star anise and lemon) and the light, refreshing Winter Spritz (St. Germain, Prosecco and soda). If you love elderflower like nothing else, this is the spot for you, though serves like Le Grand Fizz (St. Germain, Grey Goose vodka, lime and soda) aren’t overwhelmingly floral if you’re not mad for it. You’ll find the cosy floral hideaway at the restaurant all throughout the month of December. Perhaps a spot to keep in mind to treat yourself to a post-Oxford Street Christmas shopping session. 

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Responsible and festive, you don’t often pair those two together!

Beer brewed with recycled Christmas Tree needles launched

Being both sustainable and festive isn’t easy, but Lowlander Beer has managed with a Winter IPA brewed with recycled Christmas tree spruce needles. Part of the zero-waste ‘From Tree to Tipple’ campaign from the award-winning Netherlands Botanical Brewery, The Winter IPA is the result of last year’s initiative which collected unwanted Christmas trees to turn into beer. This year the brand has gone one further and made its Christmassy creation available to purchase as a gift pack from Not On The High Street and from other retailers throughout December. The profile of the beer isn’t dark and heavy as you would suspect from a wintery beer, but instead, it’s a light, refreshing White IPA brewed with juniper berries alongside the unconventional spruce needles. Expect a piney aroma alongside the hoppy & light citrus character. Over six hundred kilos of needles were needed to produce the 2019 batch of Winter IPA. Although only the needles were needed to brew Lowlander’s Winter IPA, the brewery reused every piece of the donated trees in limited-edition products, including bottles of a new creation: Lowlander Botanical Brut, a limited-edition sparkling beer made with spruce and Champagne-inspired Riesling yeast, available in the UK from 2020. Commenting on the release, chief botanical officer Frederik Kampman said, “Every December, about 2.5 million real trees bring Christmas spirit into our homes. By New Year, most of these end up in the chipper, on bonfires or piled at the roadside. We have found another use for them: in beer.” 

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The lovely, lovely Brora whisky on offer made us excited for the silent distillery’s future

Brora ramps up 200th-anniversary celebrations

What a year it’s been for silent Highland Scotch whisky distillery Brora. The momentum first got going back in 2017 when parent company Diageo announced it was going to reopen both Brora and Port Ellen, the iconic distillery over on Islay. Then, in August this year, we got word of a very special 40-year-old expression, developed to commemorate Brora’s 200th birthday (more on this shortly). And just last month, the distillery’s historic stills were whisked away for refurbishment – bringing that all-important reawakening a significant step closer. So when we were invited to a dinner earlier this week to celebrate it all, we just had to be there. Also in attendance were senior archivist, Jo McKerchar, and the Brora master distiller to be, Stewart Bowman. We looked at plans for the restored site (pop September 2020 in the diaries, folks), historical documents from the old distillery, and basically, had a thoroughly lovely time (and yes, we did get to taste that 40 year old – it’s rounded, and elegant, and like the robust smokiness of Brora but dressed up in a black-tie gown or tuxedo. We liked. A lot.). 2019 shall forever be known as the Year of Brora – until 2020 comes around and the closed distillery reawakens from its slumber. Bring it on!

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The biodegradable drinking straw is made from up-cycled agave

Jose Cuervo unveils ‘sustainable’ agave straws

We all now know plastic is the scourge of the earth (all hail David Attenborough), and that single-use bits and bobs are now about as welcome as the common cold. But sometimes straws are just, well, needed. Step forward Tequila brand Jose Cuervo, with has teamed up with scientists at BioSolutions Mexico and production types at Mexico-based PENKA to create agave-based straws! They’re made from upcycled agave fibres (the raw material in Tequila and mezcal) and are biodegradable. More than a million of them will be sent out across the US and Mexico in 2020. “The past, present, and future of Jose Cuervo is tied directly to the agave plant – without it, we would not exist,” said Alex Coronado, Cuervo’s master distiller and head of operations. “As the Tequila industry worldwide booms, it is our company’s responsibility as the leader to take care of the agave plant and ensure that we are producing tequila sustainably. It takes an average of six years to grow an agave plant before it is mature enough to harvest for Tequila production, and we have to be committed to finding more ways to use the agave fibres once that process is complete. The debut of our biodegradable, agave-based drinking straws is a new step in utilising the full potential of this very special Mexican agricultural product.” Now, agave is far from the most sustainable raw material for spirits (think: monocrop issues and all the energy requirements for all that processing), but it certainly seems like a mammoth step in the right direction. Good riddance, plastic!

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Head winemaker at Graham’s Charles Symington

Graham’s releases 1940 tawny Port

Now you have the chance to taste a little bit of history as Port house Graham’s, part of the Symington group, has announced the release of single harvest tawny from 1940, a blend of two exceptional casks. Wine from this period are extremely rare not just because of their great age but because with Port’s principal markets at war, very little was made.  Head winemaker at Graham’s Charles Symington commented: “It’s not often we have the privilege of releasing a wine that is eight decades old and bears such unique historical significance. The 1940 Single Harvest really is remarkably refined and balanced, offering a reflection not only of the quality of the original wine but the skilled care and attention it received from our forebears.” Yours for around £800. Interest in old single harvest tawny Ports (aged in barrel as opposed to vintage Ports that are aged in bottle) has been increasing in recent years. The 1940 is the final part of Graham’s Cellar Master’s Trilogy of old tawnies, joining the 1994 and 1963. It’s old but not as old as the special 90 year old tawny the company released in 2016, a blend of three years 1912 , 1924 and 1935, released to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

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Keep your gin safe with an Edinburgh Gin Safe

And finally. . . protect your precious boozes with the Edinburgh Gin Safe

Tired of flatmates or relatives pilfering your favourite gin? Well, the boffins at Edinburgh Gin have come up with the answer: a gin safe. Available directly from the distiller, your safe consists of a clear box containing a full bottle of gin with the contents safely secured with a padlock. The only way to open it is to solve a cryptic puzzle which will reveal the combination for the lock. Neil Mowat, UK marketing director of Edinburgh Gin, commented: “Given Christmas is the most wonder-filled time of the year, we wanted to bring some of our own distinctive magic to the concept of gift wrapping with our gin safes. Designed with the ultimate gin fan in mind, they’ll be able to see the reward that’s waiting for them, but they’ll need to have a little fun first to unlock the wonder within.” All great fun but we can see a problem that owners might forget the code after too much eggnog. . . or perhaps that’s the point. 

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The Nightcap: 29 November

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

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

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

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

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Congratulations to you David!

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

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

The Nightcap

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

Diageo sets AI What’s Your Whisky quiz

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

The Nightcap

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

Berry Bros. & Rudd launches Ronnie’s Reserve

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

The Nightcap

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

Möet opens Alpine Lodge in Soho

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

The Nightcap

Things are getting festive at the German Gymnasium!

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

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

The Nightcap

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

Glencairn releases black glass for Black Friday

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

The Nightcap

Good things come in small pubs

Guinness opens pint-sized pub for a cosy Christmas

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

The Nightcap

The GlenDronach Traditionally Peated will be at MoM Towers soon…

The GlenDronach reveals its new release, Traditionally Peated

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

The Nightcap

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

Come for a shave, stay for a drink

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

The Nightcap

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

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

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

No Comments on The Nightcap: 29 November

The Nightcap 22 November

This week on the Nightcap: The Macallan turns its distillery into a festive wonderland, register to vote and you’ll get a free drink, and stop worrying about your hangover: you’re…

This week on the Nightcap: The Macallan turns its distillery into a festive wonderland, register to vote and you’ll get a free drink, and stop worrying about your hangover: you’re only making it worse. 

We don’t know about you, but we’ve spent most of this week scavenging for firewood around the Master of Malt warehouse. At the first sign of a broken pallet out came the kindling vultures to squabble over scraps of pine and medium-density fibreboard to be hoarded and turned into life-giving heat later in the day. What a life! This is just a roundabout way of saying that it’s been properly cold this week. But it’s also the perfect weather to curl up by the fire with a dram of something rich and smooth, and revel in this week’s Nightcap. 

The blog went competition crazy this week with a chance to win tickets to see singer songwriter Jarrod Dickenson with Balcones whisky and with #WhiskySanta is giving away a bottle of Hennessy Paradis worth nearly £1,000. In non-competition news, our Jess tried The World Whisky Blend from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, and went to Seville to discover the Royal Salute 29 Year Old Pedro Ximénez. Meanwhile, Annie got acquainted with Dutch spirit genever, and spent five minutes with Dr Kirstie McCallum, the new head of whisky creation at Glen Moray. Adam tried a bourbon with a Japanese twist courtesy of Beam Suntory, and, clearly in a Kentucky frame of mind, spoke to Jackie Zykan, master taster for Old Forester. Kristy peered into her crystal ball to look at rum’s future with Lucy Cottrell from Dead Man’s Fingers; and Henry brought us news on the revival of Rosebank distillery and cooked up a hot cider cocktail to keep the cold out. 

That’s the week that was. On with The Nightcap!

Macallan60old

Some very rare Macallans like those in the Vietnamese collection

Whisky collection smashes record with £10m valuation

How much is your whisky collection worth? A few hundred quid? Maybe into the thousands? This week, Guinness World Records confirmed a Vietnamese collector was the delighted owner of the most valuable whisky collection in the world – weighing in at a mighty £10,770,635! The haul belongs to Mr Viet Nguyen Dinh Tuan of Ho Chi Minh City, and it was valued by the team at Rare Whisky 101. They reckon the figure could top £13,032,468, when you add on the 21% buyers’ premium if it was sold through a UK auctioneer. The collection features 535 bottles, including the only known complete Macallan Fine & Rare set, complete with three 1926 bottlings. Only forty were ever released! There are also 12 bottles of the oldest and most expensive Bowmore ever released (it fetched £300,000 at auction recently), and one of only 24 bottles of the 1919 vintage Springbank. Phew. Mr Viet has been building his collection for over 20 years. “For me, whisky collecting has been my life’s passion,” he says. “Every spare I moment I get, I’m searching auction sites and trading websites to find famous and rare whiskies from around the world. Clearly this requires a lot of patience and no shortage of tenacity, but I’m proud of my efforts. As for my collection, I have no intention of selling any of it. Not one bottle. In fact, I’ll continue to hunt for more old and rare bottles and add to and enrich it.” Wowzers!

Warehouse X Experiment 2 Barrels resize

“Careful Jed, it’s one of those experiential casks!”

Buffalo Trace Distillery completes second Warehouse X experiment

Cask ageing is still a perplexing business, but the team at the Buffalo Trace Distillery is attempting to break the process down using the specially-designed and mysteriously-monikered Warehouse X. The second experiment at the facility, which began in 2016, has just been completed. It focused on how temperature affects the ageing process. The warehouse’s four chambers were used to determine how barrel activity correlates with temperature changes, keeping two chambers constant and varying the other two chambers and leaving the breezeway unchanged. Buffalo Trace tracked temperature fluctuations, monitored barrel pressures and collected a total of 9.1 million data points. As a result, the distillery was able to confirm how temperature affects pressure, colour and flavour over a period of three years. After leaving Warehouse X, the barrels were rolled into a traditional warehouse to continue ageing, as was done with the first experiment. Built in 2013, Warehouse X was created to study the many variables that affect the bourbon maturation process, and Buffalo Trace is now almost a third of the way through a 20-year project to monitor numerous atmospheric elements, including natural light, temperature, humidity and air flow. The first experiment, which ended in 2016, focused on natural light. The next two-year experiment will begin soon to expand on the most recent findings, focusing on how temperature swings affect whiskey activity in the barrel. We’re intrigued to see what they find.

It’s David C. Stewart or DCS to his friends

The Balvenie unveils final DCS Compendium instalment

In brilliant but bittersweet news, Chapter Five of The Balvenie DCS Compendium has been unveiled. Why bittersweet? Because it’s the last of the series, so for one final time we all have the opportunity to gaze longingly at five unique and intriguing single-cask Balvenie expressions that none of us will ever taste. Titled ‘Malt Master’s Indulgence’, the rare vintages were selected by David C. Stewart MBE (hence DCS) for their significance to his career. Aged between 16 and 56 years, the selection includes The Balvenie’s oldest-ever bottling, the fragrant and sweet 1962 expression taken from a European oak oloroso hogshead, which commemorates Stewart’s very first year at the distillery. The longest-serving malt master in the whisky industry, who started the role back in 1974, commented on Chapter Five: “It takes a good deal of time to understand how each cask differs and how whisky maturation is affected by various wood types. You need confidence to select casks and know which are likely to achieve greatness. Working for a family company, I’ve been lucky enough to have been given the freedom to make stock decisions based on my preference and vision, with the free rein to pick casks and hold on to whisky, not always knowing what I’m going to do with it, for no other reason than thinking one day it will be extraordinary. For me, this is indulgence in its truest form.” As with past Chapters, Chapter Five is presented in a handcrafted, individually-numbered frame, with just 50 sets available worldwide. It also features The Balvenie DCS Compendium book depicting rare archive imagery from the distillery, along with information on each of the five chapters, which documents Stewart’s thought process in curating the Compendium. The Balvenie is also planning a series of celebratory events throughout 2020 to mark the completion of the project.

£2500 and you have to bottle it yourself.

Bottle your own 40-year-old at Aberfeldy Distillery

Heading up to the charming Aberfeldy Distillery? You can now hand-bottle the delightful Aberfeldy 40 Years Old! Directly from the cask. In the warehouse. Yes, that’s the oldest whisky the Highland whisky-makers have released to date. If that doesn’t get you excited, nothing will. In total, three single cask editions will be launched, all of which were first filled on 22nd August 1978 and matured in American oak, ex-bourbon hogsheads. “To find one cask at this venerable age, is extraordinary but to find three, is exceptional. Just think of the four decades of history these casks have slumbered through,” said malt master Stephanie Macleod. “The single cask is something that we at Aberfeldy bottle rarely – to have the honour of filling your very own bottle of our oldest and most exclusive whisky yet, is a truly special opportunity. The golden hallmarks of the distillery are evident; beautifully-balanced, elegant and well-mannered with peerless texture, perfectly expressed by these 40-year-old bottlings.” The whisky will be on sale for £2,500 a bottle, exclusively from the Aberfeldy Distillery.

Just some of the mouth-watering rums drunk on World Foursquare Day at Trailer Happiness in London

Barbados distillery honoured with inaugural World Foursquare Day

Rum lovers of London descended on Trailer Happiness in Notting Hill last Sunday (17 November) for the inaugural World Foursquare Day. The day was the idea of Facebook group Foursquare Rum Appreciation Society to celebrate the much-loved Barbados distillery. According to Foursquare brand ambassador Peter Holland, they chose 17 November because it “was the day that Foursquare Distillery and Heritage Park was officially opened by Sir David Seale [father of the owner, Richard], and the Prime Minister of Barbados Mr. Owen S. Arthur in 1996.” Holland organised the London event; there were rum cocktails, bottles from Holland’s own collection (including the ultra-rare Foursquare Triptych), and even a surprise appearance from the Seales themselves. There was also a well-attended event in Milton Keynes. Holland told us: “Next year, I think we will look to grow the event, and, perhaps in conjunction with the UK importers, see if we can get a few more bars involved across the UK. Increase the celebration, but try not to make it crass and commercial.” So put 17 November 2020 in your diary now.

Annabel Meikle, one of the judges at the Spirit of Speyside Awards

Top whiskies shortlisted for Spirit of Speyside Awards

Awards and whisky go together like bread and butter, and Speyside is about to get its fair share! Eight Speyside single malts have been shortlisted as finalists in the international Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards. The initial judging process took place earlier this month in the heart of Speyside (well, where else could it be?), where a panel of leading whisky experts carried out a blind tasting of 41 entries. A tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. However, it’s not the experts who get the final say. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards are the only industry awards in the world to give consumers the final vote. Over the next six months, the two finalists in each category will be put forward for judging by whisky drinkers all over the place, from the UK and Europe to India and Canada. Spanning four categories, this year’s finalists are Aberlour 10 Year Old and Cardhu 12 Year Old, Benromach 15 Year Old and Glenallachie 15 Year Old, Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23 Year Old and Glenfarclas 25 Year Old, and finally Tamnavulin Sherry Cask Edition and Cardhu Amber Rock. “It was almost impossible to pick just two finalists in each Awards category this year – the standard of whisky produced here in Speyside by our local craftsmen and women is truly exceptional,” said James Campbell, Chairman at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. “We’re very much looking forward to opening up the judging to consumers over the next six months before celebrating the winners at what we believe is the finest whisky festival in the world.” You’ll have to wait a few months for the results, as the category winners will be announced at the opening of the 2020 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in late April.

Fairy lights from Robert Dyas at The Macallan

The Macallan Distillery goes festive

The team at the Macallan are pulling out all the stops to turn the award-winning distillery into a festive wonderland this Christmas. As you’d expect from such a luxury brand, this will be a little more lavish than neon Santas, plastic holly, and M&S mince pies. Instead, the decorations have been inspired by the character of the single malt with golden acorns, dried berries and a palette of sienna, gold, copper and black, colours traditionally associated with The Macallan”, no less. At the centre will be a “towering” 15 ft Christmas tree. But that’s not all. There will also be a special Christmas menu in the restaurant, seasonal Macallan cocktails like the Speyside Flip and the Clootie to be sipped, and a special after-hours dinner on Thursday 5 December. Stuart Cassells, general manager, commented: “We are incredibly proud of the success our new distillery experience has enjoyed since opening 18 months ago. But we want to be more than a fantastic visitor attraction. Our ambition is to become a key Speyside destination, a place where people from the local community and further afield want to return to again and again. We’re extremely excited about the exclusive experiences we are offering, from unique gifting options to our new brasserie and bar menus. We hope to attract visitors old and new and look forward to providing a warm welcome to The Macallan Estate this festive season.” Sounds magnificent, though we’d have been just as happy with M&S mince pies as long as there was some Macallan to wash them down with. Don’t tell #WhiskySanta…

Remember kids, don’t drink and vote

Free drink if you register to vote

Here’s a good way to combat voter apathy (and we are being asked to vote a lot more than normal). A free drink when you vote. Brilliant! Why did no one think of this before? Well, of course they did. In elections past, unscrupulous politicians would ply the electorate with booze to get them to vote the ‘right’ way. But this new initiative from the Lollipop group of venues around London, is not trying to corrupt, just get people to vote. Simply turn up at a Lollipop bar, like Journey on the King’s Road or Dear Sunny in Hackney, prove that you have registered to vote before 26 November (the closing date), and a free drink will be yours (full details and list of venues here).  Founder Seb Lyall had this to say: “We know how important it is for people of all ages and backgrounds to get out there and vote on December 12. These elections will have a significant impact on our industry and we want as wide a group of voices to be heard as possible.” Make sure, however, that you vote sober, or you never know who we might end up with.

We could be saying, ‘goodbye Joe to baijiu” (sorry)

Are we heading for a baijiu shortage?

Kweichow Moutai is one of the biggest baijiu brands on the planet – and this week, at its overseas distributors conference, the company suggested that the Chinese spirit is gaining such a following internationally that stock shortages are becoming a reality for the first time. “It’s one of the most significant changes we have seen in overseas markets since Moutai rebounded in the domestic market in 2016,” said Moutai Group chairman and party committee secretary Li Baofang. Baijiu is the most consumed spirit category in the world, although the vast, vast majority is drunk in China. This looks to be slowly shifting though – and from 2017-18, we saw a 650% uptick in sales here at MoM Towers, albeit from a teeny base. Keep an eye out for more baijiu in 2020 – if international supply can keep up with demand!

Don’t worry, be happy

And Finally… Worrying about your hangover ‘makes it worse’

We’re all about responsible drinking here at MoM Towers. Remember – sip, don’t gulp! But sometimes, a little overindulgence can happen. And new research from the University of Salford this week appears to confirm something we’ve had a little inkling about: worrying about a hangover makes it worse. It’s all linked to whether someone is likely to “catastrophise pain” or not. What’s that, we asked. Apparently it’s when you worry too much about the threat of pain, which makes you feel like you can’t manage it, and then dwell on how much something hurts. 86 people ages from 18 to 46 were quizzed about a recent time they’d had a drink (more gulping than sipping. Just don’t). The results showed a “significant relationship” between all that catastrophising and the severity of the hangover. Turns out there are actual dehydrated-related symptoms, but also stress-related ones, too – and the stress ones were more likely to get on that catastrophising. “These findings suggest the importance of cognitive coping strategies in how people experience hangovers after drinking alcohol,” said lead researcher, Sam Royle. “This may have implications in understanding behavioural responses to hangovers, and also for addiction research.” Good work, Sam. But the best way to avoid that hangover? Keep the booze consumption sensible in the first place! 

And with that in mind… Happy weekend, folks!

No Comments on The Nightcap 22 November

The Nightcap: 15 November

Celebrity booze, a motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky and the goodest of boys (#dogbassador). It’s another wild and wonderful week for The Nightcap. We all have our personal…

Celebrity booze, a motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky and the goodest of boys (#dogbassador). It’s another wild and wonderful week for The Nightcap.

We all have our personal moments when we start to feel just a little bit festive. For some, it might be when the town lights come on, for others it might be that first bag of turkey and stuffing-flavoured crisps. At Master of Malt, however, there’s a very clear sign that it’s safe to get out the reindeer jumpers, start stocking up on mince pies and trying to think of amusing puns based on the word Yule: it’s the first sighting of #WhiskySanta! And lo, he has been spotted, and verily he’ll be giving away all kinds of boozy goodness. Yule be mad not to get involved (see what we did there, first yule-based pun of the season). Right, that’s enough Christmas dad jokes, nothing is going to hold back this week’s Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week we heard the sound of sleigh bells jingling, ring tingle tingling too as he returned. That’s right, #WhiskySanta is back at MoM Towers! Elsewhere, we launched another fantastic competition, this time with the fab folks at Starward! Henry then managed to pin down Dave Broom to chat about his new whisky film The Amber Light, before he enjoyed a sacrilegious gin liqueur, and made the classic The Corpse Reviver No.1 our Cocktail of the Week! Annie, meanwhile, looked at the future of flavour and cask whisky investment, before Adam talked Comte de Grasse with its founder Bhagath Reddy and uncovered the magic behind the latest bar menu at The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar.

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Congrats to you, David!

Isle of Arran Distillers names Lochranza distillery manager

Lochranza Distillery, the second spirits-maker of the Isle of Arran, has a shiny new distillery manager! Say hello to David Livingstone, who is set to touch down on the island to take on the top job. He’s hot-footed it over the water from Islay, where he was previously assistant manager at Laphroaig before he helped in the set-up of Ardnahoe distillery. Sounds like the ideal candidate to oversee Lochranza operations, a site that will produce around 600,000 litres of spirit per year when it’s fully up and running. James MacTaggart, who has been master distiller at Isle of Arran Distillers since 2007, will take on a new role as director of production and operations, overseeing both the Lochranza and Lagg Distillery sites. “It’s an especially exciting time to take on this role at such a remarkable whisky company and I’m very proud to be given the opportunity to look after the future of these great spirits,” Livingstone said. “Being from the islands myself, I recognise how important distilleries are to island communities and that’s something I’ve always been passionate about.” MacTaggart added: “As the company continues to grow and develop, it’s necessary that we have the best whisky people around us. We’re delighted to have David on board for the next part of our journey and know that we can learn plenty from his wealth of knowledge and experience.” Bring on the whisky!

The Nightcap

The special Ducati motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky

Man rides motorbike into whisky tasting, nobody hurt

“I’m getting TCP, I’m getting wood smoke, I’m getting petrol.” Petrol? From a whisky? No, from that enormous throbbing motorbike being ridden indoors. Don’t worry our whisky event hadn’t been invaded by Hell’s Angels, we were at the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club in London’s fashionable Shoreditch district for the unveiling of a special Ducati motorcycle built in collaboration with Smokehead whisky. We were sipping delicious Smoker cocktails made with Smokehead, lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger liqueur, and activated charcoal (so much nicer than deactivated charcoal) when the beast arrived. Also called The Smoker, it’s a Ducati twin built by Edinburgh-based bike customiser Tyler Lunceford. From the sound of the machine, the crowd were expecting Meat Loaf crossed with Beelzebub to get off, but in fact, the bike’s builder is a mild-mannered American, who after switching off the noise, quietly told us about his creation. For those struggling to see the connection between a motorcycle and an Islay single malt, Lunceford explained: “Smokehead whisky is not for everyone and neither is The Smoker – it’s bold, it’s intimidating and it’s loud. It’s really loud. It attracts a certain crowd. It’s certainly not for everyone.” Makes sense.

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The wonderful St. Vincent will be hosting the bar

Veuve Clicquot launches Souvenir Bar with St. Vincent

Give us great music and a good glass of Champagne, and we’re happy. If that sounds good to you, then you’ll want to head over to Veuve Clicquot’s very own bar in Covent Garden, Souvenir, opening from 22 to 23 November. The Champagne house has teamed up with American musician St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark), who will be hosting the bar, though this isn’t any run-of-the-mill establishment. The bar is described as a part speakeasy, part sensory space, aiming to transport visitors far away from reality with a glass of Veuve Clicquot in their hand. The bar will be filled with a unique mix of sounds, specifically designed to trigger memory, and feeling of past, present and future. Consider our interest piqued. To create the space, St. Vincent collaborated with a collective of creators, designers, and mixologists. Every detail has been thought through, with St. Vincent determining what people will eat, drink, see and hear. It also looks like there will be a few unexpected twists and turns throughout the night, as she will also play with the notion of unexpected characters and appearances… It’s all very mysterious, though we’re thoroughly intrigued. What’s the souvenir then, we hear you ask? It’s the memories created when you’re in the space, of course! Plus maybe a slight headache the next morning. Remember folks, sip don’t gulp.

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The great whiskies will raise money for a great cause.

Islay whisky collected on 110 miles row up for auction

This weekend, 16/17 November, you can take part in a very special auction to get your hands on some Islay whiskies and raise money for the RNLI. The Islay Sea Collection is a collection of whiskies from each other island’s coastal distilleries gathered by a team of enthusiasts who rowed from Northern Island, stopping off at each distillery to pick up the goods. Yes, rowed, talk about commitment to the cause. It took over nine hours to row the 110 miles to Islay and three days to collect all the whiskies. We imagine they probably stopped for a dram or two to keep out the cold. A film has been made about their amazing voyage. The collection is made up of Bowmore 15 Years Old Feis Ile 2018 bottling, Caol Ila 12 Years Old, Bruichladdich Scottish Barley The Classic Laddie, Bunnahabhain 12 Years Old Small Batch Distilled, Laphroaig 10 Years Old, Ardbeg An Oa, and Lagavulin 16 Years Old, plus a special cask created with wood from each distillery. Graham Crane from the auction site Just Whisky commented: “This is a really exciting collection and we are honoured to have been asked to auction it in support of the RNLI. We are in awe of the journey these men took and hope to fetch £XXXX for the charity. We look forward to seeing the bids rolling in.” Keith Gilmore lifeboat operations manager at Portrush Station added: “This is a really exciting and novel way to raise funds for the two stations. We often have to work with Islay, and this is a great way to work with one of our neighbours and local supporters to raise funds for the RNLI.” So a worthwhile cause and a unique collection of whisky. Auction closes on Sunday 17 November at 8pm.

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Ryan Chetiyawardana and co’s swanky new menu has launched at Lyaness

Seven-ingredient new Lyaness menu is pretty damn tasty

Last week we hightailed it up to London to check out Ryan Chetiyawardana and co’s shiny new menu at Lyaness. Taking a cook’s approach to bartending, it’s the result of playful experimentation – you can try a twist on a classic, or you can go “off piste” and base a drink around a favourite flavour profile. And it’s all focused around seven core ingredients, each prepared in the Lyaness kitchen: Infinite Banana, Lyaness Tea-mooth, Peach Emoji, Vegan Honey, ONYX, Golden Levain, and Purple Pineapple. The whole shebang is very much designed as a guide book, not a rule book, or as the team describes it, “a mechanism, to help people think differently about cocktails”. And the hours that go into the prep for each is unreal: the Peach Emoji, for example, is designed to “pull a peach apart, dissect it and put it back together again”. The stones are roasted then steeped, the flesh is rested in enzymes until it becomes a liquid, while the rest is lacto-fermented. Fancy. Lyaness recognises that drinking can be creative, fun and unique, and that success should be in the palate of the beholder, rather than in the eyes of someone dictating the rules. Go check it out!

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Get involved, guys!

The Benevolent launches 2019 Online Silent Auction

Following the success of the “Thanks for Giving” Online Silent Auction in 2017, the wonderful folk at The Benevolent are launching a new silent auction to raise £10,000, and they need your support! The online auction will start on Friday 22nd November at 9am and run until 5pm on Friday 6th December. The charity seeks to help those within the UK drinks industry who are in need of support. The auction also provides an ideal opportunity to buy some exceptional Christmas presents, as items available range from Michelin starred restaurant vouchers, coveted sporting memorabilia, tickets to prestigious events as well as several incredible items generously donated by members of the trade. You will be able to browse the lots before the auction goes live in order to plan your bids. Whilst this auction is primarily aimed at people in the drinks trade, nonetheless, it is certainly available to anyone, whether involved in the trade or not so there’s no excuse not to get involved. In order to bid, you will need to register first. To do so, as well as browse and prepare to place your bids, click here. Good luck!

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Porto Protocol is taking action against climate change and environmental degradation.

Drink Port, plant trees

Here’s a charitable initiative we can all get behind, drink Port and help fund a reforestation project in the Douro Valley. When you buy a bottle of Taylor’s Select Reserve Port from the Co-Op, some of the money will go to a charity that plants trees. It’s part of Porto Protocol, an organisation mentored by Taylor’s to take action against climate change and environmental degradation. Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s CEO commented, “we are delighted to have Co-op’s support for this important project. By allowing us to plant more trees, Co-op’s investment will significantly increase the positive impact of the reforestation. As custodians of the unique environment and landscape of the Douro Valley, we understand the importance of extending our environmental initiatives beyond the vineyard itself.” Co-op wine buyer, Sarah Benson, added: “We’re thrilled to be exclusively supporting Taylor’s on this important project through the sales of this brilliant Port, which will help bring new life to the Douro Valley.” The Co-Op expect to sell enough Port to plant 2,500 trees, that the size of four football pitches so the more Port you buy, the better it is for the environment. Everybody wins.

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The vodka was inspired by events Hudson hosted at her former home on King Street in New York

Welcome to the celeb booze club, Kate Hudson!

All aboard the celebrity booze bandwagon! The latest passenger to jump aboard? Actor and entrepreneur Kate Hudson, who this week launched her King St. Vodka in the US. The spirit has been ‘distilled seven times’ in Santa Barbara, California, is gluten-free (like all spirits), and is made with alkaline water, said to result in an ‘insanely smooth and clean’ tipple. Hmmmmm. According to Hudson herself, it was inspired by the evenings she used to host at her former home on King Street in New York. “I have always found the spirits industry fascinating, and I love Dirty Vodka Martinis,” she said. “The creative side of me thought it would be a fun challenge to develop a vodka for my palate, and in a beautiful package that I would love to have on my bar and share with friends. The business person in me is now looking forward to the challenge of building a brand in an entirely new industry.” She’s previously co-founded Fabletics activewear, and recently launched her own clothing label, Happy X Nature – so booze really is a new venture. She should be in safe hands though; also involved in King St. Vodka is David Kanbar, the spirits entrepreneur behind the likes of Skyy Vodka and Bulldog Gin.

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Keep an eye out on the MoM Blog for the full story on this one…

Sir Ranulph Fiennes gets his very own rum

In the week that Kate Hudson launched her very own vodka, top explorer Ranulph Fiennes has unveiled his very own rum made in conjunction with English Spirit. You’d think that they would have checked the celebrity product launch calendar. Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum, as it’s called, is a bit unusual. It’s distilled from molasses but rather than being aged in casks, different woods representing Fiennes’s adventures such as sequoia from Canada, pine from Norway and date palm from Oman have been added during distilled. What strange alchemy is this? Distiller Dr John Waters explained: “This launch represents a milestone for British rum production. We are putting a marker into the ground that Britain can produce a premium, quality rum and it’s the perfect testament to a legendary British expedition leader.” Sir Ranulph commented: “Rum has always been associated with exploration and adventure, but I only wanted to work with a distillery that was daring and determined. When Dr John told me of the world’s doubt that Britain could make a truly great rum, well, that sealed the deal. From that moment, we aimed to tread new ground”. We have the full story coming soon in an interview with Sir Ranulph (Kate Hudson, though, has not returned our calls).

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Is this the best story we’ve ever had on the Nightcap? Yes. Yes it is.

And finally… Early Times’s dogbassador Earl ‘graduates’ service dog programme

Yes, we love whisky. And yes, cats are our collective first love of the animal kingdom. But there’s always going to be space for a good dog or two, too. And goodest boys don’t come much better than Earl, the ‘dogbassador’ for Early Times whiskey! The one-year-old hound just graduated from the K9s For Warriors programme, which sees dogs trained up to become service animals for military veterans in the US. The specialist pooches don’t just look cute – they also help those who have served post-9/11 and are suffering from PTSD, brain injuries and other trauma. The programme is part of a four-year partnership in which Early Years has donated more than US$225,000 to K9s for Warriors. “The minute our team met Earl, we knew he was special and we had high hopes he would graduate and be matched with a veteran,” said Dallas Cheatham, Early Times senior brand manager. “50% of the dogs who begin training do not complete the programme due to medical or behavioural incompatibilities. It takes a specific personality to become a service dog.” Not only does Earl respond expertly to verbal cues (the typical ‘sit’ and ‘down’), but the training also improved his focus and sensitivity to touch. He’s now been paired with a veteran and, after three weeks of side-by-side training, the new pair will head home for their happily ever after. Just look at Earl’s face. We’re not crying, you are.

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The Nightcap: 1 November

The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap! This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets…

The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap!

This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets that weren’t claimed by trick-or-treaters. Our fingers are propelled by chocolate and our brains are running on toffee, but our hearts… Our hearts are driven by the love of bringing you all the stories from the world of boozes which occurred this week. Plus lollipops. We knew there was a good reason to pick up significantly more sweeties than we could ever hand out.

If you push past the cobwebs in the haunted MoM Towers you may have glimpsed the terrifying amount of activity that occurred on the blood-curdling blog this week. Nate Brown returned to lambast the deification of bartenders before Adam rounded-up a smoky selection of spirits perfect for Bonfire Night. Annie then acquainted herself with Kinahan’s Kasc Project and Five Hundred Cuts Rum from BrewDog Distilling Company, while Henry also enjoyed a delightful rum from an unusual source as Hayman’s Merser & Co. Double Barrel rum was our New Arrival of the Week. Henry also marked the upcoming Día de Muertos (it’s tomorrow) by making The Red Devil our Cocktail of the Week.

But the frightening fun doesn’t stop there! It’s The Nightcap!

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Congratulations Dr Kirstie McCallum!

Dr Kirstie McCallum is Glen Moray’s new head of whisky creation

There’s a new sheriff in town at Speyside distillery Glen Moray. Dr Kirstie McCallum has been appointed head of whisky creation, a new role which will see her take responsibility for brands such as Cutty Sark, Sir Edward’s and Label 5 as well as Glen Moray. McCallum has big shoes to fill, as she will take over from Graham Coull who was master distiller for 14 years. In that time he oversaw the expansion of Glen Moray Distillery and developed several award-winning cask expressions, but he has since moved to pastures new, becoming the master distiller at Dingle Distillery in Ireland. This won’t phase the good doctor (McCallum has a PhD in analytical chemistry from Glasgow Caledonian University), however, as she boasts quite the résumé herself. Her last role was as senior blender at Distell International, where she worked in various roles for over 12 years and was responsible for single malts Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory as well as the company’s blended whiskies. “I am really excited about the opportunities this role will offer, working with world renowned brands such as Glen Moray, Label 5 and Cutty Sark and Sir Edward’s,” says McCallum. “There is a great opportunity to experiment with new cask types and to develop new expressions, using the expansive knowledge of other wine and spirit experts within the La Martiniquaise-Bardinet group.”

 

 

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The name is official: Ladies and gents, I proudly bring you, TEREMANA TEQUILA 🥃 TERA is meant to represent “Terre” which means of the earth and MANA is our powerful Polynesian spirit that guides us. Spirit of the earth. Our goal is to create a tequila that is the best of quality and taste, but done the right way – by hand. Small batch, hand crafted tequila from our Teremana blue agave, maturing in the highlands of Jalisco, for everyone to enjoy. After years of hard work, this blessing is truly a dream come true – but it’s just the beginning and there’s much work to be done. I’m committed with my team to bring you the best tequila, because quality and legacy are what matter most. From all of us here at Distilleria’ Teremana, we invite you to COME HAVE A DRINK. The tequila of the people. #TEREMANA #tequila #ItsAlmostReady #Q12020 @hhgarcia41 📸

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson reveals new Tequila distillery

It’s been an eerily long while since we’ve heard about a new celeb getting in on the Tequila madness. In all honesty, we were starting to get a little anxious. Luckily for us, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson calmed our worries by announcing his newest venture, Destileria Teremana! This hasn’t come completely out of the blue though, as back in March Johnson posted a little teaser on his Instagram. It was also on Instagram this week that he revealed his new distillery, Teremana, explaining that ‘Tere’ translates as ‘earth’, while ‘Mana’ means ‘spirit’. So there you have it, spirit of the earth! We’re no hashtag experts, but we’re pretty sure that ‘#Q12020’ means that hopefully we can expect to actually taste some spirit early next year. When we do though, we’ll make sure to have it… on the rock(s).

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It’s quite the array of Scotch

Hunter Laing releases retrotastic Old & Rare Heritage whiskies

Independent bottler Hunter Laing has been busy sniffing out some rare casks for a splendid new series of whiskies which are both old and rare. Each bottle comes from a single cask and is bottled at cask strength with no colouring or chill-filtration. The line-up is likely to get whisky enthusiasts swooning on the chaise lounge with such bottlings as a 30 year old Mortlach, a 37 year old Aultmore and a rare sighting of a Glen Elgin 44 year old. Smelling salts, please! The MD, Stewart Laing, said: “There are some whiskies which are so remarkable that they deserve a little extra recognition, and our heritage series was created to celebrate these incredible malts. My two sons and I have personally selected each of these whiskies from our finest and most prized stocks.” Son and export director Andrew Laing added: “2019 continues to be both a busy and exciting year for us at Hunter Laing & Co with the opening of our first distillery Ardnahoe, the launch of the Scarabus Islay single malt and entering the travel retail market with Scarabus and our Journey Series of blended malts.” While we are sure the contents will be tip-top, we are particularly taken with the look of the series with its squat green bottles and retro-tastic labels. Naturally, they will be arriving soon at MoM. Keep an eye on the New Arrivals page.

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The commemorative bottling will be released in time for 11th November

The English Whisky Company to launch Remembrance Sunday whisky

Some people drink to forget but now you can drink to remember with a special whisky to commemorate the dead of the First World War. It’s been released in time for Remembrance Sunday on the 11th November by the English Whisky Company. The label features the silhouette of a Tommy, the words ‘Lest We Forget’ and the St. George’s Cross, particularly appropriate as the St. George’s Distillery is the home of the English Whisky Company. Andrew Nelstrop, whose father founded the distillery in 2005, had this to say about the new release: “We are delighted to launch this special centenary whisky to mark such an important time in the history of this country. In 2014, we released a similar bottling to remember those that fell in World War 1 and it proved so popular that due to repeated requests for another batch, we felt it only fitting to launch one to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Treaty Of Versailles which formally ended WW1,” he adds. It will go on sale on 7th November with an RRP of £49.99.

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It’s Port season, don’t you know?

Taylor’s announces the arrival of the Port Season

You might think that a Port digital marketing campaign would be an oxymoron, like military intelligence, but perhaps we should not be surprised that Taylor’s, consistently one of the most forward-looking Port houses, has announced just such a thing. The campaign, created by Keko London who have worked with such swank merchants as Bentley and Bugatti, designates a season for port that begins when the clocks go back and goes on throughout the winter taking in Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year. Andrew Hawes from Taylor’s UK agents Mentzendorff writes: “There is no getting away from the fact that people like Port. The quality versus value equation has never been better and there are strong recognisable brands in the market that are consistently invested in. Taylor’s launching the new digital advertising campaign will support the brand’s very broad trade distribution at a time of the year when family and friends gather, and Port represents a warm and affordable luxury, often described as “the oil of good conversation”. The campaign which will feature on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube depicts a glamorous dinner party having a splendid time enjoying a drop of Port. We’d like to see that uncut version which shows what happens when someone inadvertently drops the B-word after a few too many glasses.

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So much lovely whiskey…

Over 9 million barrels of whiskey now maturing in Kentucky

Well, it’s only taken 86 years but it looks like Kentucky has finally recovered from Prohibition. Figures just released by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) show that last year more than 2.1 million barrels of whiskey were filled taking the total ageing to 9.1 million. That’s a lot of Mint Juleps. KDA president Eric Gregory commented: “This is a historic day that cements Kentucky’s rightful title as the one, true and authentic home for bourbon and distilled spirits.” Sounds like fighting talk! According to the KDA, Kentucky bourbon industry is worth $8.6 billion and generates more than 20,000 jobs. But it’s not all gravy in Kentucky, whiskey is a heavily taxed industry in the States with a levy on maturing stock and then there’s that pesky trade war with the EU. Gregory went on to say: “Kentucky Bourbon is collateral damage in a trade dispute that has nothing to do with us. While we remain hopeful for a resolution soon, the impact on our industry, our partners and our farm families is significant and growing.” The figures just released are the highest of the modern era beating a previous best of 8.7 million total barrels in 1968 and 1.9 million barrels filled in 1967. After that America went mad for white spirits in a big way and the bourbon market collapsed. But that couldn’t happen again, could it?

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BenRiach wants to bring its sensory palette to life through art

BenRiach to be turned into art

It was Elvis Costello who said “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”. Or maybe it was Frank Zappa. There is some debate. Whoever said it, we wonder what he would make of painting about whisky because this is exactly what’s going on at BenRiach. The Speyside distillery has commissioned Ellis O’ Connor, an artist from Dundee, to produce a three landscape paintings inspired by the three types of casks, bourbon, oloroso and virgin oak, used in the make-up of BenRiach 10 Year Old. The paintings will be displayed at London bar TT Liquor during Scotch Whisky Weekend in January 2020. Ellis O’Connor said: “Speyside is renowned for its big skies, fast-flowing river and of course, whisky, so when the opportunity arose to bring this climatic corner of Scotland to life on canvas on behalf of its most creative distillery, I jumped at the chance. BenRiach is packed full of innovation, experimental heritage and flavour and I wanted to depict that through the essence of its flagship whisky BenRiach Aged 10 Years and how it speaks to me through the colours and movement on the canvas. Each canvas will have a distinct colour that explores the flavour profile of the single malt and its cask journey.” Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie added: “Partnering with this talented young Scottish artist is such a wonderful way to bring BenRiach’s flavour journey to life and we can’t wait to see Ellis’ creations on canvas.” We can’t wait to see the results.

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The Guinness Japanese Brew Series

Guinness launches the Japanese Brew Series

Ireland and Japan are joining forces through the form of a good old brew! Guinness has launched three limited edition Japanese-inspired brews in celebration of the Rugby World Cup (which is in Japan, just in case you’ve been living under a rock). Though Ireland is no longer in the tournament, we can still all get in the spirit with the Guinness Japanese Brew Series, boasting three new beers. There’s Ginger and Wasabi Stout, which is flavoured with ginger spice and dark chocolate, and weighs in at 6.2% ABV. Next, there’s the Yuzu Amber Ale, with a slightly lower strength of 4.8% ABV, where a base of Irish red ale is paired with yuzu fruit and hops. Last but not least there’s a (nearly) non-alcoholic stout, Stout of the Rising Sun, which at 0.5% ABV boasts notes of hojicha, a charcoal roasted green tea from Japan. “As Official Sponsors of Belief, Guinness is delighted with our new limited-edition Japanese Brew Series,” Peter Simpson, lead brewer at Guinness Open Gate Brewery said. “These three special beers are our latest innovation where experimentation with Japanese inspired tasting notes and an evolution of classic Irish recipes has created a unique celebration and union of culture and craft.” Where can you find these tasty brews? For those of you down south, the Yuzu Amber Ale is available at London’s Flat Iron Square for a limited time, so best get on down there, or pop over to Dublin for the rest!

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May Fair Bar will soon be alive with all kinds of wintry wonderment

Belvedere + Ice Winter pop-up to launch at May Fair Bar

We’re approaching that time of year, folks. You know, the one people call the ‘most wonderful’. And you know what that means, a whole host of festive and seasonal celebrations from various brands and establishments will start to pop-up all over the place. Like Belvedere + Ice, a 7-week pop-up at May Fair Bar that will attempt to bring some winter-based wonderment to the space with bespoke cocktails and pan-Asian small plates. Expect blue and white accented forestry and frosted detail all over May Fair Bar’s cosmopolitan interiors. The exclusive collaboration with Belvedere Vodka will last from Tuesday 12th November to Tuesday 31st December, and guests can anticipate brunch to bottle service, a soundtrack from May Fair Bar’s resident DJ’s playing late into the night and, on centre stage at the bar, Belvedere + Ice, a luxurious Champagne cocktail priced at £300 that features Richard Hennessy Cognac, Madagascan vanilla-infused Belvedere Unfiltered vodka, Dom Perignon Brut Vintage 2009 & gold leaf. Tis the season to be spendy, after all. Five other vodka-based cocktails will also be on offer between £14 and £18, including the Rosé Negroni, Old Fashioned Blanc, Jasmine & Fig Sour, Ice Melon Martini and The Socialite. You can find more information here.

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A fine addition to your cheeseboard

And Finally… Basil Hayden’s wins Christmas already with bourbon-infused cheese

Now it’s actually November it feels entirely appropriate to start mentioning Christmas. The dinner, the drams, the all-important cheeseboard. But it seems bourbon brand Basil Hayden’s has already made our festive dreams come true, ticking at least two of those three boxes of indulgence, hitting peak Christmas and winning our hearts and taste buds in the process. Behold: Pour Me a Slide bourbon-infused cheese! It’s been made in partnership with Utah-based creamery Beehive Cheese from semi-firm Jersey cow’s milk. The infusion is said to result in cheese that “tastes sweet with a hint of spice”, thanks to the high-rye profile of the whisky. Count us in. “Our goal is to craft cheeses that bring people together through their elevated, artisanal flavour,” said Pat Ford, co-founder of Beehive Cheese. “We’re excited to partner with Basil Hayden’s because the trademark spice of this bourbon adds a really unique flavour to the cheese that makes it perfect for a gathering or gifting.” Sadly it appears to be a US phenomenon, but if you’re listening, Team Basil: we need Pour Me a Slice this side of the pond, too! (All is not lost – Team MoM have sampled and can personally vouch for the deliciousness of Laphroaig cheese and Springbank cheese. No need for all-out dairy-based whisky panic.)

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