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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: The Nightcap

The Nightcap: 9 August

Artificial tongues that can taste whisky? Vodka made from Chernobyl rye? The gin boom is still going?! These aren’t tales from 2054 – these stories all appear in this week’s…

Artificial tongues that can taste whisky? Vodka made from Chernobyl rye? The gin boom is still going?! These aren’t tales from 2054 these stories all appear in this week’s Nightcap!

Behind the scenes sneak peek at how The Nightcap comes together right here: sometimes this intro is written after the all the stories have been finished. Having a look at all the futuristic stuff in this edition of The Nightcap, you might think that time travel is real and MoM Towers has slipped through a dimensional rift and ended up in the year 2054. Stranded and working purely on instinct, we notice on the future calendar it’s a Friday, so we write up a new edition of The Nightcap, regaling the masses with tales of artificial tongues that can taste whisky and spirits made from crops in Chernobyl stories that these future folk see as perfectly normal, but to our minds are wildly out of this world. But it’s not. It’s today and stuff is just becoming more impressive by the day!

So, good people of 2019, what’s been happening on the MoM Blog? Henry kicked off the week with a gem of a rum from the Diamond Distillery for New Arrival of the Week, made a Pink Lady for Cocktail of the Week and spoke to Peter Lynch from WhistlePig about an oloroso-finished rye exclusive to MoM. Annie chatted to Bimber’s founder Dariusz Plazewski about where people can go wrong (and right) when starting a craft distillery, and then asked a very important question to us all: how do you make alcohol-free beer delicious? Guest columnist Nate Brown has opinions about drinks industry folk who RSVP for events then don’t turn up.

We also launched a new competition where you could win a trip down to Deven to visit Salcombe Distilling Co.! Take a look, pick up a bottle of excellent gin, and cross your fingers!

And now, the news of the future today!

Cardhu

How Cardhu will look when it’s been refurbished

Johnnie Walker gets the green light for Cardhu redevelopment

The final piece in the jigsaw is now in place. That jigsaw being Diageo’s £150m plan for whisky tourism in Scotland based around four key distilleries. As we have reported previously, developments at Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Clynelish, and a Johnnie Walker HQ in Edinburgh have all been granted planning permission. Now it’s the turn of Cardhu in Speyside. This was the first distillery acquired by Johnnie Walker in 1893 and since then has been a key component in the blend. David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, said: “Together these locations will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities.” Laura Sharp, brand home manager at Cardhu, added: “This announcement is very exciting and we want to thank Moray Council and all our neighbours for their continued support.” We love it when a plan comes together.

That’s what an artificial tongue looks like

Boffins baffle counterfeiters with artificial whisky-tasting tongue

Who can forget the story from 2017 when a Chinese businessman spent $10,000 on a glass of Macallan that turned out to be fake? Well, such occurrences might be a thing of the past thanks to a team of Scottish engineers from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. A paper titled ‘Whisky tasting using a bimetallic nanoplasmonic tongue’ published this week in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Nanoscale describes a metal ‘tongue’ that can be used to analyse whisky. The ‘taste buds’ are made up of gold and aluminium in a checkerboard pattern. It identifies whiskies from the statistical analysis of minute differences in how the metals absorb light. The device was tested on a series of single malts – Glenfiddich, Glen Marnoch and Laphroaig – and was able to tell the difference between them, as well as different expressions of the same malt with greater than 99% accuracy. The paper’s lead author, Dr Alasdair Clark (above), of the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering, said:  “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue – like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures. In addition to its obvious potential for use in identifying counterfeit alcohols, it could be used in food safety testing, quality control, security – really any area where a portable, reusable method of tasting would be useful.” So next time you’re splashing out on the Macallan, don’t forget your artificial tongue. 

Clouded Leopard Gin bottle

This is gin, it’s still very popular in Britain

Gin still booming according to the WSTA 

There have been articles recently in the Spectator and the Financial Times saying that the gin boom is over, but figures just released by the WSTA seem to contradict this. As a trade body, the WSTA has an interest in bolstering the industry but nevertheless the stats make interesting reading. Retail sales up to March 2019 were up 43% by value on the previous year, worth nearly £1 billion. The off-trade is up 56% by volume on last year’s sales with nearly 6 billion bottles sold between March 2018 and 2019. Combining domestic and export sales, the British gin market is worth over £3 billion. WSTA chief executive Miles Beale commented: “It’s been another phenomenal 12 months for gin and, despite recent reports suggesting the gin bubble may have burst, our numbers suggest the exact opposite. Gin’s continued domestic popularity, and the growth in the spirits category overall, has no doubt been helped by the decision to freeze duty on spirits in the last Budget. We need further supportive action from the Government as we approach Budget time once more. Looking at the popularity of British gin overseas is also cause for celebration. £350 million, or around 46% of all British gin exports head to the EU, and so it is imperative that the Government works with the European Union to secure trade that is as seamless in the future as it is now.” What could possibly go wrong?

Firestone & Robertson TX whiskey, now just a tiny bit Frencher

Pernod Ricard bets on American whiskey with Firestone & Robertson buy

French drinks group Pernod Ricard, which owns the likes of Beefeater Gin, Absolut Vodka, The Glenlivet Scotch and Jameson Irish Whiskey, this week bolstered its presence in American whiskey by snapping up Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. The Texas-based producer makes TX-branded whiskey and bourbon, and the deal includes its Whiskey Ranch distillery too. “This is an exciting day for all of us at Firestone & Robertson,” said Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, who co-founded the business. “Building our company and producing award-winning whiskeys has been a truly remarkable experience. We are so proud of our team, and grateful to the many people that supported our efforts over the years. It is an extraordinary opportunity to partner with Pernod Ricard, and we are confident this relationship will accelerate the growth of our brands while preserving our roots and shared core values.” Pernod chairman and CEO, Alexandre Ricard, said the (undisclosed) transaction was a “very promising venture” that “strengthens our portfolio and footprint in the United States”. If it means more tasty American whiskey to go round, we’re all for it. 

You can swap a tin of beans for one of these!

The Alchemist tackles food poverty with cocktail exchange

Foodbank use is soaring in the UK (charity the Trussell Trust recently reported a 19% increase in food supplies it’s donated in the last year). Loads of us are both donating to and accessing our local food banks (there’s a list on the Trussell Trust’s site), so when news reached us that UK bar group The Alchemist is encouraging people to bring supplies in return for a cocktail, we whooped and cheered. On 29 August, any customers who bring non-perishable donations (unopened and in date; tinned, dried and packaged foods) into one of the bars with them will get vodka-based serve The Colour Changing One for free! All collections will be donated to local food banks. “These are truly fantastic local charities tackling food poverty across the UK, which is an issue we’re particularly passionate about at The Alchemist,” said Hannah Plumb, head of restaurants at The Alchemist. “This activity is a fun and engaging way to encourage customers to donate to their local food banks, who are in need of donations now more than ever.” You can find The Alchemist in Birmingham, Cardiff, Chester, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Oxford. You know what to do on 29 August!

Bruichladdich's Bere Barley

Bruichladdich’s bere barley

Bruichladdich reinforces barley focus with Exploration Series trilogy

Remember earlier this year when we checked out Bruichladdich’s trial barley plots? Well, the Islay distillery’s long-running focus on the grain has continued with new flavour-focused expressions, which will form a Barley Exploration series. Its focus on barley has become a bit of a USP for the distillery, which works with different local producers, and is currently trialling up to 60 different varieties. There are also plans to open its own maltings by 2023. So what does this new range look like? First up, Bruichladdich The Organic 2010 was distilled in 2010 (obvs) and made using barley from Mid Coul Farms harvested in 2009. It was matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks for at least eight years, and was bottled sans chill-filtration or caramel colouring at 50% ABV. Bruichladdich Bere Barley, made from Orkney-grown Bere, a variety considered “obsolete” by many distillers, was likewise distilled in 2010 and bottled at 50% ABV just as it is. Rounding off the trio is Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011, made from Islay-grown barley, which spent 75% of its six-year maturation life in American ex-bourbon casks, and 25% on European ex-wine casks. “We want to support people who grow for flavour, those champions of heritage and natural crops,” said Bruichladdich head distiller, Adam Hannett. “By partnering with them we can find new and forgotten flavours, reconnecting our whisky with its vital raw ingredients.” Sounds great to us! 

Doesn’t it look jolly in Fentimans’ Secret Spritz Garden?

Fentimans kicks off Secret Spritz Garden

If The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of your favourite books as a child, AND you now like refreshing summer sippers, then we have news. The Venn circles have officially crossed, courtesy of tonic brand Fentimans. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls, away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Farringdon is (for the next three weeks, anyway) a little oasis of tranquility, aromatic plants, and a Spritz menu of dreams! The garden itself is overflowing with trailing greenery, herbs, and a 200-year-old olive tree, while Fentimans has added a lemon-filled fountain, highly-Instagrammable swing seat and the all-important bar into the mix. The menu (developed with the likes of Lillet and Martini Fiero) was created by Dino Koletsas (from The Langham, Bourne & Hollingsworth and Callooh Callay) and showcases the wonder of low- and no-alcohol cocktails, including the Rose Spritz, made with Fentimans Rose, lemonade, Martini Prosecco and fresh strawberries; and the Valencian Spritz, with Fentimans Valencian Orange Tonic Water, with Belsazar White Vermouth and peach liqueur. Head on down (you might even find yourself in a free guided workshop, from the Art of the Aperitivo to watercolour classes) Wednesday to Saturday up until 29 August to enjoy!

Aecorn range

Aecorn, a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs, has just been launched by Seedlip

Diageo acquires majority stake in Seedlip

In a move that will surprise no one, it was announced this week that Diageo has taken a majority stake (mmm, majority steak) in alcohol-free ‘spirit’ manufacture Seedlip. The brand was launched by Ben Branson in 2015 and created a new category of non-alcoholic drinks flavoured, packaged, and priced to rival premium gin. Distill Ventures, Diageo’s venture capital arm, took a minority investment in June 2016. Since then, Seedlip has gone global: it’s sold in top bars and restaurants in 25 countries, and comes in three varieties. It has also inspired legions of imitators such as Ceder’s from Pernod Ricard. Earlier this year, Seedlip launched Aecorn, a range of non-alcoholic vermouth-style aperitifs. We have been informed that Branson will still be involved with business. He commented: “We want to change the way the world drinks and today’s news is another big step forward to achieving this. Distill Ventures’ and Diageo’s shared belief in our vision has enabled us to build a business that’s ready for scale and I’m excited to continue working with Diageo to lead this movement.” John Kennedy from Diageo said: “Seedlip is a game-changing brand in one of the most exciting categories in our industry. Ben is an outstanding entrepreneur and has created a brand that has truly raised the bar for the category. We’re thrilled to continue working with him to grow what we believe will be a global drinks giant of the future.” And Shilen Pate from Distill Ventures added: “Supporting the vision of founders is what Distill Ventures was set up to do, and we’re proud of the impact Ben has had on our industry in such a short period of time.” With all that Diageo cash behind it, expect Seedlip’s upward trajectory to continue. 

GlenDronach

Mouth-watering malts

The GlenDronach’s new Cask Bottling releases will have whisky lovers salivating 

Prepare yourselves, The GlenDronach has just announced the seventeenth batch of its Cask Bottling series! It contains whisky drawn from fourteen casks ranging from the years 1990 to 2007, all of which have been selected by none other than master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie. What to expect? Each Highland expression has been bottled from a single cask from a selection of the distillery’s signature Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks alongside two Port pipes. Particularly special is a bottling from a rare vintage 1995 cask, one of the last remaining casks from that year still at the distillery. “The batch seventeen cask selection truly celebrates The GlenDronach house style; robust, elegant, fruity and full-bodied,” said Barrie. “Each cask individually explores the sophistication, powerful intricacy and rich layers of Spanish sherry cask maturation found in every GlenDronach expression; from layers of crème brûlée, treacle toffee and over-ripe banana in 1990 […] to toasted pain au raisin and butterscotch simmering beneath the surface in 2007.” Is your mouth watering as well? Then keep your eyes peeled for your favourite online retailer (us, duh) over the next few weeks.

Atomik Vodka

Don’t worry, it isn’t radioactive

And Finally… anyone fancy a Chernobyl Martini?

We’re no strangers to far-out spirits at Master of Malt, after all, we sell a gin distilled using botanicals that have been into space, but a new spirit might be the strangest thing yet. It’s called Atomik Vodka and it’s distilled using rye and water from the contaminated area around Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear energy disaster in 1986. Just this week, London bar Swift on Old Compton Street made the very first Atomik Martini with it. But before you start calling for Soho to be cordoned off, and send in the men in yellow suits, this vodka, despite its name, isn’t radioactive. The man behind it, Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth, told the BBC that though the rye was “slightly contaminated”, distillation has removed any impurities, and radioactivity levels are “below their limit of detection.” Only one bottle has been made so far but the Chernobyl Spirit Company, consisting of Smith, Ukrainain scientist Dr Gennady Laptev and others, plans to make 500 bottles per year. The team still has some legal hoops to jump through before production can start but when it does, 75% of the profits will go to help people in the region. Smith commented: “I think this is the most important bottle of spirits in the world because it could help the economic recovery of communities living in and around the abandoned areas. Many thousands of people are still living in the Zone of Obligatory Resettlement where new investment and use of agricultural land is still forbidden.” Sounds very worthwhile and, according to Sam Armeye, the vodka tastes good too. Atomik Martinis all round!

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The Nightcap: 2 August

Mega-old Macallan, virtual pipelines and g-g-g-ghosts! The Nightcap this week really is all over the shop… It’s Friday. But it’s also not just any Friday. It’s the first Friday of…

Mega-old Macallan, virtual pipelines and g-g-g-ghosts! The Nightcap this week really is all over the shop…

It’s Friday. But it’s also not just any Friday. It’s the first Friday of August. But it’s also not just any first Friday of August. It’s International Beer Day. I mean, yeah, technically any first Friday of August is International Beer Day, because that’s when it is, but the point still remains. Kinda. Look, what we’re trying to say is that maybe today, instead of enjoying your regular scheduled edition of The Nightcap with a dram, you enjoy it with a tasty drink of the beer variety.

So what were the haps with our very own blog this week? Annie was ahead of the curve and clued us in on five beer trends to keep an eye on, and then caught up with Ervin Trykowski from The Singleton to talk about chucking out the whisky ritual rulebook. Jess headed to the Highlands to celebrate Caorunn Gin’s 10th birthday, then set her sights even further afield with a rundown of flavours from far-off lands. Guest columnists galore: Ian Buxton took a swing at genealogy by looking at the illustrious families of the drinks industry, while Victoria Sayers spotted a fantastic New Arrival of the WeekClouded Leopard Gin. Henry helped us cool off in the heatwave with a refreshing Moscow Mule for Cocktail of the Week.

And so, on to the news!

Holyrood distillery

The Holyrood team and their shiny new stills.

Single malt returns to Edinburgh after almost 100 years

Previously, if you wanted to visit a malt whisky distillery from Edinburgh, you had to travel 15 miles to Glenkinchie. But no longer, because this week single malt returned to the capital for the first time since 1925! The Holyrood Distillery, located within walking distance of Edinburgh Castle, is housed in an elegant 19th century railway shed. It cost £6.7m with £1.5m worth of investment coming from the taxpayer-funded Scottish Investment Bank. The team headed up by distillery manager Jack Mayo will be doing some interesting stuff with different yeasts, varieties of barley and levels of malting to produce initially four types of whisky: smoky, sweet, spicy and fruity/floral. At seven metres, the stills are some of the tallest in Scotland. “After all the hard work of the team, it’s a really special moment to now see Holyrood Distillery open, and we’re looking forward to creating a range of delicious whiskies, gins, liqueurs and other spirits,” said co-founder Rob Carpenter. “I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this project throughout its evolution for their hard work and passion – and especially all our local neighbours for bearing with us during the construction process.” The distillery is now open for tours. We can’t wait to visit.

ardross distillery

The now-whisky-producing Ardross Distillery from the skies.

Ardross Distillery kicks off whisky production!

More distillery news, this time from the Scottish Highlands – Ardross Distillery, which already make Theodore Pictish Gin in a dedicated on-site gin house, has started whisky production! Details are pretty scarce, but we have had it confirmed that the first batch flowed from the stills last week. And we’re excited! The £18 million distillery had planning permission granted in February 2017, and construction started shortly after. Located just north of Inverness, the former farm now boasts two large copper pot stills, and once finished, there will be a small whisky experience centre, too. There’s no word yet on the intended character of the future Scotch, but as soon as we know more, we’ll let you know!

british bourbon society

Just look at all the delicious Balcones bourbon!

British Bourbon Society marks third anniversary

Last weekend we hightailed it up to Leeds to join the British Bourbon Society (BBS) for some pretty lively birthday celebrations. The largest American whiskey group outside North America was in a collectively rambunctious mood when 100 or so members arrived at the Northern Monk brewery to mark its third anniversary. On-hand to help with the festivities were a bunch of delicious brands, from Maker’s Mark and Whistlepig to Uncle Nearest and the likes of Few Spirits, Smooth Ambler, New York Distilling Company and Balcones. And on Balcones… one of our tasks of the day was selecting the liquid for a British Bourbon Society/Master of Malt bottle pick. It was deliciously hard work, but someone’s gotta do it. Keep your eyes peeled for the results over the next few weeks. And an enormous thank you to BBS members for making the whole afternoon so fun!

Exceptional Cask (3)

Macallan Exceptional Cask 1950 in all its glory

The Macallan releases 68 year old whisky

Last year it was the £38,000 52 year old release. This week The Macallan has gone that little bit further with the release of the £44,000 Exceptional Single Cask 1950 expression, that was bottled in 2018. That’s a 68 year old whisky. Blimey! The cask in question is a sherry butt found in the Macallan warehouse, and only 336 bottles have been filled at a healthy 53.4% ABV. The tasting notes tantalisingly refer to “subtle hints of peat in the background”, so it sounds like this is that rarest thing, an old peated Macallan. The press release goes on to say: “The single malt is the centrepiece of the 2018 release from the unprecedented range which invites consumers to explore the world’s most valuable whisky through a rare insight from the legendary whisky makers’ bench at The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience on Speyside.” Nope, doesn’t mean anything to us, either. Anyhow, it’s no doubt an exceptional whisky, and seeing as last year’s release is already selling for double its release price, likely to be a good investment, too.

gordon and macphail

Gordon & MacPhail’s three tasty, ghostly whiskies…

Gordon & MacPhail releases whiskies from ghost distilleries

There’s nothing like a silent or ghost distillery for getting whisky fans hot under the collar, so we expect Gordon & MacPhail will be installing a new phone line to deal with enquiries about its latest ‘Private Collection’. The first release comes from the Dallas Dhu Distillery, which closed in 1983. This particular one was distilled in 1969 and matured in a sherry hogshead. The second is from the St. Magdalene Distillery. It was distilled in 1982, a year before the distillery closed its doors, and has been sitting in a refill American hogshead ever since. The final whisky in the collection isn’t actually a ghostie, but it is pretty bloody special: a 1966 from Longmorn matured in a first-fill sherry butt. All collars at Master of Malt are getting a bit warm just thinking about it. Stephen Rankin, director of prestige at Gordon & MacPhail, commented: “My grandfather, George Urquhart, recognised an opportunity to match new make spirit with carefully selected casks at a time when the vast majority of production went into blends. Over the decades he was able to master this art which has become his legacy. He could never be persuaded to bottle a whisky before he believed it had reached its ultimate peak in terms of quality – a tradition we’re proud to continue today.” The RRP for the Longmorn and the Dallas Dhu is £6950 each with the St. Magdalene at £1000. We probably don’t need to tell you that packaging will be lavish, numbers extremely limited and demand high. That’s rare whisky for you. 

glenmorangie

The famed Glenmorangie stills, now doing their bit to reduce carbon emissions.

Glenmorangie to cut emissions by 30% using a ‘virtual pipeline’

Glenmorangie will be switching its (famously-tall) stills over to natural gas from oil, a move set to cut carbon emissions by 30%. The Highland distillery is too remote to be on the pipeline, so a ‘virtual pipeline’, consisting of a tanker and storage facility, is being used to provide gas. We’ve written before about the Highland distillery’s admirable environmental initiatives, such as the anaerobic digester to purify water emitted into the Dornoch Firth (which handily also produces biogas, so the distillery has been able to cut fossil fuel use by 15%), and initiatives to restore oyster reefs in the Firth. “We are committed to preserving and improving the world around us, as we meet rising demand for our exceptional single malt whisky around the globe,” said Thomas Moradpour, president and CEO of The Glenmorangie Company. “Cutting our CO2 emissions by 30% is another important step in our quest to become a fully sustainable business.” 

fentimans eric

Eric Tinca and his winning cocktail!

Satan’s Whiskers’ Eric Tinca nabs Fentimans title

Congratulations to Eric Tinca from Bethnal Green’s Satan’s Whiskers cocktail bar in East London, who was this week crowned winner of Fentimans’ Summer of Rose competition! Eric’s winning cocktail, a combination of Fentimans Rose Lemonade, fresh raspberries, Campari and Koko Kanu coconut rum, sounds like just the thing to get you in the holiday spirit. Over 100 bartenders from around the country took part in the challenge. The brief was to create a cocktail that could be replicated swiftly in bars that included, naturally, Fentimans Rose Lemonade. This year is looking like the pinkest since records began; you can’t move for rosé wine, pink gin, and Fentimans Rose Lemonade, in shops, bars and all over Instagram. If you’re not holding a pink drink this summer, what are you doing? Hurrah again for Tinca!

isle of raasay gin

Behold, the very first Isle of Raasay Gin.

Isle of Raasay Distillery releases first gin

With International Scottish Gin Day officially a thing on 3 August (keep your eyes peeled on the blog and our social channels for more!), it seems fitting that this week’s Nightcap features just that: a new Scottish gin! Step forward Isle of Raasay Distillery, which last weekend unveiled its very first gin expression. The Isle of Raasay Gin is made using a Frilli copper pot still, ten botanicals (including rhubarb root, cubeb pepper and lemon peel; some from the island itself), water from a local well, and triple-distilled spirit. Its development was supported by local botanist Dr Stephen Bungard, along with MSc scholar at Heriot Watt Fiona Williamson, who actually worked at the distillery in 2018. “Raasay’s remarkable geology and our modern island distillery inspired both the creation and presentation of our exciting new Scottish gin that we look forward to sharing with the growing number of visitors to Raasay and gin lovers alike,” said distillery co-founder, Alasdair Day. With tasting notes including aromatic juniper, zesty citrus and hints of rhubarb, we’re looking forward to having a sample. 

oban old teddy

The inspiration for Oban’s distillery-exclusive, Old Teddy himself.

Oban releases new distillery exclusive single malt!

North west Scotland’s Oban distillery has a shiny new release – and it’s a distillery-exclusive called Old Teddy! Named in honour of the Maclean family, the expression celebrates three generations of whisky-making, dating back to 1953 with master distiller Old Teddy. His son Young Teddy (natch) joined the firm in 1985, followed in 2017 by, sadly not Even Younger Teddy, but Derek. Oh well! The youngest Maclean still works at the distillery today and he commented: “This unique bottling is a celebration of our heritage and pays homage to my grandfather, whose fine craftsmanship has been preserved in the heart and soul of the distillery at Oban. This bottling is inspired by Old Teddy’s warm and gentle nature, physical strength and pride as dedicated maltster. It is a dram he would be proud of.” This special family single malt was released this month, less than 4,000 bottles will be available, and it can only be purchased from the distillery for £150. If you’re lucky enough to try it, make sure you raise a glass to the two Teddies, and Derek.

hendricks kings cross

Kings Cross station after its Hendrick’s makeover.

And finally… King’s Cross comes up smelling of roses thanks to Hendrick’s

It’s a mark of how King’s Cross in London has been regenerated in recent years that, from this week, one of the tunnels in the Underground station smells not of effluence, vandal-strength lager and broken dreams, but roses and cucumber. Yes, Hendrick’s Gin has taken over the tunnel that links the Piccadilly and Victoria lines to the Northern line ticket hall and bedecked it with rose-and-cucumber-scented posters from floor-to-ceiling. It’s all the work of ad agency Space. Not only does it look spectacular but it smells delicious too. In fact, just the thought of it is making us thirsty for a G&T. Damn clever advertising.

That’s all, folks!

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The Nightcap: 26 July

You know what Friday means by now, it can only be the Nightcap! This week we’ve got all the digs on The Macallan’s newest release, Coupette’s mouthwatering Summer menu, the…

You know what Friday means by now, it can only be the Nightcap! This week we’ve got all the digs on The Macallan’s newest release, Coupette’s mouthwatering Summer menu, the rise of the Tequila cocktail and even a Jack Daniel’s shoe.

Happy Friday, folks! But before we get into the thick of all the wonderful booze news of the week that was, we thought we’d have a quick chat about the weather. Because, we don’t know about you, but nobody has mentioned the weather this week. At all. Was it warm? Was there sun? We tried to enjoy a refreshing Spritz here at MoM Towers, but apparently the whole of the UK had run out of ice. All we know is that it’s now raining again and the quintessential British summer is back on. Thank goodness for that. It was a steamy few days. Step away from the SPF 50 and settle down with a drink, the Nightcap is here!

On the blog this week, we kicked off Monday with a recap of all the Fèis Ìle 2019 fun, while Kristy chose a sherry-tastic single malt for our New Arrival of the Week, took a peek at the mysterious 2019 Diageo Special Releases, and reported back on a magic trip to Tel Aviv’s Milk & Honey Distillery! Meanwhile, Henry mixed up a Tequila Sunrise for his Cocktail of the Week, chatted rum with Alexandre Gabriel from Plantation, and found out what on earth Uncle’s Day is with Uncle Nearest’s Fawn Weaver. Last but not least, Annie gave the 411 on where to grab a drink in Amsterdam, Nate Brown scooted over to Dublin’s Roe & Co, and our Jess carried on the Tequila and mezcal fun with a round up of agave spirits. Phew. But that’s not all – on with the news!

Beam Suntory

Behold, The Fred B. Noe Distillery!

Beam Suntory breaks ground James B. Beam distillery

In big American whiskey news, Beam Suntory announced this week that it’s investing a whopping $60 million to build a new craft distillery and bring back The James B. Beam Distilling Co. name to Clermont! The James B. Beam Distilling Co. was the company’s name immediately after Prohibition, and will now serve as the name of Beam Suntory’s Clermont operations, as well as encompassing the production operations for the Jim Beam brand and small-batch brands such as Booker’s and Knob Creek. This investment will also build the Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery on the Clermont site, named after seventh generation master distiller Fred Noe, which will house the exploration of exciting new fermentation and distillation techniques. “Beam Suntory is excited to honour our roots by investing in the James B. Beam Distilling Co., and setting ourselves up for a bright future in Kentucky and around the world,” commented Albert Baladi, President and CEO for Beam Suntory. “With nearly 225 years behind us, we are proud of our history of entrepreneurialism, craftsmanship and innovation. As the world leader in bourbon, we are thrilled to be laying the foundation for the next 225 years.” Goodbye Beam Suntory, hello The James B. Beam Distilling Co.!

Campari Rum

Campari takes on rum/rhum

Campari Group eyes up Rhum Agricole brands

Got a taste for the vegetal pronouncedness of Rhum Agricole? You are not alone. Campari Group, one of the world’s biggest drinks players, wants in, too. This week it was announced that the owner of the likes of Campari (obvs), Aperol, Wild Turkey and Bulldog Gin entered into “exclusive negotiations” with the parent company of Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny (and Duquesne rum, too) to acquire the Martinique-based brands. While no price was revealed, the deal would include the brands themselves, the land they sit on, the distilleries and visitor centres, plus the aged rhum stocks. Yes please. In the press release, Campari Group said that if the deal goes through, it will “enhance its exposure to rum, a premiumising category currently at the heart of the mixology trend and growing cocktail culture”. It already owns Appleton Estate and Wray & Nephew, so it would make Campari a significant force for all things rum (and rhum). Ready the Ti Punches, folks!

Diageo

Cheers to a bumper year for Diageo!

Tanqueray and Don Julio drive Diageo sales

It’s that time of year again – financial results are in! And for Diageo, they make for pretty buoyant reading. Sales for the full year to 30 June hit £12.9 billion, up 5.8%, with profits hitting £4bn, (+9.5%). Why such strong results? Two words: gin and Tequila. Gin as a whole grew by 23% in value, with Tequila soaring by a whopping 37%. Brand-wise, Don Julio was a total stand-out, with sales climbing by an incredible 30%, while Tanqueray posted 21% gains. Which brands didn’t do quite so well? The biggest name to see a drop was Cîroc Vodka (-5%), although vodka as a whole actually saw 4% growth, a big deal seeing as the category has fared pretty poorly in recent times. And Scotch? All-in-all, things are going well! The category grew by 6%, with Johnnie Walker seeing values climb 7% on the previous year, and the Scotch malts collectively making 12% gains. Winning!

The Macallan Estate

The Macallan Estate, delicious and super popular

The Macallan unleashes home-grown Estate to the world

We had a thoroughly lovely Wednesday this week. Not only did The Macallan get its new Estate edition ready to ship, the brand also treated us to an utterly delightful lunch! We gathered at the incredible Hide in Piccadilly with Sarah Burgess, The Macallan’s whisky maker, and David Sinclair, brand ambassador to learn about (and of course, taste) the new expression. Burgess told us all about the production process – one week a year, mashing, fermentation and distillation is given over to barley grown exclusively on The Macallan estate. And the sensibly-named The Macallan Estate is the result! It’s an addition to the core range, and more bottles will be released each year (although Burgess stressed to us that she’s working to keep the flavour profile consistent over time). So, what’s it like? Tremendously autumnal, filled to the brim with appley, orchard fruit notes, plus lashings of marmalade on burnt toast, and a wash of sweet spices. Tasty.

Coupette Shimmer

Coupette’s mesmerising Shimmer cocktail

Coupette launches new menu ‘Summer’

Ah, Coupette. Something of a hole in the wall, to the uninitiated the award-winning bar may seem rather unsuspecting from the outside. We excitedly made our way down as just this week, founder Chris Moore launched the new menu in collaboration with local sign writer, Ged Palmer, titled ‘Summer’! One such epitome of the season was Strawberries & Cream, taking inspiration from Wimbledon and seasonal picnics. With strawberry eau de vie, rosé vermouth, wine and a vanilla-scented, clarified milk punch finish, served with a brush of white chocolate around the rim of the glass, it’s totally delicious without being overly sweet. This serve was just flying out from behind the bar, and no wonder in 34-degree heat! There’s a story behind each serve, and an intriguing one was Shimmer, marrying 30&40 Eau de Vie, green apple and sage, wine, genepi and sage soda, served in a mesmerising blue ceramic vessel on a blue geode coaster. Designed to be reminiscent of holidays and blue oceans it certainly accomplishes that, in flavour and aesthetic. Other delicious serves included the Bloody Martini with vodka, vin jaune, a clear tomato consommé and chive oil, part of a series of cocktails which mashes together two iconic drinks. There’s also a take on a Kir Royale, which sees a fabulous serving of blackcurrant sorbet in the cocktail glass. Slightly heavier serves include Obsidian, channelling a Rum Old Fashioned with the addition of cocoa and tangy passion fruit. We’ll certainly be back to try out the rest. Leave any expectations at the door, and prepare to be absolutely blown away with this stunningly complex and yet unpretentious menu. Bravo, Coupette.

Dalloway Terrace

Dalloway Terrace has cocktails on tap… from a flower wall!

Dalloway Terrace unveils new look for summer ’19

On Wednesday, we got to visit what is described by Vogue as “one of London’s most Instagrammable restaurants”. The Dalloway Terrace is now offering a taste of summer with the launch of its Summer Estate, in partnership with Ramsbury Distillery. Master florist, Nikki Tibbles, recreated the English countryside, transforming the Terrace with wild meadow flowers, blending silk daisies, cosmos, larkspur, delphiniums and foliage with embellishments of coral quince blossom. Flower walls are massive right now, and she created possibly the best one ever for the occasion:  a flower wall complete with botanical cocktails on tap. There’s also a bar for G&T drinkers where they can garnish drinks themselves with produce fresh from Ramsbury Estate. The seasonal cocktail menu will offer a selection of summer serves priced at £13. No reservations allowed at the Terrace, so be sure to get in quick – it’s open from 08:00am to11:00pm every day until mid-September.

Slane Irish Whiskey

Delicious and sustainable Slane Whiskey

Slane Irish Whiskey announces trio of winners in sustainable cocktail comp

Earlier this summer, Slane Distillery’s UK brand ambassador, Michael Brown, set a challenge to bartenders to create the most ‘suSLANEable’ cocktails. And this week, not one, not two but THREE winners were selected! Slane is located in the heart of Boyne Valley in Ireland and, inspired by Earth Day, had tasked bartenders across the UK to follow in its green footsteps. And they are big shoes to fill:  the distillery has already installed a “catchment system” to collect rainwater off the roofs of the distillery buildings to reduce the volume of water needed for production drawn from the Boyne River. Cool stuff! Joint winner Jack Riley from Present Company, Liverpool, says, “We should all be taking small steps to help the impact on the environment.” He worked with local coffee shops to create his nameless ‘suSLANEable’ cocktail: 45ml Slane Irish Whiskey, 20ml Spent Coffee-infused Martini Bitter, 15ml Tropical Cordial and 2 dash Bitter. Fellow champ Tom Sutton from H.M.S.S challenged himself to find and use leftover produce to create his “Castaway”, from just 40ml Slane Irish Whiskey, 30ml reclaimed cordial and stir into a frozen embassy. Simples. Finally, we have Leon Back and his recipe for “Little Winner”; 50ml Slane Irish Whiskey, 40ml ghetto cold brew (spent coffee grinds), coconut syrup, 10ml Martini ambrato, 10ml P.X. Sherry and 2 dashes Angostura bitter with some tonic water over ice.  Delicious. Evolving and improving every year, Slane is working to become one of the most environmentally-friendly whiskey distilleries in Europe… Check out this video for more inspo to make eco-friendly drinks.

Patron Tequila

Goodbye Tequila shots, hello Paloma!

Shots are out: Brits now prefer Tequila cocktails, according to Patrón

Step away from the salt and lime: Tequila is now officially preferred in cocktail form, rather than as a shot, in new research from Patrón. In a study that suggests Tequila has finally shaken off its hard-partying image, more than 65% of drinkers said they enjoy Tequila cocktails on a night out, over slammers. It makes sense: Tequila is the fastest growing spirit in the UK, according to Euromonitor. Despite the upgraded drinking habits, Tequila knowledge is at a bit of a low. Only 23% of those questioned knew Tequila was made from agave, while just 10% showed knowledge of aged Tequilas. One response? To get tasting! You can find an array of Tequila drams for that purpose right here. What’s your Tequila of choice? Let us know in the comments below!

Nelsons distillery

Nelson’s carbon neutral distillery from the skies

Nelson’s Distillery bags eco award

More green news! Word reached us this week that Nelson’s Distillery & School in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, won a Green Impact Award for its eye-popping efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. The award itself is the Signal 1 Radio Green Award, given out to recognise and celebrate local businesses making great strides in sustainability. Striving to be totally “off-grid” since 2016, Nelson’s is based at a flashy, futuristic and carbon neutral site with numerous green energy sources, including a wind turbine and super-snazzy anaerobic digester power plants. The site sells energy back to the grid, the team live in the local village to reduce traffic and pollution, they have their own natural water source, and use the reed beds to filter the water used in gin and rum. If this doesn’t sound amazeballs enough, then what about the 10% customer discount you get if you returning or repurposing the bottles?! More distilleries take note.  

Flor de Caña

No lunch, but lots of Flor de Caña!

Boisdale celebrates Nicaraguan rum

Last Friday, we were invited by Ranald MacDonald from Boisdale for an intimate lunch at his Belgravia restaurant with her excellency Guisell Morales-Echaverry, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United Kingdom, in honour of Ron Flor de Caña. How could we refuse? When we arrived, the intimate lunch was a room heaving with dignitaries including the Bulgarian ambassador. So many ambassadors. It was like a Ferraro Roche advert. Only with less to eat. Of lunch there was no sign. We were whisked upstairs by Matro Ortiz Lima, the Chilean brand ambassador with a strong Scottish accent, to sample three rums, a 12 year old, 18 year old and a 25 year old. According to Lima, Flor de Caña these are minimum ages, as with Scotch whisky and indeed Jamaican rum. Apparently, the company has unparalleled stocks of mature spirit because during the revolutionary period from 1970 to 1990, the family who own the brand hid rum all over the country. We finished with the coffee and tobacco-scented 25 year old, which went beautifully with a big cigar. Something else this country does superbly. But of the promised lunch, there was no sign. 

Jack Daniel's Shoes

Jack Daniel’s takes on footwear

And finally… Jack Daniel’s-inspired… shoes?

Jack Daniel’s has made its first foray into the world of footwear! The whiskey giant has teamed up with the awesomely-named Shoe Surgeon, aka Dominic Chambrone, and together they’ve created seven Jack Daniel’s-inspired trainers (or rather, ‘sneakers’, as they’re calling them across the pond). “Craftsmanship is the ultimate common detonator between what I do and those who make Jack Daniel’s,” Chambrone commented. Each of the seven shoe designs was inspired by an iconic element of the Jack Daniel’s brand. These are grain, Cave Springs, the distillery, charcoal, the barrel, honey, and the Jack Daniel’s bottle. If you want in, then you’ll have to vote online in August, with only 10 lucky voters in to win a pair. We don’t like those odds… Our only question is, can you drink out of them?

No Comments on The Nightcap: 26 July

The Nightcap: 5 July

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

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

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

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

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

The Nightcap

Not the Scotch, please anything but the Scotch…

Scotch whisky targeted by new US tariffs

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

The Nightcap

You can get yourself a bottle of hemp rum here

Dead Man’s Fingers creates CBD-infused rum

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

The Nightcap

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

New Lagg Distillery opens on Arran

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

The Nightcap

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

Hayman’s launches Small Gin as low ABV alternative

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

The Nightcap

The impressive second expression from the Bodega series.

Talisker releases oldest official single malt as part of Bodega Series

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

The Nightcap

The new Black Rock Tavern, an izakaya inspired whisky pub

Black Rock becomes London’s first whisky hotel

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

Redbreast’s new look has landed

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

The Nightcap

Inver House MD, Martin Leonard

Old Pulteney propels Inver House to ‘significant’ growth

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

The Nightcap

Delamain Cognac will cultivate its own vines after more than century

Delamain Cognac returns to grape growing after more than 100 years

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

The Nightcap

Best of luck to Tim Etherington-Judge!

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

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

No Comments on The Nightcap: 5 July

The Nightcap: 14 June

Cheesemongers, distillery expansions and cucumbers – all this and more in the latest edition of The Nightcap! Right, before we get to the usual incredibly tangential reference that somehow links…

Cheesemongers, distillery expansions and cucumbers – all this and more in the latest edition of The Nightcap!

Right, before we get to the usual incredibly tangential reference that somehow links our weekly round-up of booze news stories to something like aliens being late for a dentist appointment or whatever, we figured we’d just remind you yet again that Father’s Day is this weekend. You haven’t forgotten to get that father figure of yours a present like some of us, have you? (Don’t ask how we did that while continuing to shout about Father’s Day, we have no idea). If you’re in the UK, check our weekend delivery options for your address in the checkout if you have forgotten and send some superb spirits to your dad! Anyway, you ever meet an alien who’s late for a dentist appointment? Me neither. Aliens don’t have teeth. You know what they do have, though? An appreciation for the latest stories from the world of drinks!

On the blog this week we launched a new #BagThisBottle competition where the prize is the delightful and delicious Teeling 24 Year Old – Vintage Reserve Collection! Ian Buxton then talked whisky and honours in his guest column in light of Johnnie Walker master blender Dr Jim Beveridge receiving an OBE, while Kristy reported on the news that Diageo’s €25 million Roe & Co whiskey distillery has started production in Dublin. Annie had a busy week, starting by looking at booze from celebrities who are less ‘Who’s Who’ and more ‘Who? No, seriously, who?’, as well as ways to combine your cuppa with a cocktail and pair whisky with food. Elsewhere, Henry spoke to Karyn Noble about her Global Distillery Tour book, made Fortunella Golden Orange liqueur our New Arrival of the Week, and The Mellow Yellow our Cocktail of the Week, while Adam sat down for a chat with Wild Turkey’s master distiller Eddie Russell.

On with the news!

Buffalo Trace ‘marches ahead’ with huge distillery expansion

Did you know Buffalo Trace Distillery was investing an enormous US$1.2 billion in its distillery? Yep, to counter stock issues, the producer has been on it. The whopping project started back in 2016 and has already seen the construction of four new barrel warehouses and a $50 million bottling hall that’s almost finished. Next up? Three more warehouses (insulated and heated during winter months for prime maturation conditions); a new cooling tower to manage the temperature of the mash; four new 92,000 fermenters, and new handling equipment in the dry house. The visitor centre is also primed for expansion after a record 231,523 passed through the distillery gates in 2018. Phew. “We’ve been increasing production for many years now. We’ll fill more barrels this year than ever before in our 246-year history,” said senior marketing director, Kris Comstock. “Many of our bourbons are aged for eight years or more, so although we have far more than a decade ago, demand continues to outpace our supply of mature bourbon. There will be more available every year, but it will be a while before bottles are readily available on liquor store shelves. While we’re flattered these brands have become so popular, we do understand the frustration our fans are experiencing when they see empty store shelves. We promise we are doing everything we can, but we can’t speed up the ageing process, so we just ask for continued patience.” We reckon it’ll be worth waiting for.

The Nightcap

Fords Gin joins impressive range of spirits at Brown-Foreman

Brown-Forman to acquire Fords Gin

The Brown-Forman Corporation announced this week that it has reached a definitive agreement to purchase The 86 Company which will add Fords Gin to a growing portfolio that includes brands like Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve and GlenDronach. The 86 Company’s Simon Ford and 8th generation master distiller Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers created Fords Gin together using a blend of nine botanicals including juniper, coriander seeds, lemon, bitter orange, grapefruit, cassia, angelica, jasmine and orris root. Pleasingly, Ford and The 86 Company team will remain in key roles building and crafting of Fords Gin. “Brown-Forman is a great partner to bring Fords Gin to more bartenders and consumers in the U.S. and around the world while keeping our commitment to producing a unique, high quality, mixable gin,” said Simon Ford, “We’re extremely thankful to all our supporters who have been championing the brand since the beginning and look forward to seeing what the future holds with our new collaborators.” Lawson Whiting, president and CEO of Brown-Forman, added: “Fords Gin is a unique brand with terrific momentum in one of the fastest growing categories in spirits. We look forward to building Fords Gin into another iconic brand in our portfolio.” The purchase is subject to ‘customary closing conditions’ (if they don’t ask for a replica of Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin from DuckTales it’s a wasted opportunity) and is expected to be completed within 30 days.

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Edrington-Beam Suntory’s Bowmore Distillery is one of many who will enjoy this news

Raise a dram! Whisky is set to grow by 6% by 2022

The Edrington-Beam Suntory UK soothsayers have been hard at work: the company has just published its Whisky Yearbook, and the numbers make compelling reading. According to those running the sums, the UK whisky category will be worth a whopping £2.44 billion by 2022, up by more than 6% on 2018 levels. More specifically, an increase in “accessibly priced” expressions will propel Scotch single malt growth by more than 11%, while American whiskey is expected to climb by almost 8%. But it’s “emergent” sub-categories that are primed to soar. The value of Irish whiskey as a whole is projected to advance by almost 21% to 2022, with single grain predicted to explode by a whopping 96%. Japanese whisky can expect a 44% boom, while Canadian whisky, from the smallest base of the four, is set to see a 36% increase. “Irish and single grain whiskies have been real success stories over the past twelve months – sharing rapid growth on an already strong base of both volume and value in the market,” said Mark Riley, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK MD. “We expect both to play a greater role in shaping the wider market in the coming years. The supply challenges that have arguably held back growth in Japanese and Canadian whiskies have eased. While there remains a challenge securing enough liquid from leading brands from both nations to satisfy UK demand, there is far greater supply forecast and we predict we will see growth as a result.” More whisky to go around? Tip top news indeed! Let’s hope the number of consumers continues to grow too.

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Eight Lands Organic Speyside Gin and Eight Lands Organic Speyside Vodka

Eight Lands organic Speyside Gin and Vodka launches

The newly-built Glenrinnes Distillery has announced the launch of its first products: Eight Lands Organic Speyside Gin and Eight Lands Organic Speyside Vodka, both made from 100% organic ingredients and Speyside spring water. Eight Lands, set at the foot of the Ben Rinnes mountain in Speyside and named after the eight different counties that are visible from its top on a clear day, is a family-owned and run business developed by the father and stepson team of Alasdair Locke and Alex Christou. The purpose-built 5,400 sq/ft distillery contains a bespoke 1,000-litre pot still and a two ten-plate rectifying columns built by local specialists, but there are currently no plans to make whisky as the team wants to focus on making quality white spirits. Speaking of which, Eight Lands’ first gin will be a London Dry with a juniper-forward profile which is complemented by locally-foraged botanicals, while its vodka was made using organic barley and wheat, a combination of pot and column stills and an unusual two-stage fermentation process. Both are available directly from the distillery and its website (www.eight-lands.com). “I genuinely believe that we have created something special with our organic vodka and gin, and I’m really proud of the team at the distillery for the hard work and passion that they have put into this,” Christou commented. “We have ambitious plans to build the Eight Lands brand globally in the months ahead and I know that my family and our production team are incredibly excited about sharing our spirits with both the UK and other markets.” Glenrinnes Distillery is open for tours and tastings with the distillery team, so go check it out for yourselves, folks! We’ll be doing the same thing very, very soon…

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Only ten bottles of this stuff are available outside Mexico,

World’s most expensive Tequila (probably) goes on sale in London hotels

Only ten bottles of Maestro Dobel 50 1•9•6•7 Extra Añejo Tequila are available outside Mexico, and Master of Malt got to try one. It might be the world’s swankiest Tequila, it is certainly extremely expensive. Just a measure will set you back around £200. The other nine bottles (sorry, we finished the tenth with help from assembled bartenders and journalists) will go to some of London’s choicest hotels: the Lanesborough, the Rosewood, the Mandarin Oriental and the Connaught where they will sit “the shelf just above the top shelf”, as brand ambassador Oliver Pergl put it. So why is it so expensive? Well, it is extremely rare but it’s not 50 years old. It was created for the 50th birthday of Juan Domingo Beckmann (born in 1967), from the family who own Jose Cuervo, who started the Maestro Dobel brand. It’s a blend of five to seven-year-old spirits aged in a mixture of new American and French oak, blended and finished in sherry casks, though heavy hints were dropped that it contains some much older spirits from Beckman’s private cellar. It certainly tasted extremely mature and opulent, very creamy and smooth with dried fruit sherry cask notes. At times it was like a Cognac, sometimes like an old Latin American rum, but always with that vegetal agave note as the spine. The Maestro Dobel 50 demonstrates a mastery of wood that would impress a Scotch whisky blender. We were lucky enough to drink it alongside a feast especially designed to go with Tequila by Brazilian chef Rafael Cagali from Da Terra in Bethnal Green. So, if you’ve just sold your screenplay to Steven Soderbergh, we’d recommend you give it a go. But if you haven’t, which is most of us, the Maestro Dobel Diamante is pretty delicious too.

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There are few sites more beautiful than this

St-Rémy Brandy launches collaboration with cheesemonger Rodolphe Le Meunier

We all know the joys of a classic cheese and wine pairing (if you don’t, remedy this situation immediately), but how many of us realise how well cheese goes with brandy? Well, we certainly do here at MoM Towers, thanks to the French brandy experts St-Remy, who kindly invited us to enjoy them both at Le Pont de la Tour in London last night in the company of Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison, St-Rémy’s master blender Cécile Roudaut and international cheesemonger (amazing job title) Rodolphe Le Meunier. He’s a big cheese in the world of, err… cheese, having received awards such as Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) and Meilleur Fromager International (Best International Cheese Maker) in 2005 and 2007 for his milk-curdling work and recently setting a Guinness World Record for the largest ever cheeseboard (imagine the party that night). The gastronomic collaboration was brought to life by Roudaut and Le Meunier, who worked closely to distinguish the perfect pairings, developing delights such as St-Rémy XO paired with Old Mimolette (superb), St-Rémy XO with wood-smoked goat cheese (inspired) and St-Rémy VSOP with Swiss Gruyere (I would happily murder a human person for more of it). “France is well-known for its diversity of cheeses, but up until now, nobody has thought to associate them with brandy. It’s truly an entirely new tasting experience,” Roudaut said. “Working with a ‘World’s Best Cheesemonger’ as well as ‘One of the Best Craftsmen of France’ has been a fantastic experience. Rodolphe isn’t any ordinary cheesemonger. I’ve discovered in him someone extremely creative, and so full of ideas. It was really exciting to work on associating cheese with St-Rémy brandies.”

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It would have been rude not to have a sample, or two…

MoM tastes Bimber Distillery’s upcoming expressions

We had a little nose around London’s Bimber Distillery this week in the name of brand new whisky, with a tour from brand ambassador Lukasz. The distillery was founded in 2015 by Dariusz Plazewski, a third-generation Polish moonshiner; Bimber is actually the Polish word for moonshine. We arrived just in time to catch spirit coming straight off the two direct-fired copper pot stills, Doris and Astraea. We started off by trying both peated and non-peated new make spirit, both of which weighed in at around 60% ABV! Hardcore. Although it was surprisingly easy to drink, little surprise that Jim Murray scored it 96.5 in his bible. Then, very excitingly, we previewed three of the single malt whiskies which are expected to be released in September this year. There was the sweet, vanilla and toffee heavy Re-Charred Cask, super Christmassy Sherry Cask and tropical fruit-filled Bourbon Cask. Each expression was somebody’s favourite, and they were all delicious. We even got a sneaky taste of Fortunella liqueur and Da Hong Pao Tea Gin, just for good measure, and life is all about balance, right? This truly is a craft distillery with everything done by hand, including the labelling and bottling. Not an automated machine in sight. It’s an incredibly exciting time for this relatively small distillery, having recently launched its Founder’s Club and just months away from its first London single malt. Watch this space!

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Movies & Malts: a perfect combination

Laphroaig launches partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas

Picture this: Laphroaig has launched a collaboration with cinema network Picturehouse Cinemas. The partnership plans to push the Islay distillery’s profile to a host of new consumers as part of the brand’s ‘Opinions Welcome’ campaign, which invites people to discuss and share their opinions of the distinctive whisky. A very brave thing to do in this time of internet comment sections (everyone who writes on ours is lovely, of course). Previous opinions include “the perfect gift for someone you love or hate… or haven’t made your mind up about” and “smells like medicine. Tastes like soil. My whisky of choice”. The collaboration will entail #OpinionsWelcome content and advertisements shown on-screen. But the really cool part? Laphroaig will be available to be sampled by cinema-goers who visit the 25 Picturehouse venues across the UK and bar staff will receive training in all things Laphroaig so they can create cocktails like the Popcorn Old Fashioned or a Laphroaig & Ginger. A peaty dram/cocktail while watching a film? The people’s voice (or maybe just mine) has finally been heard. “Partnering with Picturehouse Cinemas is a fantastic opportunity for Laphroaig as it gives us the chance to put our much-loved but divisive whisky into the glasses of new consumers, encouraging them to share their unique thoughts,” Nick Ganich, head of Beam Suntory Brands at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK said. “Cinema always stokes healthy debate, so it felt the ideal match to include Laphroaig, which instils similarly strong but divided opinion. Luckily, we welcome them all and we can’t wait to hear what people think.” The partnership between Laphroaig and Picturehouse Cinemas will start in June 2019 and continue throughout the year.

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The flagship bottling is a 1994 vintage Springbank, aged in an antique ex-sherry hogshead

Douglas Laing unveils Super-Premium XOP ‘The Black Series’

Douglas Laing has been busy, as this week it revealed a brand spanking new extension to the Xtra Old Particular range. Behold, XOP The Black Series. The flagship cask in the series is a 1994 vintage Springbank, aged in an antique ex-sherry hogshead and bottled at cask strength, 47.7% ABV over 24 years later. According to Douglas Laing, the bottles house “dark fruited, subtly smoked, leathery and chocolatey spirit within”. It sports quite the decadent packaging too, with a monochrome scheme alongside gold foil detail. Each bottle is hand-filled with an embossed metallised label, glass stopper and even the signatures of Fred and Cara Laing, and, naturally, comes in a luxurious black moleskin case with a certificate of authenticity. Regarding the new series, Cara Laing, director of whisky, noted: “The maiden release in this new Single Cask Series certainly sets an exceptionally high benchmark for future bottlings, and we are poised to rise to that challenge!” Considering that, we eagerly await future bottlings. The 1994 Springbank is expected to retail for £800 throughout Europe and Asia, so definitely keep a lookout on your favourite online retailer. Mind you, there are only 148 bottles, so you’d better be snappy.

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You’ll have to get down there yourselves to see the brand ambassadors dressed in ‘cucumber collectors’ outfits

And finally… Hendrick’s goes bananas for World Cucumber Day

Whereas most gin brands get behind World Gin Day (8 June) or National Martini Day (19 June), for Hendrick’s it’s all about World Cucumber Day on 14 June, that’s today! At airports around the world including Changi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Schiphol, Frankfurt, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid, Dubai, Dublin, Istanbul, Vienna, Brussels, São Paulo, JFK, Bogota, Rio and IGL Canada, Hendricks will be putting on eccentric displays to celebrate its signature botanical and garnish. There will be cucumbers specimens displayed in special jars, as well as gifts when you buy a bottle of Hendricks and interactive experiences. Oooh modern! The thing that really caught our eye, however, was the promise of Hendrick’s brand ambassadors dressed up in special ‘cucumber collectors’ safari outfits complete with ‘cucumber collector catchers’ ie. nets. Sounds completely bananas, sorry, cucumbers.

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The Nightcap: 7 June

As we recover from another outstanding Fèis Ìle, the influx of booze news flowed in as usual – it’s The Nightcap! It’s Friday again, and, like always, we’ve got a…

As we recover from another outstanding Fèis Ìle, the influx of booze news flowed in as usual – it’s The Nightcap!

It’s Friday again, and, like always, we’ve got a fresh batch of news stories from the world of booze ready for you to drink up as we enter summer. That’s right, it’s summer already and, of course, it’s raining. But we won’t let that dampen our spirits, it’s the weekend for goodness sake! And we’re going to start this weekend the same way we always do. With another smashing edition of The Nightcap!

On the blog this week Jake regaled us with tales from Ardbeg, Bunnahabhain and Jura as Fèis Ìle 2019 concluded, while our June 2019 dram club also launched. Adam then found some fab treats to spoil the old man with on Father’s Day, Jess explored the world of fermented tea drinks with her New Arrival of the Week and Nate Brown played a game of booze-branding buzzword bingo in his guest column. Annie explained why the right glassware matters before casting her eye over 10 bottlings created with a chef’s sensibilities, while Henry met with the queen of rum, Joy Spence, enjoyed a Talisker video masterclass and picked The Toasted Nut Boulevardier as his Cocktail of the Week.

Now, to the news!

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Interesting times for Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond sold to Asian investment firm in $500m deal

Big Scotch whisky news! The Loch Lomond Group will be sold to Hillhouse Capital Management, an investment firm with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York. The distillery is unique in Scotland in producing its own single malt and single grain whiskies; it also produces the Glen Scotia whisky, Glen’s vodka and Ben Lomond gin. The distillery, which had been in the hands of the Bulloch family since 1834, was acquired in 2014 by UK-based Exponent Private Equity who very successfully concentrated on the export market. Overseas sales went up from 10% to 70% of business. The new owners are now looking to capitalise on this especially in the Asian market. Wei Cao, partner at Hillhouse Capital, said: “We are so excited to help Loch Lomond realise the potential of its outstanding brands in huge new consumer markets, such as Asia.” The deal is still to be finalised but is said by Scottish Field to be worth somewhere in the region of $500m. The current distillery’s management headed up by Colin Matthews will stay in place and will keep a minority stake in the business. Matthews commented: “Over the past five years we are proud to have transformed the Loch Lomond Group into a premium international spirits business with a strong focus on innovation and a portfolio of award-winning brands.” We look forward to seeing what comes next from one of Scotland’s most idiosyncratic distilleries.

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The US allowing these little guys is great news for small European distillers

America may allow 70cl bottles – huge news for small European distillers

Good news from America! You don’t often hear that one. The TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau), the people who regulate alcohol among other things, are proposing to change the rules on bottle sizes for spirits. In a move that smacks of good old-fashioned common sense, the release says, “TTB is proposing to eliminate all but minimum and maximum standards of fill for distilled spirits containers in order to provide industry members greater flexibility in production and sourcing of containers, and provide consumers broader purchasing options.” At the moment full-size spirit bottles have to be 75cl as opposed to 70cl in the European Union, so producers have to produce two separate bottlings. No problem, of course, for Diageo but prohibitively expensive for smaller producers. If this proposal goes through, and that’s a big if, then it could potentially open up the American market to some boutique spirits. If the EU would reciprocate to allow 75cl spirit bottles, or maybe just agree on a common standard, what a wonderful world it could be.

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No fancy packaging here

Glenlivet 1946 goes under the hammer in Chiswick

In these days of hand-blown decanters, boxes inlaid with mother-of-pearl and specially-commissioned books, it’s nice to be reminded of a simpler time when whisky just came in a bottle with a plain label on. Take the Glenlivet 1946 that’s going under the hammer at Chiswick Auctions wine and spirits sale on 11 June. It was distilled when rationing was still going on after the war, only a tiny amount was allowed to be made for the export market. Most would have been sold as soon as possible but some were kept in cask and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin in the 1980s, so this is a roughly 40-year-old whisky. It’s been sourced by the new wine and spirits team at Chiswick Auctions Sam Hellyer, Chris Burr and Christopher Cooper. Look at that admittedly not terribly good label and compare it with the recent 50 Year Old Winchester Collection release from The Glenlivet. The latter will set you back $25,000 whereas this 1946 is only expected to sell for £800-1000. You don’t get a fancy box, but you do get a slice of history and at that price, someone might even drink it.

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A delightfully pink taste of history

Drink the original Pink Gin this World Gin Day with Angostura Bitters

Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock, you’ve probably noticed a little trend called pink gin. However, in reality, these sweet and fruity tipples are a far cry from the very first pink gin to pass our lips, which was created courtesy of Angostura bitters. As the story goes, back in 1824, Dr J.G.B Siegert created Angostura bitters as a kind of healing elixir for soldiers fighting in Venezuela. At the time, it was safer to drink alcohol on ships, as stagnant water was a rather perilous affair. Would you believe it, it took a whole 24 years for someone to mix these bitters with gin! It was in the year 1848 when a Royal Navy surgeon added the bitters to try and help with seasickness. Luckily, this happy accident of mixology also coincided with the rise of cocktail culture in the 1850s. The sailors returned from sea, and brought with them Pinkers, as they now affectionately called this pink gin. Health concerns went out the window and people simply loved the taste of it. Seeing as it’s World Gin Day this weekend, why not have a taste of history and make your own Pinkers? Tastes even better if you can find a ship to drink it on, though it’s not essential.

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Caskshare allows whisky lovers to reserve ‘shares’ of whisky casks from their favourite distilleries

Craft Whisky Club launches Caskshare

It goes without saying that anything which makes whisky more accessible is most definitely a Good Thing. So, great news for whisky geeks this week, as Craft Whisky Club (part of Edinburgh based whisky-technology company Uisge Tech Ltd) announced the launch of Caskshare. In a nutshell, Caskshare allows whisky lovers to reserve ‘shares’ of whisky casks from their favourite distilleries, and once matured the single cask bottlings will be sent directly to the lucky recipient – or as Caskshare calls them, ‘shareholders’. This is a brilliant new initiative, described as Crowdfunding for whisky casks, which will hopefully allow consumers to explore and buy a whole host of cask variations without breaking the bank. The first casks to feature on the platform are from the Raasay Distillery, and you can choose to age either your peated or unpeated spirit in ex-bourbon, Chinquapin (a type of oak native to North America) virgin oak, or Bordeaux red wine casks. Such choice! The first bottling will be ready in 2022, after its required three years of ageing. “Caskshare offers whisky fans a way to get closer to their favourite distilleries and wood types”, says co-founder David Nicol. “What’s more, you don’t need to part with the vast sums of money required to purchase a full cask.” It’s said that a few new distilleries are set to join Caskshare in the next few months, and these won’t just be limited to Scotland, so keep your eyes peeled!

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A record-breaking rum!

Wray & Nephew President’s Reserve breaks rum auction record fetching £31,500

A very rare Wray & Nephew rum has set a new world record for an individual bottle of rum sold at auction after it fetched £31,500 (just under $40,000). “We had high hopes for this stunning bottle but with so little sales history to reference it was difficult to predict how it might perform,” said Iain McClune, director at Whisky Auctioneer. “I think it is fair to say that it has exceeded expectations, however, the price achieved is more than deserving considering the historical significance and incredible rarity of this rum”. J. Wray & Nephew President’s Reserve rum, the fourth of 12 bottles created, went on sale in Whisky Auctioneer’s inaugural Rum Auction last month. The rum, which contains liquid from 1906, honours US president Ronald Reagan and his first and only visit to Jamaica in April 1982. The label bears the late president’s seal, and it is believed that two bottles were presented to Reagan with further bottles given to dignitaries and industry professionals in attendance during the visit. This particular bottle is thought to be the only known example to have come into the secondary market, with another bottle previously selling for £1,213 (US$1,542) at a Bonhams auction in New York in 2013. A representative from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum said: “The first family received this wonderful gift commemorating their trip to Jamaica in April 1982. The bottle that we have is #1 and bears the Great Seal of the United States. The current locations of the remaining bottles are not known.” More than 50 bids from across the world were made for the historic bottling, with the winning bid coming from Italy. It’s sickening, isn’t it? There’s a person out there who gets to drink rare rum and live in Italy. Life isn’t fair. Anyway, we digress. . . The President’s Reserve was one of more than 600 rums sold in the auction and wasn’t the only big hitter. A pair of casks from the closed Caroni distillery in Trinidad fetched £25,000 (US$31,793) each.

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It’s hard to say what was better, the cocktails or the view!

London in the Sky with Cocchi

We headed down – or should we say up – to North Greenwich to London in the Sky for a spritz masterclass with Team Cocchi. London in the Sky is, in essence, a great big table on a crane which rises 100 feet into the air, giving you truly some stellar views of the Big Smoke while you sip. For those of you who think that may sound slightly hellish, fear not, as you’re securely strapped into a seat which looks a little like one you would find in a racing car – super safe. Once we had risen above the O2 Arena, we made (and tasted) four cocktails. First up was the Cocchi Rosa Spritz, made with Cocchi Rosa, tonic, fresh strawberries and basil, full of bittersweet pink berry notes. Next, a Cocchi Rosa Negroni, a take on the classic made with Cocchi Rosa, Pink Pepper Gin and Campari. Then, we moved (metaphorically) into the evening with the Vermouth di Torino Spritz, combining Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, rosemary and olive tonic water and a fresh sprig of rosemary. This was less fruity, and brought more of a spicy note, hence why it was more of an evening drink. Finally, a classic Negroni graced the floating table, made with Sipsmith gin, Campari and, of course, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. If a spritz in the sky sounds good to you, then you’ll be thrilled to hear that Cocchi Spritzes are permanently on the menu for all of London in the Sky’s flights. However, the best part is, that with each cocktail only containing three ingredients, these are simple drinks to make, whether you’re 100 feet in the air over Canary Wharf, or just relaxing in your garden.

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A week of Negronis? We’re in

Campari unveils #N100, a week devoted to the Negroni

This year it’s the hundredth anniversary of that fateful day when a barman in Florence accidentally poured gin into Count Camillo Negroni’s Americano (a mixture of Campari and vermouth) instead of soda water, and created a classic. Or so the story goes (we’ll be looking into the drink’s history very soon). As you can imagine we’re quite excited, but not as excited as Campari: the Milanese company is launching #N100, over a week of events around Britain to celebrate the Count and his creation. It begins at the Vinyl Factory in London on 20 June and continues into Negroni Week beginning 22 June with events in Edinburgh, Manchester and London. To spice things up a little, the venues won’t just be offering the standard Negroni. At Hoot the Redeemer in Edinburgh, for example, you’ll be able to try the tastefully-named Skagliato made with Campari, Irn Bru and Buckfast! Sounds fierce. It looks like June is going to be sweet this year, and really really bitter.

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Gold has just opened on Portobello Road and we’re all very excited to see how they do

Notting Hill bar Gold opens in a blaze of talent

A swanky new bar and restaurant that goes by the name of Gold opened on Portobello Road this week. The new venture has drawn quite the host of talent, with head chef Theo Hill of The River Café, and front of house team Alex Ghalleb of Pizza East and Arez Akgundogdu of Soho House. The drinks don’t look bad either: Gold’s unique cocktail menu has been put together by Weapons and Toys, aka. Matt Whiley and Rich Woods, the fellas behind Hackney’s Scout. It’s already off to a flying (and talented) start. So, what to expect? Raw bohemian decor, with exposed brickwork, lots of indoor trees and the like, colourful seasonal sharing plates inspired by local produce and uncomplicated, delicious cocktails. All the cocktails look delicious, but we’re pretty sure we’d be hard pressed to choose between the Market Stall Spritz, comprised of raspberry-infused Hennessey brandy, crème de cacao, sweet tomato shrub, rosé and soda, or the Baklava Fizz, combining Don Julio Tequila, fig shrub, London honey, almond milk and soda. Gold will span over four floors, and will even boast a garden room with a retractable roof, perfect as we began our descent into summer. With such a great team in place, we can’t wait to see what other seasons will bring.

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Yep. That’s a shoe. With a cocktail inside

And finally. . . . a cocktail served in a shoe

Cocktail silly season has arrived in London early this year as the Ace Hotel announces a new cocktail menu at the Lobby Bar. The two that caught our eye were the Bangers and Daq’s, a Daiquiri with a salami (yes real salami, not some sort of dried fruit fangled to look like salami) and red wine twist, and the Drella’s Milk Punch, made from cornflake milk and vodka which sounds like the sort of thing Ozzy Osborne would have had for breakfast. However, these beverages are paragons of classical good taste in comparison with what the people from Filipino joint, Romulo Cafe in Kensington, are serving. It’s called the Imelda and it’s been designed in honour of former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, who was famed for having a lot of shoes when most of her people didn’t have a lot to eat. The cocktail contains Stolichnaya vodka, crème de framboise, crème de mure and strawberry puree, and served, naturally, in a shoe. It’s all done in the best possible taste!

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The Nightcap: 31 May

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap! This week for us, and we’re sure…

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap!

This week for us, and we’re sure for many of you, was Fèis Ìle week. A seven-day extravaganza of delicious Islay-based booze, bands and banter. You’ve probably noticed on the blog this week Kristy and co. enjoying the spoils of another fantastic Fèis Ìle, from an action-packed ‘Day 0’, to all sorts of wonderful adventures with Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and Islay Ales, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardnahoe and Kilchoman. And there’s still more to come!

Elsewhere on the blog we announced the winner of our Cotswolds Distillery competition! Adam then reported on the new Macallan whisky that has entered the world, before enjoying the fourth batch of Dingle single malt, our New Arrival of the Week, and finding time to celebrate Ableforth’s eighth birthday. Meanwhile, Annie talked Ketel One vodka and Henry made The Long Sloe Summer his Cocktail of the Week. Ian Buxton also asked some big questions in his guest column inspired by The Macallan Archival Series.

Now, onto the news!

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Introducing: Whyte & Mackay Light

Whyte & Mackay Light launches low-ABV ‘spirit drink’

Yes, you read that correctly. This is not new whisky from Whyte & Mackay. Instead, this is a spirit drink, created in an attempt to appeal to new consumers in a reaction to the growing popularity of lower ABV drinks. It’s a trend we’ve certainly noticed here at MoM Towers, so it’s little surprise to see more and more drink producers embrace it. The new product, Whyte & Mackay Light, was bottled at 21.5% ABV, which means that it cannot be legally labelled as whisky, which has a minimum ABV requirement of 40%. Hence the term ‘spirit drink’ being used in this case. “We’re continually looking at trends in drinks and listening to our consumers across the UK, which is why we’re delighted to announce the launch of Whyte & Mackay Light,” said Ruairi Perry, head of brand at Whyte & Mackay. “It’s a different product, built with the same younger, lighter consumer in mind. We see a different type of drinking occasion emerging – and Whyte & Mackay Light has been developed to satisfy that occasion.” Whyte & Mackay Light will launch in early June, and is expected to set you back £12.

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The fabulous Craft Cocktails range!

That Boutique-y Gin Company launches ready-to-drink Craft Cocktails

That Boutique-y Gin Company has launched a new canned range of craft cocktails made using the brand’s delicious gins mixed with a host of interesting ingredients. Craft Cocktails, which will be available this summer, will also come in keg form so the on-trade can take advantage of the growing opportunities found within draught cocktails. An initial wave of five variants will be released, including Moonshot Gin and Citrus Tonic, Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin Mule, Cherry Gin and Craft Cola, Strawberry & Balsamico Gin Fizz and Squeezed Yuzu Gin Collins. The Boutique-y team has briefed that it will embrace an approach to the category akin to craft brewing and so expect the range to continuously evolve with future variants, one off batches, collaborations and seasonal lines in the pipeline. “We want more people to have access to interesting drinks in more places. We know that drinkers are looking for increasingly exciting and sophisticated flavour combinations, and that putting these in cans or on draught will allow both retailers and bars to satisfy the demands of convenience and ease of service without compromising on flavour,” TBGC’s Selina Raggett explains. “For the cans, we’ve embraced the true Boutique-y style at its boldest, moving away from the traditional gin in a tin look and feel. That Boutique-y Gin Company is well known for pushing the boundaries with exciting releases and new flavours, and the Craft Cocktails will continue this ethos. We’re already working on an exciting wave of new releases!” While the Craft Cocktails range has launched with gin, we will also get to see That Boutique-y Whisky Company and That Boutique-y Rum Company get a chance to shine in a ready-to-drink format in the future.

The Nightcap

The future is here. And it’s boozy

Grey Goose launches world’s first sub-zero draught cocktail tap system

Grey Goose has its pioneering boots on this week, it seems. The vodka producers have responded to the current trend for ‘tapped’ and ‘draught’ cocktails by creating the world’s first sub-zero draught tap system. In a move designed to put premium vodka at the forefront of innovation within the drinks industry, Grey Goose has attempted to come up with an innovative solution to revolutionise cocktail culture with a system that can provide consistently delicious cocktails for any occasion. The draught cocktail tap system was designed to allow for a variety of drinks to be served with quickly and with ease to exacting standards, all at sub-zero temperatures. It can be charged with nitrogen to add a rich and creamy texture to your Espresso Martini, for example. “We began with the desire to be able to create innovative drink serves in a way that has never been seen or done before,” commented Marc Plumridge, the European programming director at Bacardi who drove the development of the draught tap system. “The cutting edge technology used delivers spectacular cocktails, dispensed at speed, all housed within a transparent casing – allowing individuals to have a full view of the technology at work.” To launch this new technology, Grey Goose has invited consumers to see the system in action at The 12th Knot rooftop bar on London’s Southbank from Friday 31st May – 2nd June.

The Nightcap

Limited edition private cask bottlings could be yours…

Bimber Distillery debuts founder’s club

This week, London’s Bimber Distillery announced that it’s formed its very own Founders’ Club, and they’re taking applications now! Very swanky. This means that it will release a limited number of private casks for members to purchase. All of this is in celebration of the distillery’s first whisky casks finally reaching their third birthday. If you sign up, you can expect your first exclusive cask strength single malt in December this year. Among other treats, members will also be able to purchase their own 30 litre cask (for the meagre price of £895), filled with either Bimber’s peated or non-peated new make spirit, which after maturing at the distillery for three years, will eventually set them up nicely with around 49 bottles of whisky. The club aims to bring together people who “want to be part of a distillery whose mission is to produce true handcrafted whisky”, says sales director Farid Shawish. “Our members will always be welcome for a chat, and their input will play an important part in shaping the future of Bimber Distillery.” Membership will set you back £395.

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Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA

WSTA claims the drinks industry is ‘vulnerable’ to no-deal Brexit

Following the announcement that Theresa May will step down as UK prime minister on 7 June, with no replacement named, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned that the industry “remains vulnerable to a disastrous no-deal scenario”. The latest Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Commons three times in the weeks running up to the original scheduled exit date at the end of March. Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA, has branded May’s Brexit approach as “neither clearly defined nor successful”, adding that “as a result we remain vulnerable to a disastrous ‘no-deal’ scenario. A change of leadership neither provides our industry with the answers it needs, nor change the WSTA’s long stated position – which is for the government to deliver an outcome that allows this industry to continue international trade in its products without delays, barriers or additional costs.” Beale also commented that a no-deal scenario “has never been categorically taken off the table” and that it is “imperative that a new leader confirms that the UK will not leave without a deal and moves quickly to find a solution”. As a result of the current situation, Beale has claimed that nearly 80% of the trade body’s members had made preparations for the original exit date of 29 March and will have to prepare again ahead of the new Brexit date on 31 October. He said: “It’s difficult for businesses to determine the exact cost of Brexit contingency planning, including stockpiling and other measures, but we have heard estimates ranging from £20,000 to £5 million.”

The Nightcap

Maison Brillet, a family vineyard in the heart of the Cognac region

Rémy Cointreau to buy Maison de Cognac JR Brillet

French drinks group Rémy Cointreau has announced this week that it has entered into negotiations to purchase Maison de Cognac JR Brillet from the Brillet family. While financial terms have not been disclosed, it is understood that the deal would also include part of the Brillet family’s vineyard estate which is located in the village of Graves-Saint-Armant and has a history which dates back to the 17th century. Rémy Cointreau’s interest in Maison JR Brillet is motivated by the chance to “integrate spirits with genuine development potential into its portfolio” and increase its inventory of eaux-de-vie and vineyards “of the highest quality”. The signing of the deal, which is subject to administrative procedures, is expected to take place in autumn 2019. The news comes off the back of positive full-year sales that Rémy Cointreau posted last month which showed a growth of 7.8% in 2018/19, driven by a double-digit gain for its Cognac portfolio, with the Rémy Martin Cognac brand proving to be the standout.

The Nightcap

The new Plymouth Gin bottling, which we enjoyed a delightful tasting session!

Plymouth Gin launches special edition craft gin from 177-year-old recipe

There are so many new gins emerging all the time it can be difficult for a drinks producer to stand out amongst the crowd. Plymouth Gin may well have just done that, however, with Mr King’s 1842 Recipe, the first special edition in a series of craft gins made to celebrate the spirit of exploration. It was distilled using a recipe found deep within the vaults at the Plymouth Black Friars distillery (the oldest gin distillery in England) that dates back to 1842. That was 177 years ago, people. Master distiller Sean Harrison has reimagined the recipe to create a new product and thanks to the technological advancements in gin production today, he was able to replicate the distillation process that was attempted in 1842, with even more precision. Mr King’s 1842 Recipe was made with just two ingredients – orris root and handpicked juniper from a single harvest day in the mountains of Frontignano, Italy, after Plymouth uncovered the original sales record that linked the purchase of juniper to the renowned Italian region over 170 years ago. Due to the hyper-local sourcing of the ingredients, this one of a kind gin cannot be reproduced. “Mr King’s 1842 Recipe is a truly one-off craft gin that we will never be able to recreate again. Even if we were to visit the same Italian hillside next year, the climate and harvest conditions would affect the juniper resulting in a different taste profile,” Harrison explained. “At a time when other brands are using many different botanicals throughout the distillation process, Mr King’s 1842 Recipe focuses on just two and the result is something very special.” We went to a tasting of this delightful drink and can confirm that it’s as delicious as it sounds!

These tariffs are not good news for the booze industry

US tariffs impact agave-based spirits and EU booze

In concerning news this week, US president Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 5% tariff on all imported goods from Mexico from 10 June, including Tequila and Mezcal, in response to what was termed the “illegal migration crisis” at the US-Mexico border. Trump was quoted in a statement posted on the White House website saying he was “invoking the authorities granted to me by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act” in order to “address the emergency at the southern border”. The US president has also warned that if the ‘crisis’ persists, tariffs will be raised to 10% on July 1, 2019, 15% on 1 August, 20% on 1 September and 25% on 1 October if the US is still not satisfied that Mexico has taken the action it requests. This follows news from just yesterday, which revealed that trade bodies in the US have called for the removal of EU spirits from proposed retaliatory tariffs from the States in response to an ongoing dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US has been embroiled in a “long-standing” spat with the WTO over civil aircraft subsidies and, on 8 April, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) revealed a draft list of EU products that could be hit by retaliatory tariffs which included alcohol. Trade groups representing the alcohol industry in the US, including the Distilled Spirits Council, have made it clear they oppose such tariffs, however, commenting that they “strongly oppose the inclusion of beverage alcohol production” and that they are “gravely concerned that this escalation would compound the negative impact of the tariffs on a sector that is already feeling the damaging impact resulting from unrelated trade disputes.” The groups, which include alcohol suppliers, wholesalers, importers and retailers, have quoted industry analysis which warns the proposed retaliatory tariffs could affect almost US$6.8 billion worth of imports and could result in a loss of between 6,600 and 45,800 US jobs. Hopefully we’ll have better news on these matters in the future.

The Nightcap

The Johnnie & Ginger, a light and summery treat

Johnnie Walker celebrates National BBQ Week with Berber & Q

Johnnie Walker and East London BBQ restaurant Berber & Q have teamed up to create a new cocktail for National BBQ Week (it’s a thing, a very important thing). The limited edition Johnnie & Ginger, made by barbecue pioneer and Berber & Q founder Josh Katz, was designed to complement al fresco dining, summer sunshine and BBQ food, particularly Berber’s Joojeh Chicken Kebab, as Katz explains, “the smokiness of the charred chicken is offset by the smooth whisky and is given a spicy lift by the inclusion of ginger ale.” The light and summery Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is available at Berber & Q Grill House from 27th May – 2nd June and priced at £9. Katz describes it as “a taste experience and the perfect start to a barbecue.” But don’t fear if you don’t manage to get a table at Berber & Q, the Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is easily recreated at home. All you need to do is mix 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black, 15ml of lime juice, 35ml of pressed Granny Smith apple juice and a little pinch of Zaatar, which you’ll shake with one ice cube for no longer than 5 seconds. Then place the mix in a highball glass filled with ice and top with 35ml of ginger ale. Garnish with a dehydrated apple wheel and mint sprig, and there you have it!

The whisky takes its name from Lake Samilpo

And finally… North Korea launches its own whisky

Reports have emerged this week that suggest that North Korea has distilled its own brand of whisky and plans to launch it at the end of this year. According to the South Korean Hankook Ilbo newspaper, this would be the first time the country has produced whisky, although it’s worth noting that it has not been mentioned yet in North Korea’s own media. The source of the story is the Young Pioneer Tours tourism company, based in China, which specialises in visits to North Korea and other places that “your mother would rather you stay away from”. The tour operator claims to have laid its hands on a couple of bottles of the elusive spirit and described Samilpo’s design as “closely resembling” that of Johnnie Walker, a “well-recognised whisky in North Korea”. According to Pioneer Tours, Samilpo, which takes its name from the lake near Mount Kumgang, will launch three expressions: a ‘40% ABV black label edition, a 42% ABV red label edition and a 45 edition which has not been bottled yet. It is not known what types of grain that goes into the spirit, or how old it is. It has also been reported that the owner of Samilpo hopes to export the whisky to other countries once North Korea’s ‘political situation’ improves. You’re not likely to get your hands on some anytime soon, for those who might have been intrigued.

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The Nightcap: 24 May

Powers, plastic straws and pineapples – plus a few things that don’t begin with ‘P’. It’s all here in yet another edition of The Nightcap! Today is Friday, and many…

Powers, plastic straws and pineapples – plus a few things that don’t begin with ‘P’. It’s all here in yet another edition of The Nightcap!

Today is Friday, and many of us will be heading into the final Bank Holiday weekend for a few months. There’s one at a seemingly random time in August, but the smattering of three day weekends throughout April and May occur in such a cluster that we almost become used to it. We must not become complacent! We must approach this three day weekend with the same vim and vigour as we did previous ones! Oh, and also we should start it as we do other weekends (extended ones or otherwise), with The Nightcap! Obviously.

In a week in which we announced that we’re going to Fèis Ìle 2019, we also launched two new competitions, one to win the entire Game of Thrones whisky range and the other to win a VIP trip to Bombay Sapphire’s distillery. Nate Brown then extolled the virtues of sherry, Jess took a look at Diageo’s new Italian gin, Villa Ascenti and Annie explored where to imbibe in Bowie’s old haunt, Berlin and who the up-and-comers of alcohol-free are. Adam enjoyed the latest chapter in Balvenie’s story, then picked Big Peat Fèis Ìle 2019 Edition to be his New Arrival of the Week, for obvious reasons, while Henry enjoyed Redbreast’s new expression, video masterclasses from Mortlach and Johnnie Walker and even manged to find time to make the Grand Sour his Cocktail of the Week. Phew…

Now, on with the news!

Nightcap

Our PR manager Mariella Salerno holds up our shiny new prize!

MoM named DB Awards Online Retailer of the Year!

It was celebration station on Tuesday afternoon at the DB Awards, hosted by the team over at trade magazine The Drinks Business. We were delighted to pick up the Online Retailer of the Year award! The ceremony took place as part of the London Wine Fair, so we got to join the jubilations early, enjoying some really rather marvellous tipples from across the world. They said loads of nice things about us, and we picked up a shiny trophy. Oh, and #WhiskySanta got a highly commended nod too, for his excellent work spreading festive spirit far and wide through the social realm. Cheers, Team DB – you made our week!

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Look everyone, it’s Kent’s first single malt whisky!

Kent’s first single malt whisky is here

Kent is something of a booze hotspot with its hop gardens and breweries, orchards and cideries, vineyards and gin distilleries, and of course, it’s the home of a certain online retailer. Now the Garden of England has its first single malt. The whisky is a collaboration between Andy Reason and Norman Lewis of the Anno Distillery in Marden (who make a fine gin) and the Westerham Brewery. The mash was made with English barley and fermented with two strains of yeast comes from the brewery. It was then double distilled in a tiny 300-litre copper pot still named, appropriately enough, Patience. The spirit came off at 63.5% ABV into an ex-bourbon cask that previously held a Speyside single malt. After ageing, the resulting whisky was bottled at 40% ABV. Norman Lewis said of the partnership: “It’s been a wonderful experience working with Robert Wicks from Westerham Brewery. Our combined expertise has come together seamlessly and resulted in something which we’re extremely proud of. We hope those who are lucky enough to taste this limited-edition whisky enjoy savouring it as much as we enjoyed making it.” It’s such a limited edition that customers are being limited to three bottles (at £120 each) and it’s available directly from the distillery and Westerham Brewery. Hurry, while stocks last.

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They might seem delightful, but they need to go.

England moves to ban plastic straws and stirrers

Great news, folks! The government this week confirmed it will ban plastic straws and stirrers in England (and plastic cotton buds, but less relevant to us) from April 2020. There are some sensible exemptions for those with medical needs or a disability (pubs and bars will still be able to give them out on request), but we can wave goodbye for good to unnecessary plastic in our drinks. The move follows a government consultation which found 80% back a ban on straws, and 90% on stirrers. About time, too. Apparently, we use 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers each year in England alone! And yes, alternatives are available (we sipped through some fancy bamboo ones recently), but the government reckons a whopping 95% of straws are still plastic. Boo. Even more boo: it’s thought there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans, and that every year one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals die from eating or getting trapped in plastic. This ban can’t come soon enough.

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Introducing: Scarabus Islay Single Malt

Hunter Laing releases Scarabus Islay Single Malt at Fèis Ìle

Peat heads of the world, unite! A new release from Hunter Laing & Co. is always exciting news, especially when it’s an Islay single malt like Scarabus. Appropriately, the whisky is being released at this year’s Fèis Ìle. If you’re down that way then you’re in luck, because the very first drams will be poured (and tasted) throughout the festival at Hunter Laing’s newly-opened distillery on the island, Ardnahoe. Scarabus means ‘rocky place’ in Nordic, and the whisky is named after a mystical area of Islay, complete with equally mystical golden packaging. “We’re extremely proud of the Scarabus whisky and the Fèis Ìle Festival is the perfect place to release the first bottling”, said Stewart Laing, Managing Director. “We aimed to produce an expression that showcases a traditional Islay whisky style, and the unmistakable Islay smoke matches wonderfully with the rich, sweeter notes that linger on the finish.” If you’re not down Islay-way, fear not, as Scarabus will soon be available in the UK and beyond. Keep an eye on our social channels for updates.

Nightcap

Hit the books spirit nerds, we’ve got a new challenge up ahead!

WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits is live!

Great news, spirits geeks! There’s a new qualification in town, and it’s the toughest one yet. Developed in response to our collective (and global) thirst for all things spirits and subsequent desire to know all about them, the Level 3 Award builds on the Level 2 course (Team MoM highly recommends) but digs down into greater production detail while covering new spirits categories, like baijiu. It’s a much tougher assessment process, too, with a blind tasting exam as well as multiple choice and short-answer question paper. In all, candidates will need to put in at least 84 hours of graft. We’re excited! “The spirits industry has been crying out for a more advanced qualification in spirits,” said course developer Nick King. “Candidate numbers for WSET spirits qualifications (Levels 1 and 2) have grown significantly in the last 10 years (from 540 in 2009 to 6600 in 2019) and are now taught in 33 countries worldwide reflecting growing global demand. We are delighted to now be able to offer the industry a Level 3 Spirits qualification that develops candidates’ knowledge and understanding of the category in great depth and also builds their tasting skills, teaching them to identify the structural and aromatic elements that make up a spirit and to make a compelling quality assessment.” The first UK courses get under way in October!

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All the delights of Powers Irish Whiskey with none of the effort? We’re in.

Powers Irish Whiskey’s first ever bottled cocktail

If stirring and, ugh, waiting aren’t for you, Powers Irish Whiskey has your back because the brand has just unveiled its first-ever pre-mixed cocktail, Powers Old Fashioned! Pow! The cocktail sees a combination of the classic Powers Gold Label, sugar syrup and bitter herbs flavouring. The recommended serve is, of course, over ice with a twist of orange peel – well, how else could you garnish an Old Fashioned? The bottle boasts a whole new look, with sleek modern packaging which you’d be hard-pressed to recognise as Powers. “A careful balance of the rich history of Powers with an eye on the future, we are confident that the refreshing ritual of ‘Ice, Pour, Twist’ will appeal to whiskey fans and the cocktail curious alike who are looking for simple and convenient ways to create new Irish whiskey experiences at home or in their local pub”, says Brendan Buckley at Irish Distillers. The cocktail will be launching in Ireland from the end of May, and if it finds success then hopefully we can expect to see it much further afield. Old Fashioneds all around!

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Counting oysters by hand, that’s commitment to conservation

Glenmorangie & partners plan to return native oysters to Europe’s seas

Oyster-loving folk, gather round. In historic marine-related news, a landmark Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) conference on reef restoration was held in Edinburgh this week. It was hosted by The Glenmorangie Company and its partners, including Heriot-Watt University, bringing together conservationists, administrators and oyster producers from across Europe to develop a ‘blueprint’ for native oyster reef restoration. Oysters were overfished to the point of extinction in the 1800s, and it turns out oyster reefs are among the most endangered marine habitats on Earth. The restoration is going to be done through the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (rather aptly abbreviated to DEEP), which was established in 2014 and has already returned 20,000 native oysters to the Dornoch Firth in the Scottish Highlands. The aim? To increase this population of 20,000 to four million (!) by 2025, and in turn the reef will become self-sustaining. “We are incredibly proud to be pioneering DEEP’s vital environmental work with our partners, not only protecting but enhancing Glenmorangie Distillery’s environment for future generations,” says Glenmorangie President and CEO Tom Moradpour. It looks like the world really is our oyster.

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Happy Anniversary guys!

The Coral Room celebrates its first anniversary

We got our party shoes on this week and headed up to London to join The Coral Room’s first-anniversary bash! The sleekly cosy cocktail bar is part of The Bloomsbury Hotel, but very much comes with its own character, look and feel. And on Wednesday, that feel was celebration! There was cake, a confetti cannon, and even a sneak peek at the new cocktail menu, which includes such deliciousness as the May Day Spritz, made with Tanqueray, Italicus, orange blossom and honey bitters, and English sparkling wine; and the Drinking in Newquay, with Cîroc, Crème de menthe, Blue Curaçao and Belsazar Riesling Supreme. There was even a Rinomato Sorbet, too! Very festive. Do pop in raise a cocktail to the team – congrats to everyone at The Coral Room!

Licor 43 lays down cocktail and coffee challenge

There’s nothing more on-trend than putting coffee and cocktails together. So, it’s appropriate that Licor 43 has just announced the opening of the UK round of its Bartenders & Baristas Challenge 2019. Now in its third year, this competition lays down the gauntlet to both bartenders and baristas to create serves with coffee and Licor 43 (the details of how to enter are here). Winners will go to a grand final in Gran Canaria this autumn. UK brand manager Charlotte Oswald said: “There is a natural marriage of aromas and flavours between Licor 43 and coffee and we’ve been communicating this with our Carajillo 43 signature serve. We are often amazed at the creativity, knowledge and passion from contestants and this really went up a level with the introduction of the coffee element last year – bartenders who were very well-versed in all things spirits were finding a whole new world of cocktail creation. We can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!” Licor 43, a blend of spices and citrus fruits, is something of a cult drink in Spain. There’s now a special Liquor 43 Baristo made with coffee beans from the Canary Islands which the company has produced a film about (above). So, what are you waiting for bartenders and baristas, get experimenting!

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Happy International Pineapple Day, folks!

And finally. . . shake your maracas cos it’s International Pineapple Day!

From the Piña Colada to Carmen Miranda, we all know that the pineapple is the most exotic of all the fruits. No wonder it has a special day devoted to it: 1 June is International Pineapple Day! To help things go with a swing, That Boutique-y Gin Company is putting on a Pineapple Gin Parlour pop-up at 15 Bateman Street, in Soho, London on 1-2 June. There will be masterclasses and food historian Tasha Marks on hand to explain the history of the king of fruit. In the 18th century pineapples were high-value status symbols: having a pineapple was the Regency equivalent of a Ferrari parked outside your house. The neighbours would say ‘oooh, get her, who does she think she is with that pineapple, Lord Byron?’ Thankfully, drinks at the pop-up will be rather more affordable. Simply say the code word ‘mule’ and your Pineapple Mule will cost you nothing at all. Isn’t the modern world brilliant?

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The Nightcap: 17 May

It’s Friday, and around these parts, that means one thing – it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap! Imagine the scenario – last Friday evening, you felt a bit…

It’s Friday, and around these parts, that means one thing – it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap!

Imagine the scenario – last Friday evening, you felt a bit tired. You yawned, looking at your watch or at a clock on the wall or at your phone – it doesn’t really matter where you look to find out the time. All that matters is that it was time to go to sleep. However, instead of sleeping in a bed, you decided to go to sleep under a rock. For a week. Imagine that. Now, if you have been under a rock since last week, you’ll want to know what’s happened during said week, and we’ve got all the booze news right here in The Nightcap for you! Wow, that was a pretty far fetched introduction, even for us.

On the blog this week Henry kicked things off on World Cocktail Day (on a Monday, of all days!) with our Cocktail of the Week, The Pornstar Martini, then talked Venezualan rum with The Diplomático Distillery. Guest writer Nate Brown made a passionate plea for bars to prioritise all customers, Annie explored the new range from Sweden’s High Coast Distillery and Kristy indulged our love of Japanese spirits with our New Arrival of the Week, Haku Vodka. Adam meanwhile helped you prep for Fèis Ìle 2019 in the only way we know how, before he and Camden’s Croque Monsieur celebrated absinthe. Oh, and we’ve also launched another incredible competition, where you could win a VIP trip to Mortlach Distillery!

Now, on with the news!

The Nightcap

A classic of the genre returns!

Classic Islay whisky book reissued

One of the best whisky books of the last 20 years was Peat Smoke and Fire by Andrew Jefford which was published in 2004. Jefford, best known as a wine writer, applied a lyrical touch in this hymn to Islay’s culture, history and whiskies which were at the time relatively unknown except by the cognoscenti. Back then, you could pick up a bottle of Port Ellen, for example, for around £100 as opposed to the thousands you’d pay today. Oh, to have saved a few then! Fast forward 15 years and the island is booming with two new distilleries since the book was published, Kilchoman and Ardnahoe, and Fèis Ìle, the island’s annual festival, becoming an international tourist event. So, it’s a good time to republish this classic book now under the slightly less evocative title of Whisky Island, with a forward by Dave Broom. It’s a must read for peatheads everywhere.

The Nightcap

Who wouldn’t want a garden full of gin botanicals?

Kyrö brings first Finnish garden to Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show and Kyrö Distillery have joined forces, with the distillery bringing the first ever Finnish garden to the ‘Space to Grow’ class! The brains behind this stunning show belong to Finnish landscape designer, horticulturist and environmental biologist Taina Suonio. The garden is inspired by Kyrö’s delicious Napue Gin, with plants native to the Finnish meadows and woodlands, while the display will also stress the importance of pollinators with a butterfly garden. “Taina has done excellent work in creating a garden that reflects the Finnish countryside and the botanicals we use to make our gin”, says Kyrö’s Managing Director Miika Lipiäinen. “Out of all of the raw materials presented in the garden, we could actually distil a gin.” Maybe we’ll take our still along to the show…

The Nightcap

Introducing: Ardbeg Drum!

Ardbeg Day and Ardbeg Drum

Look past the busy bank holiday weekend to 1 June, because that’s Ardbeg Day! This year’s celebration ‘Drum Roll Please…’ is taking place in London’s Regent’s Park. What to expect? A fantastic afternoon marrying the best of Islay and Caribbean flavours, games and influences, from steel bands to ceilidh dances, Ardbeg whisky to Caribbean food. Ardbeggians are also encouraged to arrive on the day in Caribbean-meets-Islay finery, and we can’t wait to see how that turns out! All this to celebrate the limited edition Ardbeg Day release, Ardbeg Drum, and you can be sure there’ll be a tasting of that peaty treat at the celebration. This expression is pretty special because for the first time Ardbeg has finished the single malt in rum casks from the Americas. If you say ‘Ardbeg Drum’ really fast, it sort of sounds like ‘Ardbeg rum’… Coincidence?

The Nightcap

Don’t fear the spirits…

Beefeater Gin and The London Dungeon: Partners in crime

In a somewhat unlikely partnership, Beefeater and The London Dungeons have teamed up to present Dungeon LATES. Kicking off on 24 May, these nights are said to be darker, scarier, and definitely more alcoholic, so it goes without saying they’re adult-only. Guests can sip while they’re scared, and in between screams it looks like they’ll be drinking Beefeater Blood Orange. After a tour of the dungeons, you’re then treated to a cocktail with said gin, which will have been wholeheartedly deserved. We’re sure their choice of tipple was no coincidence. Now blood orange takes on a whole different tone.

The Nightcap

Prince Charles was guest of honour at the annual Fortnum & Mason awards

Prince Charles rocks the Fortnum & Mason awards

As we have outlined before on the Nightcap, where there’s fine booze, you are often likely to find Prince Charles. First, it was the distillery visits, and then on Thursday afternoon, he was guest of honour at the annual Fortnum & Mason awards. The awards celebrate the best in food and drink writing, photography and broadcasting in Britain. But he wasn’t just there to knock back the Champagne with Chris Evans and Claudia Winkleman, Prince Charles was presented with a special award for his services to the sustainable food industry. Other winners included Nina Caplan winning Debut Drink Book award for The Wandering Vine; Mary Berry won Personality of the Year; Marina O’ Loughlin from The Sunday Times won restaurant writer of the year; Nadiya Hussein was a popular winner of TV Programme of the Year for her ‘Asian Odyssey’. And finally, we are delighted that Alice Lascelles from the Financial Times won the most important award of all, Drinks Writer of the Year. Everyone partied responsibly long into the night.

The Nightcap

Scenic views, delicious whisky and plenty of local culture will be on show

The first ever Hebridean Whisky Festival begins next week

We hope you’ve kept your diary clear between the 21st and 25th May 2019, because that’s when the first-ever Hebridean Whisky Festival begins! A celebration of the four distilleries along the Hebridean Whisky Trail, the festival will feature free tours, tastings, music, casks and special events at Talisker, Torabhaig, The Isle of Raasay Distillery, Harris distilleries and the Aros Centre, Portree. Proceedings kick off with two days on Skye at Torabhaig Distillery on Tuesday 21st May followed by events at Talisker on Wednesday 22nd. Then it’s across the water to the Isle of Raasay Distillery on Thursday 23rd May 2019, where whisky pilgrims will witness the launch of the exclusive new warehouse and enjoy whisky and chocolate tours. The self-guided whisky trail route up will then lead festival-goers to Isle of Harris Distillery on Friday 24th May. Meanwhile, in Portree, the Aros Centre will showcase the distilleries at a special Hebridean Whisky Festival tasting stand for the duration of the festival. The finale is the ‘Big Day at Slig’, where the four distilleries will come together at the Sligachan Hotel on Saturday 25th May for a day of whisky tastings, Hebridean Whisky cocktails, distillery vehicles, cask displays, craft ales and a visit from the Isle of Skye pipe band. These events are free entry and the choice is yours whether you want to experience part of the festival or follow the full trail over five days by land or sea. We’re sure those who are attending will have a smashing time!

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It’s been a good week for the folks at Winchester Distillery!

Winchester Distillery smashes first crowdfunding target by over 200%

As Winchester Distillery acknowledged its fifth years anniversary this week the English gin brand it quickly found out there was cause for further celebration as the distillery’s crowdfunding campaign had already reached over £240,000 from 94 investors, exceeding its first 30 day target by over 200%. The need for external investment was first made public in April 2019 by Winchester Distillery as it announced plans to increase the production of its premium spirits, install a brewhouse, further develop its whisky & rum, increase marketing activity, pursue export opportunities and open an onsite gift shop. To date, the £375,000 for 8.1% equity campaign has been in ‘private mode’ on Crowdcube, which means it was open only to followers of Winchester Distillery, and the target during this time was to reach 20% of the overall amount. However, at the time of writing, 65% of the funding has been achieved. There’s still a month to go, during which time the Winchester Distillery pitch will go public on the Crowdcube website. Founder Paul Bowler commented: “The news this morning that our supporters have pledged almost a quarter of a million pounds, plus the overwhelming amount of support we’ve received over the last month, has been the best fifth birthday present for Winchester Distillery. We’re really excited that our Crowdcube campaign will be open to all later this week and that we’re another step closer to being able to proceed with our expansion plans.” For more information about Winchester Distillery’s crowdfunding campaign and how to invest from just £10, (rewards are available from £20) then visit http://crowdcube.com/winchesterdistillery.

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Anyone doing lifts to Manchester?

Lucky Manchester diner given £4500 bottle of Bordeaux by mistake

On Thursday night a customer at Hawksmoor in Manchester got rather more than they bargained for when instead of a bottle of bottle of Château Pichon Longueville Contesse de Lalande worth £260, they were accidentally given a bottle of one of the world’s greatest wines, Château Le Pin 2001. The restaurant lists this cult wine from Pomerol at £4500 a bottle! The restaurant tweeted on Friday morning: “To the customer who accidentally got given a bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001, which is £4500 on our menu, last night – hope you enjoyed your evening! To the member of staff who accidentally gave it away, chin up! One-off mistakes happen and we love you anyway”. The customers in question then tried to order another bottle, but it was the only one in the restaurant. What we want to know is, when will this member of staff be working again? There will be queues around the block.

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The Pineapple Daiquiri Slushie, our stand-out serve from the event

Jerk & Beyond Festival

We were lucky enough to head down to Limin’ to grab a sneak peek of the wonderful treats that are going to be on offer at rum and food festival, Jerk & Beyond! Created by Sham Mahabir, a native Trinidadian-turned-Londoner, the late May bank holiday weekend will see Old Spitalfields’ Limin’ bar showcasing the diversity of Caribbean food for three days. Mahabir founded Limin’ and has partnered up with Plantation Rum for the festival, with cocktails including Rumgria (we’re sure you can guess what combo that is), Mai Tai, Limin’s (in)famous Rum Punch and, perhaps our favourite, a Pineapple Daiquiri Slushie, made with Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy. These were accompanied by some delectable Caribbean canapés, including traditional Trinidad street food. Limin’ is an abbreviated version of ‘liming’, a Trinidad expression for ‘hanging out’, which is exactly what this whole-family-friendly festival is encouraging. Surrounded by music, delicious food, fabulous cocktails and even two daily Plantation rum masterclasses, what more could you want?

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This actually happened. And we really want one.

And finally… Lambrini doughnut launched for National Doughnut Week

Doughnuts and Lambrini, you say? That’s right, in honour of National Doughnut Week (11-19 May), Shrewsbury’s Planet Doughnut has launched a new Lambrini doughnut! Freshly cooked, it’s frosted and filled with Lambrini, dusted with edible gold, sprinkled with more gold and finally crowned with a doughnut tiara (where can we get one of those?). Though this launch happens to coincide with Lambrini’s new release, this isn’t merely frivolous fun, oh no. The bakery will donate a portion of each doughnut sold (we assume the money from the doughnut, not the baked good itself) to The Children’s Trust. In case you’ve missed it, National Doughnut Week has been running for 28 years after its launch in 1991, and last year it raised a smashing £33,679. Time to get your Lambrini hats on and contribute to a deliciously good cause.

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The Nightcap: 10 May

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

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

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

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

And now, the news!

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This dream is one step closer to becoming a reality

Johnnie Walker Edinburgh attraction secures planning permission

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

The Macallan kicks off ‘Experiences’ video series

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

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Absolutely beautiful. That bourbon looks nice too.

Matthew McConaughey taps into Texas roots with Wild Turkey

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

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Congratulations to Jonny!

Sotheby’s hires first spirits specialist

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

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Anyone for an Aviation?

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

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

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

Holyrood Distillery intros personalised cask programme

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

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

Scarfes Bar new cocktail menu

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

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

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

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

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

Suntory appoints James Bowker as first UK ambassador

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

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

And finally… Mackmyra and Microsoft create ‘AI whisky’

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

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