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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: The Nightcap

The Nightcap: 13 May

Guess who stars in The Nightcap this week? If you said top pop singer Paul Heaton, Ryan Reynolds’ mum, and the Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022,…

Guess who stars in The Nightcap this week? If you said top pop singer Paul Heaton, Ryan Reynolds’ mum, and the Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022, then give yourself a pat on the back.  

This week on the blog we were discussing the resurgence of flavoured vodka, which was all the rage back in the ‘90s. It got us thinking about which trends we’d like to see resurface. Pokemon never really went away and Tamagotchis were too hard to keep alive. Your favourite girl power and/or Britpop records live on every time you play them. As does The Macarena, which we all remember how to do. Seinfeld is on Netflix and Friends is literally everywhere all of the time. It’s hard to pick just one thing, but what we miss most might be just walking around Blockbusters on a Friday night and visually picking one film from every movie ever, all in one place. You can’t really stumble upon a random movie you end up falling in love with now, not with a load of faulty and/or cynical algorithms. It’s either that, or reviving Iced Gems. 

Anyway, aside from whipping up a flavoured vodka-based cocktail, it was a week of whisky on the MoM blog. We found out what makes distilleries like Knockdhu, Teeling, and the Cotswolds so great, recommended some out-of-this-world bottles, welcomed the arrival of a certain Wise Owl, pointed out the best places in Scotland to enjoy a wee dram, and fondly remembered the Spirit of Speyside festival.

But there’s always room for more stories. Let’s crack on with The Nightcap: 13 May edition!

Henry Jeffreys

WOOOOOO!!!!

Our Henry wins Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022!

You might recall that we mentioned that our editor Henry Jeffreys was up for Greatest Writer of all Time at the annual Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards recently. Well, he won! Recognising his work in the Fence magazine and his platform World of Booze (the mighty Master of the Malt blog goes without saying, of course), our Henry scooped up the Drink Writer award ahead of stiff competition from last year’s winner Will Hawkes, nominated for his work in Tonic and Pellicle magazines, and Felipe Schrieberg from Whisky Magazine. If you’re unaware, the awards are like the Golden Globes, only far more glamorous, and aim to celebrate the best writers and publishers working in food and drink. In its 10th year, the ceremony was co-presented by Claudia Winkleman alongside chef and judging panel chair, Angela Hartnett OBE, while judges included Alice Lascelles, Freddy Bulmer, Georgina Hayden, Jaega Wise, Mark Diacono, and Tara Wigley. Impressing them is no mean feat. But Henry did just that and posted some words on his Instagram in response to the award. He said that he was “about 60% blanc de blanc Champagne” last night, and thanked the judging panel “for their wisdom in giving me this peculiar looking award”. He also thanked The Fence Magazine for “letting me write whimsical things” and his wife Misti “for encouraging me to enter more personal articles”. We’re proud as punch, and will insist you refer to him by his proper title in all future communications (that’s Henry Jeffreys, Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2022, if you’re having trouble keeping up).

Ryan Reynolds and his mum star in Aviation Gin ad 

Nobody sells his spirit quite like Ryan Reynolds and for Mother’s Day (in the US it was on 8 May, don’t panic, our one was ages ago) he managed to rope his mum, Tammy, into the latest Aviation Gin advert. Together, they create a Punch recipe to celebrate Mother’s Day. By which we mean Reynolds tries to make some Mother’s Ruin Punch while being mothered. The Canadian actor invested in Aviation Gin in 2018, and Diageo acquired the brand in 2020, but part of the deal meant they secured the services of his incredible ability to actually sit and make you watch an advert. If you want to actually make the Mother’s Ruin Punch, just mix together half a cup (eight-ish tablespoons) of sugar and 180ml of soda water soda, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add 350ml of grapefruit juice, 180ml of lemon juice, 180ml of sweet vermouth, and 350ml of Aviation Gin, and stir. After the mixture has chilled for an hour, top up the punch with Champagne. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit and there you have it. A drink only a mother could love.

Ardbeg-Ardcore

Don’t miss out on this one

Ardbeg returns to London for Ardbeg Day 2022

If you’re lucky enough to be going to Fèis Ìle this year then you’ll surely be heading to Ardbeg Day on the final Saturday of the festival. But for those who need an alternative Ardbeg fix, the Islay whisky brand is hosting a punk-themed event (see our Ardcore coverage in a previous Nightcap) on 21 May in London. In celebration of the first physical festivities since 2019, Ardbeg is calling “all rabble-rousers” to join them between 2-7pm at Strongroom Bar, London, where attendees will have a chance to try their hand at all kinds of punky activities, like at the supervised live graffiti wall and ‘Punk your look’ stations, to the Ardbeg Fling, or ‘welly wanging’ (no idea) and rebel portrait artists. Food will come in the form of BBQ smoky burgers and sweet treats from the customisable donut station, made to complement the smoke of Ardbeg whisky. Which includes this year’s festival bottling, Ardcore, and plenty of ‘Rock-tails’ to savour as you pogo to a live punk band to end the day. Tickets are priced at £40 and include 3 cocktails, canapes, all activities, and an Ardcore tasting session. You can find them here.

elixir-distillery

Welcome to Port-nah-truan. Say it with us. Port. Nah. Truan. Got it?

Elixir Distillers announces name of new Islay distillery

Just over six months after breaking ground, and after much speculation from whisky enthusiasts around the world, Elixir Distillers has confirmed its new Islay distillery will be called Portintruan. It’s pronounced ‘Port-nah-truan’ and not ‘purring’ or  ‘puree’ or ‘portakabin’ as Irish journalist Bill Linnane joked on Twitter, and takes its name from the historic farm estate where the distillery is located and means ‘place of the stream’. The site promises to be home to both old-style production techniques and modern technology with a focus on sustainability. There’s also going to be an experimental distillery within the site – so it will be two distilleries in one. This will enable the team to produce not only different Scotch whisky styles but also rum. Plans for the distillery site also include 14 houses for Islay families working at the distillery, a visitor’s centre, a bar and restaurant, a tasting room bothy overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility that will serve as a base for an apprentice programme to train the next generation of distillers. Work on the site is well underway and Portintruan is anticipating starting distilling from early 2024.

The Dalmore Distillery

The Dalmore Distillery will look quite different soon…

The Dalmore unveils new investment programme 

It feels like nearly every week there’s a distillery expanding and this week it’s Highland stalwarts The Dalmore who have outlined a new investment programme. It proposes a new whisky-making facility and visitor experience featuring the classic Charles Doig-style pagoda sitting atop The Old Dalmore Kiln at the heart of the reimagined distillery. Parent group Whyte and Mackay’s sustainability strategy The Green Print, which set the objective to become net-zero by 2040, is said to be right at the heart of this reimagining, thanks to an exacting set of standards that will transition the site to a green energy solution. The brand also promises to preserve the Dalmore DNA, which has been a key factor in it becoming the fastest-growing single malt (according to them, anyway). Formal planning application has been submitted, while whisky industry authority Forsyths are consulting on the process and the whisky-making aspect of the development. We’ll keep you posted on any key updates.

Macallan New York

Want a bottle? Register your interest now

Macallan’s Distil Your World New York arrives

You may have noticed that The Macallan Distil Your World series, which aims to transport whisky enthusiasts on a sensorial trip across the globe, was bolstered by the addition of a new bottling recently. This one takes us on a trip to the Big Apple (that’s New York, if you’ve never watched any TV or films in your life) through a spirit aged in a combination of American and European oak casks, selected to reflect the flavours and ingredients that define New York. “We really looked towards the quintessential tastes of New York – sweet candy, waffles, peanut brittle, chocolate, and pecans. The city’s thriving street food scene was a great source of inspirations,” says Macallan whisky maker Polly Logan. Given this is a  range made in collaboration with the Roca brothers, who own the three Michelin-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, we’re confident they’ve hit the flavour mark. The news of this launch was actually shared a couple of weeks ago, but we held off reporting it then because we can add another exciting layer to the story. Only 1,000 bottles were produced and we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on some. As there’s likely to be a mad scramble for these, we’re setting up a dedicated shopping page where you can register your interest in a bottle. We’ll be in touch once we have dates for the private auctions we hold. Just head here for more info.

The Kraken Roast Coffee

The Kraken Roast Coffee is here!

Kraken Rum launches first flavoured rum: The Kraken Roast Coffee

When we told you that Guinness was making a coffee-based creation, you all got very excited. So you might also like to know that The Kraken Rum is launching its first new product since its inaugural launch in the form of The Kraken Roast Coffee. And we’ve already got some (hence the link on the name). Kraken Roast Coffee is described as a “fusion of spiced Caribbean rum and fine Arabica bean coffee,” and drinkers can supposedly expect “a rich, dark, and smooth taste of coffee that balances perfectly with the variety of spices in Kraken rum”. Yummy. The press release also has a perfectly reasonable story about sailors harnessing the dark aroma of roast coffee to ward off Krakens. You can have a good hearty laugh at that while making an Espresso Rumtini if you like, using a recipe the brand provided. Just shake up 50ml The Kraken Roast Coffee, 40ml cold-pressed coffee, and 10ml sugar syrup for up to 10 seconds and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with cinnamon powder and three coffee beans. Lovely. No promises it will ward off any Krakens, however… 

Picon

Picon lovers, rejoice!

Campari acquires cult French aperitif Amer Picon

Big news for fans of bitter drinks as the biggest name in bitterness, Campari, has just acquired one of the smallest, Amer Picon. The Italian drinks group paid Diageo €119 million for the Picon brand and related assets. The brand dates back to its invention by Gaétan Picon in 1837 and blends oranges and herbs into a deliciously bitter concoction. It comes in two varieties: Amer Picon Bière which is somewhat bizarrely used for mixing with beer; and Amer Picon Club which is essential for making cocktails such as the Brooklyn. The only trouble is that while it is widely available in continental Europe, it’s not so easy to get hold of in Britain and not sold at all in North America. Meaning that Brooklynites are unable to make a proper Brooklyn. Pity the poor people of Brooklyn! But the press release states: “With the acquisition of Picon brand, Campari Group aims to further enlarge its brand offering in its core bitter aperitifs category in international markets and increase its critical mass in France and Benelux.” We asked for further clarification about whether this means that Amer Picon will be coming to America but as yet have not had a response. American bartenders have their fingers crossed.

La Piñata Tequila & Mezcal Festival

For fans of Tequila and/or mezcal, this festival was a real treat

La Piñata Tequila & Mezcal Festival brings agave awesomeness to London

Last weekend we paid a visit to La Piñata Tequila & Mezcal Festival at London’s Tobacco Docks, and had an agave-filled adventure! With over 20 brands exhibiting, it was a fab opportunity to hear their stories and, of course, sample some products. It would be impossible to mention them all, but we particularly enjoyed trying the small-batch, one-off, single-agave expressions from brands like Sin Gusano and Pensador. The QuiQuiRiQui gang was there showing off its new range of pechuga mezcal (which was incredible!), whilst The Lost Explorer Mezcal team showed us how pairings such as olives and salted chocolate really enhanced the character of the agave in its different expressions. We ducked into a splendid masterclass with Jesse Estes from Ocho Tequila, who enlightened us on the fascinating subject of terroir in agave – it’s definitely a thing! The turnout looked good and there was a fair bit of buzz around some of the stands, so patience was required at times, but overall, this probably allowed a sensible bit of time between all those neat samples. Food stalls were on hand serving up Mexican street snacks for those who did need some extra sustenance (but queuing skills were a must here), with some additional Mexican stalls adding to the atmosphere and selling some extremely fetching alpaca patterned jumpers (yeah we bought one), an unexpected, but treasured souvenir from the day. Overall much fun was had, and our takeaway fact, which we were reminded of throughout the day – there is so much more to mezcal than just smoke.

Paul Beautiful South

Nice one Paul, mine’s a Courage shandy

And finally… Beautiful South singer is buying the drinks for his birthday

Drinkers at various pubs in Britain and Ireland are celebrating as top pop singer Paul Heaton, of Beautiful South and Housemartins fame, is buying them a pint for his birthday. He announced his intention on Twitter earlier this week: “To celebrate my 60th birthday (on Monday 9th May) I’d originally intended to do another bicycle tour, visiting & performing at 60 pubs across the UK & Ireland. However, due to recording delays caused by the pandemic, I’ve had to shelve these plans for the time being. Instead, I’ve decided that the next best way to celebrate this coming of age is to handpick 60 pubs across the UK and Ireland and put a given amount of money behind the bar of each one.” Go to Heatons’ Twitter feed to see if one of the pubs is near you. But you’ll have to hurry as you’ll see that people around the country are already getting stuck into their free beer. Cheers Paul! And happy birthday!

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The Nightcap: 29 April

A forgotten cask sells for £1m, a dispute with the SWA is settled, and a scientist thinks whisky can be used to fuel cars. It’s all in the Nightcap: 29…

A forgotten cask sells for £1m, a dispute with the SWA is settled, and a scientist thinks whisky can be used to fuel cars. It’s all in the Nightcap: 29 April edition!

On Monday there’s another bank holiday, and with the extra one the country has this year to celebrate the Queen, talk has begun about making it a permanent fixture. We think this is a great idea. Like popping all the most important and interesting stories from the world of booze into one handy location. What a corker that was. Let’s all enjoy another Nightcap.

First, here’s the blog round-up: we made the case for Calvados, saw the charm in a tiny distillery on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, spoke to Inverroche Gin’s Lorna Scott, and shone a spotlight on some Armagnacs we think single malt lovers will enjoy. We also got into the spirit of Sakura season, rounded up our top ten vodkas with flavour, whipped up The Bronx, and set up a competition to help you win a VIP to the Seychelles with Takamaka Rum

Lots going on, but it doesn’t stop there. Onto The Nightcap: 29 April edition!

Macallan record cask

Whisky Hammer handled the illustrious sale

Forgotten Macallan cask sets new record

A rare cask of whisky has sold for more than £1 million at auction in what is said to be a new world record. The cask, originally filled on 5 May 1988, had been held in bond at the Macallan Distillery in Moray for almost 34 years and cost just £5,000 back when it was filled. Not bad given it sold for $1,295,500, or £1,017,000 in an online auction on the Whisky Hammer site. It breaks the record already established by a 30-year-old, re-racked, sherry hogshead from Macallan, which was sold in 2021 by Bonhams for £439,000. What’s truly amazing is that this new record-breaker was forgotten about for more than three decades by the ex-pat who bought it, and it wasn’t until they were reminded by Macallan that it was still maturing in the warehouse. The cask was bought by a private individual based in the US and, if bottled today, would yield 534 700ml bottles of single malt whisky. Anyone reckon they have that valuable lying around the house? I’ll never forgive myself for not hanging on to my original Pokemon cards.

Alan McConnochie from The GlenDronach retires

Alan McConnochie by the stills at The GlenDronach

Alan McConnochie from The GlenDronach retires

We’ve just heard that one of Scotland’s best loved characters is set to retire. Alan McConnochie, distillery manager at The GlenDronach as well as Benriach and Glenglassaugh, will be stepping down this year after nearly 50 years in the business. He began his career at White Horse Distillers in Glasgow in 1973 followed by stints at Plymouth Gin and Laphroaig, before joining Billy Walker’s dynamic Benriach Distillery Company in 2004. McConnochie, quoted in the Glasgow Herald commented: “It’s been an incredible privilege to oversee the distilleries of some of the industry’s finest single malt whiskies. The one element I will miss the most is the camaraderie of both the distillery team and the whisky industry as a whole. Being a part of the launch of The GlenDronach Aged 50 Years in January was a particularly proud moment, having personally helped to nurture those casks over the years. I couldn’t be happier to hand over the reins to Laura, who is very well suited to continue to build the future of our skilled and passionate distillery team.” Current production manager Laura Tolmie will be stepping into his enormous shoes later this year. We feel very fortunate enough to have been shown around The GlenDronach by McConnochie and tasted some fine whiskies with him. 

Anna-Paquin-x-The-Glenlivet_Credit-Jamie-Nelson

Whisky isn’t just for men, apparently

Glenlivet tears up rulebook in new ad with Anna Paquin

Another whisky brand is seeking to disrupt the whisky marketing narrative but it’s not some scrappy upstart, it’s The Glenlivet, the oldest of them all. A new film directed by, according to Ad News, “Jamie Nelson on location at her 1968 Hollywood regency style home in San Fernando Valley” features Oscar winner Anna Paquin who you may know from such films as The Piano. According to CEO of ad agency Emotive, Simon Joyce: “We set out to deliver a campaign that flipped the script on preconceived ideas of how it should be drunk and advertised. Gone are the tumblers, fireplaces, oak barrels, reconstructions of Scottish life in 1822 and dark brooding men with facial hair.” Perhaps he’s thinking of this Glenlivet advert from 2020. He continued: “In their place is Canadian born, New Zealand actor Anna Paquin, a blue tiger head and all kinds of whisky drinking blasphemy.” It’s called ‘Whisky Doesn’t Care What’s Between Your Legs’ and it opens with Paquin tinkling on a pink piano (that’s not a euphemism) before literally tearing up the rules in the form of a piece of paper headed ‘Old Boys Whisky Club’. She then, and stale old men look away now, adds ice, tonic, and a squeeze of orange to her Glenlivet 12 Year Old! So disruptive. 

MiltonDuff

That’s some massive capacity at the new Miltonduff distillery. We hope you’re thirsty

Chivas splashes £88 million on Aberlour and Miltonduff expansion 

Distillery news just in, hot off the press: Chivas is planning to spend £88 million on two of its most important single malt distilleries: Aberlour and Miltonduff. It’s a major vote of confidence in the continued growth of Scotch whisky by the Pernod Ricard subsidiary. Aberlour’s capacity will double to 7.8 million litres of pure alcohol per year in order to keep pace with the demand for its whisky, which is the bestselling single malt in France. Visitor facilities will also be updated. Meanwhile, Chivas is planning a brand new distillery to sit alongside the current one at Miltonduff, adding 10 million litres to the capacity to fulfil demand for blends such as Ballantine’s. But it’s not just about oceans of new make, the investment aims to make both distilleries more environmentally friendly too as part of the company’s aim to make distillation carbon neutral by 2026. To achieve this new bio plants will be installed alongside energy recovering technology known as Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR). We love a high tech acronym we don’t really understand here at Master of Malt. Jean-Etienne Gourgues, chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers commented: “Scotch has demonstrated its resilience as a category over the past few challenging years and in the process has opened new avenues for growth. This expansion will allow us to increase our volume to capitalise on the increased demand and interest in Scotch, but also supports our drive to reduce emissions in line with our sustainability ambitions. We’re once again betting big on the future of Scotch so we can bring in new consumers to the category and continue to shape a sustainable future of whisky.” Work is expected to be completed by 2025. So it looks like we won’t be running out of whisky anytime soon.

Imbibe Live

We’ll see you there, hopefully!

Imbibe Live is back! 

The UK’s leading drinks industry event is back and returning to London this July!  From Monday 4 to Tuesday 5 July 2022 the Olympia Grand Hall will reunite those of us in the drinks community and beyond once again with its mix of exhibitors, partners, tastings, and masterclasses, providing visitors with a welcome chance to taste and learn after a challenging few years. And it’s not just for those who buy, sell or serve drinks, this year will welcome visitors from across the on- and off-trade to discover the latest products and take advantage of invaluable networking opportunities. As usual, there will be an array of talks offering expert advice with the likes of Aleesha Hansel, Ian Burrell, Jane Peyton, Gabe Cook, Laura Willoughby, and Lorraine Copes in attendance. Tickets cost £15 which covers access to the event on both days, with a portion of the profits from ticket sales being donated to Imbibe Live’s two partner charities for 2022, The Drinks Trust and Only A Pavement Away. We hope to see you there.

Macaloney Distillers

We’re glad to see the dispute has been resolved

Macaloney Distillers resolves dispute with SWA

You might recall that Macaloney Brewer & Distillers Ltd (MBD) and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) had a branding dispute not too long ago. The SWA filed a lawsuit filed in the British Columbia Supreme Court on 5 March 2021 which expressed concern over the use of various branding terms ‘evocative of Scotland’. Now, a settlement has been reached after both parties agreed to the re-labelling of Macaloney Brewer & Distillers’ Canadian whiskies. The news has come just in time for the brand to start shouting about its impressive haul at the World Whiskies Awards. Dr. Graeme Macaloney, MBD’s president and whiskymaker, who is described as ‘a native Scot and proud Canadian’, said the brand is “delighted to announce that we have come to an agreement with the SWA. As a result, we will be rebranding our distillery and its associated tours and beer garden to ‘Macaloney’s Island Distillery & Twa (sic) Dogs Brewery’.” He added that he was “doubly pleased” to take home the prizes for ‘Canadian Best Single Malt’ for its signature expression formerly known as Glenloy, ‘Canadian Best Triple Distilled Potstill Whisky’ for its ‘Killeigh’ whisky, and ‘Worlds Best New Make-Young Spirit’ for its seaweed-peated spirit”. We’re glad to see it all worked out. For some interesting perspectives on the case, we recommend checking out this feature published last year on our blog.

East London Liqour

The new-look ELLC whisky

East London Liquor Company reveals new bottle with reduced carbon footprint

The East London Liquor Company has revealed a whole new look to its whisky, as well as two new expressions. The previous bottle, while distinctive, was heavy and impractical for bartenders. Now the lightweight glass allows for easy speed rail and back bar use, while most importantly representing a dramatic reduction in the carbon footprint of the product. “The new bottle and natural cork stopper achieved a 60% reduction in the carbon footprint of those parts of the pack, which is a great start, but we have much more do to as a company and many more plans to improve our environmental credentials in the pipeline,” says Tom Hills, operations director and head distiller, who led the project. “The whisky we are producing is as delicious as ever, only now it’s available in a bottle that’s better for the planet and better for your wallet.” The news comes as the distillery launches this year’s edition of its signature London Rye, which will be closely followed by the East London Single Malt in June. Both were made using new fermentation techniques enabled by major investment in new equipment and capacity over the last four years, following two highly successful crowdfunding campaigns, and the volume of whisky will only increase over the coming years. Having had a chance to taste both this week, we can attest to the fact that these are very welcome developments all around. 

new cocktails

The El Camino (left) was a highlight

[email protected] launches new bar menu

Across from the five-starred Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites, Residences, and within the red brick courtyard of St James’ Court you’ll find the newly opened [email protected] bar, which has a cracking new cocktail menu. We were able to get a chance to taste the selection, which is centered around the earth’s biomes. Designed by bar manager, Riccardo Lupacchini, previously at Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood, the cocktail menu celebrates our planet’s diverse and often fragile ecosystems and uses ingredients found in them. The drinks are spilt into different sections, each representing the earth’s macro biomes, from the great deserts and lush forests to the vast oceans and snow-tipped mountains. You can expect all the fancy bartending techniques, from fat washing, cold infusions, and decoction, as well as a selection of exciting bar snacks, Our highlight is the El Camino, featuring Mesquite-smoked Casamigos Blanco Tequila, pineapple tepache, agave, grapefruit, and tamarillo. If you get a chance, it’s not to be missed.

whisky biofuel

A draff truck. Could it be transporting precious fuel?

And finally… could whisky be used to fuel cars?

The future is now. Possibly. A biofuel scientist reckons they have discovered a way to use the byproducts of whisky to fuel your car. For those who don’t know, there is a byproduct made in the creation of whisky called draff, which is the residue left once liquid wort is drained off to be fermented and distilled. It’s often recycled as animal feed, but there are still plenty of distilleries that haven’t found a sustainable solution so it can be dumped in rivers or the ocean and find its way to landfills. However, this intrepid scientist has devised a fermentation process to transform the byproduct into biochemicals to replace some oil-based products, including diesel used in cars. The scientist who made the discovery says whisky waste can be used for more than just biofuels, including as an alternative to oil in plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, clothing, and electronics. The challenge is scaling up this potential, as biofuels only account for about 3% of fuel used globally. Given the whisky byproduct can reduce carbon emissions by up to 90%, it seems like an idea worth exploring.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 29 April

The Nightcap: 22 April

The working week may have been slimmer but there was no shortage of stories in the post-Bank Holiday period including a new manager at Lagavulin, Guinness has been at the…

The working week may have been slimmer but there was no shortage of stories in the post-Bank Holiday period including a new manager at Lagavulin, Guinness has been at the coffee, and Ballantine’s is doing something with video games. It’s The Nightcap: 22 April edition!

Welcome to another edition of The Nightcap, folks. Here in Kent, the weather is so glorious that we’ve had an idea. The alfresco Nightcap. It’s the same collection of great boozy stories, only you read it on your phone outside and enjoy the sunshine while you do. With a Spritz of some sort. And snacks. We’ll provide the stories as usual. Speaking of which…

On the blog this week we enjoyed all kinds of cracking whisky, from a new exclusive courtesy of Lindores Abbey to some of the finest German spirit on the market from Stork Club. And not forgetting a new Whiskymaker’s Reserve from the Lakes Distillery. It’s the best yet. We also made good use of Grand Marnier’s orangey, Cognac-soaked charm by whipping up The Grand Sour, celebrated the brands that are doing it for themselves, and pondered what the future holds for English whisky.

Now, onto The Nightcap: 22 April edition!

Lagavulin distillery manager

Say hello to Jordan Paisley

Lagavulin has a new distillery manager

We reported back in February there was a distillery manager role going begging at Lagavulin with Pierrick Guillaume leaving to return to France. Well, they have found their man. It’s Jordan Paisley, an Islay native, who is coming home to manage the distillery after an interesting career in the merchant navy where he helped tackle pirates off the coast of Somalia. Makes a change from managing the Port Ellen maltings. He commented: “Coming from Islay, it’s a real source of pride to be given the chance to manage one of Scotland, and the world’s, most iconic distilleries.” We wish him every luck in his role. And what a time to start, just before the madness of Fèis Ìle starts on the 28 May. In a nice touch, Paisley acknowledged his predecessor: “Pierrick has been such a great source of knowledge and support since I joined Diageo. I can’t thank him enough and wish him all the best as he embarks on his next chapter in France”. And we can exclusively reveal that Guillaume will be joining the team at Remy-Cointreau’s Le Domaine des Hautes Glaces whisky distillery in the foothills of the French Alps. Congrats to both whiskymen!

Bladnoch

Congratulants to Bladnoch!

Bladnoch Distillery wins prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise

Bladnoch Distillery announced this week that it has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its excellence in international trade. Only 226 organisations nationally receive the honour and winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards Emblem for the next five years. The Lowland distillery, which has the distinction of being both the oldest privately owned Scotch Whisky distillery and the first ever to be owned by an Australian (equally prestigious, we’re sure you’ll agree), has been revamping its whisky and image since David Prior acquired it in 2015. In export markets such as Germany, China and the USA it has grown over 100% in the last year alone. Bladnoch’s head of commercial, Will Pitchforth, remarked that “the growth of the Bladnoch Distillery business has been a reflection of the dedication to quality and exceptional whisky making, combined with a philosophy, core to our way of working, to conduct business with integrity and fairness, recognised by our network of trusted distributors around the world.”

oldest wine discovered

Ancient wine has been discovered before, but this new discovery may well be the oldest

Oldest evidence of wine in Europe uncovered

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki has discovered evidence of prehistoric wine consumption in Philippi, northwest Greece. In what is arguably the oldest evidence of wine in Europe uncovered, the findings of grape seeds and pomace were preserved in a house fire are dated to around 4300 BC (great vintage), give or take a century. While modern science can reveal an awful lot, a lack of written records does make it difficult to create a complete picture of drinking culture from this time. Right now, there’s no telling yet if the grapes were foraged or cultivated, but the uncovered drink suggests wine was common in early-Bronze Age Greece. Maybe one day we’ll be able to revive these vines from the preserved seeds. The question, of course, is not whether we could, but whether we should. 

Tamnavulin white wine

We’re looking forward to tasting this Tamnavulin

Tamnavulin Distillery unveils White Wine Cask Edition

When you’re a distillery that has had great success finishing your whisky in red wine casks, the logical next step is surely to pop your spirit in white wine casks, right? Well, that appears to be thinking at Tamnavulin Distillery anyway, which is capitalising on the popularity of its Red Wine Cask Editions with its latest creation called, naturally, Tamnavulin White Wine Cask Edition. The single malt was matured initially in American white oak barrels, before undergoing its second maturation in Sauvignon Blanc white wine casks, a finish you don’t see too often. The resulting whisky takes that distinctive mellow, sweet orchard fruit profile Tamnavulin spirit has and adds fresh, rich, and dry elements like, ripe honeydew melon, white peach, jasmine, cinnamon spice, ginger, and lime biscuits. All for a single malt that has an RSP of £32. When this one arrives at MoM Towers, we think it’s one to plump for.

Guinness Cold Brew Coffee

It was inevitable really, wasn’t it?

Guinness launches Cold Brew Coffee

Guinness is lovely, isn’t it? So is coffee, come to think of it. Why hasn’t the brand merged the two? Oh, wait. It has. In the brand’s latest creation, ice-cold Guinness meets cold brew coffee in a 440ml can format that will be rolled out to consumers over the coming months. The coffee, which has been steeped in cool water for long periods of time instead of brewed with boiling water, is added to the draught stout alongside additional roasted barley flavours. There’s only 2mg of caffeine per can too, which is the same as a decaf coffee. “We firmly believe we have created a taste experience truly unrivaled in the market and with over 95 million cups of coffee being consumed every day in Great Britain alone, now is the moment to offer a product that plays to an excitingly vast consumer space,” says John Burns, Head of Guinness GB. “There is already a natural connection with coffee notes in Guinness’ signature offerings like Draught and Extra Stout, so the creation of Guinness Cold Brew Coffee Beer was a perfect match.” This move doesn’t mean it’s ok to bring a can on the morning tube, though.

Lindores Abbey STR

Another new whisky!

Lindores Abbey launches another new whisky!

You would think after launching one whisky this week, Lindores Abbey would sit back a little and enjoy the results. But there’s no rest for the wicked at the Lowland distillery it would seem as the brand is following up its single sherry cask release with a whisky matured exclusively in STR wine barriques. The Spanish casks are one of the three core styles used at Lindores and have undergone the shave, toasted, and re-charred process pioneered by Dr. Jim Swan, who worked with the distillery before his passing. The new bottling is the second installment of the “Casks of Lindores” series and, as with all of its whiskies, the release is non-chill-filtered, of natural colour, and bottled on-site at Lindores Abbey Distillery at its unique limited-edition strength of 49.4% ABV. If you want to get your hands on this new release from the hardest working distillery around, then you won’t have to wait long as it will be on the virtual shelves of MoM Towers very soon.

The Gauldrons Sherry

We have high hopes for this one

The Gauldrons unveils first Limited Edition Release

Douglas Laing & Co is expanding its award-winning Campbeltown Malt Scotch whisky brand The Gauldrons with its first-ever limited-edition expression. The Gauldrons Sherry Edition is a marriage of single cask single malt exclusively from Campbeltown that were then finished in Spanish sherry casks before being bottled at 46.2% ABV without colouring or chill-filtration. Experimenting with these exceptional-quality sherry casks has resulted in a classically Campbeltown dram with smoky sweetness balanced by rich spices, and we truly can’t wait to share it with whisky aficionados across the globe,” says Cara Laing, marketing director for the family brand. The run is strictly limited to no more than 2,125 bottles, so it’s one to get your hands on ASAP. Good thing it’s en route to MoM Towers…

sake robot

Look at its little face!

Sake brewery employs adorable weeding robot

What do you do when you want to remove unwanted weeds in a sustainable manner? If you said the words, “use a robotic duck”, you’ve earned yourself a free drink. Because that’s exactly what Kojima Sohonten has done by putting the Aigamo Robot (named after the breed of duck which is known for ripping up weeds) to work across 12 hectares of rice fields. The robot, designed by an engineer who once made cars for Nissan, resembles a miniature hovercraft as it glides through the water-logged paddies, plucking out unwanted weeds while two ducks’ feet rotating rubber brushes on its underside oxygenate the water by stirring it up and prevent weeds from taking root. It’s part of a programme of sustainability for one of the world’s oldest sake producers, which has also taken the unprecedented move for the sake industry to switch all electricity used for its production to renewable energy generated in its surrounding area. That’s not as fun as robot duck though, is it? We simply must have one.

Ballantine's Moxxi

The future is now, old man

And finally… Ballantine’s hires Borderlands video game character

In news that frankly makes us here feel a bit old and cranky, Ballantine’s has announced a partnership with top computer game series Borderlands from Gearbox. This apparently entails appointing the non-player character (NPC) and bar mogul Mad Moxxi to the role of chief galactic expansion officer (CGEO) to help launch the world’s second-largest Scotch into the gaming stratosphere. The bar owner in the game’s setting, Pandora is better known for giving in-game missions to players, but now she’s launching her very own limited-edition bottle of Scotch whisky: The Ballantine’s x Moxxi’s Bar Edition. Those who snag a bottle will get access to exclusive Borderlands 3 content, but will have to adhere to new ground rules in Moxxi’s Bar that promote “responsible drinking via a special, personalised, cameo-filled message, encouraging visitors to her bar and beyond to drink and play responsibly”.  Sounds crazy! This is said to be the first step in a long-term partnership between the two, with more news to follow in 2022. Personally, we’re not sure how this managed to get past the Portman Group as there must be concerns about this encouraging underage drinking, new ground rules or otherwise.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 22 April

The Nightcap: 14 April

In the early Easter weekend Nightcap, we’ve got stories about one of our own getting shortlisted for an award, a bourbon brand being slammed over sexist marketing, and robots coming…

In the early Easter weekend Nightcap, we’ve got stories about one of our own getting shortlisted for an award, a bourbon brand being slammed over sexist marketing, and robots coming to take our money or our livelihoods.

It’s the Easter weekend. This is a Thursday. The Nightcap is early because we have a glorious four-day weekend ahead of us. So gobble up another bowl of boozy news and then go forth and enjoy all your extra time off!

We start, as always, with a quick round-up of the week that was on the MoM blog. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2021 arrived, as did an independently-bottled whisky from one of Speyside’s more obscure distilleries. We also heard the stories of the chemist that made France’s leading liqueur company, how Holyrood Distillery turned it around, and why Royal Salute embraced Scottish oak. We then gave some top tips for building a whisky book library before washing down all this cracking content with a Rob Roy.

Now, onto The Nightcap: 14 April edition!

Henry Jeffreys

Congratulations to our own Henry Jeffreys!

Master of Malt editor shortlisted for Fortnum & Mason awards

Trumpets, very small trumpets, are sounding at Master of Malt towers as we have just learned that one of our own, features editor, Henry Jeffreys has been shortlisted for Drinks Writer of the Year at the Fortnum & Mason awards, the Oscars of the food and drink world. It’s for work in The Fence and World of Booze. Taking him on in this category are last year’s winner Will Hawkes, for work in Tonic and Pellicle magazines, and Felipe Schrieberg from Whisky Magazine. There’s another great whisky personality on the list as Billy Abbot has been shortlisted in the Debut Drink Book category for his The Philosophy of Whisky where it’s up against Amanda Barnes and The South America Wine Guide. Meanwhile in the main Drink Book section Dave Wondrich’s awesome The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, Tommy Barnes’ Trouble Brewing in the Loire, and A Year in Beer by Jonny Garrett battle it out. There’s also some food stuff going on. Results will be announced on 12 May. Good luck and congratulations to all shortlisted writers. 

Ardbeg

Has Ardbeg moving into the world of NFTs bothered you? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ardbeg embraces the NFT market

Whisky fans may have got an email this morning that made them think some sort of late April Fools joke was being played on them, but the news is actually all too real. Ardbeg has entered the world of NFTs with BlockBar, releasing a “one-of-a-kind” whisky with the site. Just 456 bottles are available via first come, first served format on Tuesday 19 April at 10am (EST) and are priced at 1 Etherium cryptocurrency (or ETH), which works out to be $3.2k. You have to then redeem the NFT to get the actual bottle, and it’s not clear if that comes at an extra cost. It’s a shame as the whisky itself sounds really interesting. For the first time ever the Islay distillery buried two ex-bourbon barrels in the oxygen-deprived, water-rich, soggy peat bogs that surround it. “I think it’s safe to say we’ve unearthed a truly special Ardbeg here. Ardbeg Fon Fhòid is the epitome of Ardbeg – earthy, mucky, and peaty, with one hell of a nose!” says Dr Bill Lumsden, master distiller. Ardbeg Fon Fhòid won’t be a release many engage with however due to skepticism over the NFT market. Many have already shared their disappointment with the news on social media, noting that it’s a move away from responsible practice and putting whisky first. And those of that opinion will also be disillusioned by the fact that, while Ardbeg might be one of the first, it won‘t be the last distillery to jump up on this controversial train.

Fettercairn Warehouse 2

Batch 003 will be at MoM Towers shortly

Fettercairn launches third batch of Warehouse 2 whisky

Fettercairn Distillery has unveiled the third release in its Warehouse 2 Collection, and we had the pleasure of seeing how it was put together. With Whyte & Mackay whisky maker Gregg Glass and Fettercairn Distillery manager Stewart Walker in attendance, we got a sample of each cask that went into the blend, which are ex-bourbon barrels (57%), ex-rum barrels (16%), and ex-French red wine barriques (27%), and were able to see how each contributed to the final whisky. The distillery’s house style of funky tropical fruit and rich nuttiness is preserved by the bourbon cask, while the rum barrel accentuates it and adds baking spice. The barriques add flavours of dark chocolate and elevate the texture to become more full-bodied, which is also helped by its high 50.6% ABV bottling strength. It’s another good addition to a range we’re really enjoying, which is all about showcasing hidden gems found within the distillery’s dunnage warehouse where high humidity combines with the relatively cool and temperate environment to make their mark on the maturing spirit. Batch 003 is limited to just 9,600 bottles, so when it arrives here we suggest you get your orders in nice and sharp.

Ukrainian vodka

You can support a vital cause with Ukrainian vodka

New charity vodka for Ukraine launches

A team of refugees and peace-loving entrepreneurs have come together to create a new spirit that aims to provide immediate assistance to those in Ukraine. Vodka Zelensky is dedicated to ongoing aid, donating 100% of the profits until 2026 and £5 per bottle to carefully selected NGOs in Ukraine. The brand, which discloses the audited annual reports in order to ensure transparency of the donations, has already given close to £30,000 to a children’s hospital in Kyiv. A premium wheat-based vodka made in Germany and Switzerland, Zelensky was the brainchild of fashion designer Anastasiia Rosinina, who fled Kyiv in March, and her long-time friend and Swiss entrepreneur Dr. Tobias Reichmuth (investor from Shark Tank Switzerland). They put together an expert team that took just eight days to go from the initial idea to selling the first bottle. The former head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), ambassador Walter Fust, is even onboard to ensure the responsible allocation of the donations collected for Ukraine. You’ll notice that the bottle’s label design comes in the striking national blue and yellow of Ukraine, with the silhouette of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also emblazoned on the label. The vodka is already being sold in Switzerland, Germany, and now the UK – with more countries to follow soon. 

WhistlePig

You think you’ve got the stuff? Then get mixing!

WhistlePig launches inaugural UK cocktail competition

WhistlePig Whiskey has just launched its inaugural UK cocktail competition for bartenders that will see winners head to the home of WhistlePig in Vermont, USA, as part of a special VIP trip. The ‘No History No Rules’ competition invites bartenders across the country to explore the wonderful world of rye whiskey in an unconventional way, by entering cocktail creations that don’t conform to the norm. The only rule is that WhistlePig 10 Year Old should feature in the recipe. The spirit of the competition was borne out of WhistlePig’s ideology to “rip up the rye rulebook and push the limitations of the category, rather than replicating what has been done in the past”, according to the brand. Five regional heats will take place before the final, which is on Monday 4 July in London. The winners will also receive a special bottling from the distillery team in person, while the overall winner will also receive a bottle of The Boss Hog VIII. Entrants have until 15 May to submit their cocktail recipes. Best of luck to anyone who fancies the challenge!

whisky sexism

This is just lazy, crass, and dated. Do better.

Bourbon brand slammed over sexist marketing

Fkng Bourbon decided to announce to the world this week that no women work in its marketing department after posting the kind of retrograde, sexist nonsense you’d hope we’d left behind by now on its Twitter page. The advert, which featured a woman lying behind a bottle of Fkng Bourbon with the caption “Be someone’s Bourbon rather than everybody’s cup of tea,” immediately attracted widespread criticism for its objectification of women, with Becky Paskin once again stepping up to best articulate the frustration many felt. “The objectification and sexualisation of women in any form of alcohol marketing has damaging, real-world consequences. This is particularly true in an industry such as whisky that has long been considered a ‘man’s world’,” she explained. “Not only does it undermine female authority, reducing us to little more than objects, it perpetuates an image of whisky being the elite drink of the gentleman’s club. The global whisky industry has progressed far beyond this kind of archaic, sexist marketing, so it’s incredibly disappointing to see a new brand enter the market with this stance.” Instead of taking their “fkng” medicine, Resist Spirits, the brand owner, responded with a statement that didn’t contain an apology or demonstrate that anything had been learned from the backlash, instead choosing a disingenuous approach of pretending it was a somehow empowering image. Just do better. This kind of marketing is nobody’s cup of “fkng” tea.

Mijenta

Mijenta is doing its bit once again

Mijenta Tequila joins forces with the Ocean Foundation

Mijenta Tequila and The Ocean Foundation (TOF) are teaming up with the former donating £5 from each bottle sold for the month of April in honour of Earth Month, with a minimum donation of £2,500. The foundation’s mission is to support, strengthen, and promote organisations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world, and the collaboration furthers Mijenta’s efforts to cultivate long-lasting practices. The Tequila brand also recently established a partnership with Whales of Guerrero, and is committed to sustainable production. The company is a carbon neutral operation and works with Climate Partner, offsetting 706T of CO2 (equivalent to planting 60,000 trees) in 2021. “Community building and sustainable issues are at the core of both The Ocean Foundation and Mijenta. We share the same commitment to preserving the environment and educating key stakeholders on important topics such as marine and land conservation, sustainable tourism, and reduction of carbon footprints,” says Elise Som, Mijenta’s co-founder and director of sustainability. “We are thrilled to further our commitment to restoring coastlines and supporting nonprofits working to restore the environment.” 

Whisky robot

We were so busy wondering if we could, we never asked if should. Credit: mevans / Getty

And finally… robot nose identifies whisky with 95% accuracy

A new olfactory device is here to help the whisky industry fight counterfeiters, improve quality, take this writer’s job, and, if sci-fi has taught us anything, eventually kill us all. As published this year in the IEEE Sensors Journal, the NOS.E was able to identify a brand of whiskey with more than 95% accuracy in a test run of different samples. The device mimics the human olfactory system, using eight gas sensors to detect odours and, coupled with a machine-learning algorithm, and is trained to recognise particular whisky characteristics that could be used for both quality assessment and fraudulent detection. While just published, the research actually dates back a few years. As the authors note: “The proposed e-nose solution was verified by a field testing displayed at the CEBIT Australia 2019 trade show, by reaching an accuracy of 96.15%, 100%, and 92.31% in brand name, region, and style classification, respectively.” The whiskies tested included blended and single malt Scotches, from Johnnie Walker Red and Black Label to Ardbeg, Chivas Regal, and The Macallan. Very impressive, robot. But we think people will always prefer the trusted opinion of professionals such as ourselves. Right guys? Right?!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 14 April

The Nightcap: 8 April

A bottle of 142-year-old Irish whiskey turns up in a wardrobe, Ardbeg embraces punk, and the world’s most popular smell has been discovered. All this and more in the Nightcap:…

A bottle of 142-year-old Irish whiskey turns up in a wardrobe, Ardbeg embraces punk, and the world’s most popular smell has been discovered. All this and more in the Nightcap: 8 April edition. 

If you’ve been keeping up with vital current events, you’ll have the head story of student Ffion Morgan, 21, from south Wales. If not, here’s the skinny: she returned a parcel to Asos in December 2021 and received an email shortly after telling her that an item not sold by them was found in her package. Four months later, she is still no closer to learning what item of her she accidently sent to them and now she feels like she is in a “massive game of Cluedo” with the online retailer. Though clearly whatever she sent can’t be that important. This is just a little public service announcement to say, please don’t send us things. We send you lovely booze and such. That’s how this arrangement works. Let’s keep a good thing going.

Speaking of good things that keep on going, the MoM blog was home to some cracking features once again this week, with Ian Buxton adding the tale of column still inventor Aeneas Coffey to his Whisky Heroes series, Henry resurrecting a lost cocktail created by Dick Bradsell, and Adam reporting on big changes within Irish single pot still whiskey. Jess was also on-hand to investigate how a distillery can keep its soul after external investment with WhistlePig, a MoM-exclusive spiced rum turned up at our door, and we got to taste a batch of brilliant Mossburn whiskies. There was still time to throw together an Easter egg hunt competition, and recommend some sweet treats for the upcoming long weekend. 

A whole bunch of great boozy writing to enjoy. And now here’s more. It’s The Nightcap: 8 April edition!

142-year-old Irish whiskey

What a find! But is it genuine?

Rare 142-year-old Irish whiskey bottle goes on auction

What’s the best thing you’ve ever found tucked away inside a wardrobe? And don’t say Narnia. It’s vastly overrated. There’s a witch knocking around, for goodness sake. Besides, it’s not going to beat finding a 142-year-old bottle of Irish whiskey. That’s what was apparently discovered wrapped in a 19th-century newspaper and tucked away in the pocket of an old Gladstone doctor’s bag inside a wardrobe recently. Now the rare bottle of original Cassidy’s Whiskey from Monasterevin in Co. Kildare has gone on auction. John Cassidy originally opened the Monasterevin Distillery in 1784, according to notes accompanying the sale. Some believe that it may have been a medicinal given it was found in a doctor’s bag and the newspaper was the Supplement of the Tablet, which is dated from 1899, a time when whiskey would still have held medicinal value. It is being sold complete with the leather bag and its newspaper wrapping. But not everyone is so convinced by the story. Master of Malt contributor Nick Morgan commented that the label looked like: “a very complex piece of colour label printing for the 1880s,” while Whisky Daddy @jotterface said: “I just can’t get over how transparent this ‘set dressing’ is. Newspaper wrapping the #whiskey bottle that after 140 years is flat as a pancake and shows no hint of being wrapped around the bottle despite it being so clearly fragile that it is starting to fall apart at the edge…” The estimate for the bottle is in the region of €14,000. You pays your money and you takes your chances. 

Ardbeg

It’s ‘ardcore

Ardbeg launches Ardcore for Feis Ile distillery day

This year’s Fèis Ìle concludes with Ardbeg Day on 4 June, and to mark the festivities the Islay distillery has done the usual and created a celebratory whisky. It’s called Ardcore and it’s inspired by the “devil-may-care attitude of Ardbeg’s fans”, according to the marketing bumf at least, and draws inspiration from Islay’s “little-known punk past”. The press release even claims Port Ellen was known as ‘Punk Ellen’ in the 1970s (which reminds us that there’s a band called Ellen and the Degenerates, which is amazing). Back to Ardcore, it was created with roasted black malt – a first for Ardbeg – and the distillery says this malt is what defines the whisky’s distinctive profile, which head of distilling and whisky creation Dr Bill Lumsden describes as being ‘like biting on a spiky ball’. Tempting. The good doctor goes on to say that Ardcore is a dram “that wears its heart on its sleeve – its black heart! Created with roasted black malt, burnt to hair-raising levels, this spirit is all about substance. Notes of charcoal and sweet smoke make for an in-your-face nose, while potent notes of aniseed and dark chocolate stamp this bottle out as one fit only for the most Ardcore of fans.” As you might expect, you’ll be able to pick up Ardcore from MoM Towers soon. Keep your eyes peeled, folks. 

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Congratulations, guys,

Scotch Malt Whisky Society wins ‘Global Whisky Bar of the Year’ 

Those looking for the finest whiskies known to humanity should look no further than the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Kaleidoscope Bar. Not my words, but the words (more or less) of Whisky Magazine, which bestowed it with the prestigious ‘Global Whisky Bar of the Year’ award at its 2022 Awards. With its selection of can’t-buy-anywhere-else whiskies, creative food pairings, music matches, and one-of-a-kind cask cocktails for both SMWS members and non-members, it’s not hard to see why. The bar, found at Edinburgh’s 28 Queen Street, also boasts whisky tastings, previews of new SMWS bottlings, one-off whisky events, masterclasses, private bookings, and experiences like its collaboration with Kingdom Scotland, Scotland’s first fragrance house, which incorporates guests’ olfactory systems to show how your sense of smell is key to discovery when enjoying whisky. Of course, if you’re the kind of person who turns up to an establishment called the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and doesn’t want any of its 500 exclusive single malts (who are you people?), then there’s always beers, wines, cocktails, other spirits, and the odd coaster to chew on. Delightful stuff all around. Congratulations, guys.

Hennessy

The most popular spirits brand on the interweb?

Is Hennessy really the internet’s most popular spirit brand?

While some of you might have been busy worrying about Easter or World War Three, Fentimans has been gathering data to find out which the most popular spirit brand is, judging by social media interactions, including volume of searches, Instagram followers, Twitter mentions, and media mentions. Definitive stuff, we’re sure you’ll agree, and it has produced a result. According to the its metrics, Hennessy Cognac takes the crown in the battle of the brands. It beat off competition from AU Vodka, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff Vodka, and Ciroc Vodka, who made up the top five alongside the French brandy. No doubt they’re celebrating in Cognac tonight. Lord knows what with. Ciroc, probably. It’s a top five brand, after all. The Cognac house can also toast The Hennessy Golden Vines Diversity Scholarship, created in partnership with the Gérard Basset Foundation and Liquid Icons, which will support students from minority backgrounds in the spirits trade. A 12-month internship at Hennessy that includes education and training in winemaking, distillation, and final assemblage, as well as backing to do the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 3 in Spirits course is open to aspiring wine and spirits professionals from all minority groups. And the Cognac creators are offering £55,000 to cover loss of earnings (about a month’s rent in London in real terms). If you want to apply, head here.

Rome Bar Show

Don’t worry, you don’t have to cycle there

Roma Bar Show returns this year

Anyone who loves to tie in seeing the Colosseum with a good bar show is in luck, as the Rome Bar Show is returning this year. On 30 and 31 May 2022 the Italian capital is welcoming two days of trade events, seminars, masterclasses, and sideshows as well as a selection of off-trade events dedicated to consumer guests. There’s only been one previous Rome Bar Show, back in 2019, but even though it was a certified hit (there’s no actual certification tbh we just reckon it looked great) the pandemic has meant that a return has been a long time coming. And if you’re the kind of person who knows the big names in the world of hospitality then you will be pleased to know a fine selection of them will be attending, including Robert Simonson, Clare Warner, Erik Lorincz, and Jared Brown. If none of that’s convinced you, then the words ‘Italian street food’ should have you booking tickets ASAP (traditional recipes selected from every region of the country, folks. C’mon). Giuseppe Gallo, co-founder of Roma Bar Show says they are proud to be able to present once more “the largest International Bar Show in Italy” and to have a chance to “support the beverage and hospitality industry, which is extremely important as it has suffered more than others during the recent crisis”. Hear, hear. To do your bit, you can get tickets here.

Adriana Cavita

Great food and mezcal? You’ve stolen our hearts, Adriana

MoM enjoys taster of superchef Adriana Cavita’s debut restaurant 

We took a trip to Brixton this week for a splendid time at Hacha’s newest Agaveria, where we were treated to a tantalising array of food and cocktails. The evening’s menu provided a taster of what to expect from Mexican chef Adriana Cavita’s upcoming, and highly anticipated new restaurant with dishes such as Aguachile Rojo – sea bream with a watermelon dressing (a favourite amongst our table), and Tamal – pork cheek with a delicious green sauce. The tasty food was accompanied by exquisite drinks pairings, conjured up by Hacha’s Deano Moncrieffe (creator of the ingenious Mirror Margarita), and showing off the awesomeness of The Lost Explorer Mezcal range. We particularly enjoyed the White Americano that accompanied the sea bream, made with The Lost Explorer Espadín Mezcal, and the White Russian served with dessert made clever use of the rich, chocolate vanilla notes of The Lost Explorer Tobala Mezcal. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for the opening of Cavita, and can’t wait to take another trip to Hacha, to try some delicious agave spirits and more of those stunning cocktails – we’ve been inspired to experiment with making some of our own using the Lost Explorer range too!

Soda & Friends Credit-Milly-Fletcher-1.jpg Soda & Friends

If you love Highballs, then you’ll love Soda & Friends (credit: Milly Fletcher)

Specialist Highball bar Soda & Friends opens in London

It’s been a long time coming but a much-anticipated East London bar dedicated to the pleasures of the Highball is finally open. Top bartender and occasional Master of Malt blog contributor Nate Brown has been planning Soda & Friends since 2019 but all kinds of events intervened. He told us: “Soda & Friends has been a long time in the making. I’ve been preaching about the versatility and application of Highballs as a format for what feels like years. Longer drinks can really showcase the spirit in an elegant and tailored way, and the pandemic has brought forward the calling for neighbourhood bars, so really Soda & Friends is the perfect bar for right now. Hopefully, this opening can act as a reminder of the wholesome comfort a decent bar can bring, something that was so sorely missed over the last couple of years.” It’s located in Docklands, near Canning Town tube, so if you love refreshing lang drinks, then get down to Soda & Friends. And if you love pizza and delicious drinks (and honestly, who doesn’t?), then don’t miss sister bar nebula on Hackney Road. 

The Silver Bullet

Celebrate International Kummel day with a delicious Silver Bullet

Celebrate International Kummel Day on 17 April

What have you got planned for International Kummel Day, Sunday 17 April? Not in your diary yet? Well, that’s not a surprise because this year is the first official day devoted to this caraway-scented schnapps. Originally, the date was begun in 2019 as a semi-serious attempt by three drinks writers Richard Godwin, Simon Difford, and Henry Jeffreys (of this parish) to draw attention to this storied but largely forgotten drink. But now Mentzendorff, the leading producer of kummel, has swung its might behind the day. The firm is encouraging people to share kummel-based cocktails like the Silver Bullet and the Martiki on Instagram with the hashtag #InternationalKummelDay . They also want to make it clear that despite rumours about other brands, there is no Mentzendorff Kummel shortage. In fact, someone from the firm told us this week that they have been down to the distillery in the Loire where the spirit is distilled to ask them to step up production such has been the demand. So whether you’re mixing it in a cocktail, or sipping it neat following dinner or a game of golf as is traditional, make sure you’ve got the kummel in for International Kummel Day. 

can maturation be fast forwarded

It’s official, people love the smell of this stuff. But you knew that already

And finally… world’s favourite smell discovered

Whisky makers, master blenders, and cooperages take note because the world’s most-loved smell has been discovered, and it’s not manuka honey or ristretto coffee. It is, of course, vanilla. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, a team from Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University of Oxford looked at 10 different smells and gave them to 235 people around the world to try. The researchers were careful to include a range of different cultures living in different environments in the study. The author Dr Artin Arshamian from the Karolinska Institute explained: “We wanted to examine if people around the world have the same smell perception and like the same types of odour, or whether this is something that is culturally learned. Traditionally it has been seen as cultural, but we can show that culture has very little to do with it.” Fascinating stuff. Vanilla came out on top with peach second and lavender third. You won’t be surprised to learn that aromas such as sweaty goat, decaying fish, and sweaty feet weren’t so popular. It’s only a small sample but points to the wisdom of the whisky industry’s love of American oak and reluctance to experiment with pungent seafood finishes. 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 8 April

The Nightcap: 1 April

A metaverse distillery, a white wine emoji, as well as new whisky from Glen Scotia, Tamdhu, and Craigellachie. It’s all in this week’s round up of booze news, the Nightcap:…

A metaverse distillery, a white wine emoji, as well as new whisky from Glen Scotia, Tamdhu, and Craigellachie. It’s all in this week’s round up of booze news, the Nightcap: 1 April edition!

It’s 1 April and that means April Fools. But fear not, this is a real Nightcap. Honest. And every story is real. Trust us. We haven’t fallen for anything… We don’t think. Ok, we might have fallen for something. But then half the stories in The Nightcap are usually quite silly. It’s very hard to tell sometimes. So this is our attempt at a good ol’ fashioned Nightcap on a ridiculous day. Promise. You wouldn’t get this from any other blog…

Speaking of the blog, this week we gave you a chance to bag a bundle of Singleton of Dufftown single malts before showing off some new Darkness sherry cask whiskies and Japanese spirits. Henry, meanwhile, made the drink of New Orleans, Ian asked if the words ‘master distiller’ carry any meaning, and Adam introduced Jameson’s new Anthology series and helped you Spritz your way to Spring. Oh, and we launched a new Islay whisky.

So, let’s get on with it. It’s The Nightcap: 1 April edition!

Glen Scotia 46 Year Old

Dave Broom and Iain McAlister enjoying the special dram

Glen Scotia unveils oldest whisky 

Glen Scotia is having a moment – not only was it awarded Scottish Whisky Distillery of the Year at the Scottish Whisky Awards last year, but it’s just unveiled its oldest and rarest limited-edition to date. It’s a 46-year-old single malt Scotch whisky with just 150 bottles available worldwide and a retail price of £6,750. It began life in 1974 when it was laid down in refill ex-bourbon casks for 36 years, before being re-casked in first-fill ex-bourbon casks in 2011. It was then moved again for a four-year finish in ex-Oloroso sherry butts before being bottled at 41.7%. As you’d expect with whiskies of this price, there’s lots of slick presentation and the Campbeltown distillery has also gone all out by partnering with whisky writer Dave Broom to create in a short film, shot at the distillery’s dunnage with distillery manager and master distiller, Iain McAlister. “This is such a remarkable liquid: more than just age, it is a time capsule that tells you about how Campbeltown and Glen Scotia have changed over the years,” Broom said. “The whisky has the tropical fruit funkiness which only comes from long ageing in refill casks. The subtle, sweet, toffee elements mid-palate reflect the change in direction when mature, elegant single malts were desired, while the rich sultana-like fruit harks back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when sherry casks were the preferred choice for Campbeltown’s whiskies.” We’re keeping our fingers on the pulse of whether this will arrive at MoM Towers, so you’ll be the first to know. 

Craigellachie 13-year-old Armagnac Cask Finish

This Craigellachie beauty will be here soon…

Craigellachie launches range inspired by its worm tubs

John Dewar & Sons has also got an exciting new launch to shout about, the first expression from the Craigellachie Cask Collection. The series is inspired by the distillery’s use of old-fashioned worm tub condensers, which make heavier-style spirits, and involves finishing using casks from producers who also stick to traditional methods and use worm tubs. For the inaugural edition in the Cask Collection, the award-winning 13-year-old Craigellachie Single Malt, which is initially matured in a combination of refill and re-charred ex-bourbon barrels, was finished in ex-Bas-Armagnac casks for just over a year. In Armagnac, worm tub condensers are required by law, and are a key part of a process that creates a spirit distinct from other French brandies like Cognac. The distillery says the cask has rounded Craigellachie’s weighty style with “warming notes of baked apples, dusted with heady cinnamon,” as well as “rich flavours of caramel shortcake are offset by signature syrupy pineapples and fiery bonfire night aromas”. Master blender Stephanie Macleod summarises: “Craigellachie is a distinctly bold and brooding malt; full-bodied and meaty so we are using these cask types to complement and elevate the signature character of the distillery, not mask it, to add an extra dimension of flavour and intrigue.” Craigellachie 13-year-old Armagnac Cask Finish, is bottled at 46% and will be here at MoM Towers soon.

Tamdhu 18 Year Old

Look, it’s Tamdhu 18 Year Old!

Tamdhu unveils 18-year-old for anniversary year 

The third distillery to create a cracking new dram this week is Tamdhu, who announced the long-awaited arrival of its 18 Year Old. The latest addition to its range is, like every other Tamdhu expression, matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks, in this case with both American oak and European oak being used. The 18 Year Old was bottled at 46.8% without chill-filtration, and is said to boast notes of rich dark fruits, ripe cherry, zesty citrus, nutty milk chocolate, and honey-baked oats. “Tamdhu has rightfully earned a reputation for producing the very best sherry matured whiskies, so crafting, bottling, and launching our 18-Year-Old will go down as a true career highlight,” says Sandy McIntyre, Tamdhu distillery manager. “The entire distillery team has an innate understanding of the Tamdhu sherry maturation process – so we selected a combination of casks that deliver a truly special drinking experience, befitting such an important age statement.” The distillery has also announced that for its 125th-anniversary celebrations it will open its doors to the public for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – with tours, tastings, and a luxury ‘Spain to Speyside’ experience. Something else to look forward to. Oh, and guess where you can expect to see Tamdhu 18 Year Old soon? That’s right. Here!

Pubs

We’ll cheers to this news!

1,841 pubs were opened in the UK in 2021!

You don’t really expect to hear good news when it comes to pubs in the UK after two years of lockdowns and setbacks but Instant Offices has analysed Companies House data and found some heartening results. By looking into the population to startup ratio across the country’s top cities, it discovered a 21% increase in the number of new companies started in 2021 compared to 2020, with company registrations surging in every city analysed. The company was also able to identify which locations saw the highest concentration of entrepreneurs in the last 12 months, and was able to apply these findings to pubs. With restrictions easing and more people able to socialise, it found that 1,841 pubs were opened in the UK in 2021! The highest number was in London (surprise, surprise) with 267, followed by Bradford (didn’t actually expect that) with 94, then Liverpool with 89, and Glasgow with 78. Other big cities like Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh also made the top ten, and overall the findings demonstrate that this country isn’t going to give up on hospitality and pub culture without a good fight.

Seed Library

We were here and it was very exciting

MoM visits Mr Lyan’s newest haunt, Seed Library

Mr Lyan (real name Ryan Chetiyawardana) has treated us to another brilliant bar! Moving away from the ‘-lyan’ theme, as with his previous bars Mr. Lyan and Lyaness (formerly Dandelyan). This one’s called Seed Library (not Lybrary – a missed opportunity?), found in the basement of One Hundred Shoreditch. The colour scheme is all burnt orange and red, with panelled wood, bespoke furniture. It’s proud of its analogue sound system and, according to the press material, the bar takes the same old school approach to cocktail making. Which brings us onto what we’re all here for – the cocktails! The menu will change frequently, but when we popped over there was a small selection of absolutely drinkable creations. Standout serves were the clean, fresh Coriander Seed Gimlet, made with Beefeater Gin and coriander seed cordial; the Curry Leaf Stonefence, made with Eminente Cuban rum, curry leaf, lemon, and wild ferment pear cider; and the Galangal Penicillin, a spicy blend of Patron Tequila, mezcal, galangal honey, and lemon. You can reserve, but walk-ins are actively encouraged, and if you go down on the weekend you might be lucky enough to catch a vinyl DJ. Congratulations again, Mr Lyan!

Irish whiskey auction

You’re looking at a new record holder

Irish whiskey reaches new heights at auction

Auction stories tend to be about Scotch, Japanese, or American whiskey so it’s great to see that the demand for Irish whiskey is alive and well too. This week, two rare bottles of Midleton Very Rare sold at auction for a combined €94,000, a new record for the category. The history-making whiskeys, put up for sale by private collectors, were sold separately at auction on Sunday 21 March, with the first – a 2020 bottling of Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection Chapter One – fetching €48,000 (€50,952 including fees), the highest price paid for an Irish whiskey at public auction. The second, a bottle of the 2021-released Chapter Two, sold for €46,000 (€48,829 including fees). Both are exceptional drams distilled in the signature style of Old Midleton, which means you won’t see their like again, so it’s no surprise demand was so high. “Irish whiskey now has bottles that are comparable to the bottles of Scotch and Japanese whiskies that command ultra-premium prices on the world stage,” Anthony Sheehy, founder and owner of www.IrishWhiskeyAuctions.com says. “It is something that we should be shouting from the rooftops to show the fantastic growth and interest that exists for premium Irish whiskey.”

Jose Cuervo Metaverse

Looks like a distillery from Futurama.

Jose Cuervo creates first-ever metaverse distillery

Jose Cuervo is a brand of heritage. It claims to be the first Tequila producer and the founder of the still-operational oldest distillery in Latin America. But now, the brand is going in a more futuristic, and frankly absolutely ridiculous, direction. Cuervo will open the very first “metadistillery” in the 3D virtual world Decentraland this summer for those over 21 years old. It promises to be a space of “unforgettable virtual experiences, Tequila education, as well as limited edition products and entertainment”, as well as a “permanent fixture in the metaverse for Tequila lovers to visit for generations to come”. Which means something to someone, presumably. In fact, the distillery even quoted a poll that reckons seven in 10 Gen Zs and millennials are interested in “interacting” with the metaverse. Why they want that is frankly just beyond us, to be honest, but you all have fun, kids (over 21 years old). “Cuervo first came to the U.S over 70 years ago and helped establish America’s favourite cocktail, the Margarita. It’s time for Cuervo to take on a new frontier and bring tequila to new audiences by opening the first-ever distillery in the metaverse,” Lander Otegui, senior vice president of marketing at Proximo Spirits, summarises. We’ll be sticking to enjoying the Tequila in our glass, if it’s all the same to you.

white wine emoji

We demand justice! And Chardonnay!

And finally… we demand a white wine emoji!

Normally we finish with a funny but this week we’re highlighting an important campaign from New Zealand Wine. The trade body is asking people to sign a new petition demanding a white wine emoji. Yes, in a shocking example of discrimination there are only emojis for red wine and sparkling wine. An earlier white wine emoji petition was rejected in 2019, no doubt because of the power of the shadowy Champagne and Bordeaux lobby. This is grossly unfair to countries like New Zealand, and indeed England, which make predominately white wines. Charlotte Read from New Zealand Winegrowers explained: “We hope that by requesting the white wine emoji from the Unicode Consortium it will shine a spotlight on the breadth of high-quality white wine that New Zealand produces, as well securing the emoji that has long been missing from the keyboards of digital devices since their creation in the late 1990’s.” We have yet to substantiate rumours that the Provencal Wine Marketing Board is launching its own petition to demand a rosé wine emoji. 

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The Nightcap: 25 March

At last, an end to the UK/ US tariff saga looks to be in sight, a giant wine barrel hotel, and cake-inspired cocktails hidden behind a fridge door. All in…

At last, an end to the UK/ US tariff saga looks to be in sight, a giant wine barrel hotel, and cake-inspired cocktails hidden behind a fridge door. All in one place. It’s The Nightcap: 25 March edition!

British Summer Time officially begins on Sunday, and it’s a day when those of us in the UK (and many other countries around the world) will also say thank to our mothers – yes it’s Mother’s Day! That makes it a double celebration. That means we’ll have to figure out a way to get two party hats on our heads while not looking ridiculous. We’ll report back on our progress, in the meantime, enjoy the Nightcap.

But first, as usual, a quick round-up of all the fantastic writing that featured on our blog this week. We were delighted to publish Ian Buxton’s moving tribute to whisky and beer writer Michael Jackson and Lauren Eads’ fascinating look into the evolving world of distillery architecture. Elsewhere, there were juniper wood cask-aged gins, Brandy Alexanders, and spirits perfect for Mother’s Day to enjoy, while Henry also found time to take you into the world of Lucas Bols and the Pulteney distillery

Which all sets us up for this week’s round-up. It’s The Nightcap: 25 March edition!

The Nightcap: 25 March

It’s about time sense prevailed.

Tariffs finally lifted between US and UK

Great news in the on-going tariff saga as the UK is set to remove its 25% tariffs on US whiskey imports in June. The two countries resolved their ongoing trade spat over steel and aluminum imports following two months of talk, and the new measures will come into effect on 1 June, when the US will replace the 25% tariffs on steel with a new quota system. It’s a welcome relief, with the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) reporting that American whiskey exports to the EU had plunged 37% between 2018-20, down from $702 million to $440 million, while the latest stats show that US whiskey exports to the UK – the fourth-largest market for American whiskeys – fell by 42% since the tariffs were imposed,  down from $150 million in 2018 to $88 million 2021. “With the removal of the UK’s debilitating retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskey exports, US distillers are ready to fire up the stills and resume sharing the special taste, heritage, and quality of America’s native spirit with our UK consumers,” DISCUS’s president and CEO Chris Swonger said. Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and Nightcap legend, also welcomed the news, saying it would provide great encouragement to UK spirits importers, a significant boost to the UK hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic, and greater investment opportunities in the UK spirits industry by the US. The only problem we can see is the removal not taking place until June. Why the wait?  

The Nightcap: 25 March

It’s a great whisky supporting a great cause

Johnnie Walker announces Equal Measures partnership

Johnnie Walker has announced a year-long partnership with Equal Measures, a charity committed to greater equality in the drinks industry. Kicking it off in style, the pair hosted the first-ever Community Day in Hacha, Brixton on Monday 21 March, the first of a series of events. The aim of the day was to celebrate the achievements of the current (and future) students of the Equal Measures Education and Mentorship programmes, and make a few Johnnie Walker Highballs in the process. The competition challenged local young adults considering careers in the hospitality sector to create a Highball that embodied the atmosphere and energy of Brixton – Johnnie Walker global ambassador Tim Philipps Johansson was on-hand to give students an understanding of the liquid and brand. Each entrant to the competition is given a cash fund to purchase ingredients for their creation from the local market, in turn supporting businesses from the local area, while the winners will also be given vouchers for Hacha Bar and other local restaurants. This is the start of monthly Community Days at Hacha, focusing on food pairing masterclasses to panel discussions and management coaching. “We are grateful for the support of major player, Johnnie Walker, to help lift the first of these Community Days off the ground,” founder of Equal Measures and owner of Hacha, Deano Moncrieff commented. “Equal Measures is founded to support anyone who feels marginalised and faces entry barriers into the wider world of hospitality. Our intention is to create a regular, open for all, series of events where we can celebrate the local community.” Sounds like a hoot, and all for a wonderful cause.

The Nightcap: 25 March

Lots of lovely Aberlour.

Chivas Brothers brings home complete Aberlour A’bunadh collection

This week Chivas Brothers unveiled its line-up of in-person events at Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, taking place from 27 April to 2 May 2022. This year’s celebrations are going to be special for Chivas Brothers for two main reasons. Firstly, it’s offering festival-goers the first-ever opportunity to taste a flight of the rarest and finest whiskies from the Aberlour A’bunadh (“Original”) collection, which was recently brought home to Aberlour after being acquired through whisky broker Mark Littler LTD. In fact, it’s the only known and (more importantly) available series outside of the Chivas Brothers archive. The first tasting session will take place on Thursday 27 April, after which the full Aberlour A’bunadh collection will then be made available for special tastings at Aberlour distillery until it’s gone, so we can imagine it’ll be rather popular. On a more melancholy note, this year’s festival also marks Alan Winchester’s last, as The Glenlivet master distiller prepares to move to pastures new, continuing his 45-year Scotch whisky career. Fans can make the most of it during ‘An audience with Alan Winchester’ event, held at The Glenlivet Distillery on 29 April. Graeme Cruickshank, Aberlour master distiller, commented: “This year’s festival is extra special for us, as we finally get to share the only known full Aberlour A’bunadh collection for Scotch fans to taste and we raise a toast to the man-of-the-hour, Alan Winchester, and his impressive career.”

Tanqueray teams up with Bridgerton

Netflix series Bridgerton is back, with the second season premiering today, and to mark the occasion, gin brand Tanqueray has partnered with the series to launch a video campaign featuring Joe Jonas. In the clip above, the musician learns how to become a Bridgerton family member, acting alongside Jonathan Bailey, who plays Anthony Bridgerton, and comedian Phoebe Robinson, who is a self-confessed  Bridgerton ‘superfan’. It’s all part of the Make it T-time campaign, which promises exclusive prizes and limited edition cocktail kits for fans, and seeks to revive the Regency Era ritual of teatime with a modern twist, which basically means having a Tanqueray gin cocktail. Experiences that fans can win as part of the campaign include The Queen’s Ball experience, which entails a trip to New York City, an appointment with a stylist, a Tanqueray T-time happy hour, plus access to a Bridgerton-themed ball. There’s also a Bridgerton watch party, which will involve a Regency-era-themed T-time cocktail experience, hosted in a hotel suite or viewing location, with 10 friends. Finally, a Regency-era live oil painting, whereby 10 friends will be invited to a hotel suite, with a stylist on-hand to dress guests and finishing with an artist painting the scene. 

The Nightcap: 25 March

Now that’s luxury

Who wants to stay in a giant wine barrel in Portugal?

If you’re an oenophile, then you’re likely to look to include some wine-based adventures in your holidays, perhaps going to famous vineyard locations or visiting restaurants with great wine lists. But what if we told you that you could spend your break inside a giant wine barrel decked out with all manner of luxury amenities inside? No, really. The Quinta da Pacheca estate in Douro which makes both table wines and Port, has converted 10 outsized wine barrels into luxurious hotel rooms. The pinewood barrels are replicas of the actual barrels used in the winemaking process at this 280-year-old estate, and are dotted throughout the vineyard to place guests among nature and the vines. The estate also creates its own jams and olive oils alongside its wines, and there’s options to enhance the experience with dinner and more. But your basic wine barrel package will set you back roughly €400 per night… That’s a lot of Port.

The Nightcap: 25 March

If you like cakes and cocktails, then you know where to go

Cake-inspired cocktail bar hidden behind a fridge opens

Anyone for a Pick ‘n’ Mix Punch? Or a BakewellTini? Perhaps a Lemon Meringue Pie cocktail? All of these, and more, are available at one of London’s most intriguing new bar openings. The folks at The Big London Bake East, which offers a fun competitive baking experience, have launched The Pantry Bar, a luxury, cake-inspired bar opposite Haggerston Station, hidden behind a fridge door. The bar is open to all, so you don’t have to compete to enjoy the cake-themed serves or marvel at the unique decor, featuring hanging whisk lights, candy jar lamps, giant faux cupcakes. Very Instagrammable, if you care about that sort of thing. There’s also a drinks terrace and lawn, from which you can play spectator to the baking sessions to see what all the fuss is about. So, if you like cake, and a drinks after work or on the weekend, then this is the place for you. Which is surely everyone, isn’t it?

The Nightcap: 25 March

What is he thinking?! Only the technology can tell!

And finally… can your facial expressions reveal how you feel about a beer?

You will never believe it. But ground-breaking research by Japanese scientists has shown that we make different facial expressions depending on whether we like the taste of a beer or not. The incredible discovery was made by using facial expression technology to scan the faces of participants on tasting the beer to gauge their reactions. They found two fascinating responses: the first expression is the ‘lip suck’, where the lips are drawn inwards as if to say ‘mmmm’ in reaction to liking the beer, the experts claim. Meanwhile, the ‘lip press’, where the lips are pressed down on top of one another, is thought to occur when a person really did not like the taste of the beer. A total of 151 Japanese beer consumers were recruited for the study, and asked to try three different beer samples by the four scientists at Brewing Science Laboratories, a research lab belonging to brewing giant Asahi. Supposedly the brand thinks this research into how consumers respond to different beers could be vital for the brewer’s further development. “Relying solely on explicit liking could lead to a misunderstanding of consumers’ real intentions, ultimately resulting in the failure of a new product after its launch on the market,” the team says in its paper. “Analysing facial expressions as an implicit measurement may provide a better understanding of consumers’ preferences at a subconscious level by capturing their objective responses to products after tasting.”

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The Nightcap: 18 March

Shedloads of valuable American whisky goes under the hammer, racing driver Jenson Button releases blended Scotch, and a vodka to raise money for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. All this…

Shedloads of valuable American whisky goes under the hammer, racing driver Jenson Button releases blended Scotch, and a vodka to raise money for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. All this and more in the Nightcap: 18 March edition. 

The first rays of spring sun have reminded of a story about David Hockney’s mother travelling from her home in Yorkshire to meet her son, now a famous artist, at his home in Los Angeles. Her response to the glories of California was simply: “all this sunshine and not a washing line in sight!” Not sure what connection this has to drinks, but it always makes me laugh. 

Anyway…. On the blog this week we looked at a Limited Edition Slane Whiskey and gave customers the chance to win a trip to Slane Castle in Ireland. We also announced the three lucky winners of our Howler Head competition to the UFC in London on 19 March. The Irish theme continued with a round-up of St. Patrick’s Day cocktails, a look at the great Redbreast 12 Year Old, and Millie Milliken showed us how to make a Black Velvet, a blend of Guinness and Champagne. Then Henry headed to old Kentucky for a taste of the delicious Four Roses Small Batch Select, Nick Morgan asked whether you can hurry the ageing process in whiskey, while James Evans conducted some cask experiments of his own on a rather smaller scale. We finished the week with a round-up of some delicious mother-pleasing fizz because there’s a special day coming soon. 

Right, on with the Nightcap: 18 March edition!

Staritsky-levitsky-private-cellar-martini-temp1

Tastes good and does good too

Raise money for Ukraine with Staritsky Levitsky vodka

To help raise money for the British Red Cross Ukrainian Appeal, spirits importer Emporia has donated 40 cases of Staritsky Levitsky Private Cellar vodka. The vodka is distilled near Lviv in the west of Ukraine, and will be available to buy from Master of Malt for £50 a bottle from today (18 March) while stocks last, with all net proceeds going to the Appeal. In addition, bars including the London Cocktail Club at its venues, and various Scottish bars such as the Nightcap, Panda & Sons, Hey Palu, The Voyage of Buck and Draffens will be offering Staritsky Levitsky cocktails with proceeds going to the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. There will also be an industry fundraiser on 20 March at The Covent Garden Social Club. Emporia CEO James Rackham’s wife Lyubov is Ukrainian and they have family still in the country. He commented: “Like everyone else, we are feeling helpless at the situation unfolding in Ukraine and my wife and I want to support in any way we can. With Staritsky Levitsky vodka we have a way to help here in the UK, which is very important to us.” 

IWSC 2022 Seaweed

‘Outstanding’, not my words but the words of the IWSC

Atom’s whisky gold haul at IWSC

Brrr brrr brrr!” – that’s the sound of various people blowing their own trumpets here at Master of Malt towers. That’s because our in-house drinks boffins, Atom Brands, have done rather well at the IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition) this week. We don’t tend to cover awards here at the Nightcap, mainly because there are so many of them, but when it’s the home team, how could we resist? And what a haul of medals it was: Bathtub Gin, Bathtub Gin Grapefruit & Rosemary and Rumbullion! all picked up silvers; Darkness 8 Year Old, Green Isle, and Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old scored golds, while Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire was awarded a ‘gold outstanding.’ Outstanding! Head of whisky Sam Simmons commented: “In a fiercely competitive set, we have not just one but TWO of the top 10 highest scoring 10 Year Old Islay whiskies Aerolite Lyndsay (Gold 97 points) and Seaweed (98 Gold Outstanding). Only one other product achieved this level of praise, Laphroaig Sherry Oak Finish 10 Year Old, and that is absolutely massive recognition.” The other sound heard reverberating around the streets of Tonbridge was the popping of Champagne corks as the Atom team partied responsibly long into the night. 

Sotherby's rare American whiskeys

What a haul!

Sotheby’s announces “most valuable auction of American whiskey ever” 

American whiskey fans, it’s time to cash in your Premium Bonds and have a look down the back of the sofa because Sotheby’s in New York has just unveiled a mouth-watering collection of rare American whiskeys which will go under the hammer on 19 March at 10am EDT. The 750-lot auction has an estimate of $825,000-1.2 million. Sotheby’s is billing it “the most valuable auction of American whiskey ever staged.” It is based on two collections: the American Muscle Collection put together by muscle car enthusiast Rich “RJ” Gottlieb; and The Three Continents Collection Part III, the final part of a massive collection of 5,000 bottles. Highlights include Pappy Van Winkle Double Vertical 2020 & 2021 (estimate $16,000-24,000), Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon 21 Year Old “The Wheated Patriot” 1993, ($8,000-12,000) and Michter’s Single Barrel Rye 25 Year Old NV ($5,000-6,000). Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist, commented: “American Whiskey stands apart owing to its strength of character, and over the last two years has shown the beginnings of a meteoric rise in the secondary market.” If all this is too much for you, we highly recommend taking a look at Four Roses Small Batch Select, a snip at under £60 a bottle. 

Jenson Button Coachbuilt whisky

Blending a whisky is a lot like building a car, apparently

Racing driver Jenson Button launches his own whisky

Watch out Johnnie Walker, there’s a new blended Scotch whisky in town and it comes with a celebrity endorsement. Called Coachbuilt, it’s a collaboration between amusingly-named motor racing driver Jenson Button and top whisky expert George Koutsakis. Apparently it’s inspired by the similarities between whisky blending and coachbuilding, ie. making a bespoke motorcar. Mr Button explained: “The timing was brilliant – I was in the middle of launching our coachbuilding company Radford when I got introduced to George as he was on a mission to create the ultimate blended whisky. I’ve always loved my whisky but didn’t know a huge amount about the blending world, however the more we talked the parallels between blending and coachbuilding became pretty apparent. He then sent me an early sample of what he was working on and that was that, I asked how I could get involved and two years later here we are!” Koutsakis added: “Coachbuilt began from a realisation that blended Scotch whisky does not receive the praise it deserves worldwide. With our whisky we cast the spotlight on the immense skill required to take components from dozens of distilleries across the country, and piece them together, to create a liquid defined by balance and complexity.” Coachbuilt costs £42 and is bottled at 46% ABV. At the moment it’s only available from www.coachbuiltwhisky.com but we will let you know if we get some in.

The latest bottle from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is from… Ireland

SMWS celebrates release of 150th bottling – and it’s not a Scotch

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has gone rogue with its 150th distillery bottling because…. Prepare yourself… It’s not from Scotland! Instead it comes from a mystery distillery in south west Ireland. Named Cask 150.1 ‘Let’s Go West!’, what we do know is that whiskey from this distillery has never before been bottled as a single cask, so that’s exciting. And they’ve released it just in time for St Patrick’s Day (which was yesterday) – what lucky timing! Specifically, the whiskey is seven years old, having spent the first three years in a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel before being transferred to a first-fill ex-rye whiskey barrel. It boasts a spicy and sweet flavour profile, specifically ‘chocolate and physalis cupcake made with muscovado sugar and a pinch of pepper’ according to the press bumf. “For our landmark 150th bottling, we wanted to showcase the journey of our never-ending quest for quality and flavour,” said Kai Ivalo, spirits director. “Choosing an Irish distillery to mark this milestone occasion truly shows the adventurous spirit of the Society – celebrating our vibrant spirit no matter its source.” It’s available to members via ballot entry at £75.

Jacine and Paul Rutasikwa - MATUGGA DISTILLERS 10

Look at all that lovely rum

UK’s first black female-owned distillery Matugga launches crowdfunding campaign

Have you tried rum from the Matugga Distillery? It doesn’t just make exceptional drinks like Matugga and Liv rums, but happens to be the UK’s first black female-owned distillery, founded by Jacine Rutasikwa and her husband, Ugandan-born head distiller Paul Rutasikwa, based in Scotland. Oh, and it’s just launched a £300,000 equity crowdfunding campaign so that they can take over the world prepare for global expansion and increase output eight-fold. It aims to become a ‘cane to cask’ producer, with Paul hoping to develop and work on a sugarcane plantation in Uganda. Clearly there’s a thirst for it, as the UK rum market grew by 37% in just two years from 2019, amounting to £1.3bn last year. Now rum-lovers can actually own part of this unique rum distillery thanks to the campaign. “When starting a business, black entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs and particularly black female entrepreneurs face huge barriers and often struggle to get to the next phase for a number of reasons – whether its access to finance, networks, education or mentorship,” says MD Jacine. “It’s not very often that you see black-owned businesses on equity-based crowdfunding platforms, and we’re looking forward to launching our campaign to the general public.  It’s an exciting time for our distillery and we’re inviting rum lovers to back our business and help us take Scottish rum worldwide.” Want a slice of the pie? You can invest in the campaign here.

Snakes in wine

Pint of snakebite anyone?

And finally… Snake preserved in wine bites man

In Britain we have a drink that’s particularly popular among students called ‘snakebite’ – a mixture of beer and cider. In China, though, they do things more literally. It was reported this week that a man in Heilongjiang opened a jar of wine in which three snakes had been preserved, and one of them came back to life and bit him. According to Newsweek, he was trying to treat his son – snake wine is a popular remedy in traditional Chinese medicine. The production process involves sealing live snakes in a jar of wine. But if the jar isn’t filled to the top, then the snakes can survive on tiny quantities of air and being cold-blooded can shut down their bodies so they appear to be dead. Then when you open the jar, snakes alive! Quite literally. The man, apparently, has recovered from the incident though we have not been told what happened to the snake. The moral of the story is don’t drown snakes in a jar of wine. 

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The Nightcap: 11 March

Women in whisky, eco-friendly brands, and a party for dog mums who love vermouth. All this and more in the Nightcap: 11 March edition. Pour a glass and dive in….

Women in whisky, eco-friendly brands, and a party for dog mums who love vermouth. All this and more in the Nightcap: 11 March edition. Pour a glass and dive in.

For some people, a great day means they saw a particular train or bird, for others, it’s the joy of seeing people react to your carefully crafted meme. Whatever floats your boat, we say. For people like us, getting geeky about the world of booze is our idea of a good time. And that means keeping up to date with all the latest happenings. Which is exactly what The Nightcap is for.

But before we dive in, first a recap of what was on the blog this week. We got our International Women’s Day groove on with a host of fantastic whiskey makers, founders, and more including Fawn Weaver, Allison Parc, Stephanie Macleod, and Annabel Thomas. We also got into the spirit of Speyside by celebrating the return of its whisky festival, made a right Hanky Panky of our Cocktail of the Week series, considered the way Irish whiskey can embrace a whole new world of wood maturation, and had a bourbon that drove us bananas. Phew! What a week, and there’s more to come.

So, let’s get on with it. It’s The Nightcap: 11 March edition!

Rosebank stills are in

Careful now!

Stills arrive at the revived Rosebank distillery

We’ve been eagerly following the process of Ian MacLeod’s distillers’ project to rebuild the Rosebank which began back in 2017. Now it looks like the legendary distillery which closed in 1993 will be open by this summer as the stills have just arrived from Forsyths of Rothes. You can see a video of the stills arriving here. The original ones were stolen from the derelict site in 2008. The three new stills have been made according to the original blueprints from Abercrombie Coppersmiths. Richard Forsyth Senior, managing director of Forsyths, explained the process: “To this day, we still use our forefathers’ hand hammering techniques to shape copper into carefully crafted pot stills. Of course, we’ve tried to mechanise it as much as possible, but the finishes we produce are still very much hands-on, and it’s a very physical job.” According to distillery manager Malcolm Rennie they are “quite different from your average still.” He continued: “The wash still in particular appears to have its traditional swan neck lopped off and capped and the lyne arm attached to the side of the neck, while the Spirit still is on the shorter dumpier side. All these variations in shape and size are what ultimately contribute further complexity to the Rosebank spirit.” The unique Rosebank character comes from a combination of triple distillation and worm tub condensers to create a fruity but rich new make. Rennie describes the process as “a nonsensical jigsaw puzzle” that nevertheless produced some of the most prized whisky in Scotland, and now will do once again.

The Nightcap: 11 March

You won’t be seeing this sight much more

Stolichnaya vodka renamed ‘Stoli’

The Stoli Group has officially changed the name of its Stolichnaya vodka brand to ‘Stoli’ due to Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. The brand’s billionaire owner Yuri Shefler said it was his “vehement position” on Putin’s regime that was behind the switch. “While I have been exiled from Russia since 2000 due to my opposition to Putin, I have remained proud of the Stolichnaya brand,” Shefler said in a statement. “More than anything, I wish for ‘Stoli’ to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine.” Because of the brand’s complex history, however, it actually exists in two different guises. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, both ex-Soviet and Russian companies continue to make a version of the vodka So there will still be a spirit manufactured and marketed in Russia under its original name Stolichnaya. However, the version that we’ll see throughout much of the rest of the world is Shefler’s product: ‘Stoli’. It’s manufactured and bottled in Latvia, which means it can avoid the fate a growing number of Russian businesses which are  facing boycotts over the war in Ukraine. This isn’t actually the first time the Stoli Group or Shefler have sought to distance the brand from perceptions of continued ties to the Russian government. After Putin enacted a number of draconian laws in 2013 cracking down on the country’s gay community, the vodka makers publicly condemned Putin.

The Nightcap: 11 March

If you have any info, you know what to do

Gin and vodka worth £85k stolen in raid

It seems booze theft is becoming an increasing problem as more than £85,000 of gin and vodka has been stolen from the Yorkshire Dales Distillery. Co-founder Tony Brotherton, who set up the business in Catterick Garrison with his wife Sarah five years ago after leaving the army, says the raid had “cleaned out” months’ worth of work after around 5,000 bottles were taken on Saturday. Mr Brotherton said two “suspicious vehicles” were spotted outside the distillery on Saturday and the theft was discovered the following day, adding the robbers used a chain attached to a lorry to pull open shipping container doors where the alcohol was stored. North Yorkshire Police has asked for anybody who saw anything suspicious over the weekend to get in touch, in particular for any of the products being sold “in an unusual location or circumstances which don’t seem right”. As you can imagine, it’s been a devastating week for the distillery. Brotherson says the theft had left him feeling “absolutely gutted”, adding that he feels “sick to the pit of my stomach. They’ve literally cleaned it out. This is our money, our hard work. It’s six months’ worth of stock, in practical terms. We’ve got to find the time and money to replace it all,” he said. If you’d like to help them out, you can always support the distillery by picking up and enjoying its tasty drinks.

The Nightcap: 11 March

With Sarah’s track record we’re expecting great things from the range

Ex-Macallan whisky maker teams up with Craigellachie Hotel

The Craigellachie Hotel is developing a new collection of spirits and sodas with the expertise of former Macallan whisky maker Sarah Burgess. After nearly 25 years in whisky, managing the likes of Glenkinchie and Clynelish before leading projects such as The Macallan Genesis and collaborations with Pantone and Sir Peter Blake, Burgess left the Edrington-owned single malt brand in January 2022 after nearly five years. Now the Aberlour native has returned home to collaborate with one of the world’s oldest whisky hotels to lead the creation of The Craigellachie Collection, a new range of sodas that tell the story of Speyside. The line of sodas has been created to “change the way people think about whisky”, Burgess says, who adds that she wants to approach whisky “in a positive and inclusive way”. The flexibility of these sodas mean you can mix them with whisky, gin or Tequila.” The collection will include a sparkling water, a still water, a tonic water, a light tonic water, a ginger ale, and a grapefruit soda, made with botanicals from Speyside, as well as Highland Spring water. The first reveal will be at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (27 April-2 May) before going on general sale, while follow-ups are in development. This includes a second six-strong range of sodas, a Speyside gin and vodka, and a limited edition line of whiskies, a beer, and a cider. Busy times ahead for Burgess and The Craigellachie Hotel!

The Nightcap: 11 March

We’re certain Shannon will shine in whatever she does next

Shannon Tebay to leave American Bar

In the Washington Post last week award-winning drinks writer Will Hawkes exclusively revealed that Shannon Tebay was leaving the American Bar at the Savoy after less than a year in charge. Scoop! Tebay arrived in August last year in a blaze of publicity including an interview on this very blog. “I hope to honour the historical significance of the bar and modernise bartending culture, championing under-represented perspectives and re-evaluating best practices. I want to diversify the staff as much as possible. It is the responsibility of hospitality leaders to make positive changes in our industry,” she said at the time. It’s not clear why she has now decided to leave. A spokesman for the Savoy commented: “Shannon decided to move on from The Savoy in January. She thanks the team for their time, and contribution and hard work. Her decision has been nothing to do with them or the Savoy; but she is choosing to move on for personal reasons.” Hawkes’ interview, however, suggests that this might not be the whole story as he quotes her talking about “a cultural mismatch” in her job. Whatever the true reason is, we look forward to seeing what Tebay does next. 

The Nightcap: 11 March

Our Whisky founder, Becky Paskin

Our Whisky launches foundation to back women in whisky 

Our Whisky has been relaunched as a non-profit organisation in support of women in the whisky industry. Unveiled to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March, the Our Whisky Foundation will offer qualification and internship schemes, a mentorship programme plus seminars and workshops. An annual summit and awards will also be held, featuring key speakers and industry leaders, while an online magazine called The Cut, edited by our own Millie Milliken, has been launched to cover career advice, diversity and inclusion initiatives, interviews and more. There is also a whisky subscription service, also called Our Whisky, which has been unveiled alongside. The person behind all this is spirits writer Becky Paskin who started Our Whisky in 2018 as a social media movement to champion diversity among whisky drinkers and those within the industry, but felt that now was the time to evolve. “By working in collaboration with the global whisky community, the Our Whisky Foundation’s aim is to challenge whisky’s outdated gendered image and help women to thrive in their careers,” Paskin explains. “This is such an exciting time to be a woman working in whisky, and it’s my ambition that the foundation will be a positive driver in ensuring the current and next-generation reach their potential, and be celebrated as part of the wonderful world of whisky.” 

The Nightcap: 11 March

The future of packaging?

Pernod Ricard teams up with Ecospirits

Pernod Ricard is teaming up with spirits distribution system Ecospirits to improve its environmental credentials with closed-loop packaging technology. Brands like Absolut Vodka, Beefeater Gin, and Havana Club Rum will soon be sporting the packaging, which appears as a box, is machine washable with a screw top, and features a QR code for tracking. The partnership, said to be a first of its kind for a global brand portfolio, will kick off first in up to 80 bars, restaurants and hotels in Singapore and Hong Kong, before expanding the programme to other key markets and brands in Asia and beyond. Using the Ecospirits carbon calculator, the initiative is projected to reduce the carbon emissions of packaging and distribution for the participating Pernod Ricard brands by an average of 66%, when compared with the traditional format of single-use glass bottles. It forms part of our Bar World of Tomorrow initiative, and promotes more sustainable and responsible bar practices through the training of bartenders. “True to our vision, we strongly believe in working with others across the industry to strengthen what we do collectively,” says Hermance De La Bastide, vice-president, corporate affairs and sustainability, Pernod Ricard Asia. “Ecospirits is a wonderful partner to help our industry minimise waste and its carbon footprint, while also protecting our natural resources.” 

The Nightcap: 11 March

This is less than 1/5 of the CO2 emissions of a standard glass bottle

Avallen launches innovative new paper bottle

And Pernod Ricard isn’t the only one getting its green on. Since it was launched, Avallen has made a commitment to creating environmentally friendly Calvados and its new FrugalPac paper bottle is its latest innovation. Made from 94% recycled paperboard with a food-grade pouch, has less than 1/5 of the CO2 emissions of a standard glass bottle and weighs only 85g, with lower transportation emissions as well. This results in less carbon footprint, while also being less fragile (nothing is 100% Hermes proof, sadly). “Packaging is an area where there is room for improved environmental performance. Spirits have almost always come in single-use glass bottles, with large embodied carbon emissions, as well as the raw material extraction of sand,” says Avallen’s co-founder Tim Etherington-Judge. “The FrugalPac bottle wins on lower carbon emissions as well as being robust, is great for outdoor events, and is visually stunning with wrap-around branding. We are very excited to get our new bottle out into the world”.

The Nightcap: 11 March

Congratulations, Andrea!

Andrea Montague becomes head of advocacy at Edrington UK

You know you’re goddamn good at what you do when someone creates a role, especially for you to do your thing. That’s what has happened for Andrea Montague, who has become head of advocacy at Edrington UK. In a new position for the business, Montague will lead brand advocacy, education, and training, which means taking care of stuff like bartender engagement activities and industry events, across the company’s wide portfolio of brands. If you’ve not checked it recently, it’s bananas. Edrington has The Macallan, Highland Park, The Glenrothes, Brugal 1888, House of Suntory, Courvoisier, Laphroaig, Maker’s Mark, and more, all under one umbrella. That’s even better than the one Mary Poppins had that could fly and stuff. Anyway, Montague has over 15 years’ experience in the drinks industry, working in both prestigious establishments and for big brands, and will now be whipping all the brand ambassadors, whisky specialists, and serve specialists into shape. We wish her the best of luck and hope she helps all kinds of people discover the delightful world of dark spirits. 

The Nightcap: 11 March

This is an excellent picture. Look at its face.

And finally… ‘Apawritif Hour’, anyone? El Bandarra hosts Mother’s Day party for dog mums

Mother’s Day isn’t that far away (27 March, don’t panic you still have plenty of time) and so now we can expect all the usual promotional activity from brands who want to help you pay tribute to your mums. But not everyone is celebrating the occasion the same. El Bandarra is planning to treat a different type of mother: dog mums. By teaming up with Mama Shelter, the aperitif brand from Barcelona is asking you to join the ‘Apawritif Hour’ on Tuesday 29 March (6pm – 7.30pm) to hang out and enjoy drinks and nibbles in the company of many furry friends. Tickets are £19.99 per person and can be purchased via Eventbrite, and include two El Bandarra Spritzes as well as small tapas plates of Manchego, Catalan Tomato Bread, Olives, and cured Spanish meats. El Bandarra brand ambassador Alexa Farrow will also be shaking up cocktails inspired by wild ingredients you’ll find on a dog walk.  “Because good mums go to heaven, dog mums go to parties!” Apparently. Cat mums presumably have Disney+ accounts and great snacks. Choose your fighter.

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The Nightcap: 4 March

English whisky looks to add some definition, Leo DiCaprio buys into Champagne, and the Queen has some very, very old Port released in her honour. It’s The Nightcap! We’re into…

English whisky looks to add some definition, Leo DiCaprio buys into Champagne, and the Queen has some very, very old Port released in her honour. It’s The Nightcap!

We’re into another month now as time marches on. Ha. Ha. Ha. Anyway, we don’t know about you, but we feel like there’s always something going on now with events starting to come back in a big way. And we’re not really sure how to juggle all of it. How did we ever make regular commitments before? A night in and some light reading is the antidote, so we’re going to indulge in another edition of The Nightcap. Which is what you’re doing right now too. Great minds.

There’s also that blog thing we do for you to enjoy, which this week was filled with love for That Boutique-y Gin Company on its fifth birthday (independent bottlers of gin – they grow up so fast), recommendations for St. Patrick’s Day, and cracking drinks like a rule-breaking brandy or the classic Vodka Martini. Elsewhere, Lauren was rumbling through British rum, Millie was getting some top tips on whisky and food pairing, and Joel Davidge from the Cocktail Service made his first appearance to talk NFTs.

Now, let’s get on with The Nightcap: 4 March edition!

The Nightcap: 4 March

The folks at Copper Rivet are one of the founders of the guild

English whisky distillers submit GI application

The process to legally define what can be called ‘English whisky‘ has taken a big step this week as the new English Whisky Guild has lodged an application for a geographical indication (GI). The body, formed by a lot of the industry’s most notable brands to represent the category, is aiming to ensure consistent, understandable standards for all current and prospective whisky distillers. The proposed rules take a lot of understandable inspiration from the likes of Scotch and Irish whiskey, but also some interesting new developments. For example, all raw materials (i.e. grains) must be of UK origin, while whisky must be matured in casks made from wood, but oak is not explicitly required. Although if you don’t use oak, it must be clearly stated on the product label. Additionally, English single malt will have to be batch distilled at least twice in a copper still, and straight-necked pots are allowed, while the drafted GI requires two batch distillations in a copper still and tolerates the presence of a column plate on top of a pot still, “as long as it’s not continuous distillation”. Fascinating stuff. EWG board member Stephen Russell of Copper Rivet Distillery summarises “there is a clear desire not to try to be ‘Scottish whisky south of the border”. Whether the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) responds in kind is something we’ll have to wait on, however, with the group expecting to know within the next six months.

The Nightcap: 4 March

Must have developed a taste for the stuff filming The Great Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio buys into Telmont Champagne 

Champagne Telmont is welcoming a bit of stardust into the fold this week as actor Leonardo DiCaprio has come on board as an investor in the company. It is a brand with a firmly sustainable approach to Champagne that is heavily focused on preserving its land and its biodiversity, as well as reducing its environmental footprint. By 2025 its entire vineyard will be 100% organic agriculture, for example. This clearly ticks the boxes for the Hollywood star, who’s a very outspoken supporter of tackling the causes and consequences of global warming. Initiatives Telmont employs are the likes of using 100% renewable electricity, 85% recycled glass, and renouncing the use of all herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers. It’s this sort of action that makes DiCaprio “proud to be an investor,” according to the statement released by the brand. Champagne Telmont chairman Ludovic du Plessis adds that “Leonardo DiCaprio’s decision to become a shareholder sends Telmont a strong message of support that will encourage us as we carry out our ambitious plans. We share the same convictions and the same commitment to protecting the environment. The House has one foot in tradition and the other in modernity, but both firmly rooted in the terroir! We aim to act in the name of Mother Nature in everything we do.” 

The Nightcap: 4 March

Dima’s doing its bit

Industry shows support for Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted many within the drinks world to show support for Ukraine. We made our own statement this week as pressure on Russian brands has been rising, while the US government put sanctions on state-run liquor stores to stop selling Russian-made vodka. In London, a number of bars are removing all Russian-made alcohol from their venues, like Nightcap, the operator of London Cocktail Club, Adventure Bar Group and Barrio Bars, as well as Arc Inspirations, which operates the Banyan and Manahatta bar brands across the UK. Recently-opened Ukrainian bar Pinch is launching a cocktail fundraiser, pledging 15% of its profits to the Ukrainian armed forces, and Ukrainian vodka brand Dima’s has pledged to donate 100% of proceeds on its bottled cocktail range to Ukrainian relief charities. That’s all of the money (not just profit) of the drinks made by The Gibson’s Marian Beke and Nightjar’s Tony Pescatori. You can find out more about Pinch’s fundraising and see the full range of Dima’s cocktails by clicking the links on their names. For the latter, use the discount code SUPPORTUKRAINE.

The Nightcap: 4 March

You’re looking at a history maker, in more ways than one

Victoria Eady Butler makes master blender history

One of our most favourite people in the world has to be the master blender of Uncle Nearest, the wonderful Victoria Eady Butler. Not only is she absolutely tremendous fun, but she really knows how to put together a great batch of whiskey. Butler’s so good, in fact, she’s made remarkable history this week. She’s just become the first-ever back-to-back master blender of the year. The fifth-generation descendant of the man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, Nearest Green, now holds the title for Whisky Magazine’s 2021 and 2022 American Icons of Whisky Awards. She only took on the role in 2019, having spent the bulk of her career in the department of justice, and her meteoric rise suggests that distilling is in the bones of the Green family. “It is impossible for me to put into words how significant this is to me and my family,” said Eady Butler. “Less than five years ago, almost no one knew the name Nearest Green outside of my tiny hometown of Lynchburg. Now, he is well known as the best whiskey maker the world never knew, and the undisputed godfather of Tennessee whiskey. To be able to add my own legacy of whiskey-making next to his, well heck – ya’ll are going to make me cry. This is truly incredible.” Congratulations, Victoria. We’re absolutely made up for you.

The Nightcap: 4 March

Congratulations, Barry!

Laphroaig names new distillery manager

Early this year we reported that Laphroaig was losing John Campbell as a distillery manager, which felt like a big blow for the brand given his more than 25 years of service – but it would appear the Islay distillery has found the ideal replacement. Barry MacAffer is taking the position on a permanent basis, having obviously impressed while working as acting distillery manager recently after more than 10 years of being at the distillery. He joined Laphroaig in 2011, initially looking after the malt floors and warehousing of the distillery, and since then worked in the operation and production side of the whisky-distilling world. In 2016, he was appointed assistant distillery manager, so he really was a natural choice. “Barry MacAffer was the standout candidate to become Laphroaig’s distillery manager and is uniquely suited to carry forward the legacy of Laphroaig, and continue to build the future of our skilled and passionate distillery team,” says Francois Bazini, managing director, House of Scotch, gin and Irish brands, at Laphroaig owner Beam Suntory. “An Islay native, Barry has worked at the distillery for over a decade and spent the last five years working closely with his predecessor giving him a deep knowledge of our history, operations, partners and local community. We’re proud to have an Ileach in charge and are confident in the future of our iconic whisky.”

The Nightcap: 4 March

Let’s hope Her Maj has some cracking cheese to hand

Taylor’s releases very very old Port for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Our very own Ian Buxton was just bemoaning the lack of special bottlings to commemorate the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Well, moan no more Ian, because Royal Warrant holders Taylor’s has just announced the release of a special aged tawny Port to celebrate 70 years on the throne. How old is this special Port? Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s head honcho, isn’t saying. But it is being dubbed ‘very very old’ so we reckon it contains some pretty venerable wines. He explained: “This exceptional Port is drawn from our extensive reserves of the finest wood-aged wines, which have been maturing in seasoned oak casks since the Queen succeeded to the throne, silently attesting to Her Majesty’s extraordinary reign as the longest-serving monarch in British history. We are delighted to celebrate such an exceptional commemoration with the launch of a unique Port wine.” Only 2,000 bottles have been filled and they’re going for £350 each. Having tried various Taylor’s old tawnies, we think this is likely to be worth every penny and as Bridge put it: “The perfect glass to raise a toast to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

The Nightcap: 4 March

Could the drinks selection at Stamford Bridge be about to change

Drinks entrepreneurs eyeing Chelsea FC

Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich made a big statement this week as he confirmed that he intends to sell up amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and sanctions being levelled against Russian oligarchs and banks. The billionaire who purchased the club in 2003, won’t have a hard time selling it appears, with a number of parties declaring their interest. And a few of them have a connection to the world of drinks, like Hansjorg Wyss, the Swiss billionaire who has a reported worth of £4.3 billion and owns the Halter Ranch winery in California, as well as Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskey co-founder and UFC world champion Connor McGregor. The latter tweeted that he was considering an approach, although how serious it would be is another matter, while Wyss revealed he had been approached by an intermediary with the opportunity to purchase the London-based football club. “Like all other oligarchs, he is also in a panic. Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly. I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.” Perhaps Stamford Bridge will soon be stocking Halter Ranch “sustainably grown Bordeaux and Rhône-style wines” or Proper No. Twelve’s Irish whiskey?

And finally… cocktails with soup?!?!

When you hear that a brand wants to help you “shake up your usual cocktail experience”, it usually involves doing something that isn’t particularly revolutionary, like a pre-batched serve or a classic bar tool that’s been slightly tweaked. Campbell’s, however, has definitely given us reason to question everything. Yes, that’s Campbell’s as in the people who make soup. The brand has launched a bunch of recipes featuring broth. Mushroom Truffle Daiquiri, anyone? A Pho Mango Bourbon Sour, perhaps? What about a French Onion Martini? Ok, we made that last one up, but could you even tell? There’s even food pairings you can cook with the same broth. But what’s most surprising is that a) the soup brand launched all of this in November and we somehow missed it, and b) soup cocktails aren’t actually a new thing. Look it up and there’s references to blending the two going back years. Don’t get us wrong, we love soup and we really love cocktails, but marrying the two together? That Pho Sour is going to have to be really good to convince us.

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