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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: The Nightcap

The Nightcap: 18 June

Distilleries being built or reborn, a light at the end of the tariff tunnel, and the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky. News like this is what The Nightcap is…

Distilleries being built or reborn, a light at the end of the tariff tunnel, and the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky. News like this is what The Nightcap is all about. Let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Well, the UK’s grand reopening on Monday has all gone a bit wrong, hasn’t it? Good thing we have Father’s Day to keep us occupied for the time being at least. Unless you forgot… You didn’t forget, did you? I mean, it’s not like we didn’t try and help. For those of you who did remember, why not kick back with a celebratory dram and enjoy all the latest from the world of booze? You’ve earned it.

Over on our blog, we and our friends at Bunnahabhain Distillery were in a giving mood so we created a new competition to help you to get to Islay during Fèis Ìle 2022. Elsewhere, Adam paid tribute to Charles MacLean who is set to pick up a shiny MBE from the Queen, then made the simple and refreshing Gin Rickey and found out how J&B Rare became a classic blend. Henry, meanwhile, enjoyed a very special dry sherry and picked out our top ten gins for 2021. Lucy then returned to offer tips on pairing BBQ and booze before Millie recommended 12 exciting new bars to visit now that we can finally do that sort of thing again(ish).

Over on the Clubhouse App, The Nightcap returns at 3 pm today to discuss the booziest of news and the growth (and growing pains) of Irish whiskey with our guests Louise McGuane, Mark McLaughlin, and Kristiane Sherry!

Now on with The Nightcap: 18 June edition!

Gordon & MacPhail unveils world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky 

There was a lot going on back in February 1940. David Jason was born. Pinocchio premiered in New York City. Plus, you know, all the war stuff. But something seemingly unremarkable happened elsewhere. A cask of whisky was laid down. So what, right? Whisky is popped into barrels all the time. That’s how it works. But this one is special. This is cask No. 340, containing Glenlivet spirit filled under the watch of Gordon & MacPhail owner George Urquhart. And it has stayed in that cask for 80 years. Longer than any other Scotch whisky in history. And now Gordon & MacPhail is ready to unveil it to the world. The Generations range from Gordon & MacPhail has previously presented some of the longest-matured single malt Scotch whisky ever to be bottled. But this one is the daddy of them all. Bottled at 44.9% ABV, the 80-year-old single malt is said to be “full of vibrant flavour”. Well, they were hardly going to say “yeah, it’s alright I guess. A bit woody”. A total of just 250 decanters, created by acclaimed architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE, will house one of the world’s most precious spirits, which will be released in September 2021. Decanter number #1, meanwhile, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in early October 2021 with proceeds going to Scottish charity Trees for Life whose mission is to rewild the Caledonian Forest. There’s no word on the price yet, but in 2015, Gordon & MacPhail sold a 75-year-old Mortlach single malt for £20,000. So that should give you an idea. It’s a fitting tribute to the man referred to as ‘the father of single malt’, as an 80th anniversary is celebrated with oak. What a shame none of us will ever taste it. 

The Nightcap: 18 June

Can we just appreciate what an amazing stock image this is?

US suspends tariffs on Scotch whisky.

We’ve spoken a fair amount about the tariff war that’s been going on in booze before so we won’t go over the details again, but we can happily report that after a couple of months of things moving in the right direction, two major breakthrough have been struck. The UK and US have come to an agreement which will see the 25% tariff on Scotch whisky dropped, which is estimated to have cost the industry £600 million. Karen Betts from the SWA described it as “very good news for Scotch whisky”. And there was more good news as the US and EU have agreed to a five-year suspension of tariffs on products including vodka and Cognac. In a statement issued on 15 June, US trade representative ambassador Katherine Tai called the agreement “significant progress” towards ending the years-long Boeing-Airbus feud. As you can imagine, the suspension has been welcomed by a number of trade groups, including the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus).“The five-year suspension of these tariffs on distilled spirits is happening at a critical time for the US hospitality industry,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of Discus. “Today’s announcement is an important building block to reset the bilateral relationship and we urge the administration to build on this positive momentum.” But Swonger wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He says that the continued 25% tariff on American whiskey that the EU and UK both impose as part of the steel and aluminium dispute has “severely damaged” the industry and that “the United States’ largest spirits export category will remain at a serious competitive disadvantage in our two most important export market”. But, a joint statement released by the US and the EU said they “will engage in discussions to allow the resolution of existing differences on measures regarding steel and aluminium before the end of the year”. So let’s hope the good news keeps coming.

The Nightcap: 18 June

More Ardgowan whisky will be on the way before you know it…

Green light for Ardgowan Distillery following £8.4m investment

Ardgowan Distillery kicks off a string of distillery-based excitement in this week’s Nightcap by announcing that work will begin this year on its new distillery on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip. An £8.4 million equity investment into the business will allow construction to commence on the million-litre single malt distillery and visitor centre less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow. The plan is to create first-class food, drink, and retail tourist experience to reel in tourists, while locals will be pleased to know the distillery and visitor centre is estimated to create up to 30 new jobs within five years. The first phase of the distillery will incorporate two copper stills and six washbacks, but the output can be doubled to two million litres with the addition of two further stills plus washbacks in an already-approved second phase. The new distillery will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, a grain and industrial alcohol producer founded in 1896 and sadly destroyed in the May Blitz of 1941. £7.2m of the new equity comes from Austrian investor Roland Grain, the owner and CEO of IT company Grain GmbH who has a long track record of investment in distilleries and presumably a love of nominative determinism. His highly successful record includes chipping into the Cotswolds Distillery, the East London Liquor Company, and Manly Spirits in Australia, as well as Potstill Spirits Trading (Austria’s largest whisky importer) and UK spirits business Distil Plc. It would appear the project is in good hands.

The Nightcap: 18 June

Live like MacLean, and drink the bloody thing!

Dictador teams up with Port house Niepoort for £800 rum

Through the magic of global telecommunications, we were beamed into the cellars Porto in the company of Dictador’s master blender Hernan Parra, winemaker Dirk van der Nierpoort, ex-Edrington head honcho Ken Grier and, Charles MacLean MBE, for it is he. They were there to mark the launch of the latest addition to the Dictador 2 Masters collection. This ninth iteration saw four vintage Columbian rums from 1971, ‘74, ‘78 and ‘80 aged for 12-16 months in Port pipes. Parra described the collaboration as “the symbol of merging family traditions, high-quality products and ever-evolving creativity.” Niepoort added: “Producing such a special rum with a good friend seems the perfect combination for such a special bottling.” The result is a rum of astonishing complexity, length, and, it has to be said, quite challenging dryness. The finishing period does not seem to have sweetened the spirit at all, which was Nierpoort’s intention. “Most rums are boring,” he said. Fittingly, each bottle of Dictador 2 Masters Niepoort proudly bears the two men’s fingerprints. Only 620 have been filled and will be on sale for £825 from Farr Vintners. Over the course of the hour-long event, Ken Grier tirelessly pointed out what a good investment this is (compare with the price of Scotch whisky of similar age), while MacLean retorted, “I’d rather people drank it.” Then made his point the best way possible, by repeatedly refilling his glass. Give that man a knighthood!

The Nightcap: 18 June

Ooooh. Doesn’t it look swanky? Hopefully, we’ll see it for ourselves soon…

The Glenlivet shows off new visitor centre

The Glenlivet is having quite the week, seeing one of its spirits bottled as the oldest single malt in the world and then getting to reveal its newly refurbished home. After 18 months of renovations, the brand has unveiled its re-designed visitor experience that will celebrate the life and history of the Speyside area and distillery. Glenlivet has also given visitors the opportunity to discover aged, unique whiskies from the archives, including rare editions, such as the Atlantic Single Cask 40 year old and the newly released 38-year-old Cellar Collection with only 30 bottles filled, and available exclusively at the visitor experience. If that isn’t enough to entice people in, remember The Glenlivet Cocktail Collection that took the internet by storm? Well, they will be there too. “At The Glenlivet, we believe in pushing boundaries and breaking tradition, and this is certainly represented throughout this redesign,” says Linda Brown, visitor experience manager, commented. “I worked at the visitor experience when it was last refurbished 23 years ago, but this is something else! To tell the brand’s story in a truly authentic way, we have reinvigorated the original experience, striving to give whisky lovers the best possible time whilst visiting the distillery. We look forward to welcoming back our loyal fans, as well as new faces.” If you’d like to learn more about renovation you can head to www.maltwhiskydistilleries.com or follow @The Glenlivet.

The Nightcap: 18 June

Images by Michael Laird Architect show what the distillery will look like

New £46m grain alcohol distillery planned for St Boswells

It’s a distillery-heavy Nightcap this week but we don’t mind as it’s all so exciting. We’re now turning our attention to the Scottish Borders, which is about to welcome its first grain distillery. Jackson Distillers has announced plans for a £46 million plant, producing 20 million litres of pure alcohol a year, on the Charlesfield Estate near St Boswells. The aim is for it to meet the growing demand for grain whisky for Scotch whisky blending and a neutral grain spirit for gin and vodka. Jackson Distillers also want the distillery to be the lowest carbon and most resource-efficient grain distillery in Scotland, using renewable energy, recycling waste materials and water as well as prioritising locally-grown cereals, including from the Tweed valley, so consumers can be confident about the sustainability and provenance of the spirit. The planning application is expected to be determined by the Scottish Borders Council in July. “We are excited to bring forward this transformational opportunity for the Scottish Borders. The project will create 20 permanent high-value jobs and a further 200 jobs through the construction stage whilst providing a crucial ongoing contribution to the local rural economy,” says founder and CEO of Jackson Distillers, and owner of Charlesfield Estate, Trevor Jackson. “The distillery will play its part in helping Scotland meet its climate change ambitions, sending zero waste to landfill with sustainability at the forefront of its production practices.” We do love our grain whisky and are looking forward to seeing what the impressive-sounding site creates.

The Nightcap: 18 June

Gosh all these distilleries are looking fantastic, aren’t they? Just begging to be visited…

Refurbished Cardhu once again open to the public

More distillery reopening news! Yesterday, 17 June, Speyside distillery Cardhu opened its doors once more following a refurbishment. It’s the third part of Diageo’s ‘four corners’ £185 million tourism splurge. Glenkinchie and Clynelish opened earlier in the year with the fourth corner, Caol Ila, due to open in 2022. Not forgetting the Johnnie Walker brand HQ on Princes Street in Edinburgh which should be opening this summer. To celebrate the long history of the distillery, Cardhu will fly a special flag that was apparently used by Helen Cumming of the founding family to warn illicit distillers of the approach of the exciseman. The family sold Cardhu to Johnnie Walker & Sons in 1893. At the refurbished distillery, visitors can learn about the Cumming family as well as about the distillation and maturation process, and, most importantly, try some whisky. Which is what it’s all about after all. Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo chief marketing officer, said: “When Helen raised her flag, it was to warn her neighbours and the local community, but today we raise the flag in a symbol of confidence and ambition for the future of Scotch whisky and tourism in Speyside and throughout Scotland.” She went on to say: “The investment we have made creates an exciting and engaging experience that will surprise and delight visitors whether they are local staycationers in the UK or tourists from around the globe when they are able to travel.” As a further incentive to visit, there’s a distillery-exclusive 16-year-old 50.6% ABV bottling. Sounds like we should get the old MoM minibus fixed up for a trip to Speyside.

The Nightcap: 18 June

No more awkwardly trying to eyeball pouring water in from a different glass for us!

Glencairn unveils its product for the people… the Pipette

Glencairn Crystal is the go-to company when whisky companies want to package their rare offerings. It produces decanters that cost thousands of pounds – out of the reach of most whisky fans sadly. But it does make more down-to-earth, some might say, useful products. There’s the ubiquitous Glencairn glass, for example, yours for a mere £10. But now there’s something even more affordable. It’s the Glencairn Pipette! No more trying to dribble the right amount of water to dilute your single malt, the hand-blown glass Glencairn Pipette does it with style. It holds 1ml of water and, naturally, it’s the perfect length for a Glencairn glass. Scott Davidson, new product development director, explained: “We are delighted to introduce the new Glencairn Pipette as the perfect partner to the Glencairn Glass. For those who love a splash of water with their whisky, our pipette will enable the drinker to add a little drop at a time and will prevent the risk of drowning their favourite dram with too much!” At last, the answer to the question of what to buy the whisky lover who has anything. And it’s only £6. Result!

The Nightcap: 18 June

Congrats on a brilliant achievement guys!

New Zealand brothers smuggle whisky across the channel

We don’t know what you did with your Wednesday this week, but we can pretty much guarantee that you weren’t as active as New Zealand brothers Alex and Nick Ravenhall. The duo swam across the Channel from Dover to Calais with a team of four other swimmers to raise money for Sea Shepherd New Zealand. They’ve been coined the ‘Whisky Smugglers’ as they each carried dram of whisky from Bimber Distillery, which was then blended back into a cask and will be sold as limited-edition whiskies later this year. The team completed the swim in a remarkable 12 hours and 58 mins, making it the second-fastest team this season. The Maori brothers support Sea Shepherd, whose project includes protecting Maui’s dolphins endemic to New Zealand, and are the founders of an ocean awareness campaign called Whisky and Waves. Both work in the drinks scene and, excitingly, are actually very much good friends of ours. Nick is now the managing director for Holyrood Distillery, but spent more than four years with Atom Brands (that’s our sister company) before heading to Edinburgh, while Alex is our head of events. This summer, the pair will undergo at least two more swims in some of the UK’s most treacherous waters, including the Corryvreckan. Both swims will be completed with smuggled whisky with the intent to release further fundraising bottlings for Sea Shepherd. Amazing work guys, we’ll raise a dram to you tonight. We might even run it under a tap first in tribute. 

The Nightcap: 18 June

It’s the battle of drinks brands we’re here for at Euro 2020!

And finally… Paul Pogba snubs Heineken

This week at a press conference for Euro 2020, which is taking place in 2021, no idea why they didn’t just change the name, perhaps because they’d already had loads of T-shirts printed. Anyway, at this press conference, top French footballer Paul Pogba moved a bottle of Heineken from sight. It’s not the first time during this tournament that footballers have made their drinks preferences publicly known. The day before, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo did the same with Coca-Cola before encouraging viewers to “drink water” instead. Very healthy, and effective too, with the brand losing something like $4 billion in market value. It seems that Pogba’s actions, in contrast, were motivated by his Muslim faith. However, his gesture appears a lot less powerful when you take a close look at the bottle it reads, Heineken 0.0 – an alcohol-free beer. D’oh!

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The Nightcap: 11 June

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11…

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11 June edition!

The weekend is always an exciting thing. But this weekend is particularly thrilling because we’re given the perfect excuse to enjoy some delightful gin. That’s right, tomorrow is World Gin Day and, while we don’t really need an excuse to enjoy the finest juniper-based beverages, it’s always nice to have something to say while you raise your glass in good company. And we’ll be doing exactly that at 3pm today on the Clubhouse App with World Gin Day founder Emma Stokes as well as the Neil Ridley and Kristiane Sherry. Join us, won’t you?

Over on our blog this week we rounded off our Islay Festival coverage with Ardbeg and Jura before launching a fab new competition with our friends at Tomatin. If a hamper full of whisky goodness doesn’t interest you then a) don’t enter and b) seek help. For Father’s Day (it’s soon, don’t forget!) we had a look at brands that keep distilling in the family and rounded-up a list of the finest musician-made booze on the market. Ian Buxton then cast doubt on a dubious claim about column single malt whisky while Lucy Britner busied herself learning the history of the brand that changed vodka. Amidst all this fun and fancy there was still time to enjoy some tasty blended Scotch and a cocktail with a song in its heart

Now, let’s get stuck into some Nightcap goodness!

BrewDog carbon negative

The founders of Brewdog were singled out for criticism in the open letter

Ex-Brewdog staff allege “culture of fear”

We begin with an explosive story that hit the headlines yesterday as former staff at Brewdog published an open letter regarding the “culture of fear” and “toxic attitude” that they allege exist at the company. The signatories said a “significant number” of former staff had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at BrewDog” and that the firm was built around a “cult of personality” of founders James Watt and Martin Dickie. The Scottish brewer and pub-chain has never shone away from controversy in its marketing, but the group calling itself Punks With A Purpose says this came at a cost. That Watt and Dickie exploited publicity, “both good and bad” to further their own business goals, chased “growth, at all costs”, and created an environment where staff were afraid to speak out about concerns. The letter included further statements such as “being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given for those working at Brewdog”. The plots thickened when Unite Hospitality (@FairHospitality) released an email attributed to Brewdog which appeared to encourage current staff to sign a counter letter dismissing the negative views of current and former staff. Watt responded to this and then later released a statement saying Brewdog was “sorry” and that it would not contest the letter, but “listen, learn and act”. It’s not the first time the brand has landed itself in hot water over its practices. And this story clearly isn’t over yet.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Joe Wilson says this is one of the most “collectible independent bottlings in existence”

Rare Samaroli whiskies head to auction

Few bottlers can boast a range of whiskies as desired and collectible as Samaroli so it’s no wonder headlines have been made now that 60 of its rare Scotch whiskies are set to go under the hammer via Whisky Auctioneer this month. Taking place from 17 to 21 June, the online auction will feature whiskies from collector Emmanuel Dron’s personal stash, some of which have been signed by Samaroli himself, including a 1967 Strathisla, 1967 and 1970 Laphroaig bottlings, a 1951 Glen Cawdor (Springbank), and the 1966 Bowmore Bouquet. Bottlings will also be up for auction from The Corti Brothers of Sacramento, such as a ‘very rare’ 1965 Clynelish and bottlings from Balmenach and Imperial, distilled in the 1960s. “This collection is a magnificent example of some of the finest and most collectible independent bottlings in existence,” says Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer. “What’s special about Emmanuel Dron’s collection is that these bottles have unparalleled provenance. Whiskies with such an impeccable source are hard to come by.” And you know what that means. A price tag to match. Expect to see some eye-watering sums next week.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Rumour has it this beauty will be at MoM Towers in the future…

Lochlea whisky prepares for first bottling

For years Lochlea has been known best as the farm in Ayrshire which was the home of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns from 1777 to 1784. By late 2021, however, it will also be recognised for its whisky. The independently owned farm-based distillery has announced this week that it is ready to launch its first expression this year. The distillery is the result of a £6m investment and production of the purpose-built facility began in 2014, taking four years. Lochlea then began laying down its first casks of whisky in the on-site warehouse in August 2018. So while we don’t know the exact launch date yet, we know it will be no sooner than August at least. The Lochlea Distillery team says it’s been working on creating a “truly distinct whisky” and describes the new make spirit as having a profile that’s “bursting with orchard fruit” with a “beautiful elegance way beyond its years”. All production is overseen by distillery manager Malcolm Rennie, who has spent 34 years in this industry at the likes of Kilchoman, Bruichladdich, and Ardbeg. Lochlea says that he sees this whisky, however, as the result of his life’s work. “Ensuring full traceability from field to cask is vital for us. We grow and harvest our own barley on Lochlea farm with the resulting draff used to feed local cattle and the water is sourced on-site. We’ve been able to take advantage of Ayrshire’s natural resources and in doing so it keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum,” says Rennie about the distillery’s process, which does sound extremely promising. Let’s hope it does Robert Burns proud.

The Nightcap: 11 June

We can’t wait to see you all again!

Imbibe Live to return this September

Great news arrived in our inbox this week from the UK’s leading drinks industry event as Imbibe Live confirmed it will be returning to London’s Olympia this September. The return to some normality will run from 13 to 14 September 2021, bringing the industry back together again after a challenging year. Strict standards of health and safety will be adhered too, naturally, as folks discover newly launched and unique products and attend seminars from industry leaders. Helping to curate the programme are the likes of Anna Sebastian, drinks expert and founder of ‘Celebrate Her’, Gabe Cook, global cider expert, Lorraine Copes, founder of not-for-profit organisation Be Inclusive Hospitality, and more. Daniel Zanetti, exhibition director at Imbibe Live, says the industry has shown an “incredible amount of support for one another” during the last year hopes that Imbibe Live “provides those working in the trade with real insight and practical support on how to help their businesses grow and thrive once again”. Registration is open now, although due to venue capacity visitors will be asked to attend on either the 13 or the 14 September to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to go. For further information visit the website and to register visit here. Let’s hope everything goes well between now and then to let this fantastic event take place. Fingers crossed!

The Nightcap: 11 June

It’s a bumper year for the Fiona Beckett

Fortnum & Mason awards 2021 shortlist announced

The Oscars of food and drink writing are back as the shortlist for the Fortnum & Mason awards has just been announced. The big award, as far as we’re concerned, is drinks writers of the year with the Guardian’s Fiona Beckett taking on Hamish Smith from CLASS magazine and beer writer extraordinaire Will Hawkes for his work in Pellicle and Tonic magazine. It’s a bumper year for Beckett as she is also shortlisted in the book category for How to Drink without Drinking (which we covered back in January). Also in the book category is Jane Anson with Inside Bordeaux and Wine Girl by Victoria James. Meanwhile, the debut book line-up features a great-looking new cocktail book which we’ll be covering shortly called CO SPECS by Cas Oh, Drink? by Prof. David Nutt, and Which Wine When by Bert Blaize and Claire Strickett. There’s also some food stuff. The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony on 13 July. Nigella might be there. Oooh!

The Nightcap: 11 June

Tom Hurst rocking the dragons

Rockstar Spirits rock Dragons’ Den

We go for years without featuring a story about spirits brands on Dragons’ Den and then two come along in under a month. In May, we reported on Whisky Me securing funding from all the three ‘dragons.’ And now we were delighted to learn that Rockstar Spirits, the company behind delicous bottles like Two Swallows rum, secured funding after appearing on the BBC 1 programme on Thursday 10 June at 8pm. That’s last night. Founder Tom Hurst received bids from all but one Dragon, winning the backing of both Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani – who will both receive 4% of the premium spiced rum business in exchange for £12,500 each. Most impressively, Hurst managed to secure an offer for double the money and five times the equity from Theo Paphitis. Hurst said that he hadn’t been as nervous “since I had to do a reading in assembly when I was 11,” but that it was a “fantastic experience to take part in the show and a great rite of passage for any entrepreneur to test their mettle against some of the best business brains in the UK.” To celebrate Hurst has come up with a special Dragons Daiquiri cocktail with Two Swallows Citrus rum.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Copper Rivet is one of the many fantastic English whisky distilleries featured

The English Whisky Show is back

For the second year running there’s a whole show dedicated to English whisky called, um, the English Whisky Show. Sadly, like last year, it’s only taking place online but we’re all good at this now and the organisers can boast quite a line-up. All the big names are represented including Adnams, Copper Rivet, Bimber, the Oxford Artisan Distillery, Lakes, and, the granddaddy of them all, the aptly-named English Whisky Company, alongside independent bottlers like That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Taking place on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September there will be six sessions all with tasting packs hosted by names including Felipe Schrieberg and Fiona Shoop. Prices start at £27.50 per session which seeing as you’ll be tasting some quality liquids including 11 new releases, looks like pretty good value. Tickets are available here and there are discounts for bulk buys and members of Exploring English Whisky. From single malts to spicy ryes and experimental grains, we couldn’t be more excited about the varied and dynamic English scene. So whether you’re already a fan or just English whisky curious, we highly recommend signing up for one or, better still, all the sessions. 

The Nightcap: 11 June

The new ‘world-first’ is a single nitrogen dispense solution. It pours pints from cans, basically.

Guinness launches world-first ‘microdraught’

Guinness was in an excitable mood this week as it revealed its new ‘microdraught’ technology, which aims to serve fresh pints regardless of an establishment’s size or setup. The result of a two-year development process, the MicroDraught unit uses a “keg’ so small, it comes in a can”, so even though the Guinness used is brewed in exactly the same way, the system bypasses the need for the traditional system of kegs, beer lines, and cooling systems. The dispense technology is described by the brand as its biggest innovation “since the development of the widget in 1988”, and is set to be trialed in restaurants in Great Britain from June, in venues in Ireland from July, and fully launched in Korea in July. Further trials in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Germany, and Russia will follow later this year. “Guinness is enjoyed the world over and globally renowned for pushing boundaries in technology.  Guinness MicroDraught is the next step in this journey and today’s launch means that Guinness will be available in over 12,000 more outlets for millions more consumers to enjoy,” says Grainne Wafer, global brand director, Guinness. “The secret to how the MicroDraught unit produces beautiful Guinness every time is the world-first patent-pending double coaxial piercing of the can. It uses an air pump – as opposed to the gas cylinder used in the traditional system – to push the liquid out of the can and through the standard Guinness Draught spout. The result is a beautiful two-part pour with the iconic surge and settle and cold, smooth taste that makes Guinness Draught a beer loved by consumers around the world.” We’re intrigued to see if the innovation takes off and whether the new pints feature on the right Instagram page, or the wrong one

The Nightcap: 11 June

The swanky, new-look Talisker is more sustainable

New sustainable packaging upgrade for Talisker 10 Year Old

Diageo has made a big deal about its sustainability commitments in the last couple of years and the drink giant’s latest innovation concerns Talisker. New packaging for its Talisker 10 Year Old has been introduced as part of the company’s wider 2030 sustainability action plan. The new packaging has increased the recyclability of the classic dram to 99.8%, while the bottle’s plastic components have been reduced by 86% and the original plastic stopper has been replaced with a premium wooden stopper. The brand also ensured the packaging weight was reduced by 6%, which will reduce materials used by 28 tonnes across 2021, meaning less waste to be managed per bottle. Pranay Chandra, malt whisky marketing manager, says that “consumers are increasingly conscious of their own environmental impact, and we are dedicated to supporting and being a part of this.” She adds that “we understand that there is still more to do, however, this is a significant step towards our goals of making all Talisker packaging recyclable by 2030, as well as working towards zero waste across our supply chain.” It’s another positive step in the right direction and we welcome any further improvements in the future.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Shit.

And finally… A beer made from goose poo. Mmmm!

We’ve had some funny drinks on the Nightcap –  like gin flavoured with sprouts or Chernobyl vodka – but a new beer might just take the biscuit. It’s from a Finnish brewery called Ant Brew which has just released a series of beers called Wasted Potential that are brewed from waste including goose droppings. No joke, this shit is for real. According to the press release: “The poop is used in a food-safe way to smoke malt to create a unique stout beer. The goose droppings are gathered from local parks, where geese are causing a messy problem.” Everybody wins! Sort of. Anyway, we can mock but this might be the logical conclusion of sustainability. Ant Brew’s home city of Lahti, aims to have a wasteless economy by 2050. So, in future, when someone says: “this beer tastes like shit”, it’s probably because it’s brewed with real poo. Lovely. 

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The Nightcap: 4 June

The week was only four days long but it was still jammed-pack full of boozy news. The Nightcap is back! Well it’s been a mighty fine week here at MoM…

The week was only four days long but it was still jammed-pack full of boozy news. The Nightcap is back!

Well it’s been a mighty fine week here at MoM Towers, and not just because the sun made a triumphant return to Kent (and burnt the ever-living hell out of half the population), but we’ve also had a whale of a time celebrating the Islay Festival. From learning about Lagavulin’s most iconic serve, to understanding how to pair food and malts festival-style with Laphroaig or hearing Ian Buxton’s Bunnahabhain memories, we’ve managed to ease some of those missing Islay blues. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed all the coverage too. There’s still Ardbeg and Jura day to come, so be sure to look out for them over the weekend.

Elsewhere on our blog, we were enjoying our Cognac, picking out 10 terrific examples we think your dad will love for Father’s Day, and dreaming of a French countryside escape thanks to our latest competition with Hine. We also let our hair down and had an unapologetically garish, blue disco drink after learning all about a very special vintage English pear brandy from the Cotswolds. 

Before we get to the stories this week, we’d just like to remind you to join us this week on the Clubhouse App where our guests Blair Bowman and Kristiane Sherry will discuss all of the below, if the whisky world is too negative, and more!

The Nightcap: 4 June

Check it out: the oldest ever Singleton of Dufftown whisky!

Diageo releases 54-year-old The Singleton of Dufftown 

Master of Malt was invited to a very special whisky launch this week at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. It was for the 54-year-old Singleton of Dufftown and thanks to the magic of the internet we didn’t even have to leave MoM Towers. It’s the second and final release in The Paragon of Time Collection, and the oldest ever release from The Singleton. To chime with the age statement, only 54 people were invited to the event which was hosted by Ewan Gunn and went on for 54 minutes exactly. We were joined down the line from the Diageo archive by malt master Maureen Robinson. She told us about how the original refill European oak cask was filled in 1966. “It was the 1960s era, before expansion, with smaller batches and slower pace,” she said. After 53 years in this cask, she transferred it for around a year to a single PX cask to add another layer without masking the original whisky. Only 235 bottles at cask strength of 44.1% ABV have been filled. It’s a fascinating drop with the old Cognac, varnish, and furniture polish on the nose joined by strong molasses, chocolate, and Christmas cake from the PX cask. But don’t take our words for it, Charlie MacLean, for it is he, described it as “An astonishing dram. I have never encountered a whisky like this before. A rare and unusual malt that has gained richness, mellowness and complexity on its long journey to harmony, this very old whisky shows its age elegantly and rewards proper contemplation.” Naturally, it’s housed in a Baccarat crystal decanter. And the price for all this magnificence? £28,850. Oof!

The Nightcap: 4 June

The brand doesn’t just make great whiskey but supports vital initiatives too

Uncle Nearest launches $50 million fund

Not content with simply uncovering the important story behind the world’s biggest whiskey brand and founding the biggest-selling African-American-owned spirit brand in history, Fawn Weaver has once again demonstrated that her remarkable contributions to the spirits industry seemingly know no bounds. The Uncle Nearest Tennessee Whiskey founder has this week announced the creation of the Uncle Nearest Venture Fund, a $50 million fund that will invest in minority and women-owned spirits brands. The first two brands to benefit are Sorel Liqueur and Equiano Rum. Each company will receive US$2m. The fund is an outgrowth of the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative unveiled a year ago in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. According to Weaver, this initiative helped highlight the need for something greater so on the 100 year anniversary of the destruction of Black Wall Street, Weaver, she took it upon herself to reboot history. “On 1 June 1921, an entire community of wealthy and successful African Americans was wiped out in a matter of hours. We are talking about 35 square blocks known as Black Wall Street. As an African American, learning about that history broke my heart because we, as a people, were really onto something in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We were lifting one another up and creating wealth within our own community, and then showing others how to do it for themselves. We cannot go back and undo the past, but I do believe we have full power over our future, and that recreating a Black Wall Street of sorts within the spirits industry is a great place to start.” It’s a vital and impressive initiative that demonstrates a promising future and that few put their money where their mouth is quite like Weaver. 

The Nightcap: 4 June

I’m sure that won’t be Peaky Blinders whiskey he’s got in his glass…

By order of a Los Angeles court – Peaky Blinder name OK

If you asked a member of the Birmingham street gang what kind of conflicts the Peaky Blinders would be getting into in the 21st century, you’d have been waiting a while before they ever guessed a trademark dispute between a TV show and a spirit brand. But that’s the story that was in the news this week as the company that produces the popular UK series Peaky Blinders was told it can’t block the maker of the booze range from using the name, at least for now, after a Los Angeles court ruling. US District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall rejected Caryn Mandabach Productions’ application for a preliminary injunction against Sadler’s Brewhouse, which owns the brand, and UK alcohol group Halewood, which in turn owns Sadler’s. Reports suggest Mandabach sued last November, alleging the whiskey, gin, rum, and dark beer products were likely to cause confusion. But the judge ruled Mandabach didn’t show it owned a protectable trademark in the name, that Sadler’s products were likely to confuse, or that the alleged confusion could cause irreparable harm. Sadler’s has always maintained it used the Peaky Blinder name because of its historical connections to the gang. The fact it only founded the brand after the runaway success of the show is just a coincidence. The brewhouse was presumably always interested in minor local street gangs. Still, this is a sensible result. You can’t claim a historical organization’s name all for yourself, TV. More good news for fans of Peaky Blinders whiskey is its owners are continuing to explore the possibility of building an Irish distillery for the brand, as its spirit is currently sourced from Great Northern Distillery. 

The Nightcap: 4 June

The three “extra special” casks will be sold by Monday!

Edinburgh’s Holyrood distillery auctions three “extra special” casks for charity

Edinburgh’s first single malt distillery in almost a century, Holyrood, will be auctioning three casks with the proceeds going to three charities: Vintage Vibes, tackling social isolation in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Food Project, and The Drinks Trust’s Covid relief fund. It’s all happening on Whisky Auctioneer with the auction ending on Monday 7 June. The auction house has agreed to waive selling fees and will donate the 10% buyer’s commission to charity. The three “extra special casks” are 200 litres filled with 60% ABV new make which has first been matured in a first-fill American ex-bourbon barrel. These are unusual as the commercial “Made in Edinburgh” output from Holyrood is sherry-cask aged. We were fortunate enough to be sent a wee sample of the deliciously flavoursome new make which comes from a local farm, and is made with a mixture of crystal and chocolate malt fermented with an Edinburgh ale yeast. Co-founder David Robertson said: “We’ve created a spirit that echoes what would have been done 100 years ago”. He went on to say “It was essential for us that we supported local Edinburgh charities, our whisky is made by local people and inspired by the city we’re in, so it was paramount to ensure that communities close to the heart of our distillery are supported during this time.” Joe Wilson, from Whisky Auctioneer added: “The sale presents the very unique opportunity for our global customer base to acquire a piece of liquid history from this trailblazing Edinburgh distillery, whilst giving back to the local community.” The auction ends this Monday!

The Nightcap: 4 June

Foursquare hopes the investment will pay dividends for Bajan rum

Foursquare Distillery backs rum history research

If you’re like a lot of us here at MoM Towers then both rum and history will be of great interest to you. Which naturally means you’ll love a bit of rum history. That’s something we share with the RL Seale & Company, which has agreed to fund scholarships in the University of the West Indies’ department of history and philosophy, through which students will investigate Barbados’ rum history. The owner of Foursquare Distillery plans to use the findings to support the island’s application for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site for sugar and rum, and will “naturally” help its application for a Barbadian rum GI, according to Foursquare proprietor Richard Seale. In an emailed statement to The Spirits Business, the outspoken rum producer said that “as the provenance of Barbados Rum becomes more recognised and more valuable, the time has come for professional, independent and scholarly work on the history of Barbados Rum and for that work to be done at home.” He added that he sees the investment, reported by Barbados Today as being BBD$320,000 (around £112,000) for three doctoral scholarships and six-year postdoctoral fellowships, as one which “will strengthen the category in the longer term”. The fact that receiving government approval for a rum GI is a complex enough issue that it requires such initiatives may seem surprising, but it’s not a straightforward process. Barbados’ four rum producers – Foursquare, Mount Gay, Saint Nicholas Abbey, and West Indies Rum Distillery – must all collectively agree on a proposal and, while the first three distillers decided on GI terms to put forward last year, the latter company did not agree

The Nightcap: 4 June

These four beauties will be with us soon!

William Grant & Sons launches bottled cocktail range

It appears that William Grant & Sons is the latest big brand to enter the bottled cocktail range after it announced the launch of Batch & Bottle. The line-up includes a Monkey Shoulder Lazy Old Fashioned, a Hendrick’s Gin Martini, a Reyka Vodka Rhubarb Cosmopolitan, and a Glenfiddich Scotch Manhattan. The range is being launched in the UK first, then in Australia from September 2021, and other markets from early 2022. For every bottle of Batch & Bottle sold in the UK until May 2022, William Grant & Sons will also donate £1 to leading hospitality charities The Drinks Trust and The BEN as part of its #STANDFAST CAMPAIGN, which is dedicated to supporting the On Trade, raising in excess of £110,000 to date. “Consumers are adopting a ‘less but better’ mentality and are becoming more discerning about the brands they drink. For decades we have continually produced premium and luxury spirits, but for the consumer who wants to indulge in an upgraded at-home experience, they can now do so without the fuss or cocktail accouterments” said Karen Murphy, William Grant & Sons global innovation marketing manager, on the launch. “Batch & Bottle provides an opportunity to showcase the world-class brands in our portfolio, while also providing an uncomplicated solution to perfect cocktail serves created and produced using our industry expertise.” You’ll be pleased to know that all four expressions will be available from Master of Malt soon.

The Nightcap: 4 June

This is your chance to own a bit of history

1889 Tokaji Essencia to go under the hammer in July

Two very special bottles of Tokaji Essencia from 1889 will be auctioned by Dreweatts on 8 July. Essencia is the rarest, sweetest, and long-lived form of Tokaji, Hungary’s legendary sweet wine. It’s made only from a sugary liquid that drips from the grapes before they are crushed. Mark Robertson from the auction house commented: “This supernatural concentration of sweetness is beautifully married with an unusual level of acidity creating a wine that can age effortlessly across the centuries”. It was produced by a family of Jewish landowners, the Zimmermans, whose wines won awards across Europe. This history was brutally cut short in 1944 when the German army occupied Hungary and the family was deported to Auschwitz. Following the war, their lands were seized by the communist state and the quality of Tokaji took a nosedive. Following the fall of communism, Tokaji’s reputation was slowly rebuilt partly thanks to investors like Hugh Johnson of the Royal Tokaji Company. There are two plaques at the company’s offices unveiled by six descendants of the Zimmerman family’s holocaust survivors celebrating the link between the region’s wines and the Jewish community that was destroyed during the war. The special bottles are expected to go for between £500 and £1,000 for 500ml bottles which seems like very little to own a bit of history. Robertson concluded: “These are important bottles and I hope they are enjoyed with a chink of the glass to the man and his family who made them”. L’chaim!

The Nightcap: 4 June

We sure that you, like us, have always wanted to play as a pronghorn

Play as a pronghorn to aid conservation

There are presumably numerous ways to engage in meaningful philanthropy for distilleries and we’ve seen all kinds of initiatives, projects, and fundraisers over the years. A limited-time mobile game is new to us, however. For Great Outdoors Month (apparently a thing), High West Distillery is launching Prairie Dash so whiskey drinkers and gaming enthusiasts alike can help conserve the natural habitat of Montana’s Great Plains in a fun, interactive way. You play a pronghorn who has to face a collection of quick-time challenges like clearing debris and slaloming through herds of bison. Made in support of long-time partner and non-profit organization, American Prairie, for every game played, High West will donate $1, up to $50,000. You can also purchase the distillery’s American Prairie Bourbon on highwest.com with a portion of the proceeds also going to the bottle’s namesake organization. The game, which is available to play for the month of June only, will also have a grand winner. So one lucky person and their travel companion will win a once-in-a-lifetime Western adventure to the distillery’s homeland, Park City, Utah. To be in with a chance and to help raise some dough for a great organisation, head to race.highwest.com to play.

The Nightcap: 4 June

It’s going to take a lot more than an unfortunate association to topple this crown

And finally… Corona remains world’s most valuable beer brand, despite name association

Some people’s chances in life are immediately made harder by their parents giving them truly ridiculous names. But they at least have the opportunity to remedy the situation as an adult and have them changed. When you’re a huge company with brand recognition, a legacy, and a vast network of packaging, advertising and more you can’t just adapt as soon as there’s some name-based crisis. So, for the last 18 months or so Corona has had to deal with the reality that it shares a name with a virus that caused a devastating global pandemic. You may have seen the pictures of bottles languishing on supermarket shelves. You’ve probably heard the jokes or the exaggerated dirty looks someone gives you if you order a Corona at a bar. It’s truly ridiculous that anybody would actually associate the two, but this is people we’re talking about here. Despite all of this, the brand has endured. Findings from the new Brand Finance Alcoholic Drinks 2021 report show that Corona has retained the title of the world’s ‘most valuable’ beer brand. It did record a 28% drop in brand value to the tune of $2.243 billion, however, bringing its current brand value in at $5.8billion. But, overall, the world’s top 50 beer brands lost 16% of cumulative value last year due to Covid-19 so everyone is in the same boat. It demonstrates that the Mexican beer makers are pretty resilient. The name actually means ‘crown’ in Spanish, so there’s something neat about Corona retaining its status as king of the beer world.

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The Nightcap: 28 May

It’s time to welcome the long weekend with a dram and all the latest from the world of booze. 125-year-old Port, 185 years of Glenfarclas, and someone’s been overdoing it…

It’s time to welcome the long weekend with a dram and all the latest from the world of booze. 125-year-old Port, 185 years of Glenfarclas, and someone’s been overdoing it on the fantasy at Diageo, it’s all in the Nightcap: 28 May edition!

It’s the weekend folks and boy is it a good one. Not only is it longer for British readers, thanks to the Spring Bank Holiday, but it’s also the first weekend of the Islay Festival! You might have seen that we’ve already got some features on our blog regarding the event, but be sure to look out for our daily deals too, and check out this delightful Spotify playlist which should help you get in the spirit of things. Just because we can’t be on Islay itself, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the wonderful whisky it produces and celebrate this amazing island.

Elsewhere on our blog, we launched one of the most incredible Father’s Day competitions you’ll ever see with Drinks by the Dram. Did someone say a year’s worth of whisky/rum as a prize? No, really. Get entering now. If you’re still stuck for ideas we have plenty of options. We also learned the story behind a very famous blend, found out how gin brands can stand out in such a crowded market, and got the inside scoop on pairing whisky and ice cream. There was even time to enjoy a party drink associated with Tom Cruise and some delicious apple brandy.

And be sure to join us this week on the Clubhouse App as we’ll have lots to talk about what with the small matter of the Islay Festival for us and our guests – Kristiane Sherry, Dave Worthington, and Richard Legg – to discuss!

Lagavulin 12 year old 2021 Special Releases

Flaming Aslan’s mane!

Diageo’s latest Special Releases labels are literally fantastic 

We got quite a surprise in our inbox this morning with a sneak preview of the labels for this year’s Diageo Special Releases. Our in-house filmmaker Ken Evans described them very accurately as “someone’s been on the fantasy novels over lockdown and had a ‘brilliant idea’.” Lagavulin has a flaming lion and Talisker is being marauded by a sea monster, while there’s all kinds of new age woo woo going on at the Singleton of Glendullan. They are wild. The labels which had been submitted for approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in the US were shown on the American Whiskyart blog. As well as the quite literally fantastic graphics, there’s a high level of information on the labels about these limited releases. The line-up consists of a Lagavulin 12-year-old aged entirely in refill casks, a Talisker 8 “from a selection of our smokiest reserves”,  a 19-year-old Singleton of Glendullan finished in Cognac casks, Cardhu 14 finished in red wine casks, Royal Lochnagar 16 from refill casks, Oban 12 from ex-bourbon and refill casks, a 13-year-old Mortlach aged in refill and virgin casks, and a mighty Lagavulin 26-year-old aged in first-fill Oloroso and PX casks. They’re all bottled at cask strength. All we can say is if the whiskies are as wild as the labels, we’re in for a treat.

 

The Three Drinkers

And then there were two

Colin Hampden-White leaves Amazon Prime show The Three Drinkers

In a move that some in the industry are comparing to Robbie leaving Take That, it was announced yesterday that Colin Hampden-White has left the Three Drinkers. Hampden-White was the spirit expert of the trio whose superpower was wearing blindingly loud shirts. The other two drinkers, Aidy Smith and Helena Nicklin, will continue the team’s myriad activities including an Amazon Prime programme, online magazine and Bring a Bottle podcast. The third spot will be kept for a “revolving range of guests” with the emphasis on “diversity”. It’s not clear how much this is Hampden White’s decision or whether he didn’t fit in with the group’s future plans. The press release, which only sports a photo of Nicklin and Smith, states that Hampden-White “plans to concentrate more on his international whisky pursuits” but also that he is “stepping down… to allow a broader range of talent to be represented.” Hampden-White himself commented: “I hope this leaves room for new faces and new ideas to further the diversity in all things for The Three Drinkers.” Smith echoed the ambiguous tone of the release saying “while we are sad to be saying ‘au revoir’ to Colin, what this change will allow us to do now is very positive. We’ve listened to what the drinks world needs right now and that is a much needed diversity push….” So did Colin get the push?

The Nightcap: 28 May

There aren’t many of these Dunnage tasting packs so get them while you can!

Glen Scotia reveals line up for 2021 virtual festival

Glen Scotia has revealed the schedule for this year’s virtual malts festival which will go live on 7 June. Whisky fans the world over will soon be able to access a range of different events and content by visiting www.glenscotia.com/festival. Master distiller Iain McAlister will be joined by a host of famous faces in a packed programme that features the likes of Charlie MacLean, Neil Ridley, Joel Harrison. Festival-goers can expect an interactive virtual tour of the distillery, a virtual tasting of this year’s festival edition, historic tales from the once whisky capital of the world as well as the keenly anticipated dunnage tasting. This year the tasting will explore the influence of casks on the final liquid, with a particular focus on bourbon, refill American oak, and European oak finishes. There’s not going to be many Dunnage Tasting Boxes so get them from www.glenscotia.com while you can.  The annual Campbeltown Malts Festival is a tremendous celebration and a great opportunity to talk about Scotland’s fifth and smallest malt-producing region and its whisky-making heritage. We highly recommend you get involved if you’re a whisky enthusiast.

The Nightcap: 28 May

Will Liam Hirt’s new program make the splash he hopes?

Still In Cask to revolutionise whisky? 

Every now again we get an email in our inbox from a brand that claims it’s going to change the industry. They almost never do, but we like the optimism. This week’s bold newcomer is Still In Cask, a global platform that says it will give consumers the opportunity to buy shares in a cask of spirit directly from a distillery, from as little as £20 a Cask Share. The self-described “innovative business” has been developed to “democratise the ownership of cask spirits and assure consumer ownership using a public blockchain”. You’ll forgive us for being a little sceptical, but the cask market appears to be the boomiest part of whisky at the moment and the amount of investment and new brands we’re seeing gives us a slight cause for alarm. However, it’s comforting to know then that the brain behind this is Liam Hirt, as in the founder of Psychopomp Microdistillery and Circumstance Distillery, which means it’s at least being run from someone who knows whisky and not just some folks who made a few quid in the city and want to diversify their portfolio. Kicking off this start-up, which is now live to the public, are some  impressive names: Nc’Nean, Circumstance, Cotswolds, Mackmyra, and Connacht Distillery, which is also promising. Hirt says that cask ownership is usually reserved “for those that can afford an entire cask or those that can form a syndicate of like-minded individuals” which leads many enthusiasts to be excluded. He also says cask purchases are “historically complex and investment focused making it even harder to get involved”. Whether he has the solution or not will remain to be seen. For more info or to register your interest, head to StillInCask.com.    

The Nightcap: 28 May

We tasted this range and are big fans

Belvedere launches Organic Infusions range

As a brand that has spent a fair amount of time and money ensuring people understand how much it values its raw materials, it’s shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that Belvedere has entered the organic category with a new range of flavoured vodkas. There are three expressions, the first being Blackberry, Lemongrass with a hint of Sage, the second is Lemon, Basil with a touch of Elderflower and the final bottling is Pear, Ginger with a drop of Linden Honey. Each is made with organic Polish rye vodka, fruits, and botanicals which are farmed with no artificial pesticides, additives, or chemicals. We were fortunate enough to taste each at a virtual launch hosted by global brand ambassador Mike Foster, who says “the time is right and the demand is there” for organic, flavoured products. He added that the new range, coupled with the brand’s Made with Nature campaign, demonstrates that “Belvedere is dedicated to evolving the vodka category into one more rich in substance, more comfortable with the natural approach and more in tune with well-being and responsible lifestyle choices.” It’s a process that has paid dividends, in our opinion. They’re beautifully made spirits, each one is elegant, flavourful, and versatile that make tremendous Vodka Sodas and we can see people having tremendous fun whipping up all kinds of cocktails. Which you’ll be able to do soon as the range will be available from Master of Malt in the near future…

The Nightcap: 28 May

Well these don’t look similar at all…

Lidl lands in hot water for ‘Hendrick’s lookalike’ gin 

Anybody who shops in Lidl or Aldi will know the discount supermarkets love to create slightly cheeky imitations of established products. Just ask Colin the Caterpillar. Once again this approach has landed them in hot water, however, after Lidl was told it must stop selling a redesigned bottle of its Hampstead Gin. At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lord Clark awarded an interim interdict to the makers of Hendrick’s Gin, ruling Lid’s brand breached the established brand’s trademarks. The temporary order stops Lidl from selling the redesigned bottles in Scotland following William Grant & Sons’ claim that the supermarket remodeled the Hampstead gin bottle to resemble the “apothecary-style bottle” used by its gin brand. Which, honestly, is not an unfair suggestion. They look pretty identical. Same dark bottle. Same diamond-shaped label. Similar fonts. The Hampstead gin bottle even has cucumbers on it, which feels like a line crossed (Hendrick’s is famously infused with cucumber). In an amazing turn of events, during an earlier court hearing, social media comments about the redesign were read out, which included gems such as “Hmmm…Reminds me of another gin, but I just can’t put my finger on it… ” and “Looks a lot like another bottle of gin😉”.Lidl said it was disappointed by the ruling, naturally. Maybe the folks over there can console themselves with a drop of Jameson’s. Sorry, we mean Dundalgan Blended Irish Whiskey.

The Nightcap: 28 May

How else would Glenfarclas mark the occassion?

Glenfarclas marks 185 years with whisky

The great thing about being a famous distillery is that whenever you have an occasion to celebrate you already have the perfect thing for it: whisky! So it should come as no surprise to anyone that Speyside distillery Glenfarclas has released a limited-edition single malt whisky to celebrate its 185th anniversary. The producer, who began legally distilling in May 1836, is launching just 6,000 bottles of the Glenfarclas 185th Anniversary Edition in the UK priced at £120. The whisky was made the way all Glenfarclas whisky is, with spring water that emerges from granite under the slopes of Ben Rinnes which is combined with malted barley and double distilled in direct-fired copper pot stills. For the 185th Anniversary Edition, two-thirds of the liquid was filled in sherry casks and the remaining booze into ex-bourbon casks. Oh, and those casks used to make the whisky span six decades, don’t y’know? The whole thing was then bottled up at 46% ABV and slapped with a celebratory label and tin. “Due to my grandfather’s foresight, here at Glenfarclas we are very fortunate to have casks in our dunnage warehouses from seven different decades, from the 1950s to the 2020s,” says George Grant, sixth-generation family member, and current sales director. “To mark 185 legal years we have selected some of our finest casks from across the decades and put together a whisky with old, rich, sherried flavours that remain fresh and vibrant in your glass.” And our very own Ian Buxton has produced an up-dated 185th anniversary edition of his history of Glenfarclas – available only from the distillery

The Nightcap: 28 May

They’ve been through, well, not a lot to be honest, but something.

One Eyed Spirits kills Ron de Jeremy brand and relaunches

You may be aware that about a decade ago a spirits brand decided to create a rum named after “the most famous Ron in the world” as the Spanish word for rum is ron. One Eyed Spirits chose Ron Jeremy, who at the time was known as a the porn film star who became part of mainstream culture. In the last few years, however, numerous allegations have been leveled against Jeremy and he now faces serious jail time after being arrested on charges of rape, sexual assault, and more by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. As you can imagine, One Eyed Spirits terminated its commercial agreement in August 2020, commenting that continuing with the brand was “not a morally sustainable option” and that “the joke is over”. But the brand is determined to stay in the rum world and has created a new range called Hell or High Water. There’s not much info on the rums themselves, all we know is that there will be an XO expression, the “smooth and dry Hell or High Water Reserva” and the “rich, deep and spicy Hell or High Water Spiced. Most of the press release was instead dedicated to outlining that One Eyed Spirits has overcome obstacles and backstabbing, naming its rums after the expression, “come hell or high water”, as a reference to them being willing to do whatever it takes to overcome difficulties or obstacles. It’s laid on a little thick, to be honest, and it’s worth remembering that One Eyed Spirits are far from the true victims of Ron Jeremy’s alleged actions.

Taylor's Single Harvest 1896

Compared with some whiskies, this £4k Port is a steal

We taste Taylor’s 125-year-old Port

Taylor’s has made a thing in recent years of releasing exceptionally old Ports of superb quality. And this latest release from 1896 is no exception. It’s billed as a ‘single harvest’ Port rather than a ‘vintage’ as it was aged in cask rather than bottle. For 125 years! But it’s actually a comparative youngster compared with some Taylor’s releases such as the 1863 and the 1855. Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s managing director commented: “The launch of a wine as old, valuable and unique as this one occurs only a handful of times in a generation. It is by its nature, a historic event in its own right, which Taylor’s is proud to share with wine collectors and connoisseurs of rare wines.” He added: “Savouring such a wine is a once in a lifetime experience.” Only 1,700 bottles have been filled and they will cost around £3950. It’s a lot of money but compared with say, Brora’s recent £30,000 Triptych release, it’s actually a bargain. Our tiny sample bottle filled the room with a heady aroma when we opened it. The wine is almost impossibly complex with strawberries, balsamic vinegar, furniture polish, and Brazil nuts on the nose while to taste you’d never guess it was 125 years old. It’s fresh and vital with a finish you can measure in weeks. What an extraordinary Port.

Charles-MacLean tastes El Dorado

The moment when Charlie MacLean winces is priceless

And finally… Charlie MacLean tastes tonic wine on camera

Eldorado Tonic wine has produced a series of videos with Charlie MacLean and they are hilarious. We’re sure MacLean will need no introduction to Master of Malt readers but Eldorado might. It’s a rival product to the infamous Buckfast, known as LD in Glasgow, it’s extremely popular in Scotland, hence roping in whisky expert MacLean who doesn’t even pretend to know anything about the brand. “I’m not actually sure what a tonic wine is,” he says in the first film. Nor does he pretend to enjoy it. The best bit of the video is when after coming up with some serving suggestions, he gamely sips it out of a coupe. Then at 1.14 winces visibly and says “mmmm, it’s a swanky drink”, before presumably reaching for a bottle of Lagavulin to take away the taste.

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The Nightcap: 21 May

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap. Happy…

Bob Dylan gets collaborative, Annandale invites you to be a distiller for a day and a puppy finds gainful employment in whisky in another smashing edition of The Nightcap.

Happy Friday everyone. We hope you all got to spend some time inside one of the many fine hospitality venues and had a nice drink away from all the wind and rain. While there’s something reassuringly British about somebody trying to sip from a pint glass while they get battered by a storm, I think we all agree that things are better this way. Inside it’s warm, there’s music and there’s wi-fi so you can load the latest version of The Nightcap, settle in and enjoy. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Good thing we’ve got another new edition to read. Here it is.

People who love a good competition will have been delighted to see us launch a brand new one with Redbreast. Just find the golden cork and you can win a bottle of Redbreast Dream Cask whiskey! If gin and vodka are more your speed, then make sure you throw your hat in the ring for a chance to win a VIP trip to the Boatyard Distillery. Elsewhere, we welcomed the news that Brora is back (!) after 38 long years, understood how distilleries have coped launching during Covid, and asked 10 drinks industry experts what they were toasting the grand reopening with. We also heard from Sandy Hyslop on the art of blending whisky and Jon Darby on how to create a brand as unique as Sin Gusano while enjoying five great gins from around the world, a delicious bottle of Argentine red, and a cocktail that brings together bourbon and cider.

Don’t forget to join us on the Clubhouse App at 3pm where you can hear us greedily feast on another week of brilliantly boozy stories and embrace our inner mixologist by insisting on the joy of a whisky cocktail. Now, to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 21 May

This dram comes Bob Dylan approved

Heaven’s Door and Redbreast make whiskey together

Clearly, Redbreast Irish Whiskey felt it wasn’t on the blog enough this week what with our new Dream Cask competition and so revealed that it has teamed up with Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door whiskey for the first time. The collaboration has produced a limited-edition 10-year-old straight bourbon finished in Redbreast Single Pot Still Casks for 15 months called The Master Blenders’ Edition, in honour of the two people who hold the role at Heaven’s Door and Redbreast respectively, Ryan Perry and Billy Leighton. Apparently, Dylan too is actively involved, sampling over a dozen blends before settling on the final selection. Leighton says the legend is a “perfectionist” who “knows his whiskey”. Dylan also created a new gate design in his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio, which was nice of him. The press release believes the end result of this Irish-American marriage is a taste profile “unlike any American whiskey” which Perry says “blew them away”. We’ve been told to expect plenty of nuts, spice, and leather, as well as the influence of “sherry, citrus, dark fruit, and a subtle sweetness of Yellow Man from the Redbreast casks”. The Master Blenders’ Edition is being released in the U.S. for Father’s Day but will also be available in limited quantities in September in the UK and Ireland. Be warned folks: once it’s gone, it is gone for good.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Fancy running things around here for a day? Now’s your chance.

Become a distiller for the day with Annandale

Have you ever dreamed about being a Scotch whisky distiller, even just for a day? Well, now you might just get to live the dream thanks to Annandale. The independent distillery in Dumfries and Galloway, which was first established in 1836 and ‘reborn’ in 2014, is giving people the chance to do just that after listing on Airbnb this summer. The stay is available on the site as part of a new campaign to encourage people to visit the Scottish Lowlands and promises an “immersive two-night stay” in which guests will shadow Annandale’s distillery team and sleep in cottages next to the distillery site. And this isn’t simply pressing a button or tasting a sample at the end. You’ll actually witness each stage of the process, from meeting the malt delivery, to milling and mashing the barley, fermentation, firing up the stills, and filling the casks. Thrown in is a whisky tasting and evening meal at The Globe Inn, Dumfries, a historic pub dating back to 1610 and once frequented by Robert Burns, with two chefs with Michelin star experience at the helm. Plus when you check out you’ll get a bottle of Annandale’s Single Malt Scotch Whisky. And the knowledge of exactly how much work and love goes into making whisky. The stay will be available to book for £480 for two people and you can see which dates are available when you visit airbnb.com/annandaledistillery.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Last Drop hasn’t made its own booze before, so this is quite the entrance

Last Drop Distillers launches first signature blend 

You might remember The Last Drop Distillers was gearing up to create all kinds of delicious booze. Well, the first of the impressive new signature blends range has been unveiled. The creatively titled The Last Drop 50-Year-Old Signature Blended Scotch Whisky was made by esteemed master blender Colin J.P. Scott, who presumably put all his knowledge and experience to good work. He joined Last Drop after a distinguished career with more than 50 years at Chivas Brothers as one of the six founding members of The Assembly, although to put this whisky into context this is just the second 50-year-old blend he’s made in nearly half a century in the industry. The release, just the 22nd in The Last Drop’s history, marks the brand’s first foray into the creation, as well as curation. The whisky began as a new distillate of single malts and grains, which were filled into sherry and bourbon casks more than 50 years ago. But few will get to taste it sadly because as you can imagine for a whisky this old and prestigious, there’s not a lot of it (just 500 bottles worldwide) and it will cost you an arm and a leg (priced at RRP £3,250). Scott says he’s “immensely proud both of the complexity of the whisky and of its significance: as The Last Drop’s first Signature Blend, and as my inaugural release with them”. He adds that he “sincerely hope everyone who tastes it will take as much pleasure in this whisky as I did in blending it.”

The Nightcap: 21 May

Lots of mead awaits if you’ve got what it takes

Help bees, grow sunflowers, win mead

As we’re sure you’re aware, yesterday, 20 May, was World Bee Day. To celebrate these magical pollinating honey-making little creatures, Gosnells Mead, distributed thousands of packets of sunflower seeds across Peckham in south London. The idea is that ‘guerilla gardeners’ plant them in all sorts of places to help bees. And also sunflowers look splendid too. As the founder of London’s only mead producer Tom Gosnell put it: “There are so many patches of bare earth in cities just waiting to be loved, and we hope that our packs will bring an irregular army of smiling sunflowers to urban Peckham and beyond.” He went on to say: “We are doing our bit to enrich biodiversity, something we started in April by making our new Mead Garden & Bar into a flowering jungle. It is a pretty unlikely sight in an industrial estate in Peckham SE15: And now, we’ll be giving out thousands of sunflower planting kits to the likes of community groups, churches, local gardens, shops and care homes.” What’s more, Gosnells is happy to send seeds to people in the UK to grow their own sunflowers. The person who grows the tallest will win the height of the flower in Gosnell’s cans. What a prize! Let’s hope we get some sunshine. 

New #LooksLikeGuinness advert makes us want a pint

England’s pubs opened fully this week and to celebrate/cash-in Guinness unveiled a new campaign called #LooksLikeGuinness. The 40-second advert is based on how when you want a pint, everything from socks on a washing line, to a white cat napping on a black bin looks like a pint of Guinness. The song playing is, naturally, ‘Always on my Mind’. Head of Guinness GB Neil Shah commented: “We want to do all that we can to make sure that the opening week of indoor hospitality is as successful as it can be. We’re pleased to be able to mark this momentous occasion with the #LooksLikeGuinness campaign – the reopening of the pubs has been a long time coming but as we say at Guinness, ‘Good things Come to those who wait’” The advert was created by Jack Watts and James Cambridge at ad agency AMV BBDO, and we think it’s a worthy successor to the great Guinness adverts of old.  Just watch it because it will make you smile and make you want a pint of Guinness – so job done ad people.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Get yourself off the grid. Just as soon as you, errr.. go online first

Go off-grid with Shackleton whisky

We don’t know about you, but being permanently online as many of us have been in the past year has been exhausting. Wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere with no Twitter, email, Slack, Zoom, Instagram, spreadsheets, Clubhouse, or Whatsapp? Well, Shackleton whisky has the answer with its #GoOffGrid interactive map of the best off-grid destinations in the UK. From hidden caves in the Lake District to a shepherd’s hut on the Welsh hillside, these are places where there is no mobile reception or wifi. So you can switch off your phone, enjoy the company of friends and family, get back to nature or appreciate a fine whisky without having to post about it on Instagram. Kenny Nicholson from Shackleton Whisky explained: “After more than a year being stuck indoors, our need to get in touch with our adventurous side and to enjoy quality time with others has never been stronger. When we step outside and put our phones down, we free ourselves of distractions – and that’s why we wanted to build on the map and to give people some inspiration to have longer off-grid adventures through these staycations this year.” To launch the #GoOffGrid campaign, Shackleton is offering a prize for up to six people to stay at a mystery destination over the bank holiday weekend (28-30 May). Sadly, you do have to go online to enter, via the brand’s Instagram channel. If you want to see what you could win, Richard Rankin from Outlander visited the secret location and, erm, recorded his experiences on Instagram. Doesn’t that defeat the whole point of the exercise?

The Nightcap: 21 May

There’s some big brand beef to get stuck into this week

Bacardi avoids £51m claim in Brown-Forman lawsuit

There was some big brand drama in the news this week after a London court determined on Wednesday (19 May) that Bacardi UK has escaped a £51.5 million lawsuit raised by its former distribution partner Brown-Forman. The duo first formed a UK distribution alliance in 2002 and officially ended the relationship in April 2020, after 18 years, severing the alignment between the considerable portfolios which includes brands such as Bombay Sapphire gin (Bacardi) and Jack Daniel’s whiskey (Brown-Forman). In a written argument to the court, Brown-Forman stated the companies decided to go their own ways after Bacardi brought on a new global chief executive who sought structural changes and sued them citing payments owed from a cost-sharing agreement inked with a Bacardi subsidiary in 2016. The Bacardi subsidiary responded with its own cross-claim seeking remuneration for its work as a commercial agent. Now both claims will move forward to arbitration. So this isn’t over yet. Brown-Forman has declined to comment on the ruling, while a spokesperson from Bacardi told The Spirits Business the company was “pleased” with the court’s decision and that “the ruling demonstrates we have acted properly and with integrity”. We suspect this won’t be the last we hear of this.

The Nightcap: 21 May

Everyone, meet Rocco!

And finally… Girvan Distillery hires sniffer dog

News from Girvan Distillery emerged this week regarding possibly the most important story we’ll ever cover. The distillery has hired a dog. Yes, you read that correctly. The Ayrshire-based site does not have a new pet. It has an employee. One-year-old cocker spaniel Rocco has been brought in as a full-time sniffer dog, tasked with nosing any imperfections in wood used to make the distillery’s casks. He’ll then report back to his boss should he detect any issues with the barrels at the cooperage. And what would be his boss’ name, I hear you ask? Why, it’s associate global brand director Chris Wooff. The dog works for a guy called Mr. Wooff, folks. Speaking about the new appointment, Mr. Wooff (hahaha, how is this a real story?) said: “The sense of smell of a dog like Rocco is 40 times stronger than a human’s, and we’ve specially selected and trained Rocco to pick up the scent of anything that’s not quite right as the whisky matures.” Rocco was trained for the role for six months in Pembrokeshire by dog expert Stuart Phillips and reports suggest he is indeed a good boy. Team leader Lianne Noble says the atmosphere lifts wherever Rocco is working, and that people “can’t help but smile in his presence”, adding: “He’s a working dog rather than a workplace pet, so we have guidelines in place to make sure he doesn’t get disturbed when he’s taking a break between shifts, but the boost in morale has been a joy to see.” What a tremendous story this is, and it’s made us realise that it’s vital that we hire a dog as soon as possible. If you know any good candidates tell them to chuck a CV our way. We do require that the pup is toilet-trained and can shake and sit, however. So no timewasters.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 21 May

The Nightcap: 14 May

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

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

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

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

Now, let’s get Nightcapping!

Aber Falls first whisky is here, or nearly here

Aber Falls first whisky is here, or nearly here

Aber Falls’ first whisky is (nearly) here!

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

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

Penderyn opens new £5 Million distillery

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

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

Chivas Brothers faces strike action

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

An artist’s impression of the revived Rosebank distillery

Rosebank seeking distillery manager

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

Grab a pint and celebrate our golden oldies!

Raise a can for your gran with Brixton Brewery

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

Edrington and Beam Suntory have agreed to some significant swapsies

Beam Suntory and Edrington switch distribution firms

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

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

English wine merchant ages wines underwater, for some reason

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

Whisky fans from Turriff to Tokyo to celebrate Speyside

Fans across the globe celebrate Spirit of Speyside festival

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

Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson

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

Whisky Me wows Dragon’s Den

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

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

Archaeologists find illegal whisky stills 

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

The Nightcap: 14 May

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

And finally… Chernobyl brandy seized by authorities

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

No Comments on The Nightcap: 14 May

The Nightcap: 7 May

It’s been a shorter week thanks to the Bank Holiday weekend but there still was plenty going in the world of drinks. It’s The Nightcap: 7 May edition! We hope…

It’s been a shorter week thanks to the Bank Holiday weekend but there still was plenty going in the world of drinks. It’s The Nightcap: 7 May edition!

We hope you all spent the long weekend as far away from office desks (or wherever you work) as possible, and are nice and refreshed. It went quickly though, didn’t it? We can’t believe it’s already Friday and time for a new Nightcap. It dawned on us while enjoying our time off that if the powers-that-be made every working week just four days, then there’d be numerous benefits. Chief of which would be that it would feel like The Nightcap had arrived surprisingly early every week. And what a treat that would be. Right? Anyway, let’s get on with it. 

On the MoM blog this week, we launched a new competition perfect for those who want to whip up some delicious Irish whiskey cocktails. We also had the pleasure of celebrating Dennis Malcolm’s incredible 60 years in the whisky business, enjoying an authentic English rum, some of the finest Mexican spirits for Cinco de Mayo, and a Tequila cocktail that celebrates the life of the late, great Tomas Estes. Elsewhere, Ian Buxton found out why you’re nowhere in the celeb world unless you’ve got your very own booze brand, Millie uncovered the divine truth behind the angel’s share and Lucy showed why English wineries should be high on your list of staycations options this year. 

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

This bottle honours the man who arguably did the most to put single malts on the map

Gordon & MacPhail launches 67-year-old whisky

If you love a bit of ultra-rare single malt coverage then you’ll be pleased to know Gordon & MacPhail has something very impressive for you to enjoy this week. It’s a 67-year-old Scotch whisky distilled on Christmas Eve 1953 that was matured in a single, first-fill sherry butt and bottled at a cask strength of 59.4% ABV, which is incredible given the age of the whisky. You might be wondering why Gordon and & MacPhail have bottled it now given this fact, but it’s because the company is currently enjoying its 125th anniversary and saw fit to honour the man who contributed arguably the most to the brand: George Urquhart. Known by whisky legend Charlie MacLean as the “father of single malt” or as ‘Mr. George’ to his friends, he oversaw the filling of this very special cask during a period in which he was busy championing Scotland’s single malts while most were concerned with supplying spirit for blends. Just 355 bottles are available of the Gordon & MacPhail Mr. George Legacy 1953, which was distilled at Glen Grant. Stephen Rankin, the grandson of ‘Mr. George’ and Gordon & MacPhail’s director of prestige, says Mr. George held a particular fondness for the Speyside distillery, adding that the new “Legacy series allows us to explore some of these stories, providing some exceptional whiskies in fitting tribute to ‘Mr. George’s’ life’s work.” So, expect more rare, single cask drams in the future. They’ll set you back a pretty penny (the RRP for this one is £5,000), but if Maclean seems to think it’s worth it, noting: “This is a remarkable whisky. It is full of the complexity that long maturation can bring, yet it remains astonishingly vivacious. Frankly, as good as it gets!”

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

The high life awaits…

Want to get paid $20k to drink Miller High Life beer?

If you’re a beer lover who would love to visit Milwaukee and pocket $20,000, then today is your lucky day. Because this week Miller High Life beer has announced that it is hiring for the role of ‘Champagne of Beers Region’ ambassador. You see, the beer brand is currently petitioning the Milwaukee Common Council to create an official Champagne of Beers region in Wisconsin. And Miller High Life believes that it will need an official ambassador to help champion this noble cause. The scarcely believable role comes with a year’s supply of free beer, some High Life swag, and an all-expenses-paid trip to explore The Champagne of Beers region in addition to the compensation package. The brand’s petition asks, “If Champagne can only come from Champagne, France, why is The Champagne of Beers any different? [erm, we can think of a couple of reasons] We’re petitioning the Milwaukee Common Council to establish an official Champagne of Beers region, and declare that only beers invented within its strict borders – around the Miller Brewery – will be considered The Champagne of Beers.”  Applications opened yesterday and to apply just head over to the website and explain in 50 words or less why you’d be the perfect ambassador.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

Space wine will surely appeal to the kind of people who’ve got $1m spare

Christie’s selling first-ever space-aged Pétrus 2000

It seems there’s an awful lot of sending wine into space going on, but if you’ve ever wondered what the result of wine gracing the final frontier is then you’ve got a chance to find out now thanks to Christie’s. The auction house is selling a bottle of space-aged Pétrus 2000, which spent 14 months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time wine has travelled to the ISS and returned to Earth and the aging took place in a carefully monitored and controlled environment. The wine will be presented in a trunk made by the Parisian Maison d’Arts Les Ateliers Victor, alongside a decanter, glasses, and a corkscrew made from a meteorite. Tim Triptree, a master of wine who works at Christie’s, says a regular bottle of Pétrus 2000 will also be included alongside the space-aged bottle, “so the lucky buyer will be able to compare the two”. This is the only bottle from the case that was sent to space, as three were opened for the tasting and the remaining eight will be kept back for future research. We wouldn’t get your hopes up about winning this particular lot, however, as Christie’s estimates a sale price of $1m (£720,000). The good news is that the proceeds of the sale will go towards funding future space missions. So, if you do have that kind of cash sitting around and would like to acquire a piece of vinous and space history while also contributing to ongoing research then head to Christie’s now.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

You can wish McEwan a fond farewell over some quality drams

Enjoy a ‘last chat’ with Jim McEwan 

Jim McEwan is retiring… again. You may remember back in 2015, Jim McEwan retired from Bruichladdich only two years later to be lured back with a production director job at new Islay distillery Ardnahoe. Since then he’s appeared in two films: The Water of Life and The Golden Dram, done a book: A Journeyman’s Journey, and launched his own range of whiskies with Dramfool, Jim McEwan Signature Collection. Oh, and helped out at Cape Byron distillery in Australia. Makes a change from playing lots of golf. But now he really is retiring and he’s doing what’s billed rather ominously as a “last chat”. It’ll cost you £185 to take part with £25 going to Scottish charity Air Ambulance. For this you’ll receive access to The Water of Life, a copy of The Journeyman’s Journey with a signed letter from McEwan, plus a Gold Collection tasting kit with rare drams from notable McEwan distilleries including Bowmore, Bruichladdich, and his last gig, Cape Byron. Most importantly, you’ll also get access to a Zoom link to join a chat with McEwan on Sunday 23 May. If that’s a bit steep for you, there’s a £50 ‘Silver Collection’ option (£10 going to charity) with no book and less fancy whiskies but you still get to chat with the man himself and bid him a fond farewell. Or is it au revoir?

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

Vic Galloway invites you to enjoy his picks. And we invite you to make your own…

SMWS and BBC radio DJ pick music and whisky pairings

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is getting its groove on with long-standing BBC Radio Scotland presenter, Vic Galloway, by pairing music with whisky flavour profiles. The DJ has been broadcasting weekly on BBC Radio 1, BBC Scotland and BBC 6 Music for over 22 years and also happens to be an avid whisky fan and a member of the SMWS. Examples from the full SMWS pairing list, which can be found here, include Society’s ‘Young & Spritely’ flavour profile being likened to the genre ‘Dream Pop’ (whatever that is), with its “effervescent and sweet, joyous and uplifting exuberance that seems utterly timeless and forever young”. The Scottish broadcaster said: “Music and whisky go together like, well, music and whisky! There’s nothing better than sitting back with like-minded friends and sharing experiences. And that is what The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is all about.” He added that there are some surprises in his selection and recommends folks become members of the SMWS, which he describes as the “world’s most entertaining whisky club”. Galloway will also chat all things music and whisky on the SMWS ‘Virtual Pub’ being streamed tonight, one of the many events in the calendar to look forward to for members. We’d love to hear your suggestions on genre and whisky pairings you’d like to see. Liquid funk and Lagavulin? Garage rock and Glenlivet? Let us know in the comments below.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

It turns out there’s an ever big rip-off than space wine. Who knew?

“Counterfeit” $1,000  bourbon discovered

One of the dangers of buying very old spirits is the rise of counterfeiting. It appears that one such bottle was discovered recently in New York. Reporters from US publication Inside Edition bought a bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain Bourbon from Acker Wines, America’s oldest wine merchants, for $1,000. This whiskey was released at around $100 a bottle but such is the demand that bottles have been going for up $3,000. They sent it to where it was made, Buffalo Trace in Kentucky, for authentication where it was pronounced a fake, and not a very convincing one, with the proof on the bottle not matching the contents, a backwards strip stamp, and it was missing the correct lot code. This isn’t the first time that Acker Wines, previously known as Acker, Merrall and Condit, has run into problems with counterfeit goods. The firm was at the centre of the Rudy Kurniawan wine counterfeiting scandal outlined in the 2016 film Sour Grapes. It sold millions of dollars of rare wines that turned out to be fakes. The moral of the story is always do your homework before buying rare boozes.

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

The only real question is, how did this move not happen sooner?

And finally… UB40 releases an actual red, red wine

We’ve just put a story up on the blog about celebrity boozes, and it’s already out of date because we have just learned that the lads from top light reggae outfit UB40 will soon be releasing their very own wine. It’s called… yes you guessed it… Red, Red Wine after their biggest hit (though the song was actually written by Neil Diamond who had a hit with it in 1968). It’s a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux Supérieur priced at an extremely punchy £28.50 – you can get some seriously tasty claret for that money. Nevertheless, it’s been described as “a good blend: a rich wine with fine tannins and attractive fruits.“ Not our words, but the words of Wine Enthusiast magazine. For those who don’t want to pony up nearly £30, you can save a massive four quid with the £24.50 version which is an organic vegan Merlot/ Petit Verdot blend though we’re not told where it’s from. Both wines are made in conjunction with a company called Eminent Life. Astro (above right) from UB40 commented: “Red, Red Wine has great balance and is really satisfying to drink. Like our music, we are always looking for balance and harmony. The Red Red Wine has both.” So there you go.

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The Nightcap: 30 April

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and to kick things off in the right direction we’ve got a whole week’s worth of smoking hot booze news. It’s all in the Nightcap:…

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and to kick things off in the right direction we’ve got a whole week’s worth of smoking hot booze news. It’s all in the Nightcap: 30 April edition! 

We’ve got a long weekend ahead of us as the May Bank Holiday has arrived, in the UK at least, everyone else is thinking, what the hell is a ‘bank holiday’? Anyway, we’re all hoping for a sliver of sunshine so that we’re not shivering in pub gardens or in those makeshift tent type things outside restaurants. Maybe bring a blanket, just in case. Of course, you don’t have to venture out if you don’t want to. You can always kick back and relax with a good dram and enjoy The Line of Duty season finale. Or some light reading. Like a round-up of all the interesting things that happened in the world of booze this week. Good thing there’s a new edition of The Nightcap here!

This week on the MoM blog we paid tribute to the remarkable Tomas Estes, who has sadly passed away. Be sure to raise a glass to the Tequila pioneer tonight.

Elsewhere, we launched two new competitions, one a #BagThisBundle which gives you a chance to stock up on some Duppy Share Rum and the other promising an amazing adventure to the Lakes District courtesy of the Lakes Distillery. We also helped you explore the world of rum with some of our favourite bottlings, made a classic cocktail that features in Charlie Chaplin’s Caught in a Cabaret, enjoyed the latest vintage of a great Champagne, uncovered the story behind Don Julio Tequila and found out what the heck a swan neck is.

Now, let’s enjoy what the drinks industry had to offer in the last seven days. It’s The Nightcap: 30 April!

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

It’s likely this whiskey was distilled sometime between 1763 to 1803!

‘World’s oldest whiskey’ to be sold at auction

If you want a chance at owning a whiskey billed as “the oldest currently known bottle” then put 22-30 June in your diary. Because that’s when you’ll be able to bid on a legendary bottle of Old Ingledew bourbon. Skinner Auctioneers are selling the remarkable spirit, which was originally thought to be from 1850. However, when Skinner rare spirits expert Joseph Hyman used a needle to extract a small sample of the liquid to be sent off for carbon dating, the results were even more incredible. It was revealed that the most likely date this bourbon was distilled (with 81.1% probability) was between 1763 to 1803. It’s impossible to place a specific age statement. But historical records confirm that it’s among the oldest distilled whiskey remaining on the planet today. We know a little bit about the history of the bottle thanks to a press release from Skinner Auctioneers. It was purchased by John Pierpoint Morgan (Yep, that J.P. Morgan) in Georgia in the late 19th century. It was originally stored in demijohn so Morgan paid a visit to a speciality grocer in LaGrange to have several decanters worth of the whiskey bottled. His son Jack eventually ended up with some bottles, giving a few away including to US Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Another recipient was James F. Byrnes, who subsequently gave the bottle to close friend and whiskey lover Francis Drake, who knew the value of what he had and for three successive generations, his family kept a cork in it. This is why we have this incredible, roughly 250-year-old, bottle now. Although we wouldn’t hold out too much hope that you’ll get your hands on this one. We imagine demand will be pretty high… 

Rémy and Usher team up to celebrate their roots

It wouldn’t be a Nightcap without a celeb/booze mash-up and we’ve got a particularly good one this week. Cognac house Rémy Martin has produced a video called “Team Up For Excellence” starring ‘00s music ledge Usher. The video, put together by composer Raphael Saadiq, director and choreographer Jake Nava, and Oscar-winning costume designer Marci Rodgers, tells the story of the links between Cognac and American music. “I was really inspired by creating the historical music scenes in a way that felt true to the spirit of that moment, but also relevant and eye‐catching to a young contemporary audience,” Nava explains. “This dual priority informed my direction of all the music, dance and Usher’s performance.” The video opens with Usher as a GI in World War I liberating France, moves to a jazz club and through the ages, taking in different musical genres. “Music doesn’t need Cognac to exist, and Cognac doesn’t need music to exist,” Usher said, “but what is beautiful is that they were meant to meet and when they did, they created cultural harmony.” The video is a cut above most spirits adverts and well worth five minutes of your time. 

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

If anyone does manage to get a taste of his let us know if it’s as good as it looks

Loch Lomond unveils 45-year-old whisky 

It just wouldn’t be The Nightcap without a remarkable and rare Scotch whisky to stare at longingly. And this next beauty will surely appear in auctions itself in the not too distant future. It’s a 45-year-old single malt from Loch Lomond Distillery, distilled in 1973 and matured in American oak casks, before finishing for one year in a first-fill Oloroso sherry cask. It’s bottled at 42.2% ABV without chill-filtration and there are only 200 individually-numbered bottles to be released out in the whisky wild, which goes some way to explaining the £3,450 price tag. It’s one the first of three releases in The Remarkable Stills Series of single malts, a collection that will shine a spotlight on the Alexandria-based distillery’s unusual straight neck pot stills. The stills are unique to Loch Lomond and give the distiller more control of the type of spirit produced, allowing for greater separation of flavours, helping to create the distinct fruity characters that Loch Lomond has become famous for. The launch of the significant Scotch follows a branding refresh and extension of the Loch Lomond Whiskies portfolio, which includes the introduction of a 21 and 30 Year Old to the range. A new webpage was also made to detail exactly how the liquid was created. So you can at least live vicariously through that info, because the sad reality is that most of us won’t be tasting this whisky.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

The distillery is one of the most picturesque in the country

Glasgow Whisky buys Tromie Mills Distillery

Those of you familiar with Glasgow Whisky will know that, since being founded in 2007, the company has plied its trade in selling award-winning independently-bottled Scotch whisky like Speymhor and Cailleach. But now the company is venturing into the world of distillation after purchasing its first distillery site. Glasgow Whisky, not to be confused with The Glasgow Distillery Co., has bought Tromie Mills Distillery Limited, owner of the site in Drumguish, Kingussie, which is currently occupied by Speyside Distillers. The latter will continue to operate from the Drumguish site until its lease expires in Spring 2025 (and already has another distillery on the way) and then Glasgow Whisky will refurbish the building, working with local suppliers. While we’ll have to wait a while to see them take advantage of the new venture, we imagine owners Graham Taylor and Stuart Hendry will be excited to run one of the most picturesque distillery sites in Scotland in the magnificent Cairngorms National Park. The duo is said to be committing significant investment to build a sustainable, energy-efficient and contemporary distillery that will acknowledge the heritage of the site. “Our plans for the distillery will give us the opportunity to celebrate an established and known site, whilst bringing it into the 21st century in terms of distilling innovation, sustainability and production methods. We are extremely excited to have this opportunity to evolve our business,” says Hendry.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

The swanky new distillery will be home to the creation of rum, gin, vodka, sambuca and more

English Spirit to open cutting-edge distillery

And in more distillery-based news, the folks over at English Spirit are set to open their new state-of-the-art distillery this summer. Over the past three years, the team has been converting a disused agricultural building in the ground of the historic Treguddick Manor in the rolling Cornish countryside. At the heart of the distillery will sit a custom 2,500-litre copper still, engineered by Dr John Walters, master distiller and owner of English Spirit, based on the original 200-litre alembic stills he designed for Great Yeldham Hall. And the team expects to produce 50,000 bottles of tasty booze by the end of 2021, so that still is going to be kept busy. When the distillery officially opens later this summer, tours and tasting experiences will invite the public to see how English Spirit produces its wide varieties of spirits from scratch. Walters says the brand wanted to open another site to “further our place in England’s high-quality food and drink industry and to show off what we do best, via educational tours, tastings and even cooking with spirits”. If you’d like to learn more about this unique brand, you can read all about our visit last year here!

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

We’re sad to see the lager go

Diageo calls last orders on Guinness spin-off Hop House 13

Fans of the Guinness-made Hop House lager might want to stock up on any bottles they can find because Diageo is calling time on the brand in the UK. As reported by Daniel Woolfson in The Grocer, the Guinness spin-off has been delisted and will soon disappear from supermarkets, pubs and bars. Diageo launched Hop House 13 in 2015 to ensure it wasn’t being left out of the craft beer boom and was an initial success. But sales have slumped during the pandemic. According to data from Nielsen, Hop House lost 8.7% of its value over the 52 weeks to 5 September 2020, falling £2.5m to £26.7m, with volume down by 12.5%. The drinks giant says it had undertaken a review of its beer portfolio and “taken the strategic decision to prioritise the main Guinness trademark in Great Britain”, adding that it was “a difficult decision to make, but one that we believe is right for Guinness in the long term”. The good news is that Guinness itself is still going strong. The good folks over at Nielsen revealed much more joyous stats about the classic Irish stout, showing that it added £27m to its value, rising to £104.5m over the same period – a 35% gain. If you’d like to get your hands on either, you can find them both here.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

What a beautiful sight

The Craigellachie Hotel to re-open its doors

As pubs and bars all over the UK continue the glorious process of opening their doors once again we were delighted to learn that The Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside will be doing the very same. The 26-room hotel stands at the heart of the largest whisky region in the world and home to the Quaich bar, one of the world’s leading whisky bars, will open its famous Copper Dog Pub and new outdoor terrace area. A brand new menu created by newly-appointed executive chef and general manager William Halsall (of Le Caprice, 34 Grosvenor Square, and The Ivy fame) will be available, as will a take-away menu. Halsall says that the team has gone through “vigorous training in preparation for reopening without compromising our friendly, home from home experience”. The upgraded outdoor dining experience will offer seating for an additional thirty guests and there will be hand sanitising stations at every entrance and social distancing in place, as safety remains an obvious concern. Reservations are mandatory and can be made through sevenrooms.com or by calling 01340 881204, while the Copper Dog pub is open seven days a week between 10am-10pm. Accommodation will then open from 17 May and guests will be able to book online here. Just in time for the return of distillery tours too. It’s all coming together!

Stewart Buchanan Benriach

If you’re lucky you might find Stewart Buchanan behind the bar at Benriach

Benriach opens to the public for the first time

And talking of visiting Speysdie, there’s now a new distillery to visit, Benriach. Well, it’s not new as such, the distillery dates back to 1898, but from 21 May is the first time it’s ever been open to the general public. Brown-Forman has put a lot of thought and money into the refurbishment: there’s a bar, shop, and tasting lounge, and two ‘tasting experiences.’ You can book here. Beginners can enjoy the ‘Sense of Flavour’ while more experienced whiskiests can explore the flavours of cask maturation with ‘Barrels, Butts, and Barriques’, which includes a dram of Benriach 21 Year Old. Visitor centre manager Jennifer Proctor explained: “From cask tastings to cocktails, we’ll initially be offering two flight-style tasting experiences that allow customers to explore Benriach’s flavour spectrum. When restrictions allow, we will reveal our full distillery tour offering and announce the next phase of the distillery visitor centre development. Whether a local to Speyside or visitor from further afield, we look forward to welcoming guests from near and afar to discover Benriach’s world of flavour.” If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

Terrace bar at Clynelish

Nice view from the terrace bar at Clynelish

Johnnie Walker brand home opens at Clynelish 

Another day, another renovated distillery opens up. Must be something in the air. As part of Diageo’s £185 million investment in ‘Four Corners’ whisky tourism, Clynelish Distillery will be opening to the public as ‘Highland home of Johnnie Walker’. Glenkinchie opened up last year with Cardhu in Speyside, and the Princes Street location in Edinburgh both due to open later this year. Opening date for the revamped Caol Ila is TBC. The renovation at Clynelish includes an ‘interactive story room’ (whatever that is), a ‘modern retail space’ (shop), and a ‘terrace bar’ (we know what that is) overlooking the Highland scenery. The team has worked closely with disabled charity Euan’s Guide to make sure the place is as accessible as possible.  Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scottish brand homes, commented on what we could expect from the visitor experience:  “We can guarantee that Clynelish won’t disappoint. We know that visitors and locals will be blown away by the distillery – by a visitor experience that is unlike any other.” Crikey! What could she possibly mean? Naturally, there’s a limited edition commemorative bottling, a 50.6% ABV 16 Year Old. Only 3,000 bottles at £195 each have been filled and you’ll have to visit the distillery in order to buy one.

Britannia, Boston Lincs credit: batemans

The Britannia, in Boston Lincs Photo courtesy of Batemans Brewery

And finally…. Get paid to go to the pub

In a bit of news that sounds too good to be true, Lincolnshire County Council is offering a £28,000 salary to someone to research the county’s historic pubs as part of its ‘Inns on the Edge’ project. The year long job will involve visiting various pubs along a 50 mile stretch of coastline from Grimsby to Boston. But it’s not all beer and skittles, the perfect candidate should be “someone who can interview people and get stories from them, but also collect photographs, historic photographs of the pubs and the activities that used to go on in and around and associated with the pub,” as Ian George from the council explained. The purpose of the project is to record a living history that is rapidly disappearing as pubs around the county (and the country) close. A process exacerbated by the pandemic. So not quite such a funny story to end on as it initially appeared. The moral is, don’t neglect your local, even if you have to stand outside shivering a bit.

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The Nightcap: 23 April

On this week’s Nightcap there’s new Ardbeg and Talisker to drool over, the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’ and a man pouring a pint of lager over his head. Its…

On this week’s Nightcap there’s new Ardbeg and Talisker to drool over, the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’ and a man pouring a pint of lager over his head. Its all in The Nightcap: 23 April edition.

Happy St George’s Day, everyone! We hope you’re having something delicious and English to celebrate, whether it’s whisky, gin, rum, sparkling wine, or whatever takes your fancy. Personally, we’re very much enjoying The Oxford Artisan Distillery’s first rye whisky. Sadly, there’s very little of it about, so you’ll have to enter our latest lottery for a chance to buy a bottle. But you don’t have to slay any dragons to get involved. So that’s something. 

Elsewhere, the MoM blog was the place to be if you love Japanese booze as we uncovered the philosophy of Suntory and recommended seven of the finest Japanese whiskies available now. Australian whisky was also on our mind as we unveiled That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s new series of delightful expressions, as was the role of the Scotch Whisky Association and the news that Elixir Distillers snapped up Georgie Crawford in a surprise transfer from Diageo. The forgotten Prairie Oyster, Glen Scotia’s special Campbeltown Festival release, Canaïma’s cause-led gin and the simple but sublime Cuba Libre also caught our attention in a packed week.

But we’re not done yet. It’s The Nightcap: 23 April issue!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

The fearsome fire-breathing limited edition will be arriving at MoM Towers soon…

Fearsome fire-breathing Ardbeg Scorch unveiled for Feis Ile

Fèis Ìle might not be taking place IRL, but the distilleries are still doing plenty to keep the fans spending money. Sorry, happy. We’ve just heard the news that Ardbeg will be releasing a limited edition in time for Ardbeg day on 5 June. It’s called Ardbeg Scorch based on a dragon that apparently lives in Dunnage Warehouse no. 3. No this isn’t a St. George’s Day fool, the team really is releasing this whisky (though the dragon thing sounds unlikely, imagine the health and safety implications with all that flammable whisky.) It’s aged in heavily-charred ex-bourbon casks and bottled with no age statement at 46% ABV. Dr Bill Lumsden described it as “a fire-breathing beast of a dram!” The tasting note is quite something: “A long and heroic finale, with a subtle tarry aftertaste. A finish that will drag on, well into its happily ever after.” Blimey! Colin Gordon, Ardbeg’s new distillery manager, said: “This year will be my first Ardbeg Day ever: a baptism of fire! It’s a shame we Ardbeggians can’t enjoy it together in person, but the online event is shaping up to be tremendous fun. With a whole virtual world to explore, including fantasy inns, campfire tales, medieval feasts and live tastings, there’s plenty for people to be excited about this year.” Sounds fun! Ardbeg Scorch will be available from 27 May for £100 from your favourite online retailer. And it’s been a busy week for Dr Bill and team as they also unveiled X by Glenmorangie, a whisky that’s “made to mix.” Full feature on this mixable malt coming soon…

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

A remarkable liquid with a story that’s… well, it’s a story alright.

Talisker releases its oldest expression to date: 43 year old Xpedition Oak

In what might be the most convoluted bit of coopering ever, the latest release from Talisker called Xpedition Oak The Atlantic Challenge was finished in casks containing staves that sailed across the Atlantic. James Aiken took the unusual cargo on his yacht, the Oaken Yarn, for a 3,264 journey following the route of the rowers in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge from La Gomera in Spain to Antigua. The staves were then sent back to Scotland and made up into barrels which were used to finish a 43-year-old Talisker in. We’re not quite sure why. Still, 1805 bottles were filled at 49.7% ABV and should cost you around £3500. Bottle number one will be auctioned to raise money for conservation charity Parley for the Oceans. Brand ambassador Ewan Gunn commented: “This whisky is a sublime single malt that captures the pinnacle of the key aromas of Talisker – spice, sweetness, waxy and creamy, with a sense of the sea salt spray the morning after a storm. The four decades of maturation have given a full flavour, yet a softness to this bold dram resulting in a rounded and elegant experience.” We were given a little sample and can only agree with Gunn, that Talisker DNA just shines through even after 43 years with an incredible lingering creamy sweetness. What a treat, though what effect the Atlantic voyage has on the flavour is not obvious to us.

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Arnett is moving on to exciting new pastures

Former Jack Daniel’s master distiller to found $20m distillery

When Jeff Arnett left his role at the world’s biggest American whiskey brand back in September 2020, I think it was pretty clear to all of us that he was going to put his experience to good use. This week, the former master distiller of Jack Daniel’s revealed he’ll do just that at a new distillery being built in Tennessee. Following a US$20 million investment, Arnett’s Company Distilling project will open a 4,000 sq ft site with a tasting room and restaurant in Townsend, Tennessee in autumn 2021. It will be followed by the opening of a multi-functional ‘family-friendly’ facility in Springbrook Farm in Alcoa, Tennessee in 2022, which shows you how serious this plan is. The latter 20,000 sq ft site will eventually be home to the main distillery and manufacturing operations and will also include a tasting room, restaurant, brewery, and retail store with outdoor activities and entertainment hosted in 31 acres of space. There will be live music and games such as corn hole and pickleball (we have no idea what these but are guessing they are something Cletus from the Simpsons would play). Arnett is not the only significant figure in American whiskey at the centre of this project. It’s collaboration with Kris Tatum, former president of the Tennessee Distillers Guild; Heath Clark, founder of Tennessee-based H Clark Distillery; construction management professional Corey Clayton; and Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton. Arnett is understandably excited about the project. He commented: “For years now, we’ve had this spirit in the back of our minds. It’s straight bourbon whiskey finished with maple wood to produce a sip like no other. It’s hard to believe it’s finally real. And it’s better than we ever imagined.” And there pickleball too!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

It was quite the return to the world of in-person events for us this week

Bowmore and The Savoy team up to open Solas

This week did something truly amazing. We went to a bar for an event. Frankly, we’d have bit your hand off for an evening at Moe’s Tavern but we got to enjoy some a little more sophisticated at The Savoy. The London landmark was celebrating the launch of Solas (which means light, joy and comfort in Scottish Gaelic), an pop-up outdoor dining space in the historic Savoy Court that takes advantage of this age of outdoor hospitality. It’s a collaboration with Bowmore, which helped put together quite the menu. There’s an array of sublime cocktails that we got to taste as well as a raw seafood bar (mmmmm, raw seafood bar) that serves oyster selections, lobster rolls, gravadlax and scallop ceviche. The venue is a feast for the eyes too, but as you might imagine, it was the cocktails that really sold it for us. Standouts include the Pursuit For Perfection, a light, refreshing and elegant combination of Haku Vodka, peach, rosebud cordial and Champagne and Timeless, a rich, deep and complex mix of Bowmore 15 Year Old, Chezakette Bianco, Averna, Angostura, aquavit and sugar. It’s a truly impressive experience, to be honest. It looks great, the cocktails were delicious and the food? Well, Gordon Ramsey was there and he seemed perfectly happy. Solas is now open seven days a week until 21 June 2021 and I’d imagine reserving ASAP would be a good idea. 

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

The distillery has always had sustainability at the core of its business

Flor de Caña Rum to plant one million trees by 2025

With it being Earth Day yesterday, many brands have put the PR machines into overdrive in order to shout about how environmentally friendly they are. There are a few that aren’t simply greenwashing however, like Flor de Caña. It’s a sustainably-produced rum distilled with 100% renewable energy that’s carbon neutral and Fair Trade certified. It also has its own reforestation program, which has led to the planting of nearly 750,000 trees since 2005. Now it’s ramping up those efforts by pledging to plant more than one million trees by 2025. By partnering with One Tree Planted, its global campaign aims to raise awareness on the importance of reforestation and inspire consumers, bartenders and the general public to donate through the One Tree Planted platform. This guarantees that one tree will be planted for every dollar received. In turn, Flor de Caña will then match all donations received in order to have a greater impact. The global campaign, titled ‘Together for a Greener Future’, will also see the launch of several events with retailers, bars, restaurants and on social media (#TogetherForAGreenerFuture) to engage eco-conscious consumers. “Trees are essential for biodiversity and a healthy climate, so it’s great to work with a brand so committed to making a positive impact for reforestation and sustainability overall,” said Diana Chaplin, canopy director at One Tree Planted. Keep up the good work, guys!

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Congratulations Mark!

Mark McClintock is Diageo World Class GB Bartender of the Year

Congratulations to Mark McClintock who fought off stiff competition to be crowned last night as Diageo World Class GB Bartender of the Year. The test consisted of two challenges. The first dubbed ‘Alive with Freshness’ used Tanqueray No. Ten and was judged solely on flavour and balance. The second was more complicated and involved contestants designing a dream whisky bar along with two cocktails, one made with Talisker and one with Johnnie Walker Black Label. World Class ambassador Jo Last praised McClintock’s “impeccable skills and hospitality throughout both challenges”.The judging panel was led by Pippa Guys who commented: “Mark has demonstrated a consistently high quality of drinks, knowledge, and personality ever since he stepped into the World Class programme.” McClintock himself said: “I am genuinely shocked and so honoured to go on and represent GB on the global stage”. In addition to the glory of going to the final 4-8 July (virtually), McClintock wins a 12-month contract with Global Bartending, WSET Level 3 spirits course, a personalised Cocktail Kingdom kit, and photoshoot. We wish him the best of luck for the final.

The Nightcap: 23 April edition

Loser has to sing The Champs – Tequila on karaoke.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Cazcabel’s ‘world’s first Tequila board game’

Last week we heard about Jose Cuervo’s plans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, now Cazcabel has revealed how it will mark the event. The brand has launched the ‘world’s first Tequila board game’, La Lotería. A hand-illustrated version of the Mexican classic bingo-style game, the aim is to be the first to match all the pictures on the sheet, La Tabla, with those called out by the host from the deck of cards. Each La Lotería game, comes in a magnetic box complete with a deck of cards, eight reusable La Tabla sheets and pens, a rule sheet, and a Spanish translation guide. Cazcabel Tequila is also hosting a Mexican Fiesta two-hour virtual event filled with tequila cocktails and La Lotería at 6:30 pm on Thursday 6th May. It will be hosted by the brand’s global brand ambassador Nate Sorby, with tickets available via Design My Night for £25 per person. It also sounds great, but to be honest the idea of mixing up some Margaritas whilst playing a Tequila board game sounds hard to beat. You can pick one up from the brand’s website and grab your Cazcabel Tequila here

And finally… man celebrates end of lockdown by pouring a pint over his head

Here in England, we’ve unable to contain our excitement that the pubs are opening again so we can have a delicious pint of beer in the garden. But not as excited as one St Helens man who was so overcome with emotion at the thought of that first pint, that rather than drink it, he poured it over his head. 45-year-old Charlie Richards commented: “My mate was just doing a video showing everyone there really enjoying the day and it went onto me, and well I got a bit excited and ended up rubbing the beer on my face before pouring it over my head for a few laughs. I didn’t think too much of it really, but my mate posted it on Facebook and now it’s gone everywhere.” So this St. George’s Day, we raise a glass to a true Englishman. Cheers Charlie!

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The Nightcap: 16 April

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April…

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April edition.

You may have seen the news already, but this week is a big one here at Master of Malt as we’re saying a tearful goodbye to our wonderful editor, Kristiane Sherry who is moving on to pastures new. This humble blog wouldn’t be what it is today without her contribution and we hope you’ll join us in wishing her all the best in her new role. Thanks for everything, Kristy.

Elsewhere, we launched two different competitions, each one offering you a chance to get your hands on some delicious booze. So, if you’re a fan of Darkness and/or River Rock whisky, be sure to check them out. Adam then cast our MoM-branded spotlight on Black Cow Vodka, Henry spoke to Lady Armagnac herself, Amanda Garnham, Kristy heard from Jake Burger about his new book and how the bar trade will endure and Scott Davidson from Glencairn Crystal spoke to Lucy Britner about 40 years of making exceptional glassware. We also enjoyed new Kilchoman whisky, the El Presidente cocktail and ten delightful drinks from independent distillers

Now, on to the Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

5/10, it’s the Mitre in Holland Park,

These are London most mediocre pubs

We’re used to listicles outlining people’s favourite venues; we’ve even seen round-ups of worst places, but The Fence Magazine (an extremely funny newish magazine that we’d highly recommend subscribing to) has come up with an entirely new kind of clickbait when this week it published its top 25 most mediocre pubs in London. The thinking behind it was that the capital’s best pubs would be rammed, what with lockdown restrictions easing in England, so here are some places that nobody in their right mind would queue to get into. The list included such legends of mediocrity as the Mitre in Holland Park, “an archetypal non-place”, the Zetland Arms in South Kensington, “the kind of place you end up going to regularly for a few months, never develop feelings about and, occasionally, go again”, and the World’s End in Finsbury Park, “an adequate place to drink a few pints.” It might be because we’ve been deprived of pubs for so long, but the mention of these ordinary boozers made us feel moderately nostalgic. 

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

This is one for the gin lover in your life

Beefeater celebrates 200 years with snazzy new book

The Beefeater story begins in 1820 when James Burrough began distilling in Chelsea. Since then, the brand that became Beefeater gin has stayed true to its London roots being based since 1958 in Kennington. To celebrate 200 years, Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, the Ant and Dec of drinks writing, have produced a lavish new book. Murielle Dessenis, global brand director for Beefeater, explained “This book is not a time capsule but a creative visualisation of Beefeater’s history, and its future, told by those who have helped shape it.” We were fortunate enough to see an advance copy and it’s very snazzy indeed as it’s laid out as ‘triptych’ so the book opens up three ways. But it’s much more than a pretty face, the book contains a history of the company, insights from master distiller Desmond Payne MBE and evocative old adverts and photos from Beefeater’s long history. The lads commented: “It is London, this city of contrasts, that has provided the backdrop for Beefeater’s greatest moments and achievements. This was a fantastic project to work on as we were able to take a look at what gin means to the people behind Beefeater and to the location in which it is crafted.” It’s something that no gin lover should be without so you’ll be pleased to know it’s available from the Beefeater shop for £50.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Fining dining comes to Chatham’s historic dockyard

Copper River Distillery in Chatham opens fine dining restaurant

You don’t often hear the words ‘fine dining’ and ‘Chatham’ in the same sentence but all that is about to change as the Copper River distillery has just announced that it will be opening a fancy new restaurant. Called the Pumproom, after the beautiful Italianate building (above) housing the distillery in Chatham’s historic dockyard, it’s first service will take place today, Friday 16 April, with diners distanced on a deck overlooking the historic River Medway. Copper Rivet Distillery’s commercial director, Stephen Russell, explained a little about what to expect: “Outstanding food creations by head chef Will Freeman are complemented by expertly curated wines from Kent and from around the world, as the Russell family has had expertise as wine buyers for over 40 years.” And maitre d’ Dom Schefferlie added: “Our team at the Pumproom will be using seasonal ingredients to maximum effect and, in keeping with the ethos of the distillery, will be taking a keen interest in provenance – using local ingredients wherever possible, be they locally grown-vegetables, locally-reared meat or locally-landed fish such as Rye Bay cod. Both the restaurant and the distillery count food miles and the minimising of waste as key deliverables.” There’s both tapas and more formal dining. We have to say that the menu sounds delicious with the thought of a starter of bone marrow, chicken crackling, smoked eel, cockles, radish & toast really getting our juices going. Sounds worth a visit.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Great Islay whisky and delicious Scottish beer have come together in a joyous union once more

Innis & Gunn launch Islay whisky cask beer with Laphroaig Distillery

Any fan of Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn will know it loves to do a bit of innovation and its new limited-edition beer demonstrates just that. Islay Whisky Cask is a 7.4% amber ale aged in ex-Laphroaig 10 Year Old casks. During its 12-week maturation in barrel, the beer is said to have extracted some hallmark Laphroaig notes of peat smoke and brine, as well as cask influences of vanilla and floral aromas. Combine that with the rich, warming malty flavours from the malted barley and it sounds like something that’s right up our alley. Like when Ardbeg made peaty beer. Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder of Innis & Gunn, says the collaboration is a perfect example of the “quality that can be achieved when you work innovatively with your craft and unite with other complimentary talents”. He also comments that the beer “truly evokes the island that inspires both our brew and the iconic Laphroaig” and that the result is evident “even before you take your first sip, as you open the bottle, you’re welcomed with the distinctly peaty, complex aroma that defines Laphroaig”. Just 3,400 bottles of Islay Whisky Cask have been available to buy in the UK from today via the Innis & Gunn online shop, so you might want to hurry if you want to get your hands on one.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

The research project which could inform future barrel experiments.

Buffalo Trace Distillery begins oak research project

This week we learned that two Kentucky giants, Buffalo Trace Distillery and the University of Kentucky, are teaming up to learn more about white oak. This is handy, seeing it’s the wood bourbon is matured in. The two are joining forces on a 15-year research project called the White Oak Initiative. The idea is to ensure the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak by studying the genetic responses of trees from various regions to different white oak forest establishment techniques in a rural field application. The study kicked off with the planting of 1,066 trees on the farm at Buffalo Trace Distillery this week featuring seedlings from 40 different parent trees from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Dennis Walsh, homeplace manager for Buffalo Trace Distillery, explains further, “We’re excited to partner with University of Kentucky on this project. It’s important that we look towards the future and how we can contribute to the sustainability of the white oak industry. The project will also assess the cost per board foot required to maintain a sustainable supply of new white oak long into the future”. Buffalo Trace is considering adding tours in the future of its farm, which would include education about its participation in the White Oak Initiative. Long term, Buffalo Trace may be able to use some of the oak trees it has planted for future barrel experiments.  

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Anyone else hungry?

Jose Cuervo helps you celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home

With the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo coming up (5 May in case your Spanish is a bit rusty), you can expect to see a host of Tequila and mezcal brands marking the event in the next few weeks. For Jose Cuervo, 2021’s festivities will include teaming up with award-winning chef James Cochran to launch the Around the Cluck X Jose Cuervo Cinco de Mayo at-home-kit. Featuring Cochran’s signature Around the Cluck fried chicken, his favourite Sauce Shop condiments, and exclusive Margarita pairings from Jose Cuervo, the restaurant kit looks like ideal way to celebrate at home with loved ones. The Twisted Piña Margarita combines Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila, with pressed pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, coriander, jalapeño and agave nectar with garnishes of cracked black pepper and a fresh lime wheel. Oli Pergl, Tequila educator at Jose Cuervo, says: “Cinco De Mayo is an important date in the Mexican calendar so what better way to celebrate than a partnership between award-winning chef, James Cochran, his restaurant 12.51 and Jose Cuervo Tequila. Delicious food complemented with perfectly paired cocktails will transport you, figuratively not literally, to Tequila Valley… enjoy!” The kits are available to order from this week until the 3rd May at https://www.1251.co.uk/

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Is it madness or brilliance?

And finally…. Crisp-flavoured beer??! WTF?!

Crisps are wonderful things. We’re particularly partial to salt & vinegar flavour Chipsticks here at MoM. And beer is brilliant too. These are things we can all agree on. But what about if you put them together? No, not beer-flavoured crisps, that would be too straightforward. We’re talking crisp-flavoured beer. It’s taken an all-Yorkshire partnership of Seabrook’s crisps and Northern Monk brewery to make this unholy creation come true. The idea was first aired on 1 April so was widely thought to be a joke, but they did the old switcheroo and made their joke a reality. There’s two versions: a 5.4% ABV Cheese & Onion lager which is said to have “notes of cheese and onion”, and a 5% Prawn Cocktail Gose “with the tang of prawn cocktail.” Northern Monk founder Russell Bisset commented: “After one of the most challenging periods in recent history, we decided to take this quest into uncharted territory, creating an experience that would make people laugh – or grimace actually – as lockdown lifts.” We’re not going to knock them until we’ve tried them but, let’s face it, they sound horrible. We’ll stick with a pint of Landlord and a packet of salt & vinegar Golden Wonder, thank you very much.

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