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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Trump tariffs

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: 12 March

For all the latest on Conor McGregor’s big whiskey sale, a Prosecco-infused Easter egg and the world’s smallest(ish) Irish pub, you’re in the right place. It’s the Nightcap! The Nightcap…

For all the latest on Conor McGregor’s big whiskey sale, a Prosecco-infused Easter egg and the world’s smallest(ish) Irish pub, you’re in the right place. It’s the Nightcap!

The Nightcap is full of Easter and St. Patrick’s Day cheer this week. Which reminds us how much there is to look forward to. Sitting in a beer garden and just whiling the hours away. Making friends for life in the smoking area. Finally giving Future Nostalgia the respect it deserves by dancing to every minute of it with other people. But we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. There’s still plenty to enjoy at the moment. Like all those new pets. And, of course, some light reading regarding the drinks industry’s latest shenanigans. Let’s get on with it. It’s The Nightcap: 12 March edition!

This week you might have noticed that things were a little different in the blog as we marked International Women’s Day by celebrating the women behind the drinks you love. We were delighted to be joined by brewer and broadcaster Jaega Wise, Widow Jane head distiller Lisa Roper Wicker, Maker’s Mark diplomat Nicole Sykes, Diageo coppersmith Kirstin Neil and The Story associate director Tarita Mullings. Elsewhere, Adam recommended some sensationally smoky spirits, while Henry explained how the Negroni became a classic and then enjoyed a sherry-soaked treat from the Cotswolds distillery, and our occasional MoM Loves partnership series was back with a lesson in foraged cocktails from The Botanist Gin. Oh, and if you’ve left it to the last minute to sort out Mother’s Day don’t worry, we’ve got you covered

On The Nightcap this week we remember Steven Spurrier

The wine world mourns one of its most lively, popular and influential figures, Steven Spurrier

Wine world pays tribute to Steven Spurrier

The wine world lost one of its most important and colourful figures in Steven Spurrier this week. There aren’t many wine writers who have been played by Alan Rickman in a film but then few, if any, have proved as influential as Spurrier. He was best known for organising the 1976 Judgement of Paris wherein a blind tasting by French judges, the best wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux lost out to some upstart producers from California. It’s a story that has resonated down the years but there’s so much more to Spurrier than that. He was born in 1941, and had a varied career as a wine merchant, publisher, writer and entrepreneur. In his later years, when most people would think about retiring he was involved in founding a publisher, Acadamie de Vin, and planted a vineyard at his home in Dorset to produce a highly-regarded sparkling wine, Bride Valley. Jancis Robinson wrote about him yesterday on her site, JancisRobinson.com: “For someone who achieved so much, he acted with such extreme modesty and politeness that there was always a danger of his not being accorded his due”. Adam Lechmere in his touching obituary for Club Oenologique added: “Generations of wine lovers would claim him as their own.” He is survived by his wife Bella and children Kate and Christian. Thank you Steven, we’re raising a glass or two to you this week.

On The Nightcap this week we hear about Redbreast's new whiskey

The belting new dram marks 30 years of the revival of the brand

Redbreast delves into the past for its newest expression

There’s a new Redbreast out there. But before you deluge the MoM switchboard, of whatever the internet equivalent is, we have to say that this limited edition cask strength 10-year-old version is only available from the Birdhouse, the Redbreast members club. Right, got that out of the way. Is it any good, you’ll want to know? Yes, it’s fabulous. If you like traditional Irish pot still whiskey then you are going to love this because it’s perhaps the pot stilliest whiskey out there. What do we mean by that? Midleton Distillery makes three types of pot still new make, light, medium and heavy. The light and medium go into younger expressions, whereas the heavy is saved for heavily-aged versions where it’s blended with some light. This is the only Midleton that contains all three levels, and the only young expression to contain heavy. It was inspired by the original Redbreast which came from Jameson’s Dublin distillery but was aged and bottled by Gilbey’s wine merchants. To celebrate 30 years of the rebirth of the brand, archivist Carol Quinn collaborated with blenders Billy Leighton and Dave McCabe to produce this tribute to the original. It was aged in a mixture of ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry-seasoned butts, and bottled at 59.1% ABV. It’s a gorgeous drop with big sweet-spicy flavours, a drop of water reveals a fruitier side with fresh peaches and dried apricots as well as wood tannins. It’s available from today and costs €100 but you’ll have to register at the Birdhouse for a chance to buy a bottle. 7,000 have been filled. It was such a hit on the online tasting that there was a clamour to make it part of the core range. Sadly Leighton confirmed that it was a one-off. Boo! 

On The Nightcap this week we hear about Conor McGregor's big windfall

Conor McGregor is in the money (again)

Conor McGregor bought out of Proper 12 Irish whiskey

Big news in Irish whiskey this week came from Becle, which bought Conor McGregor’s shares in Proper 12 Irish whiskey. The Mexican beverage company, which owns Jose Cuervo Tequila, Kraken Spiced Rum and Bushmills Distillery, revealed it had exercised an option to acquire 51 per cent of the equity interests of Eire Born Spirits, a company founded by McGregor and his manager Audie Attar. Becle initially had a 20% share of Proper 12, having helped EBS get the brand off the ground, and it had already increased its stake to 49% last year. Now it retains full ownership of the brand that McGregor launched in 2018. We’re sure he’s netted a very handsome fee for the sale (reports suggest he Attar will split £112 million), but it does raise the questions over how the Becle will now market Proper 12 without McGregor as the face of the brand. His regular championing of Proper 12 on his social media profiles and at press conferences certainly helped sales. But Becle may be happy to wash its hands of the controversial former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, who will have put some people off the brand. Certainly, our customer reviews paint an interesting picture of Proper 12 as a divisive product. This month alone there’s a range of comments, with one person describing it as a “great tasting whisky that is only hated on by people who don’t like McGregor”, while another calls it “the worst Irish whiskey at the price point”. Of course, you won’t know on what side of the fence you sit until you find out for yourself…

On The Nightcap this week we hear about good tariff news

Get your Cognac orders in because the tariffs have been suspended!

Tariffs on rum and Cognac suspended

Remember last week when the US and the UK decided to shake hands and let sense prevail by suspending those silly tariffs on goods like Scotch whisky? Well, a similar deal has now been struck between the US and the EU. A four-month suspension of tariffs on products from both nations is now in effect, which is very good news for us booze fans. Gone are the 25% EU tariffs on US rum, brandy and vodka. As are the 25% US tariffs on liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain, and certain Cognac and other grape brandies from France and Germany. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen spoke to US president Joe Biden to agree to a temporary removal of the tariffs in relation to the Airbus-Boeing dispute and says the news was excellent for businesses and industries “on both sides of the Atlantic”, adding that it sends a “very positive signal for our economic cooperation in the years to come”. Trade group the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) were similarly pleased with the breakthrough in the long-running spat, saying it “left much destruction to the spirits sector in its wake” and that it comes at a key time for the US hospitality sector. However, Discus also said there was plenty left to discuss (sorry), as the EU and UK continue to impose a 25% tariff on American whiskey, which is due to double on 1 June this year. Discus called the tariff ‘unfair and not sustainable’ and has urged the Biden administration to find a speedy resolution that eliminates these “debilitating tariffs on spirits for good.” We can but hope. At least, for now, things are finally moving in the right direction.

On The Nightcap this week we learn about whisky's representation problem

Right now whisky marketing is failing to adequately represent women and people of colour

New report highlights gender disparity in whisky

An alarming, but sadly not that surprising report was published by Our Whisky this week which found that leading whisky brands’ Instagram accounts posts are sorely lacking when it comes to representing women and people of colour. The Women and Whisky: Female Representation in Social Media Marketing, which analysed the Instagram accounts of the world’s 150 largest and most influential whisky brands, reveals that men outnumber women by 228%, with women accounting for just 36% of people represented in 2020. Meanwhile, non-white ethnicities were represented in just 17.9% of posts that featured people. Becky Paskin, the co-founder of OurWhisky, says the study demonstrates we’re still far away from achieving gender equality. “Whisky brands have the power to normalise the fact women make and drink whisky by what they choose to show in their advertising and marketing,” Paskin explains. “They don’t need to feminise their brands, but by simply being more inclusive they can change the narrative and appeal to a wider demographic of potential customers, which has obvious business benefits as well.” With International Women’s Day this week, we’ve seen brands highlight some of the incredible women in our industry. But, while Paskin appreciates acknowledging female achievements, she adds that to really honour these women and make whisky truly inclusive, brands should consider how their year-round marketing is representative of today’s drinkers. 

On The Nightcap this week we learn about Pernod's new investment

La Hechicera Rum has joined Pernod Ricard’s considerable portfolio

Pernod Ricard acquires majority stake in La Hechicera Rum

Pernod Ricard’s considerable portfolio continues to swell as after it bought a big chunk of La Hechicera Rum. The purchase, for an undisclosed size and sum, is expected to be completed in the coming weeks and will give Pernod Ricard a majority stake in the Colombian rum brand which was launched in 2012 by Miguel and Laura Riascos along with their friend Martamaria Carrillo. La Hechicera’s flagship rum, as well as the Experimental expressions, will join Havana Club in Pernod’s rum ranks. It’s a move that’s pretty familiar to anyone who knows the drinks industry, as the French drinks giant made similar purchases  of Monkey 47, Smooth Ambler and Ojo de Tigre. This obviously appeals to La Hechicera Rum co-founder and marketing director Miguel Riascos, who says that thanks to these previous successful collaborations, “Pernod Ricard has shown itself to be the partner of choice for La Hechicera”. He adds that the company’s “passion for terroir and its extensive distribution network will ensure that our brand remains true to its Colombian roots and the vision of its creators, while reaching new consumers.” If it means more people get to discover this delightful rum, then we’re behind the move. Of course, you could always just check the MoM blog instead

On The Nightcap this week we learn about world's smallest(ish) Irish pub

Pint of Guinness, please. No logo in the foam.

Irish whiskey brands mark St. Patrick’s Day

As well as a new Redbreast whiskey, we’ve also been inundated with Irish whiskey brands excitedly informing us about St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The Irish patron saint’s day, (next Wednesday 17 March), is usually a major celebration but Irish whiskey’s finest have had to be a bit more creative thanks to lockdown. The Sexton has created a nocturnal cocktail kit, made of ingredients that thrive in the night-time and designed to be enjoyed in the dark, while Slane will host an online gig this weekend starring Damien Dempsey and Irish rock band THUMPER on the Hot Press YouTube channel. Elsewhere, Tullamore D.E.W got around the fact that we can’t get into pubs in time to celebrate by opening The World’s Smallest(ish) Irish pub. It invites virtual visitors to curate their own experience, with choices including comedy musings from Irish comedian Alison Spittle, traditional Irish toasts, music singalongs, and various Tullamore D.E.W. cocktail making masterclasses. Jameson, meanwhile, decided that a month-long series of virtual events was the way to go. To find out more about the Irish whiskey giants other plans, which include a competition to win a “once-in-a-lifetime” St. Paddy’s experience for 2022, you should visit the Jameson Connects platform or its social media pages. As long as there’s not a Fabergé egg in sight, we’re happy to spend the day with a dram of something Irish and delicious, but it’s nice to know there’s options a-plenty if we fancy making a bit more of a fuss.

On The Nightcap this week we check out The Last Drop's new initiative

‘The Assembly’ will help the brand launch some intriguing new creations.

The Last Drop creates new booze with worldwide spirits experts

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to drink booze created by an Avengers-style worldwide coalition of some of the best and brightest the industry has to offer, then you’re in luck. The Last Drop has created pretty much that with ‘The Assembly’. Featuring an independent panel of experts, innovators, and leaders drawn from across the spirits industry, the plan is that they will create a series of new signature blends. This is exciting because it marks a big change for The Last Drop, who you’ll have known best as curators but not creators. It includes the legendary Colin Scott, current master blender for The Last Drop, we well as JJ Corry Irish Whiskey founder Louise McGuane, the cellar master for Domaine de Sazerac Cognac, Denis Lahouratate, as well as Richard Seale, Drew Mayville and Michael d’Souza of Foursquare Rum, Sazerac and Paul John Whisky fame. The first release will be a limited-edition aged blended Scotch whisky created by Scott, who previously worked at Chivas Brothers for 43 years before joining The Last Drop. The brand’s managing director, Rebecca Jago, says it’s a hugely exciting milestone for The Last Drop and that The Assembly will play an “instrumental role as we develop, given our common focus on extraordinary quality and our shared philosophy of celebrating the remarkable”. She added that Last Drop is “delighted and immensely proud that such respected figures from across the industry have agreed to join us.” The only issue we can see is that “The Assembly, assemble!” is a proper rubbish call-to-arms. That will need some work.

On The Nightcap this week we've got world class bartenders!

Best of luck to you all!

GB Diageo World Class competition finalists announced… virtually!

Despite locky d’s, the annual Diageo World Class bartending competition has been taking place this year. Back in September three bartenders Stevie Kane, Kuba Korzynski and James Rawcliffe were chosen during London Cocktail Week. Now five more have triumphed. Their brief was to make a cocktail with The Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old. The winners were Alexa Farrow and Mark McClintock both from London, Stefanie Anderson and Murray Drysdale from Edinburgh, and Matt Arnold from Birmingham. All the judging was done virtually by Jo Last, World Class and malt whisky ambassador, and Pippa Guy, World Class and Tanqueray ambassador. Last commented: “Taking World Class virtual this year has been a new experience, but we’re overjoyed with its success so far. It was important for us to stay connected with our community of bartenders and to innovate, by adding new challenges to match the increased standards of competitors.” Pippa Guy adds: “We have really enjoyed being able to spend time with each of our competitors albeit virtual, and pleased to have been able to continue showcasing the amazing talent that the GB hospitality and drinks sector have to offer.” These eight will now go into the final that takes place in April. Virtually, naturally. The prize is a 12-month contract with bartender talent agency, Global Bartending, and a place on a WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits course. Good luck to all the finalists.

On The Nightcap this week we learn this world's fanciest Easter egg

It seems wrong to make so many egg puns about something so classy. But then, they are eggscellent fun…

And finally…. Have an eggstravagant Easter with Prosecco-infused chocolate 

Last week it was beer made with Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. This week our chocolate/ booze mash-up is a little more up-market. It’s a chocolate Easter egg infused with real Prosecco. Hang on, that doesn’t sound that classy. What about Champagne? But this isn’t any Prosecco. It’s Asolo Superiore 2020 from The Emissary. According to top chocolatier William Curley, the wine is “low in sugar, fresher and more versatile than most other sparkling wines, it pairs effortlessly with Amedei’s dark, rich and smooth chocolate flavours, without being overpowering.” He should know as he used to work in Michelin-starred restaurants and was the youngest ever chef pâtissier at The Savoy. As well as Prosecco, the eggs is made with a mango and passionfruit dark chocolate ganache. So a Yorkie bar, this ain’t. The price is pretty fancy too, £59 for a 400g egg. You’d be pretty eggcited to find one of these in your Easter basket.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 12 March

US scraps tariffs on British whisky exports

Fans of cashmere, Stilton and, most importantly, whisky rejoice. The dreaded tariffs have been banished! Given that it’s been one of the biggest stories in the drinks industry over the…

Fans of cashmere, Stilton and, most importantly, whisky rejoice. The dreaded tariffs have been banished!

Given that it’s been one of the biggest stories in the drinks industry over the last couple of years and we’ve reported on it several times, we think you’re probably aware that whisky in the UK has had an issue when it comes to tariffs imposed by the United States government.

Today we can finally report on some tremendous news: the US has agreed to suspend them. The millions of pounds’ worth of tariffs have been cut for four months as part of a de-escalation of the long-running trade dispute.

The removal of the 25% tariff rate on whisky exports to zero is a huge relief. It’s been reported that they were costing the UK industry about £30 million a week. Given that Scotch was the UK’s largest food and drink export last year, that loss was felt by all. Even in the US itself, where exports of single malt Irish and Scotch whiskies to the US were worth about £340 million in 2018.  

whisky tariffs

You’ll have an easier time crossing the Atlantic now!

Last year Liz Truss, the trade secretary, had suspended UK tariffs, but this action wasn’t reciprocated by the Trump administration, in a move you could describe as ‘shady’. This earlier-than-expected announcement, however, goes some way to ending the bad blood and to help both sides resolve the dispute over subsidies given to Airbus and Boeing when the UK was a member of the European Union. 

The news provides some vindication for trade bodies on both sides of the pond too, who campaigned tirelessly for the removal of the tariffs after they were first imposed in October 2019, foreshadowing a truly awful year. And thanks to the grim pandemic wreaking havoc across our industry, this move is all the more important. The department of international trade has said the tariff suspension will help to protect jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

The move will also help cashmere producers, Stilton exporters and the UK’s aerospace industry, which were all subject to US tariffs. But it should be noted that the government said it reserved the right to reimpose tariffs on US products if the four months of scheduled talks on the Airbus dispute failed to make “satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement”. 

whisky tariffs

Karen Betts welcomes the news

Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) Karen Betts, however, is understandably delighted with the development. “This is fabulous news. The tariff on single malt Scotch whisky exports to the US has been doing real damage to Scotch whisky in the 16 months it has been in place, with exports to the US falling by 35%, costing companies over half a billion pounds. So today, everyone in our industry – from small companies to large – is breathing a sigh of relief.”

Betts also paid tribute to Truss and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and their teams, while asserting that the UK government and the new US administration will now need to work hard on “finding a negotiated settlement to this long-running aerospace dispute”. 

We await further news to see how this situation changes from here. Tonight, however, we raise a dram!

4 Comments on US scraps tariffs on British whisky exports

The Nightcap: 5 February

Another week has passed and that means it’s time for another hearty spoonful of brilliant and bonkers boozy stories that caught our eye. It’s The Nightcap! Are you Beast from…

Another week has passed and that means it’s time for another hearty spoonful of brilliant and bonkers boozy stories that caught our eye. It’s The Nightcap!

Are you Beast from the East ready? For readers outside the UK, this is a fearsome weather front that is coming in from the Eurasian landmass/ totally normally cold winter weather hyped up by the media, delete as applicable. However you look at it, it’s going to be freezing, so at MoM Towers, we’re stocking up on firewood, tasty snacks, those funny tennis racket type things that people wear on their feet in Scandinavia and huskies. We’ve already got plenty to drink but we’ve ordered a bit more just in case. You never know, we might get snowed in. Happily, we’ve also got extra amusing, interesting and downright bizarre stories from the world of booze this week, so if you can’t get out, there’s something to read. Yes, it’s a bumper Beast from the East Nightcap!

This week on the MoM blog we had the pleasure of welcoming Millie Milliken, who cast her eye on new make spirit and will be contributing more fabulous words in the future. As will the wonderful Lucy Britner, who returned this week to analyse some of film & TV’s most celebrated drinks and drinkers. Henry then showed you how to make five easy and classic serves and welcomed a grape-based aperitif that should be the drink of the summer. Elsewhere, Adam enjoyed one of the great modern cocktails, asked if augmented reality bottle labels have a future, showed you ten Tequilas and mezcals were big fans of and put together a handy little round-up of brilliantly boozy gifts for Valentine’s Day.

In this week's Nightcap more tariffs, again!

If you’re tired of all the tariff stories, join the club. Let’s hope the madness ends soon

US tariffs cost Scotch whisky £500m in lost exports

We don’t like to kick things off with a negative story but we’re afraid this one is too big to ignore. New figures suggest exports of single malt Scotch whisky have fallen by more than a third – amounting to more than £500m – since a 25% tariff was imposed in October 2019.  The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) was once again damning of the tariffs in response to the news, which were initially introduced by the Donald Trump administration in retaliation for EU state support given to Airbus. The industry body says distillers are continuing to pay the price for an aerospace dispute that has nothing to do with them and that the loss in sales and market share suffered by “large and small producers alike”, are so severe that some “may never now recover”. The SWA’s chief executive, Karen Betts is also calling for more support for the industry given the losses during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the end of these punitive tariffs. “The government must also offer some support to distillers, who are shouldering tariff losses alongside dealing with unprecedentedly difficult trading conditions as a result of Brexit and global restrictions to curb Covid-19 transmission”. Hear, hear. Let’s hope sense prevails.

In this week's Nightcap... Icons of Whisky award winners!

Congratulations to Andy Watts and to everyone who picked up an award

Icons of Whisky regional winners announced

Whisky Magazine’s celebration of all things delicious and distilled has concluded today and there have been some notable winners in the Icons of Whisky awards. The year the winners were broadcast in a virtual awards ceremony online in order to adapt to a Covid-19 world. “After an incredibly challenging year it has been wonderful to witness the perseverance of the whisky industry,” Anita Ujszaszi, world whiskies awards director, said. “We have seen new and creative developments and innovation in the face of unexpected restrictions, and the resilience of those celebrated here is second to none.” The regional winners for America, Australia, Ireland, the Rest of World and Scotland were revealed this week, with Brown-Forman, Lark Distillery, Waterford DistilleryMackmyra and Whyte and Mackay winning distiller of the year in their respective categories. Winners of the master distiller/blender of the year included Victoria Eady Butler, Patrick Maguire, Noel Sweeney, Dhavall Gandhi and Bob Dalgarno. Meanwhile, in a popular move, Distell master distiller Andy Watts, the man responsible for the company’s South African whisky portfolio of Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky and Three Ships Whisky, was inducted into Whisky Magazine’s Whisky Hall of Fame. Congratulations to all who picked up prestigious awards, we look forward to 25 March when the Global Winners of the Icons of Whisky Awards together with the World Whiskies Awards winners will be announced. 

In this week's Nightcap the industry is embracing environmentally friendly initiatives

It’s amazing to see Diageo leading by example like this

Diageo makes leap forward in sustainability measures

We’ll take any good news we can get at the moment so it was wonderful to see that Diageo made the headlines for a very positive reason this week. Not only did four of its Scotch whisky distilleries receive the award the UK’s highest eco-tourism award in the same week it unveiled the installation of a new weir and fish pass. Lagavulin, Blair Athol, Oban and Clynelish all received a gold certification from Green Tourism for sustainable practices, joining sister distilleries Glenkinchie and Royal Lochnagar on the list of Scotch whisky distilleries to receive the accreditation. Achievements praised by the assessors across the whisky attractions include biodiversity enhancement, local sourcing, community engagement and plastic reduction. As for the weir and fish pass, the £550,000 structure was built in collaboration with the Spey Fishery Board to help boost the sustainability of salmon and trout stocks in the river Dullan, part of the River Spey catchment that is crucial to the Scotch whisky industry. A similar, smaller-scale project has also recently been completed on the Burn of Linkwood at Linkwood Distillery in Elgin, while Diageo is also developing its programme of fish pass improvements near Glen Ord later this year. The environmental projects are part of Diageo’s Society 2030: Spirit of Progress sustainability plan, which promises a decade of action to tackle climate change. We salute them and all other brands who are committed to such ambitious environmental goals. Speaking of which…

In this week's Nightcap the industry is embracing environmentally friendly initiatives

The two expressions are believed to be the first carbon-negative English gins

Cooper King unveils first carbon-negative English gins

Cooper King Distillery has kept the green vibes going by revealing that its Dry Gin and Herb Gin have been certified carbon negative. This means the production process actually removes more carbon from the atmosphere than what is released. Cooper King met those standards by reducing the carbon footprint as much as possible, then offsetting the rest with verified carbon credits from Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard programme. The brand has claimed the move makes its products the first English gins to hold that certification. “Producing flavour-driven, sustainable drinks has always been at the core of what we do because we believe drinking good spirits needn’t cost the earth,” said Chris Jaume, co-founder of Cooper King Distillery, said: “Reaching this milestone is a significant step in our plan to become a carbon-negative distillery. We value people, planet and prosperity, and through sharing our findings in our publicly available carbon report we hope to inspire others to make a positive difference.” In addition, Cooper King has partnered with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust to plant one square metre of native UK woodland for every bottle of gin produced and has planted 30 juniper bushes at the distillery, which could produce enough juniper for around 15,000 bottles of gin annually once mature. If you thought that’s where the brand’s environmental credentials end, you’d be wrong. Cooper King is also the first distillery in Europe to join the environmental initiative 1% for the Planet. We stan a responsible spirits producer!

In this week's Nightcap... sea shanties!

Fancy duetting a sea shanty with Justin Young? Now’s your chance!

Vaccines frontman performs Kraken rum’s sea shanty

Taking full advantage of the fact that sea shanties have made a remarkable comeback, Kraken rum has launched a new campaign with Justin Young, the frontman of topically-named band The Vaccines.  Hopping aboard the viral trend, Young has recorded a rendition of My Jolly Sailor, which tells the tale of a love doomed at the hands (or should that be tentacles?) of the kraken, which you can watch here. “Doomed love is the muse behind almost every song I’ve ever written,” explains Young. “Forget the bouquets or borrowed clichés, listeners of ‘My Jolly Sailor’ can expect to hear the harrowing, tragic demise of traditional Valentine’s Day romance.” But, most excitingly of all, fans can become part of the collaboration by contributing their own verse as part of a competition. The prize is a Serenading Sirens Valentine’s Day kit, which includes a limited edition vinyl edition of My Jolly Sailor, a black tentacle candle, and an exclusive Serenading Sirens cocktail which will be created from rum serenaded by Young while performing at The Troxy, London. Because rum tastes better when sung to by English indie frontmen. Everyone knows that. The competition, which you can enter here, is running until Monday 8 February, with 100 winners being announced on Tuesday February 9. 

In this week's Nightcap Glendronach launches new whisky

Be sure to keep an eye out for this beauty, it will be arriving here soon…

Coming soon: Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 9!

If there’s one thing Master of Malt customers love, it’s Glendronach. The Highland distillery is something of a cult favourite offering meaty sherried bottlings at prices that are far from unreasonable. Every so often, however, the distillery releases something that’s exceptional and just such a whisky is on its way in the form of Cask Strength Batch 9. It’s matured in a mixture of Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 59.4% ABV. Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie commented: “The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 9 is incredibly rich and full-bodied; the result of years of slow maturation in Pedro Ximénez puncheons and Oloroso sherry butts. Add a drop or two of water to reveal a cornucopia of flavour; from treacle toffee and raisin-filled toasted brioche, to baked apple and bramble pie and star anise. This crescendos into a lingering dark chocolate, espresso coffee finish. The depth of this Highland Single Malt’s character is boundless.” Blimey! Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? All this could be yours for a very reasonable RRP of £72, and it’s coming soon to Master of Malt. Credit cards at the ready…

In this week's Nightcap... Valentine's Day!

Nothing says I love you like quality booze. Right?

Say it with a Select Aperitivo hamper this Valentine’s Day

What would you like from your wife, husband, lover, special friend or secret admirer this Valentine’s Day? Flowers? Chocolates? An enormous inflatable pink elephant with the words ‘Please say yes, Janet!’ written on the side? Or how about a hamper from top Italian deli Prezzemolo & Vitale containing everything you need to have a perfect Venetian aperitif. We know what we’d prefer. The hamper not only includes a bottle of Select Aperitivo, soda water, Prosecco and glasses to make a spritz with but for the full Italian experience some delicious snacks including green and black olives, taralli with extra virgin olive oil, artichokes in olive oil and to finish, some chilli chocolate. All this for only £59 (plus postage). Go to the website for more information or visit its London delicatessens in Borough Market, Notting Hill and the Kings Road. Throw in an inflatable gondolier, stick on a bit of opera and it’ll be just like being in Venice. Who could resist that?

In this week's Nightcap the industry is embracing environmentally friendly initiatives

This must be one of the greenest Nightcap’s we’ve ever had.

Tidal power comes to Scotch whisky 

Marketing from brands like Old Pulteney and Talisker makes much of the influence of the sea on the whiskies but how great would it be if they were made by the sea rather than just ‘made by the sea.’ Confused? We’ll explain. A company called Nova Innovation will be installing turbines in the narrow straight between Islay and Jura called the Sound of Islay. Which is also a great name for a music festival. Simon Forrest, CEO of Nova Innovation, commented: “The Oran na Mara tidal array has the potential to pair one of Scotland’s largest and world-leading exports – whisky – with world-leading and internationally exportable tidal power technology.” These turbines will generate energy to power the local distilleries replacing fossil fuels. AJ Cunningham, operations manager at Bruichladdich Distillery, commented: “This tidal energy project is really encouraging news for Islay and the potential of energy sourced locally and renewably. In order to decarbonise our activities, access to a clean and continuous supply of energy such as tidal power could help support our carbon zero ambitions.” Last year, the SWA set ambitious plans to make the industry more environmentally friendly. Whisky distillation currently uses around seven times more energy than gin. It would be wonderful if the industry was able to harness something Scotland has in abundance, the sea, to whisky a bit greener.

In this week's Nightcap we learn about Aldi's wine school!

I’d never heard of an Aldiploma until today and I’ve never wanted anything more

Aldi puts the wine into homeschooling 

After a long day juggling homeschooling and zoom meetings, Aldi has the answer to help you relax: more school. Doesn’t sound that great, but this is a school with added wine, so Aldi is calling it… the Aldi Wine School! It’s the follow-up to 2019’s Aldiploma wine course and it’s being launched in conjunction with top Instagrammer Sarah Turner aka The Unmumsy Mum, with 412k followers (!), and Aldi’s very own master of wine, Sam Caporn aka the Mistress of Wine. The course consists of eight modules with classes on food and wine matching, and new world wines, to help you get the most out of your glass. The Unmumsy Mum comments:  “I usually feel bamboozled by the labels in the wine aisle and pick up a Shiraz out of habit, simply because I know I like it. The Aldiploma course bought me sheer joy in swapping phonics and fronted adverbials for a bit of grown-up home learning. Since completing these bitesize modules, I’ve discovered I also like Malbec and I’ve now got the confidence in trying to pick out what I can smell and taste in the glass. I can’t recommend it enough – it’s easy to follow and fascinating!” Sam Caporn added: “The Aldi Wine School, with its jargon free courses, hints and tips, is perfect for giving customers the confidence to try new things – we hope that it helps to spark a sense of fun and excitement when it comes to learning about wine!” Go to the supermarket’s dedicated wine school page and change those whines into wine.

In this week's Nightcap... this, for some reason

So… yeah. This happened.

And finally… Irish whiskey and Fabergé come together at last

Following the launch of The Devil’s Keep in November 2020, The Craft Irish Whiskey Co. is set to outdo itself for its second release: The Emerald Isle Collection. And we say outdo itself, we mean in sheer mind-boggling madness. The press release about the collection starts off pretty reasonably, informing us there are seven custom-made whiskey sets in total that feature two bottles of 30-year-old, triple distilled Irish whiskey, which is said to be the oldest triple-distilled Irish whiskey in existence. A big claim that we’re sure has been rigorously fact-checked. Then we’re informed The Craft Irish Whiskey Co has teamed up with Fabergé, which has created its first-ever Celtic Egg to “honour” Irish heritage. Because, umm… we don’t know. We have no idea what this egg has to do with anything Irish. Answers on a postcard. Oh, and the set also includes a Fabergé Altruist 18k rose gold timepiece and other “priceless” whiskey accessories. You can get more detailed descriptions of them upon request, which sounds like a laugh. The limited-edition boxes will be sold via a private auction in Houston, Texas on 2nd February 2021 at a world record starting price of 1.7m euros, which is the most startling fact of all, but sweet redemption comes with the note that 100% of all proceeds, beyond cost price, is going to charity. The news has still baffled much of the whiskey world, however, including the folks at Whiskysponge, who announced their retirement from public piss-taking upon seeing the press release. A spokesponge said: “I’ve been trying to think of something to say about this Irish egg box for 48 hours but nothing is actually funnier than what it already is.” We feel your pain, sweet, satirical sponge. The Sponge added “My work here is done.” 

No Comments on The Nightcap: 5 February

The Nightcap: 15 January

In this week’s edition of The Nightcap, we lament tariffs again, celebrate the arrival of some charming new booze and try to comprehend how delicious Bordeaux wine made it to…

In this week’s edition of The Nightcap, we lament tariffs again, celebrate the arrival of some charming new booze and try to comprehend how delicious Bordeaux wine made it to space and back without being drunk…  

Welcome everyone, we hope you’re keeping safe and warm during Lockdown III: Lockdowner and enjoying the outdoors when you can. We’re trying to stay chipper ourselves, although we were irked when we noticed in our dictionary that the definition of the word ‘nightcap’ was somewhat lacking. There were references to an alcoholic drink taken at the end of the day, a cloth cap worn with nightclothes and the final race or contest of a day’s sports. But what there wasn’t any word of was this perfectly suitable definition: a charming weekly round-up of all things boozy and newsy, best enjoyed with a dram in-hand. Clearly an oversight. Step-up your game Merriam-Webster. Anyway, here’s another edition of the Nightcap. Perhaps you could pop a jaunty little cloth cap on while you read it?

On the blog this week we announced some good news regarding shipping to Northern Ireland as well as two new competitions: one being our magnificent Burns Night poetry competition, back by popular demand, and the other offering you the chance to win a VIP trip to Benriach Distillery. Ian Buxton returned to cast an eye on a new generation of distillers who are creating whisky with all sorts of uncommon grains, while Adam also embraced the weird and wonderful by enjoying some tasty new baijiu. Elsewhere, we rounded up some of the most delicious low- and no-alcohol drinks on the market for Dry January, showed you how creating your own cocktail ingredients is easier than you might think and enjoyed the marvels of vermouth by welcoming a new expression that honours the father of mixology, Mr Jerry Thomas and using another impressive creation in our delightfully simple and sublime Cocktail of the Week

Now, on to The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Karen Betts from the SWA was on hand to sum up the mood

US tariffs to remain on Scotch whisky

We reported last month that the UK would be dropping the tariffs on American whiskey now that it was out of the EU. We finished by anticpating that the Americans would reciprocate by dropping their 25% tariffs on Scotch but it seems that this won’t be happening in the foreseeable future. It was hoped that a deal could be pushed through in the last days of the Trump administration but it seems that the president has more pressing concerns. According to a story in The Times, the British team don’t hold out much hope that Katherine Tai, the incoming US trade representative, will be prioritising ending the tariffs. Karen Betts from the SWA commented:Tariffs remain on Scotch whisky: A missed opportunity to straighten out subsidies to aerospace and lift hugely damaging tariffs on Scotch Whisky. There’s certainly deep disappointment across the industry. Over £400m in losses and counting.” And there was us hoping that 2021 would begin on a positive note.

The Nightcap

The distillers signed the bottles. All nine of them!

Torabhaig to auction two rare whiskies for charity

There’s already plenty of excitement around the launch of Torabhaig’s first whisky, but that hasn’t stopped the brand from generating even more anticipation by announcing that it will auction two rare signed bottles of Torabhaig Single Malt ahead of its general release in February. The auction, which will start on the 31st January on Whisky Auction, includes a single cask bottle from the Torabhaig Family Reserve (future expressions from the Family Reserve will remain in a private collection and unavailable to purchase normally) as well as a bottle of the ‘Legacy Series 2017’ peated single malt, both of which have been signed by all nine Torabhaig distillers. All proceeds of the sale will go to the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the Dr MacKinnon Memorial Broadford Hospital. Given the upcoming launch is from the first whisky distillery to be built on Skye in 190 years and only the second legal whisky distillery ever to operate on the island (after Talisker), many of us whisky lovers are understandably very excited to get our hands on its inaugural whisky. Good thing we can reveal that the Legacy Series 2017 will be available from MoM Towers, but keep in mind that this is a limited single distillation vintage issue with just over 3,000 bottles available for distribution in the UK and 6,000 in the USA so demand is likely to outstrip supply.

The Nightcap

The hospitality industry has welcomed the government’s vote

UK government votes in favour of hospitality minister

Given the state of things right now we’re always delighted to welcome some good news in our industry and we got some this week after MPs voted in favour of creating a minister of hospitality in the UK. The notion was debated by the UK government after an online petition secured more than 200,000 signatures and following a 90-minute debate in Westminster on Monday 11 January, the vote gained the support it needed. While this doesn’t guarantee the role will be created, the hospitality industry has welcomed the government’s recognition of the sector’s importance, with issues like extending the VAT cut and the business rates holiday and often forgotten parts of the sector like nightclubs, wedding venues, conference centres and the industry’s critical supply chain receiving attention. This has raised hopes the debate will prompt senior leadership within the Conservative Party to seriously consider the proposal. “It was incredibly positive to hear so many MPs being vocal advocates of the hospitality sector. There was unanimous recognition of our importance economically and socially. It is striking that, in the end, the petition got more than 200,000 signatures,” Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said, in her second Nightcap appearance in as many weeks. “We all understand the importance of what we do and it is good to see the government recognise the importance of working closely with the sector to ensure that we are properly supported, not just during this crisis but more generally.”

The Nightcap

Over £36k for a great cause has been raised. Thanks to all who took part!

Our Macallan auction raises £36k for Hospitality Action 

We always knew that the Macallan Red collection, consisting of whiskies of up to 78 years old, would be seriously in demand with Master of Malt customers. That’s why when we received our allocation, we decided to sell them through a charity auction, as we do for all in-demand whiskies. Well, the whiskies went quickly, no surprise there, and we’re delighted to announce that we have raised £36,510.00 for Hospitality Action, which offers a crucial lifeline to people of all ages, working and retired, from the hospitality industry. Justin Petszaft, Atom Group CEO, commented: “It’s been a hard year for everyone, but particularly those in the hospitality sector, so we’ve been looking for ways to help them weather the storm until they can fully re-open in the summer. Macallan is always highly collectable, so we knew demand for this collection would be high, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to help raise some much needed funds for our friends in the on-trade. When we set this live none of us could have imagined how much it would raise: £36,000 is a huge amount of money and will make a real difference to so many people’s lives who desperately need our help right now. I’d like to thank both Macallan for providing such a fantastic set of bottles for us to auction, and our incredible customers for being so amazingly generous in their bids. As ever, you guys rock.”

The Nightcap

Orkney Distillery is one of many embracing its environmental responsibilities (image credit to Colin Keldie)

Distilleries go green with government initiative

The winners of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Green Distilleries Competition were announced on Friday 8th January 2021, with 17 distilleries receiving the first phase of £10 million government funding to go green, including Bruichladdich, The Orkney Distillery and Highland Park. The government initiative aims to find ways of decarbonising the distilling sector and the fund will assist distilleries in the search for lower-carbon alternatives to generate heat for processes such as malting and distilling. Bruichladdich revealed last week that more than £70,000 has been awarded to its project partner, Protium Green Solutions, in order to complete a feasibility study on incorporating innovative hydrogen combustion technology as part of ambitious plans to decarbonise its production process by 2025. Highland Park and The Orkney Distillery, in Kirkwall, are also set to take part in a £58,781 research project led by the Stromness-based European Marine Energy Centre (Emec), along with industrial decarbonisation experts from Edinburgh’s Napier University. The HySpirits 2 project in Kirkwall follows research completed last year by Emec at The Orkney Distillery, which investigated the feasibility of using a hydrogen-fuelled thermal fluid heating system there. “We understand that there is real potential for a  hydrogen‐based solution to decarbonise our industry,” says Allan Logan, production director of Bruichladdich. “We are thrilled to have the support of Protium, Deuterium and ITPEnergised to help us assess the feasibility of employing a green hydrogen fuel switching solution for our distillery – a move we hope benefits the broader industry”. It’s terrific to see that, despite everything that’s going on, there are those who are focused on planning for a better future.

The Nightcap

Smoky French Martinis, anyone?

Thomas Lowndes creates RTD cocktail range

The ready-to-drink (RTD) market is booming at the moment, which is understandable given you can’t turn to bartenders to provide delicious and convenient complex serves at the moment. In fact, RTDs are forecast to remain the fastest‐growing alcohol sector over the next five years, according to the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. As the category widens and develops new products naturally follow and this week learned that Edrington-Beam Suntory UK has made a serious step into this market with the launch of the Thomas Lowndes 1826 range of RTD products. The Glasgow-based firm Thomas Lowndes has been part of EBS UK since 2015 and has named its new range after the year Mr Lowndes founded the business. It comprises four bottled cocktails: an Old Fashioned and a Mint Julep made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, a Cognac Espresso Martini that features Courvoisier and a Smoky French Martini made using Laphroaig whisky instead of vodka or gin, all of which are available from us (just give those links a click). “This exciting new range by 1826, associated with premium whiskies, Cognacs and bourbons gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase how easily bar-quality cocktails can be created in the home,” Moira Jacques, general manager of Thomas Lowndes, said. “We want to show customers that you can create premium, top-quality drinks in the comfort of your own home.”

The Nightcap

Beefeater’s new look will save 410 tonnes of plastic every year

Beefeater gin unveils sustainable bottle

Beefeater London Dry Gin has announced this week a plan to reduce the amount of plastic it uses by unveiling a more sustainable packaging design. The new bottle is made entirely from recyclable glass and is said to save the Pernod Ricard-owned brand 410 tonnes of plastic every year. The previous plastic cap has been replaced with an embossed, aluminium cap and the label has been changed from PVC to paper and the bottle, the shape of which you might have noticed was inspired by London bricks, was also designed with bartenders in mind as it makes pouring the gin easier. “Whilst our packaging has evolved our award-winning gin remains the same, with every drop distilled in the heart of London. The design of the bottle, from its shape to its label, paints a picture of what the liquid inside will taste like,” said Murielle Dessenis, global brand director of Beefeater. “The new design has performed well with bartenders and consumers alike, and we’re proud to have designed this new iteration of Beefeater’s iconic bottle with sustainability in mind, taking the brand on to the next step in its journey with a natural evolution for today’s gin enthusiasts.” The new design will be rolled out globally from this month and will cover the whole Beefeater range, with the exception of Beefeater 24.

The Nightcap

How you can resist cracking open a bottle of wine in space, we’ll never know.

And finally… Bordeaux wines return from space, undrunk!

If you were floating around on the International Space Station and there was a case of wine lying around, you’d crack open a bottle, wouldn’t you? Well, miraculously a case of Bordeaux that spent a year in space landed in the sea this week off the coast of Florida, completely intact. Not a drop had been drunk. The package also contained 160 canes each of Cabernet and Merlot. No, this wasn’t a psychological experiment in resisting temptation, it was part of a research project by a company called Space Cargo looking into the effects of extreme conditions on vines and wine to understand the stress they might endure from climate change. This isn’t the first time Bordeaux has been into space, a bottle of Chateau Lynch Bages 1975 went up on the space shuttle in 1985, and also came home intact because nobody had drunk it. Amazing willpower these astronauts.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 15 January

The Nightcap: 18 December

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and to round-off 2020 we’ve put together one last batch of bonkers boozy news, a fitting tribute to the year that was. There’s…

It’s the final Nightcap of the year and to round-off 2020 we’ve put together one last batch of bonkers boozy news, a fitting tribute to the year that was.

There’s just one week until Christmas and only two weeks left in the whole year. How, exactly, has that happened? This truly has been the strangest, suckiest and most surreal collection of 12 months most of us have ever experienced. The good news is that this decade can only get better. Right? Well, we can confirm that The Nightcap will return in 2021, so that’s at least one positive thing in the bag already. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 2020 still has some time on the clock and it’s chosen to spend some of its last moments making the world of booze a whole fresh batch of news to report on.

As we get ever closer to the big day #Whisky Santa has been ramping things up with his super wishes, giving away a bottle each of Dalmore 35 Year Old and Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983, while those of you working your way through your Whisky Advent Calendars will have helped yourself to a feast of Scotch, American and World whisky thanks to the selection of drams that were hidden behind doors number #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17 and #18.

Elsewhere on the blog, we welcomed a new range of tasty spirits from, well… us! Then we reported on the incredibly exciting return of whisky distilling to Karuizawa in Japan, learned from Nate Brown what it’s like to launch a cocktail company during COVID and tasted the first whisky from Copper Rivet Distillery. We also found time for a quick chat with David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager, managed to pick out some delightful fortified wines to drink across the festive season, sample a peated Irish whiskey and make a delicious steaming hot cocktail

Now, onto the last Nightcap of 2020. We hope all our lovely readers have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Nightcap

If the trials are successful we could be seeing a lot more of Blondie

Johnnie Walker to launch new whisky: Johnnie Blonde

News on Johnnie Walker is rarely in short supply but this week’s announcement is particularly exciting. The Diageo-owned Scotch whisky brand has revealed its plans to launch a new whisky in 2021 called Johnnie Blonde. The new expression was made to “appeal to current and new whisky drinkers alike” and is designed to be consumed in long serves, with the brand suggesting lemonade as its go-to mixer. Johnnie Blonde, which is a blend of bright wheat whiskies matured in sweet American oak and fruity malt whiskies, is very much a response to the evolving way Scotch is being consumed, with Michael Ward, head of innovation at Diageo commenting, “Johnnie Walker has always been built on progress, on a desire to constantly push boundaries and explore new flavours, experiences and serves. Johnnie Blonde is borne out of that same philosophy”. The expression, which has already won an International Spirits Challenge Gold Medal, isn’t getting a full rollout and instead will be piloted in a small number of cities around the world, including Monterey (Mexico), Curitiba (Brazil), Bangkok (Thailand), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Houston (USA) as well as with a number of partners throughout Germany, in March 2021, priced at RRP US$24.99. We look forward to seeing how it does. While we wait, we might as well make a nice long drink with one of the brand’s other delicious whiskies, right?

The Nightcap

The last we thing we need to be doing is making things harder for this amazing industry

 Tariffs on Scotch whisky move closer to removal

Things appear to be going in the right direction for those of us who want to see an end to the damaging 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky that was set by the U.S. over a year ago as part of a wider trade war between the U.S. and European Union. Following last week’s update on the study, new reports suggest that the U.K. government and the outgoing Trump administration are currently in negotiations to secure a ‘mini’ trade deal. In an interview with the BBC, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said: “It’s extremely likely that we have an FTA, free-trade agreement, with the United Kingdom before long,”  and, when asked specifically about lowering tariffs on certain products including Scotch whisky, added “we have the advantage in that both the US and the UK – particularly the current government of the UK – are not big subsidisers, where some other countries are more inclined to subsidise. So it would be helpful if we could come to some kind of agreement. We are in discussions, we’ll see how that works out.” Trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said it was “encouraging” to hear Lighthizer indicate that a UK-US ‘mini deal’ could be achieved to remove Scotch whisky tariffs. Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, also remarked that she would like to see the US reciprocate by suspending tariffs, commenting: “Suspension on both sides would, we believe, create a positive environment for intensified settlement talks to take place. A settlement would enable everyone – aircraft manufacturers, Scotch whisky and other industries caught up in this – to focus on economic recovery rather than losing revenue to punitive tariffs”.

Guinness releases first new TV ad in 12 years

It’s always an event when Guinness releases a new television advert. This brand is synonymous with wonderful advertising, just think of those ‘80s adverts featuring Rutger Hauer or, of course, the ‘Surfers’ advert from 1999, judged the greatest TV advert of all time in a poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4. The new advert highlights the beauty of Draught Guinness in a can, something we’ve all been having more of us since the pubs were closed. Neil Shah, head of Guinness GB explained: “People love to savour delicious Guinness Draught and we wanted to remind people that they can enjoy the smooth and refreshing taste whether they choose to drink it in a pub or at home. The popularity of Guinness Draught beer in a can has naturally increased in recent months, and we wanted to celebrate that despite Christmas being different this year, Guinness Draught  doesn’t have to be.” The 20-second film titled “Pull. Pour. Settle. Enjoy.” was created by agency AMV BBDO with director Scott Lyon, and is rather functional. Yes, it makes you want to have Guinness, so it works, but it also makes you long for the sheer artistry of its forebears. Must try harder. 

The Nightcap

Let’s hope this move helps more people enjoy the distillery’s delicious whiskey

Whistlepig sells minority stake

Whistlepig has revealed that it has sold a minority stake to Moët Hennessy in a bid to help the brand expand internationally. While financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, we do know that the Vermont-based rye whiskey producer has been exploring options to help build its whiskey brand outside of North America, so it would be safe to assume we’ll be seeing more of Whistlepig thanks to the new partnership. “The arrangement with Moët Hennessy marks a significant moment for Whistlepig,” said Jeff Kozak, Whistlepig CEO. “We could not be more pleased to align our brand with the leader in luxury wines and spirits and are excited about future collaboration with Moët Hennessy’s team in the international market.” According to IWSR 2019 data, Whistlepig holds the top position in the ultra-premium and luxury rye whiskey category (sold at US$45 or over) in North America, so it’s a move that comes with a lot of for Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of LVMH. “We are convinced that Whistlepig fits well within Moët Hennessy’s portfolio,” said Philippe Schaus, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy. “This rye whiskey house has done a remarkable job distinguishing itself among the emblematic and iconic craft distilleries in the United States with an ultra-premium standing in terms of identity, quality and price positioning.”

The Nightcap

Look at it. Just beautiful.

Bushmills unveils its oldest single malt whiskey

When Bushmills launched its Causeway Collection earlier this month we were very excited. Firstly, because it comprises of 10 cask-finished single malt whiskies that vary in age from nine to 30 years old. But also because the Irish whiskey brand is only releasing details of one bottling at the time. Which makes it even more exciting. Particularly when Bushmills follows up the debut of a single malt matured in Oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels for 17 years before being finished for two years in a rare Burgundy cask with the launch of its oldest single malt whiskey. The second expression in the range, the 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask single malt was initially matured in Oloroso sherry butts and bourbon barrels, and finished in new American oak casks for an ‘unprecedented’ 16 years. The non-chill-filtered single malt was bottled in September 2020 at cask strength (48.4% ABV) and is said to have notes of honey malt with the virgin oak providing ‘intense flavours of vanilla, chocolate and warm wood’. “It’s a privilege to work with such rare whiskeys in The Causeway Collection. This 30 Year Old New American Oak Cask, our oldest single malt to date, is a truly special Irish single malt,” says Bushmills master blender Helen Mulholland. “I’m immensely proud of how we’ve been able to create such sensational waves of flavour in a 30-year-old whiskey. Like the whole Causeway Collection, it’s a celebration of our passion for single malts, our rare and unique casks and our 400 years of whiskey-making heritage.” Sadly, getting your hands on this is going to be pretty tricky. Firstly, because only 100 bottles of the single malt have been released (the remaining 332 bottles are coming next year.). Secondly, because it’s available exclusively at The Irish Whiskey Collection at The Loop in Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland. Still, it’s a welcome boost for travel retail and a window in the kind of delights that lie in Bushmill’s warehouses…

The Nightcap

Shades are advised for this one

Glenmorangie’s new ad campaign is very colourful

Dig out your sunglasses because Glenmorangie has unveiled a new brand campaign and it’s not what you would call subdued. It was created by DDB Paris agency with top photographer Miles Aldridge and features six scenes of people enjoying Glenmorangie with the tagline, “It’s kind of delicious and wonderful”. And did we mention the colours? Holy moly, they are bright, awash with the boldest oranges and vivid blues. These technicolour dreams will be appearing on social media and various billboards across London this month. Alexander Kalchev, chief creative officer at DDB Paris, explained: “We set out to reimagine everyday experiences – a camping trip or a train journey – all made more wonderful, to reflect Glenmorangie’s perspective. Inspired by the brand’s signature orange colour, we decided to use colour as a metaphor to open up the whisky’s world. And of course, as a master of colour, Miles Aldridge was the obvious talent to bring our vision to life.” Louise Dennett, global head of brand at Glenmorangie, added: “We make whisky because we want people to enjoy it. There are many technicalities as to how we make it taste so good. But ultimately, what matters is that our single malt is delicious, and we think there’s a simple joy in that. Through our collaboration with Miles Aldridge and DDB Paris we have created a visual feast of a campaign. We hope it will welcome more people into our delicious and wonderful world.” But that’s not all: as well as being striking, the images contain little jokes including references to giraffes (the distillery’s mascot) and anagrams of the word Glenmorangie, like ‘A Ginger Lemon’ in the train and ‘Mango Reeling’. Endless fun! 

The Nightcap

The gin numbers for the off-trade were something to smile about, at least

British gin sales hit hard by lockdown

For the final news round-up of the year, it seems fitting to include the man who has graced more Nightcaps than anyone… Miles Beale! According to Beale, CEO of the WSTA, “Gin has proven to be a real tonic for shoppers wanting to enjoy a bit of downtime at home during a turbulent 2020. It’s fantastic to hear that some distillers will have benefited from a boost in retail sales, but we have to look at the bigger picture which shows overall gin sales are down by £400 million following the hit taken by the hospitality sector due to the pandemic this year.” He was commenting on news that because of the enforced closure of much of the on-trade, gin sales declined from £2.6 billion in 2019 to £2.2 billion this year. Retail was up 22%, worth £1.2 billion, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the lost business. As you would expect from Beale, he had words for the British government: “British spirit makers, many of whom are SMEs, need greater support from government to continue to grow and recover from the loss of hospitality sales. That is why, as a first and easy step, we are calling on the Chancellor to cut duty and boost British business at the spring Budget.” You tell ‘em, Miles.

The Nightcap

British people enjoying the odd drop of drink on a lunch break? Scandalous!

And finally. . . Shock horror! People enjoying alcohol during the day

Data produced by the health and safety software company Protecting.co.uk shows that more than 90% of workers say that they have been consuming alcohol while working from home. Hardly surprising, many of us enjoy a glass of wine or a pint with our lunch. The problem with the survey is that it doesn’t differentiate between responsible and heavy drinking, seeing both as problematic. Mark Hall from Protecting.co.uk commented: “It ranges from just a glass for two with lunch, to getting through a whole bottle of wine a day, but the health implications are clear.” He goes on to say: “It’s alarming to employers to hear that staff feel like they can get away with all kinds of behaviour while they are out of office.” It’s health and safety gone mad! We would hardly describe having a drink on a lunch break as ‘alarming’. Before lockdown, if you visited any town or city in the country you would see people enjoying an alcoholic drink with their lunches before returning to work. The press release from Protecting.co.uk goes on to say: “Most workplaces will have a robust alcohol and substance abuse policy to keep staff in check when they are at work.” Perhaps, but this is irrelevant in this instance. Unless you’re operating heavy machinery or conducting brain surgery, then a small amount of alcohol, a pint or a Gin & Tonic, is not a problem for most employers or employees. Lockdown has been hard for everyone, and if you are worried about your drinking, then you should seek professional help (DrinkAware is a really great place to start). But we see nothing wrong with some responsible daytime imbibing. Cin cin!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 18 December

The Nightcap: 11 December

The promise of returning whisky festivals, new distilleries and fewer tariffs already had us in a good mood this week, then we heard about the Islay KitKat and a piñata…

The promise of returning whisky festivals, new distilleries and fewer tariffs already had us in a good mood this week, then we heard about the Islay KitKat and a piñata bar… It’s The Nightcap!

There was inevitability going into Christmas it would be a bit different this year. The only thing for it was to embrace the change and not let it get us down. Virtual parties are in the diary, Christmas jumpers have been encouraged and an office Spotify playlist has done the rounds (I swear Domonic The Donkey is on there about 15 times, guys. I’ve started brushing my teeth to the rhythm of it ffs). It turns out all you need to make the most of the season is some festive spirit and a strong broadband connection. Who knew? #WhiskySanta, probably. That guy is always on the money.

Which is something you’ll have noticed if you kept tabs on the MoM blog this week, which certainly made us get all giddy when that omniscient, bearded and jolliest of fellows revealed two more sublime Super Wishes. I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t want the chance to get their hands on a bottle of Balvenie 40 Year Old or Tobermory 42 Year Old?  The festive fun continued as we opened windows #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10 and #11 on our Whisky Advent Calendar before Adam put together a round-up of our favourite festive spirits ( look out for Christmas pudding spiced rum and a Brussels sprouts vodka).

Elsewhere, we showed off our swanky Black Bowmore DB5 1964 video, introduced you to a new kind of drinks company and managed to get the low-down on one of Scotland’s most iconic whisky producers. Henry, meanwhile, welcomed a delightful rum from an underappreciated distillery and made a classic cocktail with a reimagined old brand of Cognac, Adam recommended some of the best bargain American whiskeys on the market and Annie discussed what collective action is required to help eradicate sexism in the whisky industry.

The Nightcap

This is exactly the kind of news we all need right now. Fingers crossed it goes ahead!

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival to return in 2021

News that almost seems too good to be true came from The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival this week, which announced it will be back in 2021, irl! The 21st edition of the six-day festival is tipped to return from 28 April to 3 May 2021 and the organisers have assured us that it will be adaptive to any COVID-19 measures. Lord knows all of us whisky lovers could do with a chance to celebrate our favourite tipple in good company and we’ll never turn down an opportunity to taste our way around this world-famous whisky-making region. Those who do attend (assuming this does go ahead, fingers crossed) will witness nearly 140 business members come together to be part of the biggest festival of its kind in the world. “We are very excited about being back in business for 2021. The positive news about the coronavirus vaccines has given everyone a boost and it’s great to see some light starting to emerge from what has been a long and very dark tunnel for everyone,” says James Campbell, festival chairman. “Even if social distancing is still in place in late April I am confident they will come up with solutions to provide numerous brilliant events and we look forward to giving a very warm Speyside welcome to all of our new and returning UK and international guests in 2021.” The full programme of events will be listed on www.spiritofspeyside.com and will be available for preview on Wednesday 24th February 2021, while tickets will go on sale online on Monday 1st March 2021. We sincerely hope that we’ll see you there… in real life! It’s almost too exciting.

The Nightcap

The Offerman-Lagavulin love story is showing no signs of slowing down and we’re here for it

Nick Offerman stars in new Lagavulin video

Actor and whisky lover Nick Offerman, you might remember him from such films as The Lego Movie and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, returns for another Lagavulin: My Tales of Whisky‘ video. Called ‘A Dram Good Holiday’, it features Offerman enjoying some Lagavulin 8 year old while attempting to be a modern Youtube celebrity. “After many a holiday spent sipping Lagavulin by a blazing Yule Log, I have this year determined to venture into the world of the modern-day internet media tube,” he explained. “Well, I saw it. I can’t say I fully understand it, nor do I want to, so I will now return to my usual holiday plans and sip the wondrous elixir that is Lagavulin single malt Scotch whisky as intended.” Advice that we can all get behind this Christmas. You can watch Nick star in the festive clip here.

The Nightcap

We just want to see both whisky industries thrive. Is that too much to ask? It’s Christmas!

When the whisky levy breaks? UK suspends US tariffs

One story that caught our eye this week was the news that the UK intends to drop tariffs against the US over subsidies for aerospace firms, in a bid to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with Washington. Why is this of this interest to the drinks industry? Because the move could open the way for a punitive tariff on whisky to be removed. In November, the EU imposed tariffs on $4bn of US goods in the Boeing row, but these will be suspended in the UK from 1 January when the current post-Brexit transition period ends. One of the hopes of this strategy is that leads to a reciprocal move from the US to alleviate the damaging duties on goods like single malt Scotch whisky. The Scotch Whisky Association estimates the industry has lost £30 million a month on sales, and over £400m in total, thanks to the measures, so you can understand why chief executive Karen Betts described the announcement on Tuesday as “an encouraging step”. She went on to say: “It shows the UK government’s determination to de-escalate the damaging transatlantic trade disputes that have seen Scotch whisky exports to the US fall by over 30% in the past year”. Let’s hope sense prevails and our industry, which has faced a difficult enough year as it is, receives some respite here.

The Nightcap

No this isn’t an April fool.

Islay cask Kit Kat anyone?

In a week of funny stories, this one might just take the biscuit, or rather the chocolate-covered wafer snack. We have just learned about the arrival of a whisky cask-aged Kit Kat. And not just any cask but one that held Islay whisky. Chocolate and smoke, an interesting combination. It’s a product of the experimental division of Kit Kat Japan which in the past has come up with unusual versions made with matcha tea, soy sauce and sake. The chap in charge of this latest experiment is pastry chef Yasumasa Takagi. Rather than fill a barrel full of Kit Kats, which would just be silly, Takagi and his team took Ghanaian cacao nibs and aged them in the Islay barrels which were rotated once a week to ensure the chocolate became imbued with all that smoky goodness. Despite being made in Britain, this experimental Kit Kat is only available, for a very reasonable ¥300 (£2.16), in selected retailers over there including Kit Kat boutiques in Tokyo. Imagine, whole shops devoted to Kit Kats. Are we allowed to fly to Japan yet?

The Nightcap

The Walking Man is doing his bit to ensure his path is greener

Johnnie Walker gifts a million trees

Earlier this year we reported on Diageo’s sustainability initiatives and it seems the drinks giants are intent on putting things in motion sooner rather than later. This week the company outlined its vision to plant one million trees across the four corners of Scotland before 2025, as part of an ongoing commitment from Johnnie Walker to reduce its carbon footprint and restore the natural resources it uses when creating its Scotch whiskies. “A million trees we are planting with our partners across Scotland will create wonderful biodiverse woodlands that are havens for wildlife and accessible for people to visit and enjoy in the years and decades to come,” Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s chief sustainability officer, explained. To date, 389,000 of the one million trees have been planted near two of distilleries in the Scottish Highlands which, over the lifetime of this project, are anticipated to absorb over 69,000 tonnes of C02 – the equivalent of taking 10,500 flights around the world. At Ballygowan, near Oban distillery, native birch, oak, wild cherry, willow and hazel trees were planted, including a new tree dedicated to every one of Diageo’s 28,000 employees, while at Allt Ruadh, near Glen Ord distillery, Johnnie Walker has joined forces with Trees for Life to plant ancient and native trees to serve as a wildlife corridor and increase habitat availability for species including black grouse, crossbills and red squirrels. It’s exactly the kind of Christmas gift we like to see from major players within the industry, so kudos guys. For more info on Diageo 2030’s sustainability commitments click here.

The Nightcap

Ashley Lloyd, retail operations manager at Halewood Artisanal Spirits, is clearly as thrilled as we are!

Halewood opens £1m Peaky Blinder distillery

The good news keeps on coming this week as Halewood Artisanal Spirits has announced that its phenomenally popular Peaky Blinder brand’s new home is open. The new £1 million distillery is based in Birmingham, on the same site as Sadler’s brewery, home of the infamous gang from the hit show. The new facility is already producing Peaky Blinder Spiced Dry Gin and Black Spiced Rum in four ‘state-of-the-art’ Arnold Holstein stills, which got a makeover in August this year, to emphasise the provenance of the brand. A different character from the late 19th and early 20th-century Peaky Blinders gang and other gangs feature on the bottles, with authentic mug shots from police archives to boot. “After months of planning, we’re very pleased to share our plans for the Sadler’s site in Lye,” commented James Stocker, marketing director, Halewood Artisanal Spirits. “As we’ve continued to see strong sales for our Peaky Blinder spirits via our e-commerce channels, both in the UK and globally, this felt like the perfect time to bring production back to their rightful home”. Halewood has also revealed that we can expect to see the first spirits from the new distillery by the end of 2020 and, as we reported earlier in the year, plans are also in place to develop a distillery to produce Peaky Blinder Irish whiskey. Things are certainly looking bright for the brand. Now would be a good time to end with a quote from the show, but I haven’t seen it, so those of you who have can insert your own topical joke here.

The Nightcap

It’s a fitting end to a brilliant series

Gordon & MacPhail’s 125th Anniversary series concludes in style

Regular readers of The Nightcap will remember that we’ve covered the launch of a particularly special series of Scotch whiskies put together to commemorate 125 years of Gordon & MacPhail. Now, the much-anticipated final whisky in the collection has been revealed: The Gordon & MacPhail 1975 Glencraig! The last of the four extremely rare and unique whiskies was distilled in Lomond Stills, which operated within Speyside’s Glenburgie Distillery before production ceased after just 23 years. The whisky, which was matured in a single refill American hogshead for 44 years, was laid down on Thursday 30 October 1975 and bottled on Thursday 28 May 2020 at 54.2% ABV, with an outturn of just 110 bottles. It’s said to possess notes of honey, coconut, rich nectarines, white pepper, lime, cocoa beans and carry some floral and herbal elements. The majority of the Glencraig whisky was destined for blended malts, so this is a truly rare treat and, like the other expressions in the series, it was sourced from the last remaining casks from lost or closed distilleries matured within Gordon & MacPhail’s warehouse  “While it’s bittersweet to share the last remaining drops of these ultra-rare whiskies, they embody a fitting tribute to 125 years spent in pursuit of perfection,” Stephen Rankin, a fourth-generation member of Gordon & MacPhail’s owning family and the company’s Director of Prestige, said. “These four releases provide a personal legacy for all who have worked at Gordon & MacPhail over the decades culminating in these exquisite and unique drams found nowhere else.”

The Nightcap

Half this week’s stories could have been our And Finally… but just look at wonderful madness of this thing!

And finally… Jose Cuervo creates world’s first piñata bar

Global Tequila giant, Jose Cuervo, has unveiled the world’s first piñata bar and it’s going to one lucky fan. The one-of-a-kind creation has been designed in festive colours and comes complete with a shelf of Jose Cuervo Especial Gold, bartender’s essentials, mixers, garnishes and a variety of Jose Cuervo tequilas and flavoured fillings inside. Given that lots of you will have played the home mixologist this year, the bar should come in handy for dispensing delicious Tequila cocktails for the friends and family you’ll be spending the season with. Margaritas are on you, future winner! And the fun doesn’t stop there because, it’s piñata bar so to get your hands on the goodies inside, you have to indulge in a bit of creative destruction. Yes, you get to take out all the frustrations of 2020 by smashing it up, responsibly of course. So, if you’re over 18 years old and based in the UK you can enter the competition by following the Jose Cuervo UK Instagram page and tagging a friend who they’d enjoy a festive cocktail with. So, what are you waiting for? Get entering, and have a smashing weekend (sorry!)

No Comments on The Nightcap: 11 December

The Nightcap: 14 February

It’s 14 February, so you know what that means – it’s time for The Nightcap! Yep, that’s it. Nothing else. People all across the country got out of their beds…

It’s 14 February, so you know what that means – it’s time for The Nightcap! Yep, that’s it. Nothing else.

People all across the country got out of their beds this morning, took a look at their calendars on the wall and said “Oh look, it’s 14 February! That means there’s another edition of The Nightcap today!” As you can clearly tell, this is meant to be a joke. It’s obviously a joke because no one has a physical calendar on the wall anymore. We have phones to remember the date and what’s going on for us. For example, I’m looking at the calendar on my phone for the first time today right now and it’s telling me that it’s a Nightcap day, as well as being Valent… Oh, I have to go to the shop. For no reason. I’ll go after The Nightcap.

Over on the MoM blog this week Ian Buxton championed English fruit brandies with Capreolus Distillery while Annie was particularly inspired this week by a perfume-inspired liqueur and a Bordeaux-inspired cocktail. Adam then tasted a 51-year-old Dalmore single malt (no, really), talked Tequila with VIVIR and made a case for you to explore the world of London dry gin before Henry shone a spotlight on a Cuban rum and Nordic-Aussie gin.

Now, on to the Nightcap!

 

The Nightcap

The two single cask whiskies were distilled the very same year the distillery closed!

Rosebank Distillery returns with two rare single cask expressions

Prepare yourselves, whisky lovers. In huge news, this week the much-loved Rosebank Distillery announced the release of two limited edition, vintage single cask whiskies, distilled the very same year the distillery closed, 1993. Though both cask strength bottlings spent their days in a refill bourbon hogshead, that’s where the similarities end. For Cask Number 433, at 53.3% ABV with a release of 280 bottles, you can expect cranachan and lemon, with gentle floral notes, marzipan, ripe fruit and oak. Contrastingly, Cask Number 625 boasts warm banana loaf, shortbread, chamomile tea, dried herb and citrus, tropical fruit, lime and gentle spice finish, at 50.4% ABV and an outturn of 259 bottles. The most exciting part is, you have a chance to get your hands on the liquid! With only 100 bottles of each expression available, the folks over at Rosebank want to keep things fair, so you can apply for a bottle direct from the website via a ballot process. The ballot launched today (14 February) for Rosebank subscribers, while general release will have to wait until 18 February, and will remain open for two weeks. Whichever expression you go for, a bottle will set you back £2,500. Robbie Hughes, Rosebank distillery manager said: “We are incredibly excited and proud to be releasing our first official bottlings of Rosebank since the distillery’s closure in 1993 – a pivotal milestone for us in bringing back to life this quintessential Lowland malt.” If you manage to get your hands on a bottle (as if that wasn’t lucky enough), you’ll be invited to collect it at a private event in London on 18th March, with the chance to meet Robbie Hughes himself, and even sample the single casks. What a way to get back in the game from the iconic distillery ahead of its long-awaited reopening!

The Nightcap

All hail the Grouse!

Famous Grouse now no. 1 whisky in Britain

Britain has a new champion whisky. The invincible-looking Jack Daniel’s has been unseated from its no. 1 spot and knocked back to no. 2 (though it would be fitting if it was the seventh best-selling brand, think about it). The new winner is a home-grown little blend you may have heard of called. . . the Famous Grouse! The Edrington Group’s flagship blend had a great Christmas in the off-trade with sales over £71m, up 2.6% on the previous year. Whereas its rival from Tennessee dropped by a shocking 9.3%, perhaps a reflection of the so-called Trump tariffs from the US/ EU trade war. Overall the mighty Grouse is bucking the trend for the blended Scotch category which was down 4.1% by value after Christmas (figures are from Nielsen ScanTrack based on off-trade sales for 12 weeks up to 4 January 2020). Mark Riley, managing director at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK commented: “The Famous Grouse for years has been the UK’s favourite whisky and driving force behind the blended Scotch category, so we are delighted to have reclaimed our number one spot in the UK’s largest spirits category. It’s fantastic to see a Scotch back in the top spot.” The Grouse is back!

The Nightcap

The ongoing EU/US trade war isn’t doing wonders for the American whiskey business

Tariffs cause US spirits exports to drop 27% to EU 

That’s right, we bring you more bad tariff news, folks. According to figures just released by Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus), the ongoing EU/US trade war is hitting the American whiskey business hard. In 2019, global exports of American whiskey fell by 16%, to $996 million. What’s more, American whiskey exports to the EU plummeted a whopping 27%, falling to $514m. This crash also comes after years of strong growth in the market. Discus president and CEO Chris Swonger noted that, “while it was another strong year for US spirits sales, the tariffs imposed by the European Union are causing a significant slump in American whiskey exports.” It’s easy to see this when we look at export declines for American whiskey in specific EU countries, with the UK falling 32.7%, France 19.9%, Germany 18.2% and Spain 43.8%. Swonger continued, “if this trade dispute is not resolved soon, we will more than likely be reporting a similar drag on the US spirits sector, jeopardising American jobs and our record of solid growth in the US market.” Politicians, sort it out!

The Nightcap

Better than tap? The jury’s out. At least they were. Then they said it was better.

Larkfire Wild Water triumphs in whisky taste test

This week Master of Malt was invited to the launch of a new water which is meant to be enjoyed with whisky called Larkfire at Boisdale of Belgravia in London. It’s the softest water imaginable as it is collected from Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The local rock, Lewisian gneiss, is incredibly hard and insoluble meaning that the water doesn’t pick up any minerals. It’s about as pure as water can be. The company was so confident in its purity that it put on a little test. A panel of drinks people, experts, journalists and someone from Master of Malt tried a selection of whiskies supplied by LVMH: Ardbeg 10 Year Old, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Glenmorangie 10 Year Old and Glenmorangie Lasanta with two types of water. One row was Larkfire and the other was Belgravia’s finest tap water. But which was which? There was much sipping, gurgling, swallowing and pontificating, it was totally scientific. Then it was time to hand in our papers. After a slap-up Scottish lunch of haggis and venison, the results were revealed: 14 votes for Larkfire wild water; 7 votes for Belgravia tap. So Larkfire the clear winner. Sadly, Master of Malt’s reputation was in tatters as our representative preferred the tap water.

The Nightcap

Congratulations guys!

Family-run pub named the best in the country for the second time

The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire, which has been run by the same family for 250 years, has been crowned the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Pub of the Year. The Bell Inn previously won the award in 1990 when it was run by current landlord Hugh Macaulay’s parents. “Since my grandfather retired nothing has changed about the pub at all, I think that might be one of the things that impressed,” says Macaulay, who added that it was “a wonderful thing to be recognised for driving quality year after year” at the Grade-II listed hostelry. Macaulay also attributed the success to the fact The Bell Inn is a free house, meaning it is not owned by a particular brewery and it is free to sell a variety of beers. “The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away,” said Pub of the Year competition organiser Ben Wilkinson. “It’s clear that the local customers use the pub as a community centre as well as a place to drink, and the warm welcome and knowledgeable staff made us feel right at home. Nothing can beat the combination of good beer, great food and a warm, heritage pub”. Each year volunteers from more than 200 CAMRA branches select their Pub of the Year, before a winner is chosen in each region and they are whittled down to three runners-up and one winner. Runner-ups to the award, which has been running since 1988, include the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire, the George and Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, and the Red Lion in Preston, Hertfordshire. Congratulations to everyone at The Bell Inn!

The Nightcap

Cognac and hip-hop – a combination that never fails

Courvoisier and Pusha-T partner to open US pop-up

The Maison Courvoisier activation, an immersive experience that “pays homage to the brand’s château in France”, is set to open in Chicago this weekend. Those who visit the event will be able to sample the latest offerings from Courvoisier, while experiencing live performances, interactive art galleries, fashion exhibits and a capsule collection from fashion designer, Rhuigi Villaseñor, and contemporary artist, Al-Baseer Holly. Oh, and also the first instalment of Maison Courvoisier was curated by multi-platinum rapper Pusha-T. “Beyond music, I am passionate about fashion and art, so I’m proud to collaborate with Courvoisier to highlight two of my favourite creators,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of Rhuigi and Al-Baseer for years, and I’m excited to be able to highlight their success through Maison Courvoisier.” This is the first in the series of activations taking place throughout 2020 at US cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Houston and Philadelphia. The next experience is planned for New York Fashion Week in September. “We’re excited to open the doors to Maison Courvoisier, as it brings our château in France and portfolio of award-winning liquid to our fans in a modern and interactive way,” said Stephanie Kang, senior marketing director for Courvoisier. “The event also embodies our core value that success is best shared and allows us to give these creative innovators the opportunity to honour their favourite artisans and their work.”

The Nightcap

Happy birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Happy 21st birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail!

In the words of Charli XCX, we do occasionally want to go back to 1999. It was a good year! Toy Story II, Britney Spears, the millennium bug fear… what a time to be alive. It was also the year the Kentucky Distillers’ Association kicked off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and for that we are truly grateful. And we shall celebrate its 21st birthday in fine form! The timetable of festivities was announced this week, getting underway with an 18-stop pop-up party tour in May and culminating in September with a closing do at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center at Whiskey Row’s Frazier History Museum in Louisville. A whole bunch of distilleries are participating, including Bulleit, Evan Williams, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, and more. “We invite everyone to come out and celebrate with us.” said Adam Johnson, senior director of the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences. “This is a momentous occasion and we wouldn’t be here without the millions of devoted fans who have made the pilgrimage to the various KBT destinations and the birthplace of bourbon.” And in 2019, the number of visits stood at almost two million – that’s a significant number of whiskey pilgrims. Happy birthday, Kentucky Bourbon Trail – we’ll be raising many glasses to you this year!

 

Tullamore D.E.W. debuts new short film in Beauty of Blend campaign 

Tullamore D.E.W.’s ‘Beauty of Blend’ campaign, which began in 2017, continues with a new short film! Ever wondered what motivates people to craft the perfect blend? Well, the world’s second largest Irish whiskey is giving us an insight into the answer, and in short, it’s to bring people together (we assume delicious liquid is also a byproduct of this). Beauty of Blend was shot by the acclaimed director Valentin Petit, enlisting the help of up and coming MCs and poets such as Genesis Elijah, a UK-based spoken word artist, asking them to express their own interpretation of the power of blend. The film shows a single bottle of Tullamore D.E.W. being passed between people throughout different places and cultures, to demonstrate the “connective thread that exists in us”. Very heartwarming indeed. “Tullamore D.E.W. is on a mission to encourage the world to blend. What is true of our whiskey, we are a blend of three types of different Irish whiskeys, we also believe is true of humanity,” global brand director, Chin Ru Foo said. “When we blend with other people and ideas, then we become richer as individuals and in turn, the world becomes a wiser, richer and more open place”. If you happen to be passing through Times Square, you’ll find it there on a giant billboard (is there any other kind in New York?), though seeing as it’s the 21st century, the internet is your first port of call if you’re elsewhere.

The Nightcap

Jameson sales have hit a new high

Jameson whiskey hits 8 million cases sold in 2019

The Jameson juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. Figures just released by Irish Distillers shows that it sold 4.6 million cases of Jameson in the last six months of 2019 taking total sales for the year up to 8 million. Over the Christmas period, the company sold an astonishing 940,000 cases in one month. Sales are up 9% on the previous year. Growth in the last 25 years has been rapid: 1996 was the first year the company sold more than a million cases a year, by 2010 it was triple that. The US market dominates, as you might expect, taking 2 million cases of Jameson in 2019 but there’s growth across the board: UK up 10%, Germany up 34%, and Canda up 13%. The emerging markets are rocking too with China up 76%, India up 37% and Nigeria up a massive 185% (probably from quite a low base, it has to be said.) It’s not only Jameson though, Irish Distillers reports that Redbreast sales grew by 24% and visitor numbers are booming at Bow Street in Dublin and Midleton in Cork. It will be interesting to see what 2020 will bring.

The Nightcap

It’s a 75-minute journey through a century of cocktails. Fingers crossed the flux capacitor can handle it.

And finally. . . Are you telling me you built a time machine. . . out of a bar?

Think of the great time machines from popular culture like the DeLorean in the Back to the Future films, the time machine in HG Wells’ The Time Machine or, greatest of all, the phone box from Bill and Ted’s adventures. All great time machines, no doubt, all useful for messing with the space-time continuum but one thing was missing from all of them: booze. Everything is better with a drink in your hand, right*? Well, at the Timeless Bar in East London, this has been remedied. The team will be firing up their very own Cocktail Time Machine on the day that comes but once every four years, 29 February (that’s a Saturday.) The experience has been created by Funicular, creators of amazing immersive experiences, and consists of a 75-minute journey through a century of cocktails (see video here for a flavour of what to expect) from the Hanky Panky in the 1920s to the Appletini in the ‘00s. Food will be provided by Masterchef finalist Louisa Ellis. To travel on the Cocktail Time Machine, you need to book. All sounds enormous fun as long as you don’t get stuck in the 70s with nothing to drink but Tequila Sunrises. 

*Disclaimer: many things such as driving a car, operating heavy machinery, flying an aeroplane or delivering babies should be done sober.

1 Comment on The Nightcap: 14 February

Single malt Scotch hit with US tariffs

Well, the feared retaliation has happened: yesterday the US Government announced that from 18 October, certain EU products will be hit with a 25% tariff, including Scotch whisky.  On Tuesday,…

Well, the feared retaliation has happened: yesterday the US Government announced that from 18 October, certain EU products will be hit with a 25% tariff, including Scotch whisky. 

On Tuesday, our columnist, Ian Buxton, wrote: “reports suggest his [Trump’s] administration is preparing to slap tariffs of up to 100% on $1.8 billion-worth of European spirits and wine, with potentially dire consequences for Scotch whisky and British gin”. Sadly, Buxton’s prediction has come to pass with yesterday’s announcement that a 25% import duty will be levied on products, including single malt Scotch whisky. At least it isn’t the 100% he suggested.

Whisky, and indeed whiskey, has proved “collateral damage”, in the words of Chris Swonger from US distilling industry trade body DISCUS, in the dispute over EU subsidies for Airbus. You can read Buxton’s full story here. Following a WTO ruling this week, the US will be imposing tariffs worth $7.5bn (£6.1bn) on certain goods from the EU.

Exceptional Cask (3)

Americans! This is about to get 25% more expensive

The legislation document refers to “single-malt (or straight) Irish and Scotch whiskies”, which means that blended whiskies may be excluded from the tariff (though as the US and Scotch/Irish categories are not defined in the same way, we can’t be certain). If it does, perhaps we’re going to see a lot more premium blends aimed at the US market. Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, commented: “This is a serious situation for the industry”. Previously there were zero tariffs on whisky from the EU.

It’s not just whisky that has been hit. Along with lots of other goods including  “sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted, of Kashmir goats, wholly of cashmere” from the UK, other luxury drinks products will be affected. But again, the legislation seems a bit confused. It reads: “Products of France, Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom described below are subject to additional import duties of 25 percent ad valorem”. It then goes on to list products including “wine other than Tokay (not carbonated), not over 14% alcohol”. Tokay is from Hungary so wouldn’t be included anyway. Also does ‘not carbonated’ mean that sparkling wine is exempt? One could argue that the traditional Champagne process is a form of carbonation. It’s interesting that other wine-producing EU countries such as Italy and Portugal seem to be in the clear. You can have a read of the full document here; see if you can make head or tail of it. 

What also isn’t clear is whether these tariffs will still apply to Scotch when (or if) the United Kingdom leaves the EU on the 31st October. We’ll keep you updated, and American readers, your favourite single malts and Scottish cashmere are about to get a lot more expensive.

1 Comment on Single malt Scotch hit with US tariffs

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