It’s a celebration that usually calls for Irish whiskey, Baileys or Guinness. But why not take things up a notch this year by making some delightful Saint Patrick’s Day cocktails?…
It’s a celebration that usually calls for Irish whiskey, Baileys or Guinness. But why not take things up a notch this year by making some delightful Saint Patrick’s Day cocktails?
Just like last year, we’ve had to significantly adjust our usual Saint Patrick’s Day plans in order to comply with lockdown restrictions. This means we’re reduced to making the best of at-home celebrations. This could mean making an extravagant Irish feast. Or dialling into a virtual event you have planned with friends and family. However you’re choosing to mark the day, I think we can all agree to it just wouldn’t be the same without something delicious to drink.
Now, you could go down the traditional route and grab a Guinness, or pour yourself a measure of Baileys or a delightful dram of Irish whiskey. All fine choices we heartily recommend. However, for those who want to make the night feel a bit more special, we thought you’d enjoy a few cocktails that you can mix up simply at home. From the classic Irish Coffee to creative twists on other iconic serves, these beauties demonstrate your Paddy’s Day drink doesn’t have to be booze dyed green or contain nauseating references to leprechauns or lucky charms…
Easy and tasty Saint Patrick’s Day cocktails
Tully & Tonic
What is it:
We know you’re more used to Gin & Tonic, but you’d be surprised at how beautifully Irish whiskey pairs with the classic mixer. This refreshing serve allows you to enhance the fruitier, more tropical flavours of Tullamore D.E.W while requiring absolutely zero mixology skills.
Add the gin, mead, honey syrup and fresh lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Then, shake well and pour the mix into a coupe cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
What is it:
There are a million different ways to make this iconic Irish serve, but our friends over at Swift have well and truly nailed the process of creating the finest Irish Coffee. Just ask anybody who has ever been to the London bar.
Start by lightly whipping the cream until it is very slightly thickened, then set aside. In a serving glass, combine the Jameson Caskmates, coffee and some Demerara sugar (you can adjust the amount to your taste). Then, slowly pour the cream over a bar spoon and onto the coffee, which will make sure the cream floats on top. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top to garnish.
What is it?: A light, fruity and fun serve that looks terrific, the Wee Lady is made with Jawbox, is a classic dry gin that features Irish botanicals like local Belfast black mountain heather.
Pop all of the ingredients (apart from the garnish) into a cocktail shaker and then dry shake for about 30 seconds. Add ice and shake again until cold. Fine strain into a Martini glass and garnish with your cherry.
Laid To Rest
What is it?: A sherry-tastic cocktail, combining two varieties of the Spanish fortified wine with The Sexton Single Malt, which was matured in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.
First, combine The Sexton Single Malt, both sherries and your syrup and give it a good stir. Then strain this mix into a glass over crushed ice and garnish it with mint leaves and a slice of dried blood orange.
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!
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
For a long time Tullamore D.E.W. was a historic name without a distillery. Now the Irish whiskey brand is closing the gap on Jameson’s and enjoying life under William Grant’s…
For a long time Tullamore D.E.W. was a historic name without a distillery. Now the Irish whiskey brand is closing the gap on Jameson’s and enjoying life under William Grant’s stewardship.
The first thing you see when you enter the Tullamore D.E.W. distillery is a copper phoenix. It was adopted as the symbol of the town in 1785, a decade after Tullamore was seriously damaged when the crash of a hot air balloon resulted in a fire that burned down around 130 homes. It’s the emblem of the local sports clubs. There’s a bar in town called The Phoenix. Symbolically it’s the perfect image for the Irish whiskey brand to evoke, as it knows a thing or two about rising from the ashes.
The original Tullamore distillery was built in 1829 by the Malloy Brothers – Michael and Anthony Malloy. After passing through the family for a couple of generations, the business was left to Daniel Edmund Williams to run. “Williams joined the business in 1862 as a 14-year-old boy and by the time he was 25, in 1873, he was the general manager,” says John Quinn, the global ambassador for the brand. “Over the next two decades he proceeded to buy out the owners and began producing a whiskey that became famous and the famous ‘D.E.W. ‘was added, a play on Williams’ three initials and the word ‘dew’”. There’s an air of Willy Wonka about Williams. He added a bonded warehouse and bottling plant to the distillery, and transformed the town bringing modern amenities like electricity, telephones and cars, as well as opening over 20 pub-grocery shops. He even coinined the immortal slogan “Give Every Man his Dew”. “He was an iconic man, an iconic individual. It inspires us and it would inspire anybody,” explains Quinn.
Although the brand initially thrived, by the beginning of the 20th century it was barely surviving, a fate that affected most Irish whiskey distilleries due to a number of reasons. “The rebellion in Dublin that generated independence for Ireland also led to an economic war with Britain, which meant access to the likes of Canada, Australian, India and Britain was blocked. That coincided with the Prohibition in the US so the market was closed to Irish whiskey exports. Then, with the second world war, the American soldiers eventually based themselves in Britain and got a taste for Scotch,” explains Quinn. “Probably the most significant event, however, was the development of blended Scotch. The distillers of Ireland fought hard against its introduction and this inability to move with the times caused the Irish whisky industry to almost collapse. Combined with the financial difficulties that came with the new Irish state after independence a lot of the distilleries struggled, particularly as the overseas business had virtually gone completely. By the 1950s most of the distilleries in Ireland were closed”.
John Quinn has been working with the brand since 1974, so he’s seen it all.
Tullamore Distillery held on until 1954 until it had to shut its doors. But the brand didn’t die off. It was sold to John Powers & Son in 1960 and six years later the Dublin distillers merged with two other Irish distilleries to form Irish Distillers. In the 1970s, Irish Distillers closed their existing distilleries and consolidated production at a new distillery built in Midleton, County Cork. In 1994, Irish Distillers sold the brand to the C&C Group before it was acquired by the owners of Glenfiddich et al, William Grant & Sons, for €300 million in 2010. At which point, Tullamore D.E.W. was still without its own distillery, with every expression released under the brand’s name being sourced from Bushmills and Midleton Distillery.
William Grant , however, had other ideas. It put plans into motion to build a new state-of-the-art distillery in Tullamore.”When William Grant took over we heard talk of building a distillery but I kind of refused to believe it because I’d heard it all before. People used to say ‘if we sell a quarter of a million cases, we’ll build a distillery’. We got to 600,000 cases, still no distillery. There was a commitment to build the brand but not to build the legacy!” says Quinn. “When William Grant took over I can remember the joy of talking to people who were also interested in whisky and history and legacy. A lot of people are getting into Irish whiskey trying to make money. With the Grant family, it’s in their blood and they genuinely are passionate about it. When you’re part of a company that lives and breathes whisky, it’s different”.
Quinn actually first realised that William Grant was serious about the project while managing a ladies football team. “One of the players needed a lift to the game and said ‘I’m sorry I’m late but I had to finish a report I was writing’. She was a ground engineer writing a report for a whisky company and said it was looking at building a distillery. Immediately I knew who she was talking about,” Quinn recalls. “Lo-and-behold, a month or two later we got an announcement that the distillery was to be built in Tullamore. It was the greatest thrill of all time for me because I’m the longest-serving Tullamore D.E.W. person at that time in the business. I’m like a child in a toy shop when I go down there because having spent 40 something years in the business I’m now six years with our own distillery and it’s still a novelty that I can’t get over”.
The delightful new Tullamore Distillery.
After an initial €3 million investment upgrading the visitor centre (housed in the old distillery’s warehouse that closed in 1954), William Grant spent €35 million on a brand new, state-of-the-art facility in Tullamore, which opened in 2014. Initially it had the capacity to produce up to 1.8 million litres of pot still and malt whiskey per annum using four pot stills, but provision was made for the installation of a further two pot stills in the distillery, which doubled this capacity to 3.64 million litres. Following an additional €25 million investment, a grain distillery with a gigantic three column still and bottling plant were added in 2017. That spend brought total monies invested over the past eight years to €100m. “We now employ over 90 people locally and we have great facilities now for innovation, for trialling, for working on different casks and finishings,” says Quinn. “We even brought over Tom, the original distiller from 1948-54 who had emigrated to New York City, as the guest of honour. He got the keys that were lent to us by the Williams family to reopen the distillery”.
The installation of a grain distillery means that the distillery can now produce all three components (pot still, malt, and grain whiskey) of its Tullamore Dew blended whiskey on-site, which matures in six warehouses filled with close to 300,000 casks. It’s the only triple-distilled blend, grain to glass Irish distillery. “We’re very proud of that. It’s the key thing about our brand that we distil three kinds of whisky, malt, pot still and grain, and each of those is triple-distilled [the grain in the column still]. That gives us a whiskey that’s complex, approachable and unique. There isn’t a lot of whiskey made that way,” says Quinn. “Pot still is a very interesting component in that it gives a viscosity and oiliness to the texture of the whiskey. It’s an iconic style in Ireland so it’s important that we have it in our blend and we’ll hopefully release a pot still whiskey in the not too distant future, which will be exciting. A single pot still won’t have been made in Tullamore in a long time, it would have been 65 years.”
Another blend is the Tullamore D.E.W. XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, which finishes its original blend of pot still, malt and grain Irish whiskeys in first fill Caribbean rum casks which previously held Demerara rum, while the brand also has a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old single malt in its portfolio, both of which were produced at Bushmills. At the visitors centre, you can also pick up the Tullamore D.E.W. Old Bonded Warehouse Release, which Quinn describes as “a variation of our original whisky with more pot still and sherry cask, it’s a big seller at our visitors centre because you can’t buy it anywhere else”. Excitingly, there’s more to come. “We’re in a process of innovation and we will be launching new expressions this year. They probably would have been launched sooner if it wasn’t for COVID-19, but we will have at least one, if not two expressions, coming certainly between now and next April. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you any more about them because there will be a big reveal and launch,” Quinn explains.
The old warehouse was converted into the brand’s visitor centre
Tullamore D.E.W has the distinction of being the only distillery in Ireland that uses Irish winter wheat as its grain, which is considerably more expensive than say French corn, a more commonplace choice. “I remember when the grain distillery was being built and the project manager suggested it and I said I would love it to use Irish wheat rather than French corn if it’s possible! The thinking behind it at the time was that Girvan [grain distillery owned by William Grant] works with wheat and so our guys were happy to work with wheat from an engineering point-of-view, but for me, it was fantastic because it’s another part of our story which is interesting and different,” says Quinn. “Being environmentally conscious is still high on our agenda even with a pandemic going on. We have a distillery where the grain is all Irish and where the movement of your spirit from your distillery to the warehouses and from the warehouses into a bottling hall is just there beside you. It gives us an efficient carbon footprint statement. There’s no other distillery in Ireland that’s doing that. We’ve got three types of whiskies, all of them being matured on-site and all of them using Irish grain and all of them being matured and bottled in the same campus”.
Part of this consideration to act responsibly and ensure provenance meant that William Grant also built a water pipe to receive the water from the Slieve Bloom Mountains as part of the construction of the distillery, which is 14 kilometres away. “The water coming from the mountains is probably softer but mostly we wanted to ensure that we had our own supply of water, rather than taking it out of the town supply or from underground even from wells below the distillery,” Quinn explains. The consideration for the local environment extended so far as to plant plants in the distillery grounds in order to facilitate a bee corridor and use a patented William Grant engineering department system called ‘thermal vapour recompression’. “Essentially it reuses the latent heat built up around the condensers to fire up the stills again so we don’t need nearly as much energy to run them, so it improves our efficiency by another 17% beyond what it would have been. I’m very proud of that part of our business. We’re just lucky that we’ve got this site big enough and the company had the vision to do everything on one site”.
Tullamore D.E.W malt and pot still whiskey is distilled in handcrafted copper stills that were modelled on the original pre-1954 Tullamore stills, which are actually on display at the nearby Kilbeggan Distillery. “The engineers showed me the designs of the stills before and I thought ‘why is all this familiar to me?’ They told me they found the old designs and we’d gone to Forsyths in Scotland and asked them to make the stills’. That speaks to the importance of heritage and legacy and history in the business,” Quinn says. In keeping with the spirit of innovation, Tullamore D.E.W also brought back the art of coopering to its distillery for the first time in six decades. The brand’s cooperage currently employs one cooper who previously worked in Cognac and for William Grant in Scotland before he came to Tullamore. The plan is to hire an apprentice in the near future. “At first we didn’t think having our own cooper would be essential, but as time went on and the more casks that we put out, we realised we needed to have our cooper man on-site doing all this work’,” Quinn says. “It’s brilliant because it completes the whole picture”.
The handcrafted copper stills were modelled on the original pre-1954 model
Tullamore D.E.W is certainly going to be putting those skills to good use as the brand has never shied away from experimenting with cask types, which the Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish expression demonstrates. “The Scotch whisky people I talk to do have a degree of gentle jealousy that there’s flexibility in Irish whiskey to play with different casks that they don’t, or least until recently certainly didn’t have. We appreciate that we need to hold onto some of the traditions and not throw everything out, but that we don’t need to hamstring ourselves completely”, Quinn explains. “We’ve got great flexibility to do all sorts of cask finishing, which gives us an opportunity to offer expressions that might not otherwise have been available and therefore Irish Whiskey becomes really interesting. And we need to be interesting because we need people to be talking about it, you know?”
That conversation has been helped by the formation of the Irish Whisky Association in 2014, according to Quinn, who believes that the organisation gives those in the Irish whiskey industry a sense of common purpose and an understanding of the threat of not doing it right. “We’ve developed quality standards and technical and verification files with a view to geographical indication to help define what the category is. It brings us all together and gives everybody a chance to do well so the industry can continue to thrive and grow, employ more people and encourage a tourism industry that we haven’t had” Quinn explains. His ultimate aim is that it becomes sort of second nature to talk about ‘Irish’ when you talk about ‘whiskey’. “I remember a time when we had to remind people that there are other whiskies beyond Scotch and American. When convincing people that Irish whiskey has heritage, quality and flavour was a real challenge. You have to be careful that we don’t get complacent and what we definitely don’t want is the new smaller distilleries to fail and for us to find ourselves with closed distilleries again in Ireland. We want everybody to succeed and I can’t see any reason why anybody would want other than a thriving business”.
Cocktails have become a key part of this conversation and Tullamore D.E.W as a brand has embraced this culture, filling its website with recipes. This is something Quinn never thought he’d see in an article about whiskey and the fact that cocktails have become such a key part of the conversation is a pleasant surprise for him. “Did I ever think I would see myself talking about cocktails? No! But it’s great to hear bartenders responding to the different elements in the blend. I love that they can pick out the sweetness from the grain whiskey, the spice that’s coming from the pot still, the fruit that’s coming from the malt and then make something special with it. It’s this blend of thoughts, cultures and ideas that make us all interesting people and an interesting brand”.
Tullamore D.E.W is Ireland’s second-biggest whiskey brand and its future is bright
Interesting though they are, in the current climate it’s harder than ever to predict what the future holds for Tullamore D.E.W. and Irish whiskey. Prior to the pandemic, it was on course to sell a million and a half cases this year. “If you had asked me this in December my answer would be that I see a very bright future for Irish whiskey, particularly in places where we’re really small and relatively unknown. In Latin America or Asia for example, where there’s a very strong Scotch culture, we’re trying to help people understand that this is a really interesting category and country. Our business is dominated by Europe and North America, so these markets are an incredible opportunity for us as a category,” Quinn says. “There’s potential there and I hope we’ll have an industry where there are lots of Irish whiskey distilleries with different flavour profiles and everybody will have a place in and will be living from a vibrant industry platform that talks with confidence and nobody worries about mothballed distilleries. That’s what I’m hoping, that’s what I dream of and that’s what I envisage. For the last 15 years, we can say that that’s certainly been the trend line”.
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.
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!
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 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!
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap! This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets…
The Rock’s Tequila distillery, the arrival of Port season and bourbon-infused cheese, it’s all in this week’s Nightcap!
This week, The Nightcap has been mostly powered by the leftover sweets that weren’t claimed by trick-or-treaters. Our fingers are propelled by chocolate and our brains are running on toffee, but our hearts… Our hearts are driven by the love of bringing you all the stories from the world of boozes which occurred this week. Plus lollipops. We knew there was a good reason to pick up significantly more sweeties than we could ever hand out.
If you push past the cobwebs in the haunted MoM Towers you may have glimpsed the terrifying amount of activity that occurred on the blood-curdling blog this week. Nate Brown returned to lambast the deification of bartenders before Adam rounded-up a smoky selection of spirits perfect for Bonfire Night. Annie then acquainted herself with Kinahan’s Kasc Project and Five Hundred Cuts Rum from BrewDog Distilling Company, while Henry also enjoyed a delightful rum from an unusual source as Hayman’s Merser & Co. Double Barrel rum was our New Arrival of the Week. Henry also marked the upcoming Día de Muertos (it’s tomorrow) by making The Red Devil our Cocktail of the Week.
But the frightening fun doesn’t stop there! It’s The Nightcap!
Congratulations Dr Kirstie McCallum!
Dr Kirstie McCallum is Glen Moray’s new head of whisky creation
There’s a new sheriff in town at Speyside distillery Glen Moray. Dr Kirstie McCallum has been appointed head of whisky creation, a new role which will see her take responsibility for brands such as Cutty Sark, Sir Edward’s and Label 5 as well as Glen Moray. McCallum has big shoes to fill, as she will take over from Graham Coull who was master distiller for 14 years. In that time he oversaw the expansion of Glen Moray Distillery and developed several award-winning cask expressions, but he has since moved to pastures new, becoming the master distiller at Dingle Distillery in Ireland. This won’t phase the good doctor (McCallum has a PhD in analytical chemistry from Glasgow Caledonian University), however, as she boasts quite the résumé herself. Her last role was as senior blender at Distell International, where she worked in various roles for over 12 years and was responsible for single malts Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory as well as the company’s blended whiskies. “I am really excited about the opportunities this role will offer, working with world renowned brands such as Glen Moray, Label 5 and Cutty Sark and Sir Edward’s,” says McCallum. “There is a great opportunity to experiment with new cask types and to develop new expressions, using the expansive knowledge of other wine and spirit experts within the La Martiniquaise-Bardinet group.”
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson reveals new Tequila distillery
It’s been an eerily long while since we’ve heard about a new celeb getting in on the Tequila madness. In all honesty, we were starting to get a little anxious. Luckily for us, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson calmed our worries by announcing his newest venture, Destileria Teremana! This hasn’t come completely out of the blue though, as back in March Johnson posted a little teaser on his Instagram. It was also on Instagram this week that he revealed his new distillery, Teremana, explaining that ‘Tere’ translates as ‘earth’, while ‘Mana’ means ‘spirit’. So there you have it, spirit of the earth! We’re no hashtag experts, but we’re pretty sure that ‘#Q12020’ means that hopefully we can expect to actually taste some spirit early next year. When we do though, we’ll make sure to have it… on the rock(s).
It’s quite the array of Scotch
Hunter Laing releases retrotastic Old & Rare Heritage whiskies
Independent bottler Hunter Laing has been busy sniffing out some rare casks for a splendid new series of whiskies which are both old and rare. Each bottle comes from a single cask and is bottled at cask strength with no colouring or chill-filtration. The line-up is likely to get whisky enthusiasts swooning on the chaise lounge with such bottlings as a 30 year old Mortlach, a 37 year old Aultmore and a rare sighting of a Glen Elgin 44 year old. Smelling salts, please! The MD, Stewart Laing, said: “There are some whiskies which are so remarkable that they deserve a little extra recognition, and our heritage series was created to celebrate these incredible malts. My two sons and I have personally selected each of these whiskies from our finest and most prized stocks.” Son and export director Andrew Laing added: “2019 continues to be both a busy and exciting year for us at Hunter Laing & Co with the opening of our first distillery Ardnahoe, the launch of the Scarabus Islay single malt and entering the travel retail market with Scarabus and our Journey Series of blended malts.” While we are sure the contents will be tip-top, we are particularly taken with the look of the series with its squat green bottles and retro-tastic labels. Naturally, they will be arriving soon at MoM. Keep an eye on the New Arrivals page.
The commemorative bottling will be released in time for 11th November
The English Whisky Company to launch Remembrance Sunday whisky
Some people drink to forget but now you can drink to remember with a special whisky to commemorate the dead of the First World War. It’s been released in time for Remembrance Sunday on the 11th November by the English Whisky Company. The label features the silhouette of a Tommy, the words ‘Lest We Forget’ and the St. George’s Cross, particularly appropriate as the St. George’s Distillery is the home of the English Whisky Company. Andrew Nelstrop, whose father founded the distillery in 2005, had this to say about the new release: “We are delighted to launch this special centenary whisky to mark such an important time in the history of this country. In 2014, we released a similar bottling to remember those that fell in World War 1 and it proved so popular that due to repeated requests for another batch, we felt it only fitting to launch one to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Treaty Of Versailles which formally ended WW1,” he adds. It will go on sale on 7th November with an RRP of £49.99.
It’s Port season, don’t you know?
Taylor’s announces the arrival of the Port Season
You might think that a Port digital marketing campaign would be an oxymoron, like military intelligence, but perhaps we should not be surprised that Taylor’s, consistently one of the most forward-looking Port houses, has announced just such a thing. The campaign, created by Keko London who have worked with such swank merchants as Bentley and Bugatti, designates a season for port that begins when the clocks go back and goes on throughout the winter taking in Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year. Andrew Hawes from Taylor’s UK agents Mentzendorff writes: “There is no getting away from the fact that people like Port. The quality versus value equation has never been better and there are strong recognisable brands in the market that are consistently invested in. Taylor’s launching the new digital advertising campaign will support the brand’s very broad trade distribution at a time of the year when family and friends gather, and Port represents a warm and affordable luxury, often described as “the oil of good conversation”. The campaign which will feature on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube depicts a glamorous dinner party having a splendid time enjoying a drop of Port. We’d like to see that uncut version which shows what happens when someone inadvertently drops the B-word after a few too many glasses.
So much lovely whiskey…
Over 9 million barrels of whiskey now maturing in Kentucky
Well, it’s only taken 86 years but it looks like Kentucky has finally recovered from Prohibition. Figures just released by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) show that last year more than 2.1 million barrels of whiskey were filled taking the total ageing to 9.1 million. That’s a lot of Mint Juleps. KDA president Eric Gregory commented: “This is a historic day that cements Kentucky’s rightful title as the one, true and authentic home for bourbon and distilled spirits.” Sounds like fighting talk! According to the KDA, Kentucky bourbon industry is worth $8.6 billion and generates more than 20,000 jobs. But it’s not all gravy in Kentucky, whiskey is a heavily taxed industry in the States with a levy on maturing stock and then there’s that pesky trade war with the EU. Gregory went on to say: “Kentucky Bourbon is collateral damage in a trade dispute that has nothing to do with us. While we remain hopeful for a resolution soon, the impact on our industry, our partners and our farm families is significant and growing.” The figures just released are the highest of the modern era beating a previous best of 8.7 million total barrels in 1968 and 1.9 million barrels filled in 1967. After that America went mad for white spirits in a big way and the bourbon market collapsed. But that couldn’t happen again, could it?
BenRiach wants to bring its sensory palette to life through art
BenRiach to be turned into art
It was Elvis Costello who said “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”. Or maybe it was Frank Zappa. There is some debate. Whoever said it, we wonder what he would make of painting about whisky because this is exactly what’s going on at BenRiach. The Speyside distillery has commissioned Ellis O’ Connor, an artist from Dundee, to produce a three landscape paintings inspired by the three types of casks, bourbon, oloroso and virgin oak, used in the make-up of BenRiach 10 Year Old. The paintings will be displayed at London bar TT Liquor during Scotch Whisky Weekend in January 2020. Ellis O’Connor said: “Speyside is renowned for its big skies, fast-flowing river and of course, whisky, so when the opportunity arose to bring this climatic corner of Scotland to life on canvas on behalf of its most creative distillery, I jumped at the chance. BenRiach is packed full of innovation, experimental heritage and flavour and I wanted to depict that through the essence of its flagship whisky BenRiach Aged 10 Years and how it speaks to me through the colours and movement on the canvas. Each canvas will have a distinct colour that explores the flavour profile of the single malt and its cask journey.” Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie added: “Partnering with this talented young Scottish artist is such a wonderful way to bring BenRiach’s flavour journey to life and we can’t wait to see Ellis’ creations on canvas.” We can’t wait to see the results.
The Guinness Japanese Brew Series
Guinness launches the Japanese Brew Series
Ireland and Japan are joining forces through the form of a good old brew! Guinness has launched three limited edition Japanese-inspired brews in celebration of the Rugby World Cup (which is in Japan, just in case you’ve been living under a rock). Though Ireland is no longer in the tournament, we can still all get in the spirit with the Guinness Japanese Brew Series, boasting three new beers. There’s Ginger and Wasabi Stout, which is flavoured with ginger spice and dark chocolate, and weighs in at 6.2% ABV. Next, there’s the Yuzu Amber Ale, with a slightly lower strength of 4.8% ABV, where a base of Irish red ale is paired with yuzu fruit and hops. Last but not least there’s a (nearly) non-alcoholic stout, Stout of the Rising Sun, which at 0.5% ABV boasts notes of hojicha, a charcoal roasted green tea from Japan. “As Official Sponsors of Belief, Guinness is delighted with our new limited-edition Japanese Brew Series,” Peter Simpson, lead brewer at Guinness Open Gate Brewery said. “These three special beers are our latest innovation where experimentation with Japanese inspired tasting notes and an evolution of classic Irish recipes has created a unique celebration and union of culture and craft.” Where can you find these tasty brews? For those of you down south, the Yuzu Amber Ale is available at London’s Flat Iron Square for a limited time, so best get on down there, or pop over to Dublin for the rest!
May Fair Bar will soon be alive with all kinds of wintry wonderment
Belvedere + Ice Winter pop-up to launch at May Fair Bar
We’re approaching that time of year, folks. You know, the one people call the ‘most wonderful’. And you know what that means, a whole host of festive and seasonal celebrations from various brands and establishments will start to pop-up all over the place. Like Belvedere + Ice, a 7-week pop-up at May Fair Bar that will attempt to bring some winter-based wonderment to the space with bespoke cocktails and pan-Asian small plates. Expect blue and white accented forestry and frosted detail all over May Fair Bar’s cosmopolitan interiors. The exclusive collaboration with Belvedere Vodka will last from Tuesday 12th November to Tuesday 31st December, and guests can anticipate brunch to bottle service, a soundtrack from May Fair Bar’s resident DJ’s playing late into the night and, on centre stage at the bar, Belvedere + Ice, a luxurious Champagne cocktail priced at £300 that features Richard Hennessy Cognac, Madagascan vanilla-infused Belvedere Unfiltered vodka, Dom Perignon Brut Vintage 2009 & gold leaf. Tis the season to be spendy, after all. Five other vodka-based cocktails will also be on offer between £14 and £18, including the Rosé Negroni, Old Fashioned Blanc, Jasmine & Fig Sour, Ice Melon Martini and The Socialite. You can find more information here.
A fine addition to your cheeseboard
And Finally… Basil Hayden’s wins Christmas already with bourbon-infused cheese
Now it’s actually November it feels entirely appropriate to start mentioning Christmas. The dinner, the drams, the all-important cheeseboard. But it seems bourbon brand Basil Hayden’s has already made our festive dreams come true, ticking at least two of those three boxes of indulgence, hitting peak Christmas and winning our hearts and taste buds in the process. Behold: Pour Me a Slide bourbon-infused cheese! It’s been made in partnership with Utah-based creamery Beehive Cheese from semi-firm Jersey cow’s milk. The infusion is said to result in cheese that “tastes sweet with a hint of spice”, thanks to the high-rye profile of the whisky. Count us in. “Our goal is to craft cheeses that bring people together through their elevated, artisanal flavour,” said Pat Ford, co-founder of Beehive Cheese. “We’re excited to partner with Basil Hayden’s because the trademark spice of this bourbon adds a really unique flavour to the cheese that makes it perfect for a gathering or gifting.” Sadly it appears to be a US phenomenon, but if you’re listening, Team Basil: we need Pour Me a Slice this side of the pond, too! (All is not lost – Team MoM have sampled and can personally vouch for the deliciousness of Laphroaig cheese and Springbank cheese. No need for all-out dairy-based whisky panic.)
Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap! The weekend…
Another busy week of booze news has occurred, and we’ve corralled it up into one handy blog for you to take into the weekend – it’s The Nightcap!
The weekend is fast approaching (or perhaps it is already here by the time you read this), and we wouldn’t dare step out of the house on a Saturday not armed with the booze news from the week that was. It would be like heading to the beach without a ridiculous hat, or heading to a bowling alley without grossly underestimating the difficulty of chucking a heavy ball at some wooden sticks. It’s just not the done thing. Luckily, you can acquire all the weekly news from the world of drinks right here in The Nightcap! We cannot, however, provide floppy sun hats or any good tips for bowling. You’re on your own for those things.
A busy week, but there’s more to come. In our best Huw Edwards voice, here is the news!
We’re sure Port of Leith whisky will be worth the wait!
Port of Leith Distillery secures whisky production site
It’s all go for whisky-making in Edinburgh at the moment – and now Port of Leith Distillery has announced it has secured the site for its whisky production! Situated in Leith (as the name suggests), the distillery will be built next to the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Ocean Terminal centre. “The acquisition of our site took slightly longer than we anticipated. In fact, from start to finish, it’s taken us three years to get this incredibly complex land deal over the line,” the team wrote in an email on Monday, “We’re outrageously excited to announce the deal was completed at the end of July, which means we should be on site very shortly.” If all now continues on schedule, we should see Port of Leith spirit flow from the stills as soon as the first quarter of 2021! The news comes hot on the heels of The Holyrood Distillery kicking off whisky production in Edinburgh earlier this month. Can’t wait for a taste of Port of Leith? The team’s Lind & Lime Gin is available now!
It’s good news for Irish whiskey, and we can raise a glass (or two) to that!
IWA gains protection for Irish whiskey in South Africa and Australia
Legal gubbins now – but of the good kind. Because this week, the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) secured certified trade mark status for Irish whiskey in both South Africa and Australia! The news means that only whiskey actually distilled and matured on the island of Ireland (Northern and the Republic) can be sold as ‘Irish whiskey’ in those markets. It’s a big deal, especially as Irish whiskey grows in both volume and reputation – it stops rogues and scoundrels using its name in vain on lesser spirit. It’s also important because more than two million bottles of Irish whiskey were sold in Australia in 2018, up 9.1%, while South Africa collectively shifted 4.4 million bottles, growth of 4.5%. What more reason do you need to sip on a celebratory measure of Irish whiskey this Friday?!
Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town, will star in the film
The Botanist gets wild with new film mini-series
Islay gin The Botanist has unveiled a series of films to shine a light on wild foragers, chefs and bartenders around the world. Wild – A State of Mind depicts these “like-minded souls” as they explore their native landscapes on the hunt for food and flavour. Each five-minute film focuses on a different person: Nick Weston, director of Hunter Gather Cook, along the River Itchen; Philip Stark, professor and director of the Berkeley Open Source Food project, in downtown San Francisco; Roushanna Gray, founder of Veld and Sea, in Cape Town; Nick Liu, executive chef and partner at DaiLo and Little DaiLo Restaurant in Toronto; and Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native, a foraged mixology bar in Singapore. “In creating The Botanist, we explored the flavours of our own backyard, the Isle of Islay,” said Douglas Taylor, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, which makes The Botanist. “The Botanist has its own full-time professional forager, James Donaldson, who sustainably hand-picks 22 local island botanicals to be used in the distillation of our Islay dry gin. Through our involvement in the foraging movement, we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most exciting foragers, chefs and bartenders from all over the world. Through these films, we hope to show people that there’s a world of flavour out there.” The films will be released one by one, so keep your eyes peeled and in the direction of The Botanist website.
It’s about time somebody celebrated Eddie Murphy’s role in the animated Mulan film
Islay single malt distillery Bowmore has launched a shiny new 36-year-old expression exclusively in China, the first in a series of four releases. Initially unveiled at Whisky Live Shanghai, Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition “pays homage” to Bowmore 30 Year Old Sea Dragon Decanter, an expression that celebrates an Islay myth and picked up quite the following when it launched. The new bottling builds on this, lauding the dragons that live on in Chinese culture. The liquid comes from Bowmore’s famous No.1 Vaults warehouse, selected from the same parcels of sherry casks used to create the 30 year old, and has been bottled at 51.8% ABV. Nosing and tasting notes include tropical fruit, toffee apple, caramelised orange, hints of pine needles, and a peppery tinge on the finish. “This new expression is a homage to the 30-Year-Old Sea Dragon that’s been much loved and collected by Bowmore fans across China,” said David Turner, Bowmore distillery manager. “Born from an island that is rich with heritage and legends, Bowmore is celebrating the legendary creatures of Chinese mythology that are the protectors of people – just as Bowmore has protected and matured this precious liquid for 36 years. We’ve taken this amazing legacy and renewed it for the next generation of whisky drinkers.” There are just 888 bottles of Bowmore 36-Year-Old Dragon Edition available, each priced at US$2,000. Keep an eye out if you’re in China!
Grant’s 12 Year Old was a standout performer.
Grant’s blended Scotch boasts growth as others decline
Time to get the calculators out. An interesting press release crossed our desks this week, claiming that blended Scotch sales fell by 0.4% from 2013 to 2018. What’s more, the declines are set to continue by another 4% to 2022 (Edrington-Beam Suntory Distribution UK stats). Are we all turning to single malts? Shopping from countries further afield instead? It’s kind of irrelevant to Grant’s, which boasted 1.2% global growth over the period, and “double digit” gains across Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India. And the team seems particularly excited about Grant’s 12 Year Old. What sets it apart? “Our master blender Brian Kinsman, his unique expertise in choosing the malts that go into the blend, and the quality of the fresh bourbon cask finish,” said Danny Dyer, Grant’s global brand ambassador. “Grant’s 12 is a smooth whisky making it ideal to share with friends whether they are aficionados or newcomers to whisky.” Why do we care about all this? It’s always intriguing to see a brand doing well against the grain of a trend. Do you still love blended Scotch? Or why do you not drink it? Let us know on social or in the comments below!
Look! It’s brand new Lagavulin whisky!
Lagavulin 10 Year Old makes travel retail debut
Spent all summer dealing with smug colleagues breezing off on their holidays, leaving you to do all the work and regretting your seemingly smart decision to avoid all children and jet off later in the year outside the school break? Well, we have some news to make that delayed gratification even sweeter. Lagavulin (yes, the very same Islay distillery that makes the iconic 16 year old expression) has launched a new 10 year old whisky exclusively in travel retail! Which means all those annoying, chilled, sunkissed people would have missed it, but you can bag a bottle when it’s your turn to head through the airport. “What makes this single malt unique is the combination of refill, bourbon and freshly-charred casks that we used in its creation,” said Dr Craig Wilson, master of malts (nothing to do with us) at Diageo. “The bourbon casks add a sweetness to the flavour and the freshly-charred casks add spicy and woody notes. The different wood types used have helped create a whisky with a fiery yet light and smoky yet smooth character – one that is filled with surprising contrasts.” It’s available now in UK Duty travel retail stores priced at £50, but will be available more widely later in the year. Now that really IS a reason to get to the airport early…
Tequila Avión teams up with 21 Savage for ‘borderless’ campaign
Agave fans and rap aficionados, listen up. Tequila Avión has signed Grammy-nominated artist and aspiring pilot 21 Savage to be the face of its new Mexico City-inspired ‘Depart. Elevate. Arrive’ campaign. It brings together a fancy new look for the brand, while highlighting its passion for aviation. The aim is to inspire adventurous sorts by highlighting “those who have forged their own paths by having a borderless mindset”, and it all kicks off with the Atlanta-based rapper. “I grew up wanting to fly and pursued my pilot’s license as soon as I was able,” he said. “When I’m in the air flying, there’s nothing like it. No traffic, no borders. With a borderless mindset, I’m able to bring everything I’ve seen, a worldly point of view, into my creative process. Into my art. It brings my art to an elevated space and that’s the heart of this partnership. Elevating creativity through being borderless.” We’ll take the Tequila over trying to fly… less alarming.
A sight the UK wine drinker and tax officials both appear to enjoy…
‘Crisp white’ named as UK’s top wine
Wine Drinkers UK (a collection of wine lovers, makers and sellers, who, in their own words, are ‘fed up with being unfairly taxed’) have revealed the UK’s top wine preferences. Leading the pack? ‘Crisp white’ (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio), with 41% of those questioned saying they enjoy the selection. Full-bodied red (Malbec or Shiraz) ranked second with 38%, followed closely by Prosecco, at 34%. The least popular? In equal ninth, English sparkling wine and dry rosé (Southern French rosé or Pinot Grigio rosé), which, quite frankly, has caused uproar in the office as they are both bloody delicious. Are we Brits a tad ridiculous? We could just be blinded by the tax levied on wine, reckons Wine Drinkers UK. Despite wine’s status as being the most widely drunk and most popular alcoholic beverages, tax rises in the last 10 years (39%) have far outpaced those on beer (16%) and spirits (27%). Plus, only 5% of UK drinkers were aware of the tax they pay on wine. “As the number of people enjoying wine grows, so does their tax bill. Duty on wine has risen over twice as fast as beer over the past ten years,” said The Three Drinkers presenter, Helena Nicklin. “As a result, on average, the majority of wine drinkers are handing over more than 50 pence in every pound they spend to the taxman. After a decade of unfair increases, it is time to cut them a break and cut back wine tax.” As such, there’s a new campaign which kicked off on 12th August, now known as ‘Wine Tax Freedom Day’. The date is 61% of the way through the calendar year, and represents the 61% tax (duty +VAT) that is paid on a £5 bottle of wine. Did you know the tax levied on vino? Time for fairer booze duties, we reckon.
Brockman’s Gin Autumn Reviver cocktail
Brockmans Gin signals changing of the seasons with autumn menu
Ok, ok… the sun’s certainly NOT got its hat on, and it’s more soggy than sunkissed (in the UK anyway…) but it’s still mid-August. Is it really time to unveil Autumn cocktails? We’ll forgive Brockmans though, because these ones look mega tasty, and they’re based around irresistible warming spices and berry notes. First up is the Autumn Reviver, made with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin (soz for the imperial measures), 2/3 oz. Lillet Blanc, 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 oz. ginger syrup, 1/3 oz. orange liqueur, and a slice of dehydrated orange studded with cloves. Just fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the first five ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the clove-studded orange slice. Voilà! Then there’s the slightly trickier Blackberry Sling, with 1 2/3 oz. Brockmans Gin, 10 fresh blackberries, a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice, 2/3 oz. simple syrup, and chilled soda. Muddle the blackberries (save some for the garnish) and rosemary in a Highball glass, take the rosemary out, add the gin, lime juice and syrup and stir. Then fill half the glass with ice, top with soda and pop the saved blackberries (and the rosemary, if it still looks good) in as garnishes. “Our signature seasonal recipes were developed to highlight the combination of traditional gin aromas, bitter-sweet orange peel, coriander and top notes of blueberries and blackberries found in our gin,” said Neil Everitt, Brockmans co-founder and CEO. We know what we’re drinking on the next waterlogged summer evening. Oh, that would be tonight…
We’ve needed a new hobby since our office games of ‘The Cones of Dunshire’ started getting too heated…
And finally. . . a whisky board game
They say you should never play with your food, but nobody ever said anything about playing with your drink. Which is just as well, as two Czech whisky aficionados have created a board game based around their favourite liquid. The idea came to them at a meeting of their whisky club which they call the Gentlemen of Tullamore, based on their early love for Tullamore D.E.W. “It took actually almost three years to develop,” Petr Pulkert, one of the duo, told us. He went on to say how helpful the industry has been with their project. “So far they, including legends like Nick Savage, John Quinn, Alan Winchester, Rachel Barrie, all helped us for free and with enthusiasm.” To play, you move your Glencairn glass-shaped counter around Scotland and Ireland, answering questions about whisky (and indeed whiskey) and collecting points. There are character cards featuring big whisky cheeses like Quinn, Barrie and Winchester. Each character has a special ability, such as Dave Broom with beard grooming, or Bill Lumsden with wearing snazzy shirts. We may be making this up a bit; we’re not precisely sure how the game works but it does sound like enormous fun, especially with a dram in hand (though this isn’t a drinking game). The Tullamore Boys are crowd-funding production: they’ve already raised £3,800 out of a target £6,622. So, if you like whisky and you like games, then sign up.
Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing…
Thank heavens it’s the end of the week. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and head to your local discotheque to strut your funky stuff, perhaps whilst wearing novelty reindeer antlers. It’s up to you. But first, the Nightcap!
Jetting off somewhere exotic? Milling around in departures? Put down the giant Toblerone and step away from designer perfume – the travel retail spirits department is likely worth a visit……
Jetting off somewhere exotic? Milling around in departures? Put down the giant Toblerone and step away from designer perfume – the travel retail spirits department is likely worth a visit…
A departure lounge is a strange little experience, isn’t it? You’re stuck in limbo, not quite on holiday, not quite home, held in a large brightly-lit pen where everything is perpetually open.
The most marvellous thing about it, we’re sure you’ll agree, is the spirits department. Here our favourite producers become daring, rolling out exclusive (and often, unusual) line extensions and creative sampling stations – virtual reality distillery tour, anyone?
As the Tasting Note below’s Overall states, Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old is a “blend of malt whiskey, pot still whiskey and grain whiskey matured in bourbon and Sherry casks, all of which is evident here.” In that respect, it showcases many different elements of Irish whiskey as it has come to be known and loved over the last few decades.