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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: vodka

Eight category defying spirit drinks

Established distilleries are increasingly embracing the title in the name of innovation – but what does ‘spirit drink’ actually mean for the liquid within? To answer this question, MoM explores eight…

Established distilleries are increasingly embracing the title in the name of innovation – but what does ‘spirit drink’ actually mean for the liquid within? To answer this question, MoM explores eight bottlings that colour just outside of the lines of traditional category boundaries…

It’s easier to explain spirit drinks by highlighting what they aren’t, rather than list all the potential things they could be. Spirit drinks are alcoholic beverages that fall outside of classic category boundaries. This could be for a number of reasons, i.e. the ABV is too low, the liquid is too young, the category has a geographic indication (which means production is tied to a specific region or country) and so on and so forth. 

Where once this might be seen as a detractor – most regulations are, after all, devised as a commitment to preserving the quality of the spirit – today, experimental producers are using the term as a means to deviate, albeit slightly, from the trappings of a given category. Below, you’ll find eight spirits that err on the side of ambiguity, and are no less delicious for daring to do so.

Martell Blue Swift

The oldest of the big four Cognac houses, Martell, launched Cognac-based spirit drink Blue Swift back in 2018. The bottling, which sees its VSOP Cognac finished in Kentucky Bourbon casks, celebrates the brand’s historic ties with the US – Martell became the first house to ship its barrels to America in 1783. Combine Blue Swift, sugar syrup, Peychaud’s bitters and Pernod Absinthe to make a top notch Sazerac.

Distillerie de Paris Agave Spirit Drink

The first distillery to open in France’s capital city in more than a century, Distillerie de Paris has released more than 90 unique and unorthodox spirits, including this non-Tequila, non-mezcal agave spirit drink, made with agave nectar from Mexico. J’adore. Sip neat, stir into a Tommy’s, or go rogue with an agave twist on a Negroni  – whatever floats your boat.

Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

Even the most dedicated rum drinker will admit that the category, while compelling, is hardly known for its conservative regulations. And yet, this spiced Bacardi bottling still doesn’t fit the bill. How so? It’s all in the ABV – at 35%, Oakheart isn’t boozy enough to be called rum, but that’s no barrier to a cracking Cuba Libre. Some of the rums within have been matured in ex-bourbon oak casks, giving inviting brown sugar, honey and burnt vanilla notes.

Luxlo

Luxlo Spirit

At first glance, herbaceous Luxlo is a gin in every conceivable way. Juniper-led? Check. Plenty of botanicals? Check. Pairs perfectly with tonic? Check. ABV? Ah, right – at 20%, it’s a lower-alcohol alternative to traditional gin styles. Sub your full-strength favourite for Luxlo in any gin tipple (though you can’t go wrong with a classic G&T).

Absolut Extrakt No.1

Billed as a modern interpretation of traditional Swedish “snaps”, Extrakt sees Absolut’s signature spirit combined with cardamom and a few secret ingredients. Since it’s no longer vodka and lacks the sugar content to be considered an herbal liqueur, it’s eligible for this list.

Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange

To make this delectable Peach & Orange creation, the team at Ketel One redistilled their signature spirit and infused it with white peaches and orange blossom – bringing vodka and botanicals together in a category-defying 30% ABV bottling. Serve spritz-style in a wine glass, topped with soda water.

Whyte & Mackay Light

While Scotch whisky and sherry has long been a match made in heaven, now Whyte & Mackay has taken the concept one step further with its 21.5% ABV Light bottling, which sees the two blended together before marrying in former sherry casks and bourbon barrels. Enjoy neat, over ice, or stirred into your favourite mixer. Lovely stuff.

Nc’nean Botanical Spirit

Scotland’s first 100% organic distillery Nc’nean redistilled its light, fruity new make with 10 botanicals – including juniper, coriander, sorrel, heather, and bog myrtle – to create, well… Not whisky, not gin, but in our humble opinion something altogether more special. Pair with tonic and a dash of Angostura bitters, then garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

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The Nightcap: 11 October

Dig into The Nightcap this week for stories on a new Keeper of the Quaich, architectural awards, and a surprising amount of basil. It’s cold. It’s officially cold. There have…

Dig into The Nightcap this week for stories on a new Keeper of the Quaich, architectural awards, and a surprising amount of basil.

It’s cold. It’s officially cold. There have been laboured hints and knowing nods towards the weather turning, and while we’ve been staring cautiously at the amassed pile of knitted jumpers and fingerless gloves on that chair in our own respective bedrooms, there’s been the voice in the backs of our heads saying “No, not today.” We continue to walk outside without a jacket, as if trying to will the weather into staying at least tepid. But, despite our valiant efforts, it’s cold. While this may be disappointing to some, this does mean you can cosy up before the weekend kicks off proper with The Nightcap! Maybe wear some warm slippers or something.

The week the MoM Blog kicked off in style with a Cognac masterclass from Eric Forget from Hine. Henry also found the time to write about a triple-distilled new release from the English Whisky Company and learned all about Irish Coffee with John Quinn from Tullamore DEW! Where does he find the time? Meanwhile bartender Nate Brown didn’t like the dress code or the Martinis in a famous London bar, Annie visited the East London Liquor Company and we announced the lucky winner of our fabulous Mackmyra competition. Oh, and there’s a special offer on six sensational gins, buy one, get a second bottle half price. Bargain. Right, that was the week, now this is the news!

The Nightcap

Dr Rachel Barrie, in all her glory!

Dr Rachel Barrie inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’

Dr Rachel Barrie, the master blender for The GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh has received the prestigious accolade of being inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’. At a private ceremony held at Blair Castle on Monday 7 October, the first female Scotch whisky master blender to receive an Honorary Doctorate and be inducted into Whisky Magazine’s illustrious ‘Hall of Fame’ was invited into the international society established by the Scotch whisky industry to celebrate the outstanding commitment of those who produce and promote the spirit. It’s fair to say that over 27 years in the industry working with the likes of the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, The Glenmorangie Company, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Morrison Bowmore Distillers, tasting in excess of 150,000 casks of whisky in the process, Dr. Barrie has met those requirements. “Being inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich is a very proud moment in my career. The society brings together those leading the way in Scotch whisky from all corners of the world, and to be part of this highly revered body is an honour, as we continue to push boundaries in perfecting our magnificent spirit,” said Dr Barrie. “My ambition has always been to unlock the secrets of Scotch whisky-making and provenance, to develop and nurture richness of character and celebrate it with the world; it’s an honour to be recognised for this and to be in such esteemed company.” Congratulations Dr Barrie!

The Nightcap

The Macallan distillery: award-winning and somewhat hard to spot.

The Macallan Distillery and visitor experience wins architectural award

The Macallan can’t seem to stop winning awards and receiving plaudits. Now it can even boast recognition from the world of architecture! The firm that worked on its impressive new(ish) distillery and visitor centre, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), has taken home this year’s Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS). This year’s judges visited and assessed the shortlisted buildings against a range of criteria including architectural integrity; usability and context; delivery and execution; and sustainability, saying of the Macallan Distillery and visitor experience that, “The attention to detail and the consistency and control of aesthetic decisions in this building is incredibly impressive. A worthy winner.” The owners of Macallan and RSHP client, Edrington, had wanted a building that could reveal the production processes of its single malt Scotch whisky and welcome visitors, all while respecting the idyllic landscape of the Speyside region, and RSHP created the structure’s profile to resemble ancient Scottish earthworks. “We are thrilled that The Macallan distillery has been awarded the Doolan for 2019,” said Toby Jeavons, associate partner and project architect of RSHP. “It was an incredible project to have been a part of and which was only possible due to our forward-looking and ambitious client in The Macallan.” George McKenzie, head of UK engineering at Edrington added that “The RIAS’ Doolan Award is an extremely humbling honour to be bestowed on the team that created The Macallan Distillery Experience. The award is testament to the vision, and collaboration from our team and our partners. Together, we have been able to deliver this unique and striking piece of contemporary architecture.” It’s certainly an impressive structure, as we found out ourselves when we invited for a sneak-peak tour.

The Nightcap

Manchester United fans have really scored with this Chivas bottling.

Chivas celebrates the 20th anniversary of Manchester United’s treble

Last week it was Irish whiskey and rugby and now it’s Scotch with another one of those ball games that have proved so popular in recent years. The Chivas Ultis 1999 Victory Edition has just been released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Manchester United winning the treble. For those who don’t know, this is when they won the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, all in one season! That’s a lot of silverware. To chime with the three theme, this special Chivas is a blend of three single malts distilled in that memorable year. Sandy Hyslop, Chivas director of blending, said: “The treble-winning season of 1999 is a historic moment in world football, and we’re honoured to be marking it with a new moment in Chivas’ history – our first-ever 20-year-old blended malt Scotch.” He went on to describe the taste: “The three single malts artfully come together to create a wealth of flavour characterised by notes of milk chocolate, orange and a delicate sensation of spicy ginger and cinnamon.” So if you love football and whisky, and have £199 burning a hole in your pocket, then this might be for you.

The Nightcap

10 points to whoever can spot the hidden bottle of Smirnoff…

Smirnoff unveils global advertising campaign

In a move that likely to enrage language purists, Smirnoff has unveiled its latest advertising campaign called “Infamous Since 1864.” We think they mean famous. Anyway, enough pedantry, the campaign is subtitled: “Invention, Intrigue and Survival Against the Odds – the Extraordinary Story of Smirnoff Vodka”. And what a story it is! Founded in Moscow in 1864 by Pyotr Arsenjevitch Smirnov, following the October Revolution the business moved to Turkey, followed by Poland and then opened a distillery in France. In 1933, production began in the US which is the beginning of Smirnoff’s (somewhere along the way the spelling changed) rise to becoming the number 1 vodka brand in the world. To celebrate this 155-year history, Rupert Sanders has directed a film tracing the Smirnoff’s journey. Parent company Diageo developed the worldwide campaign with ad agency 72andSunny. Neil Shah, global marketing director of Smirnoff, said: “This will be the first truly global campaign on the brand in more than 25 years and will launch with significant media investment in markets including: North America, Europe, Latin America and Africa. It’s been a privilege to work with renowned director Rupert Sanders, who shared our bold ambition for this campaign, and we are thrilled to soundtrack the film with an original composition of El Michels Affair’s cover of the iconic hip hop track “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”. Sounds great, but surely it can’t be as good as the Ol’ Dirty Bastard original?

The Nightcap

No matter how much you love Bond, please don’t shake or stir this Bollinger.

Bollinger celebrates 40 years as Bond’s Champagne

James Bond has been sipping Bollinger Champagne ever since Moonraker starring Roger Moore was released in 1979. Since then there have been three more Bonds, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig, some highs, Casino Royale, and some lows, Die Another Day (sorry Pierce) but the Champagne has been consistently excellent. Etienne Bizot from Bollinger commented: “It brings me an immense amount of pride to be celebrating 40 years of partnership between Bollinger and James Bond, it is a testament to the friendship started in 1979, between my father Christian Bizot and James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. A friendship based on our shared values such as excellence and elegance.” To celebrate this beautiful friendship, Bollinger has released a Tribute to Moonraker Limited Edition consisting of a magnum of Bollinger 2007 in a Saint Louis crystal ice bucket housed in a pewter and wood veneer case by Eric Berthes inspired by the space shuttle from the film. Only 407 have been produced with an RRP £4,500. If that’s out of your price range, there’s also 007 Limited Edition Millésimé 2011 to mark the release of the 25th Bond film, No Time To Die. It’s an unusual Bolly as it’s made entirely from Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village of Aÿ. Yours for £150. The film doesn’t come out until April 2020, but the Champagne is available now so you have something to drink while you wait. 

The Nightcap

Filey Bay, making history and looking suave by the sea.

Spirit of Yorkshire distillery launches the county’s first single malt

Three and a half years ago, the very first spirit flowed from the stills of Spirit of Yorkshire distillery. You know what that means, that spirit has been having a swell old time in casks for all that time, and is now a whisky! Launched on 5 October, Filey Bay is the county’s first single malt and is inspired by the bay that you can see from the distillery. “From our very first distillations, we have always set out to create a defined house style and a light, fruity whisky,” says Spirit of Yorkshire’s whisky director, Joe Clark. “Our First Release is a combination of our two distillate styles matured in select oak casks to produce a whisky that is creamy, light and fruity with flavours of vanilla, honey, citrus and caramel.” Spirit of Yorkshire co-founder, David Thompson notes, “you only get to release the county’s first whisky once and we’re thrilled to now share it with customers old and new.” Only 6,000 bottles of Filey Bay First Release have been produced, with the bespoke bottle boasting the distillery’s mascot, the gannet, bringing together land and sea through the decoration. Rest assured, bottles will be landing at MoM Towers soon, very soon…

The Nightcap

BCB says goodbye Station Berlin, and hello Berlin Messe in 2020!

BCB bids farewell to Station Berlin

Bar Convent Berlin (BCB) probably the biggest bar trade show in Europe took place in Berlin this week, and we were on hand to take in some of the action (we’d love to say all, but it’s genuinely so huge you’d probably need five lives and 13 livers to get round all 1,200-plus brands from 446 exhibitors, numerous seminars, and the fiesta of parties and bar takeovers in the evenings… phew). People from more than 48 countries were there, either showing off the newest boozes (or non-boozes as well as all the low- and no-alcohol drinks, there’s a dedicated coffee section, too), or seeking out said newness for their own bars and shops. It was a lot of fun. We spotted ALL the rum (2020 really could be the year), heaps of botanical spirits (could gin be on the wane?), and a bizarre amount of basil. Yes, basil. Seminars ranged from how climate change will affect drinks and looking at spirits through a diversity lens, to social media how-tos and future trends. One of our favourite quotes was from Samson & Surrey’s Kyle McHugh in a session on work/life balance, when he literally shouted: “it’s ok to be happy!” Truly relevant whether you work in drinks or not. And the biggest newsy news from the show? BCB is relocating to the sizeable Berlin Messe for the 2020 edition, to allow it to grow even bigger. See you there, drinks pals!

The Nightcap

Head over to the Rum Kitchen to try out Bacardi Legacy serves.

Tails Cocktails bottles Bacardi Legacy serves for LCW

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s London Cocktail Week (heading down and want some ideas? It’s still on this weekend, and you can check out our post right here). Well, batched drinks brand Tails really is bringing the party, and has become the first to bottle serves from renowned cocktail competition Bacardi Legacy! Global champion Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn’s winning ‘Pink Me Up’ Bloody Mary twist (with rum as a base), and UK winner Chelsie Bailey’s ‘Rum Reverie’ have both been immortalised (or as good as) in pre-mixed form especially for LCW. We went along to check them out, and can confirm they are DELICIOUS. “Batching finalist cocktails from the Bacardi Legacy competition is a real game-changer,” said Tails Cocktails founder, Nick Wall. “Since I started the company, it has always been our vision to elevate drinking experiences by making high-quality cocktails more accessible to a broader audience. Batching some of the world’s best rum cocktails brings this vision to life.” Check out both serves at The Rum Kitchen in Soho before 13 October!

The Nightcap

The quality of froth on that cocktail is pure wizardry!

Gabriel Boudier Wizard finalists announced

We’ve all fancied making our own booze especially at this time of the year when the hedgerow fruits are out but not many get a chance to have their concoctions adopted by one of France’s greatest liqueur companies, Gabriel Boudier. Which is just what will happen to the winner of the annual Gabriel Boudier Wizard competition. This week, the company announced the names of the finalists. The chosen three were: Lorenzo Gavelli from The Chambers at The Chamberlain Hotel in London with his pandan leaf liqueur, Luke Bensley from Legna in Birmingham with his beetroot liqueur and Matthew Cusworth from Hoot the Redeemer in Edinburgh with a nori seaweed liqueur. Each entrant also had to come up with a special cocktail based on their liquor. The finalists dubbed Wizards of the South, North and Scotland respectively will go on to a grand final in Dijon. But the judges were so impressed with other entry, a chipotle & pineapple liqueur from Dominic Saunders from the Royal Academy of Music, that they’re sending him to the final too as a wild card. The eventual winner’s liqueur will sit alongside such former winners as Lime Leaf Liqueur by Samuel Boulton (2015) and Dijon Mustard Liqueur by Maria Vieira (2017) in the Gabriel Boudier range as well as £1000 in prize money. Congratulations to all the three and may the best liqueur win.

The Nightcap

You can be sure a few of those glasses didn’t make it back in this year’s Oktoberfest…

And finally… Disappointing Oktoberfest: beer sales down on last year

Oktoberfest, Munich’s festival of all things Bavarian, well mainly beer, sausages and lederhosen (is lederhosen good, though?), has just finished, and in thorough German fashion the numbers have been crunched and the stats are in. The most notable being that beer enthusiasts tried to steal nearly 100,000 glasses. 96,912 (love that Teutonic precision) glasses were confiscated by eagle-eyed stewards. That sounds like a lot but apparently, it’s fewer than last year. Those famous steins were also used as weapons 32 times. Ouch! But most shocking of all, beer sales are down too, visitors drank 7.3 million beers, that’s 200,000 fewer than in 2018. Very disappointing. Must do better next year Bavaria.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Hemp Highball

Today, we’re talking to booze hero William Borrell, the man behind the Ladies & Gentlemen bars in London, Vestal Polish vodka and now a CBD-infused rum, Dead Man’s Fingers, the…

Today, we’re talking to booze hero William Borrell, the man behind the Ladies & Gentlemen bars in London, Vestal Polish vodka and now a CBD-infused rum, Dead Man’s Fingers, the base of this week’s cocktail.

You may have read a few things recently (here, here and here, for example) about the rise of CBD-infused spirits. CBD is an active ingredient in cannabis, not the one that gets you all confused and hungry (that’s THC, apparently), but may have some generally groovy effects. Or it might not. By law producers aren’t allowed to make any claims for general grooviness. We tried CBD rum Dead Man’s Fingers at Imbibe this year (very nice it was too though we can’t report any unusual effects), now we’re delighted to speak to the man behind it, William Borrell.

“The idea was first conceived at the Ladies and Gentlemen bar distillery and working kitchen in Camden. This is where we try new ideas during the day before the hoards of punters descend,” he told us. The process involved, according to Borrell “a lot of trial and error”. Things moved very quickly: “we had begun experimenting with the flavours you get from a basic hemp in May and then quickly moved to a range of specialist CBD hemp strains,” he said. We tried the finished version in July. It wasn’t all plain sailing though: Borrell was worried that “we would never be able to replicate the exciting flavours we stumbled on to at the beginning of the journey when it was just our team in the Ladies & Gentlemen bar but I think we got there in the end.”

William Borrell

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr William Borrell!

Borrell has been working in the booze business for nearly ten years now. His first venture was with a series of “terroir-focused” potato Polish vodkas, Vestal. A bar followed, Ladies & Gentlemen in Kentish Town, and then earlier this year he opened a new venue down the road in Camden Town. Both are housed in converted Victorian toilets, hence the name. Don’t worry, Borrell and the team gave them a good clean first. This summer, a new non-lavatorial venture set sail, a Ladies & Gentlemen rum boat for cruisin’ n’ boozin’ on the Regent’s Canal.

Back to this week’s cocktail: the Hemp Highball, according to Borrell was inspired by “Joerg Meyer who at his highly acclaimed bars in Germany is reclaiming the Highball as the go-to drink at the moment.” And finally, the big question is which sort of music should you listen to while sipping your CBD drink. Borrell recommends: Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall (on vinyl, natch). He went on to tell us that at his bar, “we have a BYOV night every Sunday where customers receive a taste of Dead Man’s Fingers for free if they bring their own vinyl, why not pop down.” Why not, indeed. Or you can make a Hemp Highball at home. Here’s how:

40ml Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp Rum
20ml Giffard Triple Sec 
20ml Lime Juice
5ml sugar syrup
100ml Sekforde Rum Mixer (or tonic water if you can’t get hold of it) 

Add first four ingredients to an ice-filled Highball glass. Give them a good stir, top up with Sekforde Rum Mixer, stir again gently and garnish with a lemon wedge, a mint sprig and a basil leaf. Now take it away Bill Withers!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Mango Mule 

This week’s cocktail is a cold, fruity little number that highlights a very special Polish vodka made with old oak-aged fruit brandy.  Cast your mind back to the steamy days…

This week’s cocktail is a cold, fruity little number that highlights a very special Polish vodka made with old oak-aged fruit brandy. 

Cast your mind back to the steamy days of late July. Temperatures in London were in the mid-30s but it was the humidity that was taking its toll on our spirits. It felt like monsoon season in the tropics. Fortunately, we found the answer, ice-cold cocktails courtesy of new vodka brand Kavka. While the air got thicker and the sky darker, we just sipped and chatted on the terrace at Ognisko restaurant in South Kensington.

The Polish Hearth Club (Ognisko Polskie), a grand stucco townhouse in Exhibition Row, has served as a home from home for London’s Polish community since 1939. During the Second World War, it housed the Polish government in exile. Jan Woroniecki, who has run the venue’s bar and restaurant since 2012, remembers the club’s heyday in the 1960s when the wartime generation were still in their prime. Woroniecki himself is an Anglo-Pole, his father was in the Polish army during the War and took part in the D Day landing. Following the Soviet occupation of his country, he decided to remain in London and married an Englishwoman.

According to Woroniecki, the club began to decline as that generation aged and their children weren’t so interested in looking after the place. The building, which must be worth a fortune, was nearly sold to property developers in 2012. When Woroniecki took over the bar and restaurant, he modernised the menu and decor (though there are still plenty of paintings of fierce-looking Polish heroes), and now, he told me, “the restaurant is generating lots of income, it’s financially very stable.” The place was certainly heaving when we were there. 

Woroniecki originally worked as a photographer but moved into the restaurant business because, in his words, “it was just too much fun.”He’s the man behind Wodka (now closed) on Kensington High Street and Baltic (still thriving) in Borough. His latest venture is Kavka, a vodka brand which has just landed at Master of Malt. It came about following an investigation into how vodka was made in 19th century Poland. “Every distillery made a different spirit as a point of difference”, he told me, “I came across a method where you take rye and wheat spirit, and blend in small quantities of fruit spirits.” Jan Woroniecki discovered some 50 plus-year-old apple and plum pot still brandies in wooden barrels and adds a tiny amount, less than 1%, to column-distilled rye and wheat spirits. This then undergoes a very light filtration: “We can’t legally call ourselves a Polish vodka as we don’t know where fruit spirits came from,” he added. 

Kavka Mango Mule

Kavka Mango Mule, liquid air conditioning

The taste is smooth, spicy and sweet, with a subtle fruitiness. Kavka makes about the best vodka Martini I’ve ever tried but the cocktail that really refreshed on that hot night in July was the Mango Mule. Mule cocktails are usually based on the Moscow Mule and the common ingredient are vodka, ginger beer and, usually, lime juice. They are then usually served in a copper mug. This one is nothing like that but it is delicious and in the end, that’s all that matters. We’re not going to quibble about a man’s mule. The subtle fruitiness of the vodka going beautifully with the mango sorbet and lemon juice with a little bit of Campari providing bitterness. The tropical weather might be a distant memory, but one sip of the Mango Mule and you’ll be transported to sweltering South Ken. 

Right, let’s Mule!

50ml Kavka vodka
15ml Campari
5ml lemon juice
1 scoop of mango sorbet

Shake the ingredients hard in a shaker and then strain into an ice-filled Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with a piece of orange peel. 

 

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Talking ethical booze with Gorilla Spirits

Given that today (24th September, if you’re nowhere near a calendar) is World Gorilla Day, we thought it was ideal timing to chat with Andy Daniels, founder of Gorilla Spirits…

Given that today (24th September, if you’re nowhere near a calendar) is World Gorilla Day, we thought it was ideal timing to chat with Andy Daniels, founder of Gorilla Spirits Co. about creating an ethical business, founding a distillery, and why he was moved by the plight of the mountain gorilla.

For every bottle of gin, vodka, rum or liqueur you buy from the Gorilla Spirits Co., £1 goes to The Gorilla Organization. The business model is simple: you purchase delicious booze, and support a great cause at the same time. “Everyone’s a winner: the consumer gets a great product; our company benefits from the sale of that product and the gorillas benefit greatly by additional resources being put in that direction,” explains Gorilla Spirits Co. founder, Andy Daniels.

Daniels had spent the best part of 35 years in corporate life, but during that time he’d always been drawn to the wonderful world of food and drink. He brewed his own beer, became a hobbyist cider maker, and even distilled for many years before he started a spirits company. The motivation to create his own brand came back in 2008.

“I got wind of what the Sipsmith guys were about to do, who are an important part of every craft spirit story in the UK today, and it sparked the idea,” Daniels says. “I spent a couple of years learning about the industry and formulating plans to start the business. From early 2011, I set about a formal project to get the company going, and it wasn’t until December 2015 that we actually launched our first project. It took a long time. Not only did we design our first commercial gin, but we also designed, from the ground up, a small but industrial-class distillery.”

Gorilla Spirits Co.

Gorilla Spirits Co. founder Andy Daniels

With the Gorilla Spirits Co., Daniels was determined to demonstrate that placing corporate social responsibility at the heart of a business not only serves society and the world at large as well, but it’s also positively good for business. “Very close to my heart is a strong belief that businesses should be more than just about making money. Businesses need to recognise that you can’t continually focus entirely on profit while taking out of the world’s resources,” Daniels says. “Many major organisations today have corporate social responsibility agendas. But I don’t believe that many, if any, really put it at the core of their business. I don’t think that’s a sustainable business model.”

When Gorilla Spirits Co. was founded, mountain gorillas were facing extinction with only 880 in existence. For Daniels, it was obvious to him that the focus of his social responsibility should be their conservation. “What shocked us about that was not just the fact that there were 880 mountain gorillas in the world, but the fact that the people who look after them knew that it was 880. It wasn’t 881 or 882, it was 880. When you can count the numbers of an entire species to that level, then clearly we’re in trouble,” explains Daniels.

In order to do his bit for the cause, Daniels struck up a partnership with UK-based charity The Gorilla Organization, which works with communities at the forefront of gorilla conservation through innovative and award-winning projects in Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo. “We had some conversations with them about what they were doing and were really impressed, particularly because, for such a tiny charity, they’re able to do some amazing work,” Daniels says. “We entered into a formal contract with them which obliges us to pay one pound from every bottle that we sell. There is no termination clause in the agreement, so regardless of whether I’m running the business or whether anyone else is running the business, it remains committed to making that donation.”

Gorilla Spirits Co.

Mountain gorilla numbers have thankfully increased in recent years

In November 2018 the IUCN announced that mountain gorillas have been moved from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’. “The most recent census of the mountain gorilla puts its numbers at 1,004,” says Daniels. “The governments of Rwanda and Uganda have recognised the value of conservation, particularly when it comes to their gorilla populations. It just goes to show that when you get governments, charities and businesses all focused on supporting something and making something happen, you truly can make things change.”

It’s a promising message, given that brands based around conservation efforts have become increasingly common, with the likes of Elephant Gin and Snow Leopard Vodka also fighting the good fight. “We are not exclusive in this; they’re doing some amazing things,” explains Daniels. “It’s quite incredible that there are a few brands like us in the spirits industry who take a similar approach and I know full well that it’s as good for their businesses as it is for ours. As I said, it’s not just about philanthropy; it’s positively beneficial to business.”

It was important for Daniels that this model of ethical practice didn’t just concern its central cause, but also extended to the local community, “I was delighted that we were recently awarded an international corporate social responsibility excellence award for the work that we do not just with gorilla conservation but also in the way that we engage with the community,” he says. “For example, at the distillery, we have an onsite shop that we don’t open for anything other than booked visitors. So if somebody turns up here, we send them to our village shop. We do that because we want to be part of the community and we want to encourage the local rural economy.”

Gorilla Spirits Co.

Mugwaneza, the 200-litre Gorilla Spirits Co. still

The spirit of social responsibility played a large part in the location of the Gorilla Spirits Co.’s distillery. It is found in Upton Grey, in the northeast corner of Hampshire where it borders with Surrey. As Daniels explains, “One of the areas of the national economy that’s suffering particularly badly is our rural economies. Setting up where we are, we do have the potential to add money to the local economy.” The distillery has a visitor centre which regularly houses tours, tastings and cocktail masterclasses, as well as a ten-station gin school, all of which have proved popular. The gin school holds particular appeal, and Daniels describes it as “the ultimate experience really for a gin lover”. Given that participants make enough of their own gin (from a choice of over 60 botanicals) to bottle most and have enough left over for a G&T, it’s not hard to see why.

The main attraction remains the 200-litre still, an entirely digitally-connected and software-driven beauty called ‘Mugwaneza’. “When you go around the country, many stills have got very quintessentially English names like ‘Constance’ and ‘Patience’. Because we’re a bit different and because of our links with gorillas and with Africa, our still is named ‘Mugwaneza’,” says Daniels. “Translated into English from the language used in Rwanda, it means ‘she who is content’. In my long experience of life, whenever ‘she’ is content – whoever ‘she’ might be – then the world is quite a happy place”. All of the gin school’s ten stills likewise have names drawn from the Rwandan language, so if you make a bottle of gin with Gorilla Spirits, your label has the name of the still that it was produced in.

The Gorilla Spirits Co. doesn’t just manufacture its own spirit product. It has a contract distilling business on the side, and is currently making four brands with another three or four lined up over the next few months. “That’s the side of the business that we’re actively growing. That has been fantastic actually; to work with some other start-up brands and be part of their growth,” says Daniels.

Gorilla Spirits Co.

The Gorilla Spirits Co. portfolio

The current Gorilla Spirits Co. range consists of three gins, one vodka, one liqueur and one spiced rum, but there’s more to look forward to. “We’ve always got some exciting things going on in the background. We are doing some ageing at the moment, so I think in the next few months or so we’ll see some interesting aged products,” says Daniels. “We’re also looking to expand our rum portfolio and we’ve done some whisky trials.”

We look forward to seeing what’s to come, but for now, there’s plenty to enjoy from Gorilla Spirits Co.!

The first product the Gorilla Spirits Co. released was Silverback Mountain Strength Gin, which was produced back in December 2015. It’s London Dry in style and was crafted from seven botanicals which Daniels splits into two groups. The first is filled with classic ingredients, juniper, coriander, angelica root and sweet orange, and then the three additionals are calamus root, acacia blossom and lemongrass. “We describe Silverback as being a ‘citrus-led’ gin. So three of the seven: you’ve got coriander which gives us that spicy citrus note; orange for a nice warm citrus note; and then lemongrass which accentuates the high notes,” says Daniels. “Giving it its full title ‘Silverback Mountain Strength Gin’ the ‘mountain strength’ is actually not connected with the ABV but it is another nod to the strength and power of the gorilla”.

The Old Tom Gin uses exactly the same ingredients as Silverback Mountain Strength Gin, but the number of botanicals that are put into the distillation are increased because Daniels wanted to capture the Old Tom style which much richer in flavour and it’s sweetened. “After distillation, we add a tiny bit of sugar to sweeten it. We make it largely because I think it’s bloody delicious! At the end of the day you have to please yourself before you please anyone else and it’s a style that I really like,” says Daniels.

Initially launched as a limited-edition product, Silverback Raspberry Gin has proved so popular demand it might become a regular. To create this flavoured gin, Daniels began with the regular Silverback Mountain Strength formula, reduced the ABV to bottle down to 38%, added Scottish raspberry juice and a tiny bit of sugar to balance the tartness of the raspberry. Why Scottish raspberries? “Because they are the best in the world. It’s as simple as that! So whatever we put into a product we try to ensure that it is the very best that we can buy. And Scottish raspberry, bar none, is the best raspberry in the world,” says Daniels. “It has a lovely vibrant colour that suggests that it’s going to be a very fruity, very sweet liquid. But people are always surprised that actually what you get is a really, really lovely gin with a little trace of fresh summer fruit coming through it.”

Blackback Mountain Strength is an entirely British wheat-derived vodka which features a pot still-finish to add depth and character. “It has a really lovely mouth-feel, a touch of spiciness about it and a little hint of sweetness. It’s absolutely perfect for something like a vodka tonic or you want it for a cocktail, says Daniels. “What’s interesting from a story point of view, is that you know that a silverback gorilla is the head honcho of the troop and the great protector. A blackback gorilla is a young adolescent male who may become a silverback in the course of time, although it’s not guaranteed. There’s a little bit of playfulness in our branding as gin is essentially flavoured vodka, so our Blackback could one day be a Silverback.

Maraba Coffee Liqueur was made from single varietal red bourbon Arabica coffee beans from small growers in Rwanda and takes its name from this coffee-growing district. In order for the process to be as sustainable and ethical as possible, Gorilla Spirits Co. exceeds Fair Trade pricing for the growers concerned. The beans are roasted and ground by a local coffee roaster called Moonroast before it is effectively cold-brewed with alcohol, “so we get these amazing buttery, chocolate notes in it, along with the higher floral notes and taste and aroma. Then, of course, we mix it up into a liqueur,” says Daniels. “So with Maraba, again, great for cocktails so things like the nation’s favourite right now, espresso martini, as well as white Russians and black Russians”.

The most recent addition to the range is Karisimbi Spiced Rum. In fact, it was only just released last week on September 19th, or as I’m sure you all know it as, International Talk Like A Pirate Day. The name was taken from the highest volcanic peak in the Varumba National Park, which is home to a troop of mountain gorillas. “It’s quite a complex blend of aged and unaged rums from a number of different rum distilleries. It’s really beautifully spiced with vanilla, blood oranges, ginger and cinnamon. I would pit it against any spiced rum on the market, I think it’s absolutely delicious,” says Daniels. “It is predominantly designed for mixing and goes particularly well with things like Fever Tree Smoky Ginger Ale or a good quality cola, ginger beer, that kind of thing. But the quality of the rum is so good that it really is a sipper as well.”

Gorilla Spirits Co.

Happy World Gorilla Day!

Don’t forget, for each bottle of gin, vodka, rum or liqueur you buy from the Gorilla Spirits Co., £1 goes to The Gorilla Organization, whose fantastic work you can check out by clicking the link. The Gorilla Spirits Co. has also just launched an app which is available on the Apple Store and Google Play Store, so if you want a directory of cocktails to play with, as well as more info on the distillery and its conversation work than it’s the place to go. Happy World Gorilla Day, folks!

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Five eco-friendly distilleries

From carbon emissions to wasteful byproducts, spirits production is a strain on nature, with the average 750ml bottle producing more than six pounds of CO2* (equivalent to a seven-mile car…

From carbon emissions to wasteful byproducts, spirits production is a strain on nature, with the average 750ml bottle producing more than six pounds of CO2* (equivalent to a seven-mile car journey), according to the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable. The second part of environmental series this week, we shine a light on five eco-friendly distilleries that take sustainability seriously…

Distilling is an art. It’s an expression of nature, creating complex flavour patterns – from delicate floral to powerful smoke – using little more than some combination of raw ingredients, yeast, water and occasionally wood. And yet, despite being au naturel in spirit, the production chain is liable to wreak havoc on mother nature. Generally speaking, the higher the ABV, the higher a product’s carbon footprint.

There’s the environmental impact of farming the base ingredient, be it sugarcane, grain, agave, grapes, or potatoes. This includes fertilising, watering, harvesting, processing and transporting the crops, as well as the impact on local wildlife and biodiversity. Distilling, as you’ll know, requires lots of energy (and creates plenty of waste) as does bottling, packaging and storing the resulting booze. Then, that precious liquid is freighted by air and sea across the globe – usually heavy glass bottles wrapped in plastic and cardboard boxes – for our drinking pleasure. Yikes.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way. From multinational companies to fledgling distillers, spirits producers of all sizes are busy taking steps towards a greener future. Looking across renewable energy, water use, philanthropy and more, we’ve highlighted five spirits distilleries that are going above and beyond to make sure their craft is kinder on the planet without compromising on taste. That’s the spirit.

The absolutely lovely Absolut distillery in Sweden

The Absolut Company, Sweden

One of the most sustainable spirits-makers in the world, Absolut Vodka’s Åhus-based site only uses green energy generated by hydro power, and its entire distillation process is carbon neutral. The Absolut Company works with local farmers to ensure minimal amounts of fertilizers and pesticides and little-to-no irrigation. Wheat stillage, a byproduct of production, is sold to local farmers and feeds 250,000 pigs and 40,000 cows a day. The site aims to be entirely zero-emissions, zero-waste and 100% recycling by 2040.

Belgrove Distillery, Tasmania

Not only is Belgrove Australia’s first dedicated rye whisky distillery, it’s also home to the only biodiesel-powered still in the world (a type of biodegradable fuel made from waste cooking oil – in this case, sourced from a local chip fryer). Owner Peter Bignell grows his own grain, ferments, distills and barrel ages on-site. A reclaimed laundromat tumble dryer is used for malting and spent mash is fed to his sheep (apparently he’s thinking of using sheep dung instead of peat in the malting process – watch this space). The water used to cool his still is sourced from an on-site dam, while any waste water is either recycled or used for irrigation.

Square One Organic Spirits, US

From wind-powered energy to carbon-neutral labels, every aspect of Square One’s Wyoming-based distilling operation is organic and eco-friendly. Founded in 2006 by environmentalist Allison Evanow, each of its various spirits is made from 100% organic American-grown rye and water from the Teton Mountains, with no GMO yeasts, chemical additives or synthetic de-foaming agents used in the production process. Not only are the bottle labels paper-free – made with bamboo, sugarcane and cotton – but the ink is soy-based too.

Jimador harvesting agave for the Patron distillery

Patrón Tequila, Mexico

Hacienda Patrón is big on sustainability, being the first distillery to use a natural gas pipeline as its proprietary energy source in a bid to reduce its carbon emissions. The Jalisco-based site uses a reverse osmosis water treatment to recycle 70% of the stillage from the distilling process – used in its cooling towers and for cleaning – and creates more than 5,500 tons of compost every year in agave fibres, which it donates to fertilise agave fields and green spaces in the surrounding community. Oh, and since 2015, the distillery has reforested around 16,000 trees.

Greensand Ridge Distillery, UK

The UK’s first carbon neutral distillery, Greensand Ridge, works with local farmers to transform surplus produce rejected by supermarkets into delicious rums, gins and fruit brandies. They’re big on ‘reuse or recycle’ – the team’s total non-recyclable waste output is one bag every six to eight weeks, a remarkable feat – and pride themselves on using non-biodegradable chemicals. Any plastics used are plant-based. From heat recovery systems to chemical-free production, environmental savviness is a top priority. And they make some cracking spirits, too.

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The Nightcap: 13 September

The Nightcap this week features whisky cask bass drums, very old single malt and bubbles. What, you want more? OK, how about vodka made of bones? How about that, huh?!…

The Nightcap this week features whisky cask bass drums, very old single malt and bubbles. What, you want more? OK, how about vodka made of bones? How about that, huh?! Happy?!

It’s getting to the point of the year where we can almost start putting together preliminary lists about the best things of 2019. A wonderful time, where you can look back at the best albums and books you’ve enjoyed in the past months, while still taking the time to find some surprises. There are quite a few contenders for the title of ‘Best Sandwich of 2019’, but we’re pretty sure no one is going to be able to top the one Sam made in June which had three different types of crisp in it (Wotsits, Pickled Onion Monster Munch and Skips). You’ll have to think long and hard about what your favourite edition of The Nightcap was this year – it could be this one…

On the blog this week we welcomed a new guest writer to MoM Towers, Ian Wisniewski, author of The Whisky Dictionary, who never drams without the right accessories, while in-house bartender Nate Brown returned to take issue with those who think they know best. Annie, meanwhile, caught up with Cape Byron Distillery’s Eddie Brook and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Philip ‘Pip’ Hills, before Adam had a chat himself regarding Irish peated whiskey and the upcoming Ardara Distillery with James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers and then found time to pick the 1796 Spritz to be our Cocktail of the Week. Elsewhere, Henry made the pun-tastic East London Liquor Company Bacchus to the Future Grape Scott Part 1 our New Arrival of the Week.

But we can’t sit around all day making Back to the Future puns, there’s too much boozy news to cover. It’s The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Glenrothes 40 Year Old, a truly rare bottling that a few lucky winners will taste for free…

Glenrothes launches first-ever 40 Year Old whisky

The Glenrothes distillery has announced that it will release its first-ever 40 year old single malt. The heavily-anticipated dram has been maturing in a combination of selected sherry-seasoned and ex-bourbon oak casks since December 1978, and was distilled in copper stills that were retired soon after. That means this particular whisky will never exist again. The Glenrothes 40 Year Old is the sixth whisky to joins the Soleo Collection, which was launched in 2018. Only 594 bottles will ever be released, individually numbered and presented in a crafted oak box, and they will be made available from 1st October exclusively at Berry Bros & Rudd, RRP of £2,900. “Forty years ago The Glenrothes distillery was different in many ways, yet our whisky character has remained unchanged. To be able to release some of the last remaining spirit from the original still feels like we’re celebrating the end of an era and is incredibly rewarding,” says Gordon Motion, master whisky maker at The Glenrothes. “This whisky will never exist again and that’s what makes the release of our 40 year old so special and highlights the true rarity of this expression.” To celebrate the launch, The Glenrothes is giving away 20 pairs of tickets to an exclusive tasting of the 40 Year Old at No. 3 St James’s Street in which whisky-lovers will also be able to taste The Glenrothes full Soleo collection. Entries close on Wednesday 18 September and can be made here, with the winners be notified on the 19th September.

World’s first Scotch whisky cask bass drum created

It’s all well and good maturing whisky in a cask, but have you ever felt like all that wood could be something more? If yes, then you’ll appreciate the groundbreaking work done by The Rhythm and Booze Project, who have built the world’s first bass drum made from an entire Scotch whisky cask. The musical duo of Felipe Schrieberg (vocals/dobro) and Paul Archibald (drums/percussion), who have specialised in events and videos that combine live music with whisky tastings since 2018, collaborated with Islay’s Lagavulin Distillery and vintage drum specialist Majetone Industries to create the instrument, which had previously only served the trivial purpose of housing bourbon and then Lagavulin single malt Scotch whisky. The drum itself is built like a Viennese timpani (I’m sure you’re all nodding knowingly at this reference), with the skins on either side of the drum stretched over the top of chime hoops, metal hoops normally used to help hold the cask together. The heads are then attached via a specially designed system of lugs, bolts, and hooks. To showcase their creation, the band have chronicled the drum’s construction in the video above, which also includes a cover version of John Lee Hooker’s classic blues tune ‘Boom Boom’. “The idea for the drum began as a light-hearted chat that we didn’t think would actually happen, but when we asked Colin Gordon (Lagavulin’s distillery manager) about it, he was on board,” explains Schrieberg. “We’re delighted and proud of the result. It sounds like thunder.” “Our first visit together to Lagavulin in 2012 is one of our most memorable whisky experiences,” added Archibald. “Because of that trip, we now play at the distillery every year during the Feis Ile. This drum is the representation of that personal connection, our passion for Lagavulin, and for Scotch whisky in general.” The drum is currently on display at the Lagavulin distillery on Islay so visitors can appreciate it in all its majesty.

The Nightcap

Ki No Jyu gin, an elegant delight that will cost a pretty penny…

The Kyoto Distillery releases Ki No Jyu gin

The Kyoto Distillery has announced the launch of a new expression Ki No Jyu, the first in a new collection from Japan’s first dedicated gin distillery. The gin was made in collaboration with Horii Shichimeien, a historic tea farmer in Uji, Kyoto, whose teas are also used for the distillery’s other expressions, including the multi-award-winning Ki No Bi. Ki No Jyu features a type of Gyokuro (a green tea known for its distinctive method of cultivation; being grown in shade under nets rather than the full sun) called Okuno Yama (meaning ‘deep mountain’). It was grown in Uji’s oldest tea garden which dates back to the 15th century. In order to extract the essence of the tea, the distilling team, led by head distiller Alex Davies, used a small copper pot for distillation and spent nearly 12 months blending and experimenting to complete the final product, which is said to possess notes of rich green tea and fresh citrus. Interestingly, The Kyoto Distillery recommends that you serve Ki No Jyu, which was bottled at 47% ABV, neat to experience “the floral aromas and the hints of sweetness”. Typical from the Japanese gin producers, the spirit is housed in an elegant bottle featuring an intricate label design hand-printed on Kyoto-made washi paper from a hand-carved woodblock created in collaboration with Kira Karacho, part of the Karacho karakami atelier founded in Kyoto in 1624. The velvet cloth and tung wood box are also made by Kyoto craftsmen. “Ki No Jyu is an expression of the very finest craftsmanship of Kyoto, underpinned by the attention to detail which passes through generations,” commented founding partner Noriko Kakuda Croll. It has been initially launched in Japan in very limited quantities at ¥50,000, which is approximately £350, a seriously hefty price for a gin. If you’re still interested regardless, unfortunately, you’ll have to wait to get your hands on it elsewhere. The international release is planned for 2020.

The Nightcap

The new menu is called ‘Bubbles’ and features of, well, you can probably figure that out…

640East launches new Bubbles Menu

Everyone likes bubbles, right? We’re not talking about the kind you make with washing up liquid (though they are a lot of fun too), we’re talking about the delicious kind made out of grapes. 640East, a cool day-to-night coffee shop-cum-bar in Bethnal Green clearly agrees, having just released its new menu named… Bubbles! We’re sure you can guess what’s on it. Expect fabulous fizzes from France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia and England. We sipped our way through four different bubblies from Italy, Spain and France. All were very different, though equally delicious, with a tasty sparkling rosé saved until last. Contrary to popular belief, a bottle of fizz in London doesn’t have to break the bank. The menu boasts a Sparkling of the Month as well as 2 for 1 happy hours on selected bottles throughout the week. The site is based under Victorian railway arches where (not-so-coincidentally) the Bubbles car wash previously resided, with some of the original car wash installations still remaining in the venue. Okay, maybe there’s more to do with soapy bubbles than we first thought… In true East London style, there’s also exposed brick and neon lights, with a cosy back garden filled with plants, graffiti and filament bulb fairy lights. A very cool and friendly spot to get your fizz fix. Soap bubbles not included.

The Nightcap

The Industry Summit intends to provide insights into the future of the industry and spur fresh ideas.

WSTA announces full line up for 2019 Industry Summit

A full line up of booze boffins will take the stage at the 2019 Industry Summit on Wednesday 18th September thanks to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).The theme of this year’s summit is Reinventing the Wheel. The likes of Michelle Brampton, managing director of Europe at Treasury Wine Estates, Pierpaolo Petrasssi, head of trading at Waitrose, Tamara Roberts, CEO of Ridgeview Wine Estate and Brad Madigan, managing director for Campari Group UK will discuss opportunities for the trade, as well as the complex current landscape (maybe they’ll discuss Brexit, it doesn’t feel like anybody does that anymore). This will be followed by two keynote speakers, Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon Restaurants looking at sustainability, and Kathleen Murphy, vice president of innovation and new business for Family Coppola, who will address how new and traditional products are being delivered or produced differently. Putting the pair to the test and having the unenviable job reading out those job titles will be conference chair and former ITV political correspondent Alex Forrest Whiting, as well as any members of the audience who fancy getting stuck in. “We are delighted to announce another interesting, experienced and inspiring line up for this year’s revamped annual events for our members. The WSTA Industry Summit promises to provide guests with topical and forward-thinking debate, as well as giving everyone a chance to come together and discuss one of the toughest trading landscapes our industry has ever faced,” commented WSTA chief executive and Nightcap regular Miles Beale. “Our summit comes at a time when we are teetering dangerously close to a no-deal Brexit, something we have been campaigning against since the 2016 Referendum. If ever there was a time to unite the UK wine and spirit industry and to think differently about the future, it’s now.” Tickets are on sale now for the conference which is taking place between 2- 6pm at The British Library Knowledge Centre in Kings Cross.

The Nightcap

This is all we see in our heads right now. Did we mention there’s free Guinness?

Guinness and nightlife app DUSK offer free pints in London

Attention everyone: there is the potential of free pints in London. Free pints of Guinness. For nothing. Nil. Nada. This is not a drill. The reason? A collaboration between nightlife app DUSK and Guinness, which will encourage Londoners to make the most of the last days of summer and head to the pub for a refreshing pint after work. DUSK was created to showcase the best bars and newest openings and claims to be the UK’s ‘leading bar discovery platform’ (Google works fine for me). To claim this offer you’ll need to download the app, but c’mon people, it’s for free pints. For those of you who are DUSK users, you can claim your prize weeknights from 5-9pm until the 1st October at Laine’s pubs across London. Which pubs, you say? The full list of the 23 venues is as follows: The Joker, The Black Lion, Owl & Hitchhiker, Ninth Life, The Charles Holden, Rook’s Nest, The Honour Oak Pub, The Birds, The Four Thieves, The Griffin, The Adam & Eve, The Ladywell Tavern, The Aeronaut, The Old Nun’s Head, The Camden Eye, People’s Park Tavern, Prince Albert, The Hare & Hounds, The Griffin, The Great Exhibition, The Glasshouse, Three Compasses and The Candlemaker. So, there you have it. An after-work drink in London that doesn’t require remortgaging your house. What a world. We’ll get the first round.

The Nightcap

The brothers gonna work it out

Asterley Bros crowdfunds expansion

Booze alchemists, Asterley Bros, is looking to take its business to the next level through the magic of crowd-funding. The company was founded in 2014 by Rob and James Berry (they chose their mother’s maiden name, Asterley, because Berry Bros was already taken) currently make a small range of utterly delicious liquids: London Fernet, Dispense Amaro and a English vermouth made in conjunction with Gusbourne vineyards in Kent. Now the brothers are looking to raise £100,000 through Crowdcube to expand production and develop a range of everyday vermouths wines as well as RTD vermouth cocktails. Rob Berry told us: “Making British versions of classic Italian liqueurs has long been a labour of love for us. We’ve come a long way since the days of making amaro in jam jars in our kitchen, but we still have a long way to go.” All investors will receive a share in the business as well as 20% off all products, now and in the future. Investors over £2500 will receive pre-emption and voting rights also. At the time of writing the dynamic duo have already raised 62% of the required total. The next product in the pipeline is an English vermouth made in conjunction with another sibling outfit, the Schofield Brothers bartenders. Berry went on to say: “English Vermouth has the potential to rival the Spanish and Italians in terms of its quality.” That sounds like fighting talk.

The Nightcap

Each one of the 14 drinks is presented on it’s very own tarot card

Bloomsbury Club Bar launches occult cocktail menu

Open-minded drinkers can explore an evening of divination, telepathy and all things mystical within the enchanting walls of The Bloomsbury Club Bar in London this September. Its new cocktail menu takes influence from the 1920s and ‘30s, a time which saw an increased interest in the occult due to the aftermath of the First World War. Designed by UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin, the new menu is an immersive experience, each one of the 14 drinks is designed to evoke a certain state of mind or being and is presented on it’s very own tarot card. Upon entry, the bar’s own cocktail diviner (think Zoltar from Big) will select a card to reflect your innermost desires. Set against the Bloomsbury Club Bar’s moody and decadent interior, you really feel like you’ve been transported through time to the golden age of cocktails, ready for a night of prophecy and premonition. As for the drinks, we can highly recommend the Persian Mist, a heady mix of Luksusowa vodka, Cognac and Indonesian coffee, though who can predict what the Diviner will assign you?

Bartenders make music in new Bacardi video

The best bartenders bring grace and rhythm to the important job of making you a drink. Now Bacardi has captured the music of bottles clinking and shakers shaking in a new film with music from Swizz Beatz called the Sound of Rum. Directed by Tucker Bliss, the video features bartenders from around the world: Lawrence Gregory (UK); Julia Rahn (Germany); Raysa Straal (Netherlands); Adrian Nino (France); and Nicole Fas (Puerto Rico). But you can’t just watch the video, you can drink it too (sort of) as each of the featured bartenders has created a special cocktail. For example, Lawrence Gregory from the Curtain Hotel in London has created the Flamingo Domingo with Bacardi Añejo Cuatro and Carta Blanca, Cognac, falernum rosé and chocolate bitters. He commented: “I’ve created is a good fierce cocktail with floral notes and a smooth finish – a light calypso dance on the palate!” Sounds delicious, and the best thing is that you can try it because all these special cocktails will be available this month at each of the bartender’s home venues.

The Nightcap

Bone Vodka will be available before Doom’s launch in November. Did we mention it has roast bone marrow in it?

And finally… Doom vodka is here and it’s flavoured with marrow, bone marrow

You remember terrifying 1990s computer game Doom, don’t you? The one where you blast demons from hell. Well now Bethesda Softworks is launching a new version called Doom Eternal, and there’s an official vodka to drink alongside it. Called Bone Vodka, it’s made by Rebel Distillers, a company who we have written about before on the MoM blog. A limited amount will be produced before the game’s launch in November. The bone moniker isn’t just for laughs either because it’s made with real bones! *Throws head back and laughs maniacally* Not human or demon bones (if demons have bones), we hasten to add, but leftover bones from top butchers The Ginger Pig. The vodka is made from organic wheat spirit flavoured with roast bone marrow. Matt McGivern from Rebel Distillers filled us in: “They’re one of the best butchers in the country where animal welfare is unparalleled, and a product often wasted can be put to good use.” Doesn’t sound quite so diabolical now, does it?

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New Arrival of the Week: East London Liquor Company Bacchus to the Future Grape Scott Part 1

There are three things we love at Master of Malt more than anything else: high quality spirits, bad puns and Back to the Future, so when a product arrived called…

There are three things we love at Master of Malt more than anything else: high quality spirits, bad puns and Back to the Future, so when a product arrived called Bacchus to the Future Grape Scott Part 1, how could we resist?

Today’s puntastic New Arrival is a collaboration between the East London Liquor Company and Renegade Wines. The ELLC will need no introduction to regular readers of this blog but to irregular readers (you know who you are), here’s a bit of background: the distillery was founded in 2014 by Alex Wolpert at Bow Wharf, East London’s first distillery in over 100 years. Last year Wolpert financed his expansion plans with a successful crowd-funding initiative, raising £1.5m. The company makes a range of gins, vodkas and last year released a highly-regarded London rye that has got bartenders all hot under the collar. There are also some more experimental things including a chestnut wood-aged whisky and rum barrel-aged gin but this latest product, an English grappa-style spirit, is perhaps the most unusual thing to come out of this stable. 

East London Liquor Company founder, Alex Wolpert, with distillery team

Team ELLC with founder Alex Wolpert second from right

ELLC’s partner in crime is Renegade Wines, a urban winery based in nearby Bethnal Green founded in 2017 by Warwick Smith and New Zealand winemaker Josh Hammond. No, they don’t have a vineyard in an allotment off Roman Road, instead the pair buy in grapes from all over Europe, have them shipped to London and, using the magic of fermentation, turn them into wine. As well as exotic continental grapes, Renegade also uses honest-to-god Herefordshire-grown Bacchus (hence the name). This grape variety, originally developed in Germany, has found a home in the English countryside and makes some of the country’s best still wines.

After making their delicious wines, there’s lots of stuff leftover called pomace, mainly grape skins and bits of stalk. So what to do with it? Well, it can be used as fertiliser or to feed cattle, but it’s more fun to make it into more booze. Actually, Grape Scott Part 1 isn’t the first winery/ distillery mash-up in England. Hyke Gin, a recent New Arrival of the Week, uses grape leftovers as a botanical, and very nice it is too. Bacchus to the Future Grape Scott Part 1, however, is as far as we can tell the very first English pomace brandy, known in Italy as grappa and France as marc.

You’ve probably had grappa on holiday in Italy. Just the thing after a long meal, it can be rather fiery. Which is why it loves a bit of ageing to mellow it out a bit. ELLC ages its Bacchus brandy in old red wine casks which add richness and colour, but also softens it. Bottled at 47 .1% ABV, the result is punchy and distinctive, like an Italian grappa, but with the edges smoothed off. It makes a great digestif to finish off those long East London lunches, but we think it might do interesting things in a cocktail. Bacchus Boulevardier has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?

 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Made in Chelsea Coupe

This week we’re sipping The Made in Chelsea Coupe, an indulgent yet refreshing cocktail created by the clever folks at The Ivy Chelsea Garden. The occasion? Toasting the launch of…

This week we’re sipping The Made in Chelsea Coupe, an indulgent yet refreshing cocktail created by the clever folks at The Ivy Chelsea Garden. The occasion? Toasting the launch of Broken Clock Lingering Vodka, which takes botanical inspiration from England’s idyllic country gardens…

If there’s one thing us Brits delight in, it’s the sanctuary of a garden. Our very own tiny little bit of green space in which to do, well, whatever the hell we fancy. From manicured lawn obsessives and elaborate bird fountain fanatics to green-fingered allotment fans, few can resist tending to their personal piece of the great outdoors. And the truth is, you don’t even need your own ‘outdoors’ to get involved, as we discovered at a terrarium-building masterclass hosted by Broken Clock Lingering Vodka.

Infused with slow-ripened apples from the orchards of Yorkshire’s historic Shandy Hall estate and botanicals typically found growing wild in country gardens, this copper pot-distilled wheat vodka is about as quintessentially English as it gets. The liquid has an interesting literary link, which unfolded as we decorated our indoor gardens under the watchful eye and expertise of east London’s Botanical Boys. When founder Andrew Kuhajewski set about establishing Broken Clock, his biggest hurdle was refining the recipe. And after three years and more than 100 trial samples, he still wasn’t any closer to bottling his vodka. “I knew what kind of flavour profile I wanted to achieve, but it was very difficult to find the right balance of ingredients,” he explains. Add too much of any botanical and it’ll dominate the liquid; too little and it’ll get lost. 

Broken Clock vodka

Broken Clock vodka in its natural habitat

As Kuhajewski continued making adjustments, he began to draw parallels between Project Broken Clock and his choice of reading: a series called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by 18th-century novelist Laurence Sterne. If you’re unacquainted, we’ll bring you up to speed: pretty much nothing happens. In fact, by the time you make it to the third volume (there are nine in total) the protagonist – Tristram Shandy – still hasn’t been born. Every night, before he gets busy with his missus, Shandy’s dad winds his clock. One night, he forgets, so the story goes, and this is the night baby Shandy is conceived. 

Reading between the lines somewhat, Kuhajewski “decided to change the approach, step away from infinite planning and instead allow the project to grow organically.” He took a trip to the picturesque Shandy Hall, located in the village of Coxwold, and met the team behind the Laurence Sterne Trust. There, he says, everything clicked into place. “One of the custodians of the foundation, Patrick, took me around the village,” Kuhajewski says. “It’s a quiet place rather like a time warp. I spotted a broken clock atop a house neighbouring Shandy Hall. 

“I explained my predicament with the recipe, and the Trust came up with the idea of donating apples from their garden to the vodka,” he adds. Basketfuls of bitter-sweet apples were taken to the distillery in Cheshire, cut in half, and added to the copper pot still for the final distillation, along with bergamot, Angelica root and the rest of the botanicals. Upon tasting the resulting liquid, “I suddenly understood that [those] apples were the missing flavour,” Kuhajewski says.

The Made in Chelsea Coupe

The Made in Chelsea Coupe

In-keeping with the Georgian style, the bottle label is clad with typefaces dating back to the 18th century; in fact, ‘lingering’ is written in the original version of the Sans Serif font, while ‘Broken Clock’ is styled on old clock faces and Roman italics. The stopper features an engraving from British design legend (and poet, novelist and socialist) William Morris

And as for the liquid within? On the nose, there’s dewy grass, dried fruits, angelica and citrus, while the palate reveals rose petal, bramley apples and baking spices, with a “touch of earthiness” and a long, bitter-sweet finish. Sip Broken Clock on the rocks, stir it into your Martini or mix it with tonic or soda and top with a freshly-foraged garden garnish: think pears, blackberries, rosemary, and lavender. 

Alternatively, you could try your hand at the Made in Chelsea Coupe, below. Garden in a glass? Don’t mind if we do…

50ml Broken Clock Lingering Vodka
25ml lychee juice
10ml rose syrup
10ml lemon juice
Egg white
Pinch sea salt

Add all ingredients to a Boston shaker. Dry shake for 30 seconds, add ice, short shake, then double strain and garnish with a slice of dehydrated lemon.

 

 

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The Nightcap: 30 August

This week may have been shorter, but you’d have never guessed with all the booze news stories in The Nightcap (and because of how long it felt)! Gosh, what a…

This week may have been shorter, but you’d have never guessed with all the booze news stories in The Nightcap (and because of how long it felt)!

Gosh, what a long and tiring year the past few days have been. Monday was a bank holiday, and yet, this week somehow managed to keep going and going. And not simply from a general point of view, but the booze news just kept pouring in (no pun intended… Maybe…). Of course, this means that another edition of our weekly round-up of stories from all corners of the drinks world is very much necessary. Behold, it’s The Nightcap!

On the blog this week, Kristy revealed that Drinks by the Dram’s delightful drinks-filled Advent Calendars are available to pre-order now! You can never be too prepared when it comes to stocking up on delicious booze. Speaking of which, we also announced that we’re splitting our allocation of the hotly-anticipated Daftmill Single Cask between a 30ml dram lottery, a bottle lottery, and a charity auction. So many tasty tipples for you all to enjoy, but we didn’t stop there. Highland Park Valfather was made our New Arrival of the Week by Adam, while Henry picked the exotic Mai Tai to be our Cocktail of the Week. Industry veteran Ian Buxton then took a dim view over alcohol-free ‘spirits’ before Annie returned to cast her eye over the Chivas Masters cocktail competition 2019 and dispel five persistent stereotypes around drinking.

Plenty of boozy content to enjoy as always and there’s even more where that came from. On to the news…

The Nightcap

An artist’s impression of what the upcoming Ardara Distillery will look like

Sliabh Liag Distillers gets the green light for new Ardara Distillery

Good news this week for Irish whiskey and Sliabh Liag Distillers as the producer of An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin and The Silkie Irish Whiskey has been given planning permission to start work on its new distillery. Construction at the Show Field in Ardara will begin later this year, with distilling operations to scheduled to commence in 2020. The new €6m distillery, which will employ at least 40 people, will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol per annum (approximately 1700 filled casks and over 1.2m bottles of whiskey when the spirit is finally sold). The plan is to create a number of brands, including the Ardara and Sliabh Liag (pronounced something like Slieve Leaguesingle malt and pot still whiskeys. Production of An Dúlamán gin will also be moved from its current location in Carrick to the new building, which will also house a tasting bar, shop and a visitor experience that will include a history of poitín. However, there will be no café or restaurant, as visitors will be encouraged to make use of the village’s many offerings instead. “We are really excited to get the go-ahead from Donegal County Council and we look forward to commissioning the distillery and reclaiming the distilling heritage of Donegal,” commented James Doherty, managing director of Sliabh Liag Distillers. “It is important to us that local businesses benefit from the footfall, and if we can get visitors walking in the village, increasing their dwell time, then so much the better for the entire community.”

The Nightcap

Just 20ml and this little beauty went for £3,150

Tiny wee bottle of Black Bowmore 50 Year Old goes for £3,150 at auction

Here’s how it works when we receive a sample bottle of whisky at Master of Malt: we open it, we taste it, we scribble some tasting notes, and then we drink it. If there’s any left, we’ll share it around the office. What we don’t do is wait for a few years and then sell it at auction which is just what happened with a press sample from Bowmore. The whisky in question wasn’t just any Bowmore, it was the 50 year old Black Bowmore the Last Cask distilled in 1964 and given out to journalists in a special 20ml wax-sealed vial. On Sunday 18 August one of these tiny samples went for £3,150 at Just Whisky Auction. Graham Crane, director at Just Whisky, said: “At 20ml it isn’t even big enough to serve as a pub measure, however, one buyer was determined to secure this as part of their whisky collection.” Getting out our pocket calculators, the price works out at the equivalent of £110,250 for a 700ml bottle! That’s a lot of money but don’t worry, it isn’t going to stop us tasting and enjoying every sample that comes our way. There will be no squirrelling at MoM!

The Nightcap

This is the exactly how we pictured the Kent Life Hops n’ Harvest Beer Festival

Basil Brush to headline Kentish hops festival

Of all England’s counties, Kent might hold the booze crown: there’s a certain online retailer in Tonbridge, innovative distillers, delicious ciders, world-class vineyards and, of course, hops by the acre. Kent and hops have been synonymous since the 16th century. So to celebrate all things hoppy, you should get down to Kent Life Heritage Farm Park in Maidstone on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September for the Kent Life Hops n’ Harvest Beer Festival. You can learn about the history of hop picking and see hops processed in a traditional coal-fired oast (you know, one of those pointy house things you see all over the county). There will be live music, a silent disco and, for nostalgic adults as much as children, 80s TV legend Basil Brush. Boom boom! Oh, and there will be beer, lots and lots of beer from Kentish brewers like Gadds’ The Ramsgate Brewery, Goody Ales and Brew Buddies. Visit Kent Life for tickets and information. But that’s not all, there’s another festival at the same venue on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October celebrating apples and cider. It just doesn’t stop in Kent.

The Nightcap

The purchase includes brands like Knappogue Castle, Jefferson’s Bourbon and Goslings rum

Pernod Ricard acquires Castle Brands for $223m

It was announced this week that drinks giant Pernod Ricard has added to its considerable portfolio by reaching an agreement to acquire alcohol manufacturer and marketer Castle Brands for approximately $223 million (about £202m). The deal includes brands such as Gosling’s rum, Brady’s Irish Cream, The Arran Scotch whisky, Clontarf Irish whiskey and Jefferson’s Bourbon, the latter of which was noted as a stand-out performer when Castle Brands published its full-year results in June 2019 which saw its net sales rise to US$95.8m. The purchase follows Pernod Ricard’s recent acquisition of Texas-based Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co, producer of TX whiskey and bourbon just this month. “Through this acquisition, we welcome this great brand portfolio, in particular, Jefferson’s Bourbon, to the Pernod family. Bourbon is a key category in the US, which is our single most important market,” said Pernod Ricard’s CEO, Alexandre Ricard. “This deal aligns well with our consumer-centric strategy to offer the broadest line-up of high-quality premium brands. As with our American whiskies Smooth Ambler, Rabbit Hole and TX, we would provide Jefferson’s a strong route to market and secure its long-term development, while remaining true to its authentic and innovative character,” Castle Brands CEO, Richard J. Lampen, added: “We are very pleased to reach an agreement with Pernod Ricard, which is the result of months of planning and deliberation by our board of directors. We are confident that this transaction will deliver immediate and substantial cash value to our shareholders.”

The Nightcap

The Kraken Pennywise: it’s slightly scary and very delicious. Like eating an oyster.

Kraken Rum creates scary IT-themed cocktail

No, not a cocktail inspired by information technology (though that sounds fun), it is, or rather IT is, a new film from Stephen King, IT: Chapter Two, which arrives in cinemas this September. As the name suggests, it’s a sequel to top 80s horror series IT featuring the clown from your nightmares, Pennywise (memorably played by Tim Curry in the original and Bill Skarsgård in the new version). Kraken Rum, probably the scariest rum money can buy, has created this new cocktail called the Kraken Pennywise. Containing Kraken Rum, raspberry puree, lime juice and sage sugar syrup, it’s blood red, served over ice and finished with a red balloon as if an evil clown might be lurking nearby. And the best thing about this special cocktail is. . . it’s free! Won’t cost you a pennywise; all you have to do is buy a ticket to the launch night of the film on 6 September and then take your ticket along to RoadTrip Bar in Old Street, London to claim your free drink. Just don’t bring along your coulrophobic friend.

The Nightcap

Happy anniversary guys!

anCnoc whisky unveils limited editions to mark 125th anniversary

Knockdhu Distillery first opened its doors in 1894, which makes it as old as the Blackpool Tower and The Jungle Book. They won’t be able to celebrate their 125th Anniversary by releasing delicious new whisky, however. Not like anCnoc whisky, who have launched two limited edition single malt Scotch whiskies: anCnoc 16 Years Old Cask Strength and a 125 Year Anniversary Peated whisky. The former, which will retail at £99.95, was matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks and bottled at cask strength. It’s said to be a light, elegant expression with notes of sweet vanilla mixed with coconut and butterscotch toffee, green apple and citrus as well as a faint warming spice. The second bottling, anCnoc’s Peated whisky, was made to take the drinker on a “mellow journey from the heart of Banffshire’s rich peatlands”. Matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks, then further matured in a Spanish oak butt, the smoky and sweet dram is said to possess notes of wood smoke mixed with almonds and dried fruit as well as burnt toffee. This one will set you back £79.95. Both limited editions feature collectable packaging illustrated to tell anCnoc’s story, with a celebratory copper lid. Because nothing says ‘happy birthday’ like a copper lid. “To be celebrating 125 years of making exceptional whisky is a real achievement. The traditional methods that make our whisky so special are still in use today, but we’re constantly innovating to offer a fresh take,” said anCnoc distillery manager, Gordon Bruce. “It’s this combination of tried and tested means with a contemporary twist that makes anCnoc, and Knockdhu Distillery, one of the best places in the world to work – we have a lot of fun here. It was really important to mark this special year, we could offer something for everyone, and I think we’ve done just that.” There are only 500 bottles of each, but luckily you will be able to get them both from MoM Towers.

The Nightcap

John Varvatos and Nick Jonas, co-founders of Villa One

Nick Jonas launches Tequila with Stoli

Another week, another celebrity trying to get in on the Tequila boom. This time it’s musician and actor Nick Jonas, probably best known for his time in The Jonas Brothers, and menswear designer John Varvatos. The pair have joined forces with Stoli, best known for producing Stolichnaya vodka, to create the new premium Tequila, which they’ve named Villa One. It does sound like a website you’d find a cracking deal on a four-bed in Corfu, but it’s definitely Tequila being sold. In fact, the brand will debut with three expressions as soon as this September: silver, reposado, and añejo bottlings, priced between $45 and $60 a bottle. Clearly somebody’s been keeping a close eye on Bacardi’s Patrón and Diageo’s Casamigos, and wants in on the action. Villa One becomes the second tequila launched by Stoli after it created the Cenote brand last year. The specifics of the deal haven’t been disclosed, however the Stoli Group has briefed that Jonas and Varvatos are co-founders and partners in the brand with an equity stake. No money has been exchanged for their backing of the Villa One brand, although the duo will benefit from profits down the road. Jonas and Varvatos have actually worked together twice before, with Villa One Tequila becoming their third collaboration. “The first was a fashion collaboration and then the fragrance,” said Jonas. “Given our affinity for Tequila, Villa One was the perfect next step.” “The most important thing for us is that we have the best Tequila in the market,” added Varvatos. “It is less about us and all about the product.” Though it is quite a bit about them.

The Nightcap

The Bermondsey Bees Knees cocktail from Nine Lives, London

Ketel One introduces One Square Mile initiative to champion local communities

Ketel One wants to challenge bartenders to use ingredients sourced within a one-mile radius of their bar to create cocktail menus that celebrate the local community. Joining forces with bartender competition World Class as well as community partners, local craftsmen and gardening communities, this bartender-led initiative seeks to promote natural ingredients, locally-made vessels and reduced waste in the drinks industry. The One Square Mile initiative will run from 2-8 September; for that week, three-drink Ketel One Vodka menus will be available in cocktail bars across the UK, showcasing the proximity of the ingredients used and vessels sourced to create the serve and championing the partnerships formed within the community through a series of events. One of the cocktails will be something customers can easily recreate at home. Bars joining the initiative include Nine Lives, London, Amico’s Bar, Essex and Terrior Tapas, Southbourne. Nine Lives will be featuring its Bermondsey Bees Knees cocktail in collaboration with local beekeepers and made with produce from local farmers. There will also be an opportunity to join the World Class Global Finals in Glasgow and have their cocktails showcased for a select few of the participating One Square Mile bartenders. “We’re delighted to be launching our One Square Mile initiative – designed to inspire bartenders and local communities to come together to utilise their skills and resources to create something great,” said Kate Jackson, brand ambassador for Ketel One Vodka. “We love to encourage bartenders to explore alternative methods for championing urban flavours. Not only is using seasonal ingredients and local produce to create cocktails sustainable, it really elevates the flavour in cocktails and is a great way to engage with local people.”

The Nightcap

Three Little Words will hopefully look something like this

Manchester Gin opens swanky cocktail bar and restaurant

Manchester Gin has announced the imminent opening of a new cocktail bar in. . . . Bolton! We’re joking, it’s in Manchester. The venue called Three Little Words is located in Grade-II-listed brick railway arches in the centre of the city. We wonder what the Three Little Words are? ‘More gin, please’ or ‘waiter, another Martini.” It won’t just offer the classics, there will be specially-designed cocktails themed around the concept of love: “The menu moves through Lust, Rapture, Devotion, Eternity and ends with Ultimatum, creating flavours that evoke every stage of love: from excitement and freshness, through to darker, heavier flavours.” Blimey! As well as cocktails, there will be food from Jimmy Carr. No, not the comedian but former chef at Evelyn’s, one of the city’s best restaurants. Manchester Gin co-founder and master distiller, Seb Heeley, said: “This is the culmination of a life ambition for Jen [Wiggins, co-founder] and I. From the very first day we met, we talked about our dreams to open our own bar, so this feels like a huge milestone for us! We couldn’t have started this venture without the support of Manchester, so to be able to create 45 jobs and give something back to this amazing city means the world to us.” Oh, and those Three Little Words? ‘Drink, dine, distill’. Makes sense, but we still prefer ‘more gin, please.’

The Nightcap

A p*ssion fruit liqueur for the perfect P*star Martini

And finally. . . . the Pornstar Martini goes respectable

The Pornstar Martini has to be one of the drinks of the 21st century. Created by bartender Douglas Ankrah at the Townhouse in London back in 2003, it has gone on to become the UK’s favourite cocktail. Now Ankrah has just launched a passion fruit liqueur so you can make the perfect version at home. But rather than label it ‘Pornstar’, Ankrah thinks that it is time for a rebrand. The name with its louche connotations might be fine for the on-trade but isn’t going to fly off the shelves, or even make it onto the shelves, at Waitrose. So the new liqueur is labelled P*Star. Ankrah explained the logic to us: “It has changed as I wanted to bring the brand in line to the current climate.” He went on to say: “I feel customers who loved the cocktail when I first created it are now parents to children and would not want a cocktail like Pornstar in the house.” The new name certainly gets round the problem of having to explain what a pornstar is to your ten year old daughter. So, there you have it: the Pornstar is dead, long live the P*star!

 

 

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