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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: wine

The Nightcap: 22 April

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

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

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

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

Now, onto The Nightcap: 22 April edition!

Lagavulin distillery manager

Say hello to Jordan Paisley

Lagavulin has a new distillery manager

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

Bladnoch

Congratulants to Bladnoch!

Bladnoch Distillery wins prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise

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

oldest wine discovered

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

Oldest evidence of wine in Europe uncovered

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

Tamnavulin white wine

We’re looking forward to tasting this Tamnavulin

Tamnavulin Distillery unveils White Wine Cask Edition

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

Guinness Cold Brew Coffee

It was inevitable really, wasn’t it?

Guinness launches Cold Brew Coffee

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

Lindores Abbey STR

Another new whisky!

Lindores Abbey launches another new whisky!

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

The Gauldrons Sherry

We have high hopes for this one

The Gauldrons unveils first Limited Edition Release

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

sake robot

Look at its little face!

Sake brewery employs adorable weeding robot

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

Ballantine's Moxxi

The future is now, old man

And finally… Ballantine’s hires Borderlands video game character

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

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The Nightcap: 14 January

In the news this week: celebrate Burns Night with Batman, Guinness goes green, Marky Mark gets into Tequila, and, not to be outdone, Katy Perry, crashes the world of zero…

In the news this week: celebrate Burns Night with Batman, Guinness goes green, Marky Mark gets into Tequila, and, not to be outdone, Katy Perry, crashes the world of zero ABV drinks. All this and more in The Nightcap: 14 January edition!

Well, time continues to march on so now we’re at the weekend before Blue Monday, supposedly the worst day of the year because it’s cold, dark, and we’re all broke and guilty thanks to Christmas indulgence. The Irish have a saying that we think is quite a fitting response to this sort of thinking: what a load of ol’ shite. There’s lots to enjoy in January. Like leftovers. New presents. The FA Cup. And, of course, The Nightcap. What a treat. Let’s crack on with today’s edition.

On the blog, our Dry January coverage continued with cracking cocktails from High Point, and you can still win some goodies from them thanks to the second part of our competition. Dr. Nick Morgan returned to ask bartenders to go easy on the ice, while folks from all over MoM chipped in to recommend some of our favourite places for lunch. Elsewhere, our New Arrival was a very special rum from Guatemala, our Cocktail of the Week was inspired by one of the legends of the jazz age, and we got familiar with the weird and wonderful Pussanga as well as an Australian winery that turned its hand to whisky.

Now, onwards to The Nightcap: 14 January edition!

The Nightcap: 14 January

What is it with celebs and Tequila?

Mark Wahlberg launches a Tequila

George Clooney, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kendall Jenner… are there any celebrities left who don’t have a stake in a Tequila brand? Well, we strike Mark Wahlberg off the list anyway as he’s invested in Flecha Azul, co-founded by Mexican PGA golfer Abraham Ancer and entrepreneur Aron Marquez. Wahlberg actually initially turned down the proposal, saying “you have all these other people out there claiming to have gone to Mexico and created Tequila and cultivated agave and all this stuff”, but was persuaded that this time was different. A visit to the brand’s distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, which has been owned and operated by a local family since 1840, surely helped. Flecha Azul has five types of expressions: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Cristalino and Extra Añejo, but is currently only sold in California, Texas, Nevada, and Georgia, although it plans to launch nationwide later this year. Despite every celeb and their granny having an agave brand, Wahlberg is unfazed by the competition. “The space is growing thanks to guys like Dwayne who have created a lot of awareness and excitement,” he told CNN. “We’re coming for everybody’s spot… We plan on being the best.” The Departed actor added that he’s down to host a Tequila-off with Johnson and Clooney. “I’ve tasted their product, they haven’t tasted mine! Those guys know me very well, they know my competitive spirit!'”

The Nightcap: 14 January

The portmanteaus need to stop. Please.

Meanwhile, Katy Perry launches zero ABV drinks for ‘Soberuary’ 

If you’re sick of irritating portmanteau words like ‘veganuary’, ‘staycation’, and ‘brosé’, then look away now because top pop star Katy Perry has just created the world’s worst word – ‘soberuary’. Yes, it’s a juxtaposition of January (or perhaps February) and sober. You probably won’t be surprised as to the reason behind this word crime is that the Californian singer has recently launched her own range of zero ABV drinks. Called De Soi, they are made in conjunction with, as Perry put it on Twitter, “my fellow new mama/ botany babe Morgan McLachlan.” De Soi will come in three varieties: Golden Hour made with citrus and lemongrass, Champignon Dreams with strawberries and grapefruit (and we presume mushrooms), and Purple Lune flavoured blackberry nectar, vanilla oak, and rose petals. McLachlan is the lady behind Amass, a company that makes all kinds of botanical-based goods including skincare products, gin, and non-alcoholic drinks, so she probably knows what she’s doing. And it does make a nice change from another celeb Tequila brand, we’re looking at you Marky Mark, but please no more portmanteau words.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Fifty Cheyne is one of several capital establishments marking Burns Night with Aberfeldy

Celebrate Burns Night with Aberfeldy

And if you’re on the lookout for Burns Night ideas, Aberfeldy has options across London. The Cadogan Arms, The Sitwell Supper Club, Boisdale Belgravia and Canary Wharf, and American steakhouse Smith & Wollensky will all be hosting Burns Night feasts on 25 January with traditional food and a selection of signature Aberfeldy serves. Meanwhile, No. Fifty Cheyne has an extravagant five-course set menu and whisky tasting flight and Mr. Fogg’s Society of Exploration is making three limited-edition cocktails. There’s the Burns and the Bees, a mix of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, spiced oat milk, honey, and walnut bitters, served with an oat tuile; the Sae the Lord Be Thankit, a combination of Aberfeldy 12 Year Old combined with cold brew Lady Grey tea, shortbread syrup, and rhubarb bitters; and the Golden Ratio, a blend of tablet-washed Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, Moët N.V. Champagne and orange bitters. You can click the links to each establishment to find where to book your tickets. Sounds like there’s going to be some truly cracking Burns Night celebrations this year.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Batman is Scottish. This is canon. And he probably loves Glenfiddich

Or you could Celebrate Burns Night Batman style

Ah, Burns Night! A celebration of all things Scottish, and Batman. Wait, what? If you head down on Tuesday 25 January to Park Row restaurant, you’ll be able to take part in ‘The Wayne Family Burns Night Supper’. Yes, apparently all along Batman was Scottish. Who knew? Well, according to the press release, everyone did. The evening will draw on “Bruce Wayne’s Scottish heritage, well-known to readers of the comics”, and consists of a traditional Burns Night supper with whiskies and cocktails by Glenfiddich, followed by a ceilidh band so you can dance the night away. Tickets cost from £55 per person, with whisky pairings extra. The Soho restaurant, that’s Soho London, not SoHo New York, is billed as “the UK’s first DC-inspired restaurant,” which we initially thought was something to do with the capital of the USA but it actually refers to the comic book company behind Batman, Superman et al. A restaurant inspired by superheroes, imagine being at lunch when they came up with that one.

The Nightcap: 14 January

No emissions from this big boy

Guinness goes green with zero emissions transport

Diageo has been really stepping up its environmental commitments of late thanks to its 10-year sustainability action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, and the latest development it’s made is to introduce the first zero-emissions vehicles into Guinness’ fleet from this summer. The aim is to cut transport emissions by 70% by the end of 2025, and by 100% before 2030. There’s actually already one zero-emission vehicle already in use exclusively at the brewery, which was used in a trial to transport bulk beer in the Guinness tankers from St James’s Gate to Dublin Port, helping to determine if it can be used to transport heavy goods beyond the brewery. Four zero-emission trucks will also be tested later this year to deliver kegs to the hospitality trade in Dublin City, with an ambition to extend further if successful. “We are only 263 years into our 9,000-year lease on the St. James’s Gate Brewery, and we are in it for the long haul – for our people, our products, and our planet, and we will never settle in pursuit of a better, more sustainable future for everyone,” Barry O’Sullivan, managing director, Diageo Ireland.

The Nightcap: 14 January

Are you intimidated by the ‘rules’ of wine?

75% people think ‘rules of wine’ intimidating

Woodbridge Wines recently sought the help of OnePoll to conduct research into how people respond to the world of wine and the response was… less than ideal. According to the findings, three out of four of people find wine etiquette intimidating, while 67% of respondents believe that there are right and wrong ways to drink wine and eight out of 10 respondents said they did not always follow the so-called “rules of wine”. A total of 2,000 U.S. respondents aged 21 and older participated in the survey, and just 22% of them said that following traditional wine etiquette greatly enhanced their experience of drinking. The good news was that seven out of 10 respondents said they drink wine more than any other type of alcohol over the winter, and a pleasant surprise was found in the research that showed 62% of men and 50% of women would choose wine over beer while watching sports. So not all bad then. We’d personally be very intrigued to see how people would respond to a similar survey about whisky.

The Nightcap: 14 January

For two days this summer, Portugal is coming to London!

Portuguese FESTA coming to London in June 

This sounds brilliant. Portugal will be coming to London for two days this summer. London’s Bar Douro has teamed up with wine expert Sarah Ahmed to put on FESTA, a two-day festival devoted to all kinds of Portuguese deliciousness at Tobacco Dock in London on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June. There will be wines from 50 of the country’s best producers to sip as you munch on delicious Portuguese snacks like croquette de bacalhau. Max Graham, from the noted Port family and Bar Douro founder, had the original idea to “introduce wine, food and travel lovers to the Portuguese producers and products.” He continued: “I’m thrilled to be able to do this through a unique cultural event, with art and live music.” With Sarah Ahmed’s involvement, the wines are likely to be superb. She explained: “the wines have gone from strength to strength as Portugal’s dynamic producers have developed an ever-deeper understanding and respect for their country’s distinctive grape varieties, wine traditions, and terroir.” It sounds like the next best thing to actually visiting the country. And you won’t have to take a lateral flow test. We hope. 

The Nightcap: 14 January

Tax deductible wine? It’s about damn time (phone courtesy of @Trump_ton)

And finally… is wine now tax deductible?

For the self-employed, the arrival of January only means one thing. It’s tax time. The end of the month is the deadline to get your returns in so people are frantically going through their receipts trying to work out what is and isn’t tax-deductible. Printer ink is, sadly drinks aren’t. Or are they? Online funny man @mikedicks aka @Trump_ton spotted something in his local Waitrose which will provide hope to impoverished freelancers everywhere, wine classed as an office supply. This means that all those bottles you’ve been knocking back over the year are actually tax-deductible. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

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Top ten Champagne and sparkling wines for Christmas

From high end Champagnes to delicious good value Prosecco, not forgetting some quality English fizz, these are our top ten Champagne and sparkling wines for Christmas. Ah the pop of…

From high end Champagnes to delicious good value Prosecco, not forgetting some quality English fizz, these are our top ten Champagne and sparkling wines for Christmas.

Ah the pop of the Champagne cork! The sound that says work is over and it’s time to party. There’s an awful lot of choice out there, so to narrow things down, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites from classic non vintages to more expensive vintage wines.

But there’s much more to sparkling wine than Champagne. From Italy there’s fun and frivolous Prosecco, and nowadays England makes some increasingly good wines using the classic Champagne grape varieties.

And if you’re looking for more fizz inspiration, we’ve included links to sparkling wine cocktails below.

Cheers!

Top ten Champagne and sparkling wines for Christmas

sensi-18k-prosecco-gold-wine

Sensi 18K Prosecco Gold 

Have a blingy Christmas with this gold bottle of Prosecco. Not only does it look fantastic but it tastes great too. Prosecco is made using a different method to Champagne where the bubble-producing secondary fermentation takes place in a tank rather than a bottle. Not only is this cheaper but it preserves fresh fruit flavours. 

How does it taste?

Honeydew melon, crisp pear, delicately floral with a touch of sweetness. This would be just the thing in classic Venetian cocktails like the Bellini, Spritz or Sgroppino

adami-bosco-di-gica-prosecco-wine

Adami Bosco di Gica Prosecco 

If you find most Prosecco a little too sweet, then this is the wine for you. It’s Brut which means it has less than 10g of sugar per litre. It’s mainly made from Glera, the classic Prosecco variety, but there’s also a small portion of Chardonnay which adds complexity. This is a distinct cut above most Proseccos. 

How does it taste?

Dry with a vibrant acidity, notes of nectarine and ripe orchard fruit with honey, cherry blossom and a crisp finish.

paul-dethune-champagne-brut-champagne

Paul Déthune Champagne Brut

The big names of Champagne do own some vineyards but also buy in a lot of fruit. In contrast Paul Dethune is a grower Champagne house meaning that all the grapes used come from the producer’s own vineyards. It’s a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay grapes from Grand Cru vineyards in Ambonnay. 

How does it taste?

This has a super fresh lemony nose and on the palate it’s very dry and tangy with great balance. Try it with seafood, you won’t regret it. 

moet-chandon-grand-vintage-2013-champagne

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Extra Brut 2013

2013 was a cool year in Champagne giving wine maker Benoît Gouez the opportunity to craft a highly distinctive Moet vintage. The blend was made up of 41% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir and 21% Meunier. He described the resulting wine as “autumnal, energetic and chiselled”. We think it’ll be amazing with oysters. 

What does it taste like?

Lean with sharp green apple, lean but ripe, mouth-watering acidity. With time it fills out bringing in grapefruit.

charles-heidsieck-brut-reserve-champagne

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve

There are three houses with Heidsieck in their names, but this one is considered to be the best. It was founded by Charles Heidsieck aka ‘Champagne Charlie’ in the 19th century. It’s non-vintage is consistently one of the best Champagnes around, and seems to be on particularly good form at the moment. 

What does it taste like?

Orange and lemon peel on the nose. Palate is creamy like custard and then those citrus notes come in again. It has enough body to serve with chicken dishes as well as fish. 

taittinger-brut-prestige-rose-champagne

Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé 

Rosé Champagne is usually made from adding a little red wine made from Pinot Noir grapes to a white wine. In this case there’s 15% red from the highly-regarded vineyards of Ambonnay and Bouzy, creating a pink with some serious oomph to it. We reckon this is one of the best Rosé Champagnes on the market.

How does it taste?

Pink Champagne can be a bit meh, but not this one. It’s all dark cherries, ripe strawberries and meaty savoury notes.

deutz-brut-classic-champagne

Deutz Brut Classic NV

Another under-the radar Champagne house, Deutz, it’s pronounced ‘dutts’ by the way, is owned by Bollinger so as you can imagine the quality is extremely high. The house style, however, the opposite of big rich Bolly, Deutz is citrussy, refreshing and clean. Very different, but equally delicious. 

How does it taste?

Lemon sherbet fruit with white peach, pear, brioche, pastry and biscuit notes. Lighter style but no shortage of depth here. Try it in a French 75.

pol-roger-brut-2013-champagne

Pol Roger vintage 2013

We love Pol Roger’s classic NV, but the vintage wines are always a treat. This 2013 is made up of the usual blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. After a full malolactic fermentation the wine was aged for seven years in the cellars before being released. It was a cooler vintage so expect raciness aplenty. 

How does it taste?

Big burst of green apple on the nose, followed by lemon and yeasty notes. Very fresh on the palate, with more green apple followed by yeasty, brioche and lemon peel. 

chapel-down-kits-coty-blanc-de-blancs-2015-wine

Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Blanc de Blancs 2015 

Since its launch, the Kit’s Coty range of wines from Chapel Down, named after a vineyard in Kent, have proved themselves to be among England’s finest. And when it comes to the sparklers, that means up there with the best in the world. This is all Chardonnay and part oak-matured giving it a rare richness and depth.

How does it taste?

Buttery pastries, green apples, peaches toasted almonds and some chalky minerality. Very complex and long. 

furleigh-estate-classic-cuvee-2017-wine

Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée 2017

It’s the 2017 vintage of Classic Cuvée from the Furleigh Estate. Made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes – grown on the estate’s 85-acre vineyard in Dorset. It’s made using the Champagne method to produce lots of elegant bubbles and matured until it’s nice and toasty. 

How does it taste?

Delicate brioche and crisp green apple with wafts of peach, nectarine, and honeysuckle balanced by a distinct citrussy zestiness.

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The Nightcap: 26 November

This week’s Nightcap is wall-to-wall amazing Scotch from the likes of Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker, Lagavulin and more. Plus a whiskey barrel Christmas tree and chilli bacon vodka… Do you know…

This week’s Nightcap is wall-to-wall amazing Scotch from the likes of Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker, Lagavulin and more. Plus a whiskey barrel Christmas tree and chilli bacon vodka…

Do you know what today is? The day when it really hits home how close Christmas is. December, and Advent with it, is next week. This time next month it will be over. We have officially entered the season to be jolly. But you don’t need to panic and suddenly force yourself to feel the Christmas spirit. It’s Friday, relax and take in a nice bundle of stories from the world of booze first.

Other stories we covered this week include our guide to Black Friday 2021, word on Aston Martin and Bowmore’s latest collaboration, the reforming of Delamain Pale and Dry XO, and shining a spotlight on Brandy de Jerez. We also stirred up a seasonal drink inspired by the ancient Druids rounded up our top 10 Christmas drinks, and found out what #WhiskySanta’s latest Super Wish is.

The Nightcap: 26 November edition!

The Nightcap: 26 November

The first of our amazing whiskies this week

Glenfiddich auctions 42-year-old Scotch whisky

Glenfiddich and Goodwood are teaming up for a pretty special whisky release, which we’re lucky enough to taste. Just three decanters of a 42-year-old Glenfiddich have been released to be auctioned by Bonhams to raise funds for Race Against Dementia at 11:00 on 7 December 2021. The whisky is taken from cask #11136 from Warehouse 8, which is a refill American oak hogshead barrel that has been maturing since 13 April 1979. It’s a celebration of Goodwood’s historic whisky connection, which can be traced back to 1836 when a chance inheritance handed Gordon Castle and its estate to the fifth Duke of Richmond, who was alarmed by his tenant’s illicit distilling and used political influence and commercial nous to ensure distilling became legal; paving the way for  William Grant to build the Glenfiddich Distillery. Each decanter is paired with a VIP experience at a renowned Goodwood motorsport event and a photograph taken and signed by renowned Formula 1 photographer Rainer Schlegelmilch as well as motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart OBE.  Master distiller Brian Kinsman says about the dram that cask #11136 is “a stunning example of Glenfiddich, with an oaky, sweet and long-lasting taste. It has reached a perfection that few casks will ever achieve and is the ideal whisky to celebrate our long-standing relationship with Goodwood.” Each liquid is contained in a hand-blown crystal decanter by renowned French crystal maker Baccarat, and Bonhams have given a low estimate for each lot of £6,500. It’s a great cause and we can confirm the whisky is worthy of the plaudits. Its elegance and balance are astounding. We do hope whoever buys it actually drinks it.

The Nightcap: 26 November

Master of Flavours is made up of whiskies aged for at least 48 years from distilleries like Brora and Glenury Royal.

Johnnie Walker ends series in style with Master of Flavour

In one of his final releases before he retires at the end of the year, Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge has put together the final edition of the cracking Masters range. Johnnie Walker Masters Of Flavour has an ABV of 41.8% and was made with whiskies aged for at least 48 years from ghost distilleries like Glyn Albyn, Port Dundas, Brora, and Glenury Royal, which was balanced together with whisky from Cameronbridge, Blair Athol, and Dalwhinnie. No wonder there’s only 288 bottles priced at £20,000. To create the special release, Beveridge teamed up with previous collaborators Donna Anderson, malt master, James Carson, cask master, and Douglas Murray, distillation master, to pay tribute to the skill of whisky-making. It’s the third and final whisky in the Johnnie Walker Masters series, which includes Ruby Reserve, a celebration of Jim Beveridge’s 30 years working in whisky, and the John Walker Masters’ Edition, a whisky crafted using Scotch aged for a minimum of 50 years from distilleries that were operational during the lifetime of Johnnie Walker founder John Walker. Much like both of them, Masters of Flavour is presented in a Baccarat crystal decanter within a bespoke oak cabinet. Although, it has to be said it does look like a bottle of Haig Club made especially for the Green Goblin. Still, we imagine the whisky itself is outstanding, and excitingly we’ll have a chance to find that out soon…

The Nightcap: 26 November

The new mezcal cask Islay Jazz Festival bottling is sure to get whisky fans chattering

Lagavulin new Jazz Festival bottling is aged in mezcal casks!

The world does slowly seem to be getting back to normal but sadly this year’s Islay Jazz Festival will once again be online only this year. But never fear because sponsor Lagavulin’s annual festival bottling is happening and you can drink it IRL. It’s one that fans won’t want to miss because after initial maturation in refill bourbon casks it then spends an unspecified time in American oak barrels that previously held mezcal! Highly unusual. It’s bottled at a cask strength of 54.8% with a 13-year-old age statement, and will cost you £160. Distillery manager Pierrick Guillaume described it as “The first Lagavulin to be finished in mezcal casks with a distinctive and unusual flavour profile is sure to intrigue and excite Lagavulin fans and beyond.” “Distinctive and unusual” is just right. You probably wouldn’t guess that it had been aged in ex-mezcal casks, but it is hugely spicy and meaty with a strong lingering saline seaweedy finish. There’s also creamy toffee and vanilla lurking beneath stopping it all from getting too much. It’s a fascinating, highly complex dram, that’s sure to get whisky fans chattering. At the moment it’s a distillery-only release but we will let you know if we can get hold of a bottle or two.   

The Nightcap: 26 November

We tried this $30,000 51-year-old whisky. It’s pretty tasty.

Royal Salute releases $30k 51-year-old limited edition

We’ve had some packaging on whisky samples at Master of Malt but still, the arrival of Royal Salute 51 Year Old managed to cause a stir at the office. The 50ml sample came in a solid wooden box wrapped in gold (not real gold, sadly) chains with a combination padlock. It’s the second release in Royal Salute’s ‘Time Series Collection’ made up of casks filled before 1970 including some from ghost distilleries. Only 101 crystal decanters are available. Master blender Sandy Hyslop described it as “an undeniably special expression that blends exceptional style with high-aged whisky. Crafting a Scotch of that age requires intense care and attention to ensure the cask characteristics are perfectly absorbed without being overpowering, and the moment I tested the final blend will stay with me forever; the masterful role that time has played over a minimum of five decades of slow maturation really blew me away. This release is a one-of-a-kind expression, and I am honoured to contribute to the legacy that the outstanding Royal Salute Time Series Collection is making in the world of rare and collectable whisky.” There’s no doubt that it’s a special drop of quite jaw-dropping complexity. On the nose, there’s toffee, peaches, dark chocolate, cinnamon and cardamom with a distinct waxy note like you find in Brora (could this be one of the ghost distilleries in the blend?). The palate is spicy and lively with menthol, manuka honey, Jamaica cake, and a lingering waxy texture. We feel lucky to have had a wee taste especially as at $30,000 a pop we are very unlikely to ever taste it again. Well, we suppose that explains the packaging. 

The Nightcap: 26 November

It’s a masterclass from Ian worth seeing

Ian Burrell takes Equiano on UK rum tour

Global rum ambassador and co-founder of The Equiano Rum Co Ian Burrell is taking to the road this winter with A Tale of Two Rum Islands, a fascinating presentation of the rum-producing histories of Barbados and Mauritius. The event also gives guests the opportunity to taste Equiano Original and Equiano Light and learn the story behind its name, honouring the legacy of African-born writer, entrepreneur, abolitionist and freedom fighter Olaudah Equiano, as well as learn about the brand’s philanthropic endeavours. The session concludes with a Q&A, a rare chance to get geeky with one of the industry’s leading authorities. Burrell’s first UK tour in five years kicked off in London on 22 November, and we attended and had a blast. He then headed to Brighton (23 November) and will visit Nottingham (30 November) and Manchester (1 December) next, before continuing the tour in January 2022 in Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, and Birmingham. We highly recommend it. Equiano is also marking International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (2 December) by teaming up with London bar Duchess of Dalston (from the team behind Callooh Callay) to create an exclusive cocktail and raise money for Anti-Slavery International

The Nightcap: 26 November

No need to panic yet but we do want to see some progress here

Wine and spirits firms warn of Christmas alcohol shortage in UK

There’s no need to panic but… a group of 48 wine and spirits companies have told transport secretary Grant Shapps that Britain will suffer a Christmas alcohol shortage unless the government does more to address the lack of HGV drivers. Businesses including Pernod Ricard, Moët Hennessy, and the Wine Society raised concerns over rising costs and supply chain “chaos”, raising the risk that supermarkets will run dry and festive deliveries arrive late. Members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), which coordinated the letter, reported that importing products is taking five times longer than a year ago and that small businesses are struggling to compete as delivery firms have had to raise HGV drivers’ wages. Unpredictable arrival times are also resulting in goods being either not ready or are left waiting for collection. The call is for Shapps to extend a temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers, which expires in February 2022, to a year, and for the government to smooth congested freight routes from ports, as well as providing regular updates on how many HGV driver licences are being processed by the DVLA. “Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond,” Miles Beale, the WSTA chief executive, summarised. Let’s hope the resolution is forthcoming, and if you do need any booze for Christmas, we might have an idea of where to get some….

The Nightcap: 26 November

Want to serve draught pints at home right in time for Christmas? Now you can

Guinness launches £750 home beer tap

Guinness is launching a limited-edition at-home tap to serve draught pints right in time for Christmas. Following the successful rollout of the technology in pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK earlier this year, the system should help you attain a better pint in your own home, although we all know how hard it is to get Guinness right regardless. The new technology is thankfully simple. Just pop a Guinness Microdraft into the pint puller, and the technology itself guides the user on how to conduct the perfect two-part pour. “Guinness Microdraft enables people to enjoy a beautiful looking and delicious tasting Draught Guinness on tap in a completely new setting for the first time ever,” said head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah. “Whether it’s to pour the perfect drink at a festive gathering, a Christmas gift for a friend or family member, or simply to enjoy an iconic drink of the black stuff at home with loved ones, Guinness Microdraft is sure to be a hit among beer lovers.” The Guinness Microdraft Bar Tap will be available to purchase for £750 from 6 December and arrives with four Guinness Microdraft cans and two Guinness pint glasses.

The Nightcap: 26 November

Should we be doing more to enjoy the vast array of different wines available?

The most popular wines in the UK revealed

A new survey, which looked at the preferences in wine varieties of adults of drinking age has revealed the top 10 most popular wines in the UK. Winemaking simulator game Hundred Days, which allows players to “embark on a journey of winemaking,” found the favourite varieties, although there’s not much in the way of surprises. Coming in first place is Pinot Grigio, then Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot and Rosé rounded up the top five, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Malbec, and Rioja having to settle for places in the top 10. “Britain is one of the largest importers of wine, taking in over $4 billion worth of crates, bags and bottles in 2020. Yet, our research shows that the nation is largely shying away from expanding their wine repertoire and are stuck in a wine rut – making the same purchases over and over again,” says Yves Hohler, lead designer and co-founder of Broken Arm Games. Typically, they feel their game can make a difference by showcasing the vast array of different wines available. Of course, you could save yourself the effort and just click here

The Nightcap: 26 November

The Christmas tree from 150 repurposed Irish whiskey barrels

Hinch Distillery makes barrel Christmas tree

Getting truly into the festive spirit is Hinch Distillery, which has unveiled a 24ft Christmas tree made from up-cycled whiskey barrels. Topped off with sparkling lights and a big bow, the one-of-a-kind ‘tree’ was made from 150 repurposed Hinch Irish whiskey barrels and took 48 painstaking hours to do. It took a team of eight under the helm of Co Down decoration installer to create the structure, which pays homage to the whiskey distilling process at Hinch, including a globe made from strips that hold the barrels in place. After Christmas, the plan will be to repurpose it for furnishings including chairs and plant pots to make it a year-round installation. Hinch Distillery, which will celebrate its one year anniversary this month, lies between Belfast and Ballynahinch on the Carryduff Road and is nestled in the grounds of the beautiful Killaney Estate, so if you want to see it for yourself, you know where to go. Be sure if you’re interested to see The Whiskey Barrel Christmas Tree light switch-on, which we imagine will be quite a sight. The distillery, which has not yet got its own whiskey, has also bottled a 12-year-old Amarone Cask Finish expression. But that’s just not as impressive as a big barrel tree, is it?

The Nightcap: 26 November

Ever tried Chilli Bacon Vodka before? Now you can. Huzzah.

And finally… Baller launches chilli bacon vodka 

The ‘And finally…’ section of The Nightcap has featured many a mad product before, from the strangest of gins to the most confusing of creations. This week we’ve got a chilli bacon vodka to cast a suspicious eye on, straight from London-based distillery Doghouse. The creators of Baller Vodka, which claims to be the capital’s only vodka made from scratch, dreamt up the new flavour to “disrupt the category” thanks to its “first-of-its-kind” chilli and bacon combination. It’s produced using the brand’s wheat vodka as a base, with Mexican-grown Habanero chillies and a secret ingredient, which apparently isn’t actual bacon, to give it a bacon sweet smokiness. Could be vegan then. Not that I’d imagine that’s the target market. The distillery says to enjoy Baller Chilli Bacon Vodka with dry ginger ale and a squeeze of lime juice, or in a Bloody Mary cocktail – which in fairness I can see working. Mostly this will be bought by people needing a joke present or something to shot on stag-dos you’d think. And more power to them. We are, after all, the folks behind this monstrosity

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The Nightcap: 1 October

This week’s Nightcap stars Skepta, two MoMers who are in contention to be the IWSC Spirit Communicator for 2022, and some truly rubbish wine. October. It’s October. October 2021. How…

This week’s Nightcap stars Skepta, two MoMers who are in contention to be the IWSC Spirit Communicator for 2022, and some truly rubbish wine.

October. It’s October. October 2021. How is this even possible? Time is making a shambles of us all. Our 2021 to-do lists mock us. Halloween is this month. Christmas is on the horizon. It’s all too much, isn’t it? Well, we’ve got just the tonic. Lots of gin. Just kidding. Although we do have lots of gin, our actual solution is light reading about all the goings-on in the world of booze. It’s called The Nightcap. Here it is.

Things were extra exciting on the blog these last few days because it just so happens to be MoM Week! Amazing, and exclusive to us, Glengoyne, Hermitage Cognac, and more are here and ready to be enjoyed. 

Oh, and we have a 71-year-old Macallan knocking around. Plus, news on Diageo’s Special Releases 2021 as well as some fascinating insights into why whisky can break the bank, how Crabbie’s is restoring a whisky legacy and why St. James Bar is so great. We also made a delicious cocktail called The Brooklyn and reported on the shock news that John Campbell is leaving Laphroaig. All in a week’s work. A MoM week’s work. Do check it out.

We also crowned one distillery as our Whisky Icon. Who was it? Click here to find out. Then click here to see the world’s greatest reaction video.

Now, let’s crack on. It’s the Nightcap: 1 October edition!

The Nightcap: 1 October

Hoorah for Kristy, Millie, and all other nominees!

Two MoMers make the IWSC Spirit Communicator 2022 shortlist!

If you’re aware of the IWSC Spirit Communicator 2022 award (sponsored by Chivas Brothers), you’ll know that it’s a pretty big deal in our industry. The award aims to recognise someone who is making an “exceptional contribution towards promoting spirits to the public”, and “reward those who have succeeded in using an omnichannel approach to communicate their spirits message to their audience”, according to the IWSC. For 2022, applications were at an all-time high, so it’s especially impressive to make the list of nominees, which is just five outstanding candidates. We are delighted to say that on the shortlist for this year’s Spirits Communicator of the Year award are former MoM editor Kristiane Sherry and current MoM contributor Millie Milliken! Ok, so technically Kristy is now head of spirits at Fine & Rare, but she spent part of this year here at MoM Towers so that counts as far we’re concerned (and she still hosts Pour & Sip tastings), while Millie has been writing all kinds of outstanding content for our blog in the last year. The other nominees are the excellent Moa Nilsson, or the ‘Swedish Whisky Girl’ as you probably know her best, the wonderful Felipe Schrieberg of ‘The Rhythm and Booze’ project and Forbes fame, and Billy Abbott from the enemy (just kidding, we love you really Billy). For more information on each nominee, visit here. Congratulations to all of them for making the shortlist, it’s a stellar lineup and any one of the five would be a worthy winner. You will forgive us if we have a couple of people we’re rooting for though…

The Nightcap: 1 October

That bottle is still sealed, my guy.

Havana Club unveils limited-edition rum with grime star Skepta

Havana Club and international music icon Skepta are proud to announce the next chapter of their global collaboration, a limited-edition rum created by the artist himself. The collaboration began in 2019, when Skepta first visited Havana, Cuba, and noticed parallels in Cuban traditions and those of his own West African Yoruba heritage through paths of migration. The first two chapters of the collaboration – a pair of redesigned Havana Club 7 Rum bottles – captured this cultural infusion in their labels, which featured traditional Nigerian symbols. But this is much more swanky. In fact, it’s described as “a truly unique spirit for the next generation of rum drinkers”, which was made as a “celebration of excellence and the cultural links between Cuba and Skepta’s homeland of Nigeria.” It’s also £85. Which is swanky, right? The rapper himself is also said to have been involved in the creation, collaborating with maestro del ron Cubano Asbel Morales, to make Rum of Skepta in a limited-edition batch of just 3,000 bottles. The press shots are a tad goofy, given Skepta appears to be drinking from a sealed bottle (maybe he’s just that good?), but we actually think this could prove very fruitful. If it opens the world of rum to a diverse set of new people, then that’s always welcome. As is the fact that I can do a Super Hans impression to anyone who brings this rum up in conversation and say “the secret ingredient is grime”. 

The Nightcap: 1 October

Some classic podcast posing on show here

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) launches new podcast with Vic Galloway

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has partnered with Vic Galloway for a special podcast series dedicated to great music and stunning whisky. You might remember they collaborated before, but now they’re taking things to the next level, with the Whisky Talk: Malts & Music podcast series. Along with a tasting pack of five Society single cask malt whiskies, each of Vic’s guests will explore their creative loves, their passion for whisky, and most importantly, how each of the five Society drams has inspired a favourite piece of music. Hosted in the Tasting Room at The Vaults, the Society’s home in Leith, the podcast will feature a whisky-fuelled chat with well-known whisky fans from Scottish cultural life like Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, writer Val McDermid, Justin Currie from Del Amitri and Stina Tweeddale of Honeyblood. Whisky Talk: Malts & Music kicks off on Thursday, 7 October with crime writer Ian Rankin, who pairs his Society drams with tunes from John Martyn, James Yorkston, and more. “Good whisky and good music go hand in hand. I had such a great time pairing 12 music genres with the 12 Scotch Malt Whisky Society flavour profiles earlier this year, and that gave us the idea for Whisky Talk: Malts & Music,” says Galloway. “Asking a whisky-loving creative person to match five malts with five pieces of music and chat to our guests about the experience was a huge amount of fun. As the whisky flows, we go off on unexpected tangents about creative work, opinions, and life in general. Join us for a good chinwag and spectacular drams!” Whisky Talk: Malt & Music is on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher, or you can watch the videos of the conversations on the SMWS YouTube channel.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Congrats to you Nancy!

Santa Teresa 1796 announces first female master blender

News this week from Santa Teresa rum reveals that Nancy Duarte will take over as its new master blender, the first woman to hold this position within the company, and just the fifth altogether in the history of the brand. Holding a Superior Technical degree in food and beverage, specializing in wines and fermented drinks, since 1990 Duarte has held several positions in the production area of Ron Santa Teresa, including the supervision of quality control, development, and formulation of liquids as well as innovations in the productive process and new products for the company portfolio. Couldn’t be more qualified, by the sounds of it. A vital part of her responsibilities has been to supervise the entire production process, from raw materials obtained at the Hacienda Santa Teresa to the finished product, to guarantee the quality and consistency of the blends. Duarte points out that, out of all the areas she is in charge of, the aging stage is one of her great passions because it is where the transformation of alcohol into rum takes place and where the mastery of the rum blender helps create exceptionally aged rums.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Our new favourite cocktail has to be the Espresso Martini made with this

Sipspresso Coffee Gin released for World Coffee Day

Did you know that today, 1 October, is World Coffee Day? We only knew because last night we were at the launch for Sipspresso Coffee Gin at the Artesian Bar in London. We were fortunate enough to chat with Mr. Sipsmith himself, Jared Brown, who seems to have more ideas in 10 minutes than most people have in a lifetime. But his wife seems even more interesting. Apparently, she’s uncovered some startling revelations about the history of gin in England. We can’t say anymore. But back to the point of the evening, Brown commented:  “We crafted Sipspresso Coffee Gin to our exacting standards. We ensured the same level of uncompromising commitment to quality and sustainability in our coffee supplier – Pact Coffee – who work with farmers from three continents to ethically source the finest ingredients for their premium coffee. Layering Pact’s Brazilian and Rwandan ground coffee with cinnamon and fresh vanilla on top of our original London Dry Gin base creates a delightfully rich, warm, and indulgent gin with a smooth and balanced finish.” Naturally, we tried it in Espresso Martinis but even better was the Coffee Negroni served with peach which has to be one of the most delicious things we’re ever tried. So hats off to the Artesian team for such amazing drinks. Sipspresso will be landing at Master of Malt very soon.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Distinguished chef Emily Roux will put together quite a menu

Emily Roux and The Balvenie create immersive dining experience

The Balvenie has come up with a nifty way to celebrate its newest release, 25 Year Old – Rare Marriages, by teaming up with distinguished chef Emily Roux to create a one-off immersive experience. On Friday 8th October, Harvey Nichols in London’s Knightsbridge, will host a gastronomic experience in a forest-like space featuring a six-course menu Roux made to perfectly complement the liquid and tell the story of how the whisky was made. Expect smoked beetroot tartelette, fresh Scottish langoustines tartare, roast venison saddle, and more deliciousness, along with specially concocted Balvenie cocktails and a tasting of The Balvenie Twenty Five. Paper quilling artist, Yulia Brosdskaya has also made a three-dimensional artwork that will be on display at Harvey Nichols as a full window display for the month of October. Tickets are £45.00 and are redeemable against £45.00 off a purchase of The Balvenie Twenty-Five in-store or online at Harvey Nichols.  We also wrote a feature on the 25 Year Old – Rare Marriages if you’d like to get an idea of what to expect.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Want to blend your own whiskey? You know where to go.

The Whiskey Thing at The Distillery Portobello Road

This week we went over to the rainbow streets of Portobello Road to (finally) try The Whiskey Thing, the newest experience from Jake Burger (of Portobello Road Gin) and the team behind The Ginstitute at The Distillery. Over three hours, Burger took us through everything you need to (and could) know about whisk(e)y, with the evening culminating in the chance to blend your own creation and take home the bottle. There’s no actual whisky distilling going on here – rather, Burger has selected 18 whiskies from around the world to showcase all that the spirit has to offer. Beginning with a journey through the production, from fermentation to maturation, it’s a fun and interactive experience. Peat is set alight with a blowtorch, and foam banana sweets are presented to mirror ripe ester-y flavours, as is shortbread to demonstrate the flavours of American oak. A mini crème brûlée is brought out alongside a Mexican corn whisky to amplify those buttery notes – and all of this is before we get to the official tasting! There are 18 whiskies to create your blend from, and we taste nine of them (18 glasses would be a little intimidating, we all agreed). The tasting is blind, and only after we’ve created the blend does Burger reveal what we’ve been sipping. No spoilers here, but ours was a mix of Irish, Indian, Scotch malt, and grain whiskies. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable, refreshing evening. Huge thanks to the whole team – if you want to brush up on your whisky knowledge and tasting skills, head on down!

The Nightcap: 1 October

Irish whiskey sales were down, but we’re confident they’ll bounce back

Irish whiskey sales slumped in 2020

The Irish Spirits Market Report 2022 from Drinks Ireland is here and it makes sobering reading for the country’s whiskey business. Global sales by value were down by 4% mainly due to Covid and the resulting collapse of global travel retail, the second biggest market for Irish whiskey, and the closure of bars and restaurants. Though whiskey seems more resilient than other categories – overall spirit exports were down 16%. Bryan Fallon, chairman of Drinks Ireland commented: “The report shows that the spirits sector did not escape unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic. Irish hospitality venues are a vital component to the continued growth and prosperity of Ireland’s spirits and craft spirits sector, allowing companies to engage with consumers, so their closure was very much felt.” To help the country’s industry, Drinks Ireland is calling for a cut in excise tax, Ireland has the third-highest tax on spirits in the EU. Fallon explained: “While 2020 has shown that our sector is resilient and adaptable, this resilience and adaptability will be tested in the post-Covid world, and the government must support our sector’s recovery through an excise cut.”

The Nightcap: 1 October

Thanks to the largesse of William Borrell from Vestal Vodka, it’s here!

Award-winning drinks magazine Tonic celebrates its second issue

Many people talk of starting their own magazine, but husband and wife team Robert Ellison and Benita Finanzio made their dream a reality when they founded Tonic, a magazine devoted to drinks and travel. They got some money together, commissioned some articles and the first issue landed last year… just in time for Covid. It’s been a struggle as Ellison admitted at the launch party for the second issue last night. But at his lowest point when he was thinking of jacking it all in, he got a phone call from someone saying he loved the magazine and wanted to help out financially. It was none other than William Borrell from Vestal Vodka who had a bit of spare cash after selling half his business to Halewood. Not only that but Halewood sponsored the launch at their City of London Distillery. The first issue has proved a triumph: lighting up awards lists up and down the country with contributors, Juliet Rix and Claire Dodd both shortlisted for awards, and Will Hawkes winning a Fortnum & Mason award for best drink writer. Plus the magazine is a finalist in the Travel Media Awards for the Consumer Publication of the Year. All this from a team with a lot of passion but no publishing experience at all. Now there’s a second issue out (go here to buy), and it’s even better. Moral of the story: dare to dream.

The Nightcap: 1 October

Rubbish wine, it’s the future.

And finally… rubbish wine anyone?

We love making use of leftovers here at Master of Malt. Rarely a week goes by when we don’t have bubble & squeak for breakfast but we’re recycling amateurs compared with two Aberdeen students. For a couple of years now, Elliott Martens and Lasse Melgaard have been taking advantage of the amount of perfectly edible food that supermarkets chuck out every day. Dubbing themselves Two Racoons, the pair told the Daily Record that they could “eat like kings” on food that had been binned. Now, they’re taking their Womble-tendencies up a notch with a range of wines made from surplus fruit. Varieties include ‘Strawberry Feels Forever’ and the not-quite-so-catchy ‘Overripe Raspberries Make Good Wine’. It’s worth following them on Instagram @tworaccoonswinery and see the Press & Journal for the full story. These lads have turned more than four tons of unwanted fruit into 10,000 bottles of wine that’s literally rubbish. 

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The Nightcap: 17 September

The biggest whisky bottle ever filled, Luther launches a bar and TWO ‘and finally’ stories… It’s all in the Nightcap: 17 September edition.  It might not have registered with you…

The biggest whisky bottle ever filled, Luther launches a bar and TWO ‘and finally’ stories… It’s all in the Nightcap: 17 September edition. 

It might not have registered with you but this Wednesday saw the first ever National Hospitality Day. Now, we realise that there are a lot of these things to keep up with: British Pie Week, World Whisky Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day, if it’s still going. But National Hospitality Day is one that’s particularly close to our hearts. During all the lockdowns, almost as much as we missed our parents and grandparents, we missed the convivial fug of our favourite bars and pubs. Though it’s good to be back, many venues didn’t make it through Covid, and with talk of possible restrictions on the way (noooooooooooo!), we’re urging readers to make full use of their local. So grab your phone, tablet, or portable electronic device, head out, order your usual and settle back with the Nightcap: 17 September edition. Cheers!

As well as being National Hospitality Day, it’s also Negroni Week (13-19 September) so Millie Milliken brought us seven twists on the classic including the intriguing-sounding ‘wanky Negroni.’ Then we shined our New Arrival spotlight on an underrated Scotch whisky style, single grain, with a special bottling from McMurray David. Things took a turn for the unusual as we invited customers all aboard the Hendrick’s airship. On Wednesday, did we mention it was National Hospitality Day? To celebrate, MoM staff got all misty-eyed about their locals and we finished the day by making a Vesper Martini because there’s a new Bond film out this month. An eclectic week finished off with a trip to Normandy to sample some Sassy cidre

Now it’s on with the Nightcap: 17 September edition!

The Nightcap: 17 September

We’ve seen a lot of whisky in our time and, in our expert opinion, that is a big bottle

World record smashed for the biggest whisky bottle ever filled

Gather round, gather round and gaze upon its magnificence: the biggest whisky bottle ever filled! Yes, in the Scottish town of Huntly a world record breaking-sized bottle of Scotch, was unveiled this week containing a staggering 311 litres of Macallan single malt. Household names Fah Mai Holdings Group Inc (FMH) and Rosewin Holdings PLC (RH) joined forces to fill the beast on 9 September, which beat the previously-held record, established by The Famous Grouse Experience in 2012, by a landslide 83 litres. There’s two sister casks of 32-year-old Macallan single malt whisky, married together by Duncan Taylor, in the 1.8m (five ft. nine inches) tall bottle, which took an hour to fill. The leftover whisky has been used to produce a limited-edition bottling run called ‘The Intrepid’. Each set consisting of a replica of the record-winning bottle featuring the faces of different famous explorers, athletes and adventurers. The feat was done to raise money for a number of charities so the whisky will now travel to a London auction house, where the hope is that the bottle will end up breaking a second world record for the highest price for a bottle of whisky ever purchased. “To put it into perspective, a single 70cl bottle of original 30-year-old Macallan Oak sells for £4-5k and a similar independent bottling fetches £3k plus,” says Fah Mai Holdings Group and Rosewin Holdings owners Louis Haseman and Daniel Monk. “What we have here in our mega bottle alone is around 444 of those. We’ll leave you to do the maths…”

Big spirits regulate influencers

How do you influence the influencers?

Big spirits sets influencer standards

A group of the largest spirits companies including Diageo, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Bacardi and Pernod Ricard has launched an initiative to set standards for influencers. The giants are part of 12 booze companies in the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), and they’ve teamed up with 13 marketing firms. The idea is to prevent minors from being influenced by the influencers. Henry Ashworth, IARD president and CEO, explained: “This is a world-first initiative in raising collective standards of responsibility across multiple digital channels, and we call on our partners in the alcohol, advertising and influencer industries to join us in our ongoing work to ensure that alcohol marketing across all forms of media is responsible.” He added: “This is a major step in preventing minors from seeing any alcohol marketing and IARD is proud to have united the world’s leading agencies to help raise global standards.” All very laudable but it seems to us that the main problem with influencers is not that minors might see them, after all alcoholic imagery is everywhere on billboards, films and in shops. Far more worrying is that it’s often not clear that when a top influencer is by the pool in Dubai enjoying a bottle of big brand booze, they are being paid to do so. We look forward to hearing about the new transparency regulations soon.

The Nightcap: 17 September

This beauty will reduce energy-related CO2 emissions by 95% by next year

Belvedere completes its biomass capture facility 

Belvedere has opened an ambitious on-site biomass capture facility that’s been three years in the making. In 2018, the Polish vodka maker became the first spirits distillery to receive a grant from the European Commission to pilot such a facility, and it will now be able to accelerate its Made With Nature commitments set forth in 2020. The facility will start producing 100% renewable energy, and subsequently reduce energy related CO2 emissions by 95% by 2022. President & CEO of Belvedere Vodka, Rodney Williams, commented that the build marks a “major step forward towards Belvedere making good on our belief that better business practices create a better world,” adding that the brand is “building on these achievements by setting the bar even higher for ourselves with eight sustainability commitments achievable by 2025.” The eight commitments include initiatives such as converting to fully organic farming from 2023, restoring landscapes through a regenerative soil program, reducing water waste, pursuing renewable energy solutions, reducing use of plastic by 50% and recovering heat waste by converting the distillation by-product into fuel. We always welcome progress in the name of sustainability, so nice work Belvedere. We think you’ve earned a Martini. Or a Vesper, perhaps…

The Nightcap: 17 Septembervvvv

Transparency has been a problem within Irish whiskey

Irish whiskey legislation is tightened

The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has helped further the cause of transparency in Irish whiskey by introducing new legislation regarding how brands label and market their products. The new terms state that if your liquid was not produced at a distillery your brand owns, then the label must say ‘Produced for’. The Irish whiskey industry has been undermined by a number of brands which have been less than forthcoming about the whiskey it markets, often misleading consumers with labels that suggest it produces its own spirit. You might have thought this move would come from one of four distinct entities which claim to represent Irish whiskey producers – the Irish Whiskey Association, the Irish Distillers Association, the Irish Whiskey Guild, and the Irish Craft and Artisan Distilleries Association – but no it’s come from a government department. Many producers have publicly stated their dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency in Irish whiskey, such as the outspoken Blackwater Distillery founder Peter Mulryan. A tweet by the distillery reacted to the news positively, stating, “It’s great to see DAFM insisting that Irish whiskey labels now say ‘Produced for’ when liquid is not produced in-house by brand. Expect gnashing of teeth from shite brands and faux-distilleries. #irishwhiskey”. One suspects we haven’t heard the last about this, but for those who are passionate about protecting the good name of Irish whiskey should have something to raise a glass to this week. 

The Nightcap: 17 September

Congratulations, Jen and Seb!

Spirit of Manchester plans second site

It’s been a hard year-and-a-half for the spirits industry but that hasn’t stopped the impressive growth of The Spirit of Manchester Distillery. The maker of gin, rum and more is having to open a second facility outside Manchester city centre just to meet increased demand. A 5,000-square-foot facility called The Vault, will provide additional space for bottling, labelling and shipping, the chance to hire two new workers for its production and warehouse team, and the opportunity to produce more than one million bottles annually. The Spirit of Manchester currently operates its flagship distillery in the city centre in a grade two-listed building on Watson Street, which is also home to a cocktail bar and gin school (all of which are excellent, as an upcoming blog will reveal…). The company says it expects to grow sales by more than 30% on pre-pandemic levels in 2022 as a result of ‘booming’ consumer demand and increased production capability. “Having come through a tough period for the industry, we’re delighted to be looking to the future and investing in our growth,” says master distiller Seb Heeley. “By expanding our production facilities, we’re also able to plan exciting enhancements to our distillery tour and gin tasting offering and look forward to sharing the magic that is The Spirit of Manchester.” We can honestly say this couldn’t happen to nicer people. Congrats, guys.

The Nightcap: 17 September

Porte Noire opens on the 18 October

Idris Elba and David Farber to launch Porte Noire bar 

From Luther to luxury fizz, Idris Elba is launching a wine bar! He’s teaming up with David Farber from Connaught Wine Cellars and wine and Champagne brand Porte Noire. The bar will be located at the foot of Gasholders (yes, an old gasholder), by the Regent’s canal towpath London. Expect an extensive selection of wines from around the world, cocktails and a selection of classic French brasserie-style dishes split into tasters, bar snacks, starters, mains and desserts. Designed by leading design agency Kanvass, Porte Noire will feature an outdoor space, a dining room and a bar which can seat up to 70 guests. The new bar and shop will also be home to around 800 wine bins as well as one of the largest fine wine tasting rooms in London. Chosen by Farber, the wine selection will include  some of the best and rarest bottles to a more accessible selection of wines on tap to suit all tastes. Most bottles will be available to purchase in the shop that sits by the entrance of the bar. “David has been working in the wine space for a long time, I know he is going to take the Porte Noire name and create something special,” says Elba. The Porte Noire Bar and Shop is set to open on Monday 18 October.

The Nightcap: 17 September

The Gibson will play host to some Laphroaig larks with David Miles and Marian Beke

Edrington UK to host a month of events for London Cocktail Week

Need some ideas of how to spend London Cocktail Week? Well, Edrington UK, the company behind Macallan, Highland Park and Laphroaig, has announced an interesting sounding series of workshops and events dedicated to the trade across the capital. Designed for those working in the bar and hospitality industry, the brand has put together three different sessions taking place throughout London Cocktail Week, which is taking place across the entire month of October. The first is Tending to the Tenders at Lyaness, a partnership with the bar to create a community space that’s focused on great food, delicious cocktails, wellness, and mental health. From cocktails to food, massages to interactive sessions, yoga to cinema nights, trade can attend all of these events for FREE. Lovely stuff. Then there’s Laphroaig at The Gibson, which sees whisky specialist David Miles talking all things “Peat, Heat, Sour and Sweet” alongside Marian Beke. Finally, everything from bar economics to fixing glassware will be tackled in one-off trade workshops at Maker’s Mark x Tayēr + Elementary Workshops. Just follow the links if you want to book your tickets, hopefully, we’ll see you there!

The Nightcap: 17 September

Arbroath Smokies benefit from the traditional process. But will gin?

And finally… anyone for gin made in a fish smokehouse?

Forfar distillery Gin Bothy has partnered with smokehouse Alex Spink and Sons to enter a new addition into our classic Nightcap category: weird and wonderful gins. The local fish smokehouse, has been specialising in the art of making ‘Arbroath Smokies’, which are a traditional type of smoked haddock cured in salt before being slow-cooked in a fire-filled barrel, since the 1970s. It’s actually a geographically protected method, like Champagne. Now Alex Spink and Sons has applied the same traditional technique to botanicals including juniper, orange peel, coriander, and lemon, which were then used to make the smoked gin. You’ll be pleased to know that the distillation itself took place at the Gin Bothy distillery, half an hour’s drive away from the smokehouse, preventing the aroma of fish from penetrating the spirit. The Gin Bothy Smoked Gin is said to have notes of burned orange, deep citrus flavour with a smoky finish and its makers recommend sipping it neat, or pairing it with chips. Just kidding, a light tonic and a slice of orange should do the trick. Some smoked salmon on the side wouldn’t go amiss, all jokes aside. Gin Bothy founder Kim Cameron says the inspiration behind the gin was to bring together two of Scotland’s oldest traditions in one unusual product. “The smoking of ingredients and products has long been part of Scottish culture,” she said. “The bothy smokehouses dotted along the north-east coasts offer culinary secrets from recipes of old and it is here that we created our smoked gin.” The gin is priced at £35 per bottle and is available from Gin Bothy’s website.

The Nightcap: 17 September

Well, it’s hard to confuse that for anything else. Wait, not hard. Difficult. It’s difficult.

… or penis-shaped wine?

Well, we were bound to get there eventually. One Napa-based company has made penis-shaped bottles to house its wine. It’s called Just the Tipsy, obviously, and is hilariously described as “fairly anatomically correct”. Launched in June, the $37 genitalia bottle houses sparkling rose Seurat (not Penis Noir, before you ask) that’s described as being dry and crisp with a long, ahem, finish. Pairs excellently with coq au vin. Ha, ha, ha. Anyway, as you might expect, the initial idea was to market the wine for hen parties and “girls’ wine nights”. The project has been in the works for nearly two years, and CEO Matthew Shore says he was surprised by how many winemakers in Napa were open to participating. He also said that he can “neither confirm nor deny who the model(s) may have been, but we made sure to go through many rounds of design to make sure it came out perfect”. Isn’t that comforting? The penis-shaped bottle is available for purchase on the company’s website

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The Nightcap: 10 September

What to expect from this week’s round-up of boozy news: Midleton’s new rye whiskey, CAMRA’s plea to us to drink better cider, and the promise you can drink more if…

What to expect from this week’s round-up of boozy news: Midleton’s new rye whiskey, CAMRA’s plea to us to drink better cider, and the promise you can drink more if you exercise. It’s all in the Nightcap: 10 September edition!

What we love about the British summer is just when you think it’s over and autumn has definitely arrived, it’ll return for an encore. We’re making the most of the sunshine because before you know it, the darkness and gloom of winter will be here. But we need not be too sad because there’s a drink or drinks for every season. We’re looking forward to putting away the cold lagers, Margaritas, and Gin and Tonics, and moving on to the hot toddies, sherried single malts, and, best of all, lashing and lashing of Port. And to read with your seasonal beverages? Why, there’s always the Nightcap. Those winter months are just going to fly by.

Before we get stuck into the news from the world of booze, we have to tell you about all the excitement on the blog this week. And we mean excitement. The week began with a look at the long-awaited Johnnie Walker brand home on Princes Street in Edinburgh. Then Henry toasted the start of a new week with four limited-edition whiskies from Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Tobermory, and Ledaig. New columnist Lauren Eads spoke to Shannon Tebay, the first American to run the American Bar at the Savoy, while Adam knocked up Snoop Dogg’s favourite cocktail, the Gin and Juice. Ian Buxton returned with a look at the lost world of Australian and New Zealand whisky. Then we wrote about the oldest Japanese whisky ever released, a Yamazaki 55 Year Old! But that’s not all because Adam has just come back from Glenmorangie’s experimental new distillery. All in one week!

Now it’s on with the Nightcap: 10 September edition!

Dennis Malcolm at Glen Grant

Dennis Malcolm celebrates 60 years in whisky

Glen Grant launches 60-year-old whisky to honour Dennis Malcolm

Glen Grant sure knows how to mark an anniversary. The Speyside distillery is celebrating master distiller Dennis Malcolm’s six decades in the business with a 60-year-old single malt Scotch. The aptly-named Dennis Malcolm 60th Anniversary Edition comes from a single ex-oloroso Sherry cask, #5040, which was filled on 24 October 1960, making it the distillery’s oldest bottling in its 181-year history. It will launch globally in October this year and is made up of just 360 decanters designed by Glencairn Studio housed in a presentation box made from sustainable walnut. Each case is engraved with Malcolm’s signature and comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed by the master distiller himself. All this for €25,000. Malcolm was actually born at Glen Grant in 1946 and followed in his father and grandfather into the industry as an apprentice cooper when he was 15 years old. His work in whisky earned him recognition from Queen Elizabeth II in 2016, when he was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Campari Group, which owns Glen Grant, paid tribute to “the career of a true Scottish gentleman and globally recognised Scotch whisky craftsman,” adding that “Dennis has not only created some of the most-awarded single malts in the world, but also serves as an unwavering champion for the industry”. Hear, hear. Cheers to you Dennis!

Distillers Katherine Condon and Eva O'Doherty (2)

Katherine Condon and Eva O’Doherty look like they’re about to drop the folk electronica album of the year

Midleton Method and Madness Rye and Malt is here!

When we visited Midleton near Cork a couple of years ago, the highlight of the tour was the on-site experimental Micro Distillery. Now the first release from this hotbed of innovation is here and it sounds like a cracker. Called Midleton Method and Madness Rye and Malt, it was created by Katherine Condon who joined Irish Distillers as a graduate trainee back in 2014. It’s apparently inspired by 1857 notebooks from John Jameson III who was using rye at the time. Condon explained: “We have been inspired by the innovators in Irish whiskey who came before us. In turn, we have questioned tradition and challenged convention to follow their inspiration and drive the Irish whiskey category forward for a new generation of creators, consumers, and indeed, suppliers.” The mashbill is 60% rye and 40% malted barley. After fermentation, the grains were double-distilled, before going into ex-bourbon casks. It’s bottled at 46% ABV  with an RRP of €95. As massive fans of a) rye whiskey b) the Midleton distillery, to say we are excited would be an understatement. We’ll report back when we’ve had a little taste.

 

Fitness and alcohol

More of this and you can drink more of the good stuff, claim scientists

Fitter people can drink more and handle their booze better

Higher fitness levels are significantly related to greater alcohol consumption, according to a new study looking into people’s exercise and drinking habits. Regular exercisers drink more alcohol, but are less likely to be problem drinkers as stated in new research that appeared in Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise from a study at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. According to the research, which looked at data from 38,000 healthy patients ranging in age from 20 to 86, there is a strong link between exercise and alcohol habits. The findings showed that “women within the moderate and high fitness categories had greater odds of moderate/heavy alcohol consumption in comparison to their low fitness counterparts. Similarly, moderate and high fit men had greater odds of moderate-to-heavy alcohol consumption in comparison to the low fitness group”. In addition, men who were heavy drinkers all displayed “higher fitness levels were related to lower rates of suggested alcohol dependence,” stated the findings. The subjects’ fitness was estimated with a treadmill test to exhaustion and transparency about their drinking habits, ultimately revealing how higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are related to increased alcohol consumption management among adults. In a similar study conducted by the University of Notre Dame, recent research found that people with a lower percentage of body fat will have lower ‘Blood Alcohol Concentration’ (BACs) than those with a higher percentage of body fat, debunking myths suggesting that if you are overweight you can handle your drink better.

Gabe Cook CAMRA and Cider

Gabe Cook says: drink better cider!

CAMRA calls on government to support UK cider makers

CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) has teamed up with Gabe Cook, aka the Ciderologist, to try to get legislation changed to protect Britain’s independent cider makers. They are going to send a copy of Cook’s latest book Modern British Cider to all 70 MPs who sit for cider-making constituencies. The aim is to get them to change some of the laws governing cider and taxation in the UK. One is to introduce a progressive cider duty so that smaller cider makers looking to expand above the current 70hl duty exemption size won’t get clobbered. Next, they want to make ingredient labelling compulsory so that customers will know exactly what goes into their cider. Hint, it’s often not apples. At the moment ciders only need to be made from 35% apples, the rest of the alcohol can come from sugar. Many ciders are little more than apple-flavoured alcopops. So finally CAMRA and Cook are calling for a minimum 50% apple content in cider. In France, it’s 80%. Cook said: “I hope this book lends a voice to these causes and readers will join my calls to support the industry. Britain is blessed with so much cider heritage, which we desperately need to conserve, but also wonderful innovation, fun, and boundary-pushing boldness which we need to nurture. There truly is a cider for everyone.” It sounds like a worthwhile campaign. It should be more of a scandal how little apple content there is in most British ciders. 

Will Hawkes Fortnum & Mason drinks writer of the year

Congratulations to Will Hawkes (he’s the one in the middle)

The best drinks writers celebrated at Fortnum’s awards

To the glittering Royal Exchange outpost of Fortnum & Mason for the annual celebration of great food and drink writing. All the stars were there: Grace Dent, Claudia Winkleman, Stanley Tucci (!), and somehow Master of Malt managed to bag an invite. We were delighted that Will Hawkes won drinks writer of the year for his work in Pellicle and new drinks magazine Tonic. We were especially pleased to see Hawkes staying on brand by celebrating with a glass of beer rather than the Champagne that everyone else was knocking back. Man of the people. Another popular winner was Cas Oh for his snazzy cocktail book Co Specs which we covered on the blog earlier this year. It was great to catch up with him and discover that he’s as charming and stylish as his book. He snapped up the debut drinks book award while the main drinks book award went to Wine Girl by Victoria James. There were also some food awards with Fay Maschler, Jimi Famurewa and James Martin among the winners. Go here to see the full results. A great time was had by all and somehow we managed not to corner Stanley Tucci and bore him about how to make the perfect Negroni, though we did go a bit starstruck over Grace Dent. 

Joel McHale & Monkey Shoulder distill dry first dates

A new campaign for Monkey Shoulder has a revolutionary idea: whisky might help first dates be a bit less stuffy. In a bold move, William Grant & Sons’ mixable malt brand has enlisted Community actor and The Soup host Joel McHale to hit the streets of New York City to help daters drop the pretension and relax – preferably with a glass of Monkey Shoulder. The ‘Stick it to Stuck Up’ campaign attempts to remove the snobbery surrounding whisky as well as dating. It features McHale wearing a plaid suit with crystal lowball glass in hand playing “a person who’s trying way too hard to impress you,” before chucking the glass offstage and stripping down to a casual sweater. “To enjoy your whisky, you don’t need some guy with a handlebar mustache spewing a bunch of pompous tasting notes,” he quips. Anyone taking notes? As a part of the initiative, daters have the chance to have McHale crash their first dates by sharing stories of their most stuffy and stuck-up dating experiences. Go here to enter the contest. Not that anyone here at Master of Malt needs any assistance in the dating world. Now where’s my cravat, I’ve got a hot date tonight. 

Lockdown fine wine

Did you spend lockdown doing this? You’re not alone

And finally… Brits spent lockdown sipping fine wine

Did you learn another language during the many lockdowns? Or maybe get round to clearing the garage or grouting the bathroom? We didn’t do anything quite this dramatic but we did learn to make a killer chip shop curry sauce (the secret is to add apple, oddly). The other thing we did was drink better wine more often and it seems we weren’t alone. Bordeaux Index has just released figures showing that 75% of British wine drinkers saw their consumption of fine wine rise. Not only that but apparently 29% think of themselves as connoisseurs – presumably,  to paraphrase Basil Fawlty, they know a claret from a Bordeaux. It’s all great news for Bordeaux Index which has seen its wine and spirit sales increase by 44%, year on year. Director Matthew O’Connell explained: “Today’s findings show that the pandemic has significantly changed our approach to the way we consume fine wine, and the increasing desire to aspire to drink better at home. We have seen this in our own UK business, and interestingly have observed broadly similar patterns across our Asian and US offices.” He added that, if you can resist drinking the stuff, wine can be “a great investment option and we are seeing more and more investors enter the space.” As rumours fly of a fourth lockdown in the pipeline, or perhaps fifth, fine wine merchants across the country will be bracing themselves for deluge of orders. 

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New Arrival of the Week: La Dama del Abrigo Rojo 2018

This week we’re cracking open a delicious bottle of Argentine red made with a grape variety from Piedmont in Northern Italy and named after a mysterious woman in red, La…

This week we’re cracking open a delicious bottle of Argentine red made with a grape variety from Piedmont in Northern Italy and named after a mysterious woman in red, La Dama del Abrigo Rojo.

If you’re playing wine word association, a game we often play at Master of Malt, honestly the days just fly by, say the word ‘Argentina’ and there’s a very good chance that the reply will be ‘Malbec.’ It’s a grape that’s actually from south west France, it used to be a major component in Bordeaux, but it is so at home in Argentina that you would think that it was from there. After Malbec, in a game of word association, you’ll probably get Cabernet and then Merlot. You’ll have to play for a long time before you get to Nebbiolo, the Italian grape behind our New Arrival, La Dama Del Abrigo Rojo.

La Dama del Abrigo Rojo Nebbiolo 2018

Argentina’s Italian heritage 

Which is strange because Argentina is a very Italian country. There is a saying: “Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish who think they are British.” Argentina’s traditional Anglophilia may have been dented in recent years but it’s still there in the country’s love of sports like rugby and polo. You can’t, however, help noticing the country’s Italian influence. The way people speak Spanish sounds like Italian. There’s an area in Buenos Aires called Palermo. Along with New York, Argentina was one of the top destinations for Italian immigrants in the 19th century. It’s estimated that 60% of the country’s population has some form of Italian heritage.

Despite this, the grapes that came to dominate were those brought by immigrants from south west France. But there’s much more to this huge country than Malbec et al. 

Eduardo Soler La Dama del Abrigo Rojo Nebbiolo 2018

Wine maker Eduardo Soler

Sacred spring

Ver Sacrum, meaning sacred spring, is a group of maverick winemakers who grow grapes in three regions of Mendoza: Los Chacayes (Uco Valley), Barrancas (Maipú), and Cruz de Piedra (Maipú). They describe themselves as “team Grenachista“. Their aim is to resurrect the Mediterranean varieties such as Grenache, which used to be common but were pushed aside in favour of Bordeaux varieties. In addition to Grenache, they also grow Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Marsanne, Syrah, Mencía, and Carignan, plus two northern Italian varieties, Teroldego and Nebbiolo.

This last grape is a real rarity. There’s only 49 hectares of it in the country. But then again there’s not much Nebbiolo outside its home in Piedmont where it makes famous wines such as Barbaresco and Barolo. Though there are some increasingly successful versions in Australia, it’s not a grape, unlike Cabernet, that travels well.

With its pale colour and sometimes fierce tannins, Nebbiolo is a world away from the sort of plush dark wines that Argentina is famous for. But then again Ver Sacrum does things a little differently. They use only natural yeasts, they also do very light extractions meaning the skins are in contact with the fermenting wine for much less time than is normal in Argentina. So the tannins in La Dama Del Abrigo Rojo are gentler than you might expect with Nebbiolo. Oh and the name means ’The Lady in the Red Cape’, and there she is on the label above looking all stylish and Argentine.

It’s likely to be nothing like any other Argentine red you’ve ever had. The importer described it like this: “The nose is a beguiling swirl of rose petals, meat and red fruits. The palate has a purity and directness of flavour that confounds as much as it delights. There is a distinct touch of genius / madness at play here.” And the label is gorgeous too. What more could you want?

La Dama del Abrigo Rojo Nebbiolo 2018 is available from Master of Malt.

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The Nightcap: 7 May

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

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

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

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

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

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

Gordon & MacPhail launches 67-year-old whisky

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

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

The high life awaits…

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

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

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

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

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

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

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

You can wish McEwan a fond farewell over some quality drams

Enjoy a ‘last chat’ with Jim McEwan 

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

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

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

SMWS and BBC radio DJ pick music and whisky pairings

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

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

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

“Counterfeit” $1,000  bourbon discovered

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

The Nightcap: 7 May edition

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

And finally… UB40 releases an actual red, red wine

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

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The Nightcap: 9 April

The “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottle ever”, a taboo advert and Madison Beer all feature in the Nightcap: 9 April. Why? Well, you have to read on to find…

The “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottle ever”, a taboo advert and Madison Beer all feature in the Nightcap: 9 April. Why? Well, you have to read on to find out…

Well, this is it. The last weekend before folks in (some of) the UK can go back to pubs, bars and restaurants. It’s a momentous occasion. But does anyone remember how any of this actually works, exactly? We’re worried both bartender and consumer will just stare at each other blankly across the bar like malfunctioning androids. It’s going to be a nation of accidental Mark Zuckerberg impressions. Still, it’s exciting all the same. Like reading about all the most interesting things that happened in the world of booze in the last few days. It’s the Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Which you’ll already have a taste of if you’ve read our blog this week. Just because it was a shorter week, that didn’t mean we skimped on the content. There were all kinds of stories to enjoy, like the launch of our exclusive Glenfiddich Tasting Collection or a new expression that combines whiskey with tea. Elsewhere, Millie returned to reexamine the role of the often-derided Mixto Tequila, Ian had his eye on the most valuable drinks companies in the world while Lucy asked if the living room was the new tasting room. Brora Distillery was then in headline-stealing mood by announcing its opening in May and launching super fancy celebratory booze. Oh, and if you need any inspiration for a weekend tipple and love flavoured gin, then you’ll enjoy this week’s cocktail.

Now, let’s get Nightcapping, shall we?

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

We love some fancy Bowmore

One-of-a-kind Black Bowmore Archive Cabinet heads to auction

In top fancy whisky news of the week, a complete set of five rare, iconic Black Bowmore bottlings is about to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. But not just that: the 29, 30, 31, 42 and 50 year old expressions, first distilled in 1964, are housed in something very special indeed. A gorgeous cabinet crafted by John Galvin, an expert in his field, who took two years designing and building the thing. It all started with a trip to Islay, where he took in the scenery from Machir Bay to Bowmore itself. And the cabinet even features parts of the distillery itself, including handles made from the decommissioned spirit safe, and details from the washbacks. “The spirit in those bottles went through the spirit safe,” said Bowmore master blender Ron Welsh via video call to talk about the really rather magnificent construction. The cabinet, plus all five bottles, is expected to fetch at least £400,000 when it goes up as the first lot in the Wine & Spirit Spring Sale Series, which runs from 16-18 April. Funds raised will go to the Bowmore Legacy Project, which supports young people on Islay with housing and training. “The best thing is that the money goes back into the island,” Welsh added. We can’t wait to see what it goes for!

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

A computer-generated image of what the new brewery and distillery will look like when finished

New €24m Killarney brewery and distillery to open this summer

If you thought the last year would dent the demand for new producers of Irish whiskey, you’d be wrong. It seems like every week there’s a new announcement that somebody is going to do the lord’s work and make the water of life on the Emerald Isle. Killarney Brewing & Distilling, however, has to be one of the most notable and exciting. At 62,000 sq ft, it’s set to become Ireland’s largest independent brewery, distillery and visitor centre when it opens this summer. The site, which cost more than €24m (just over £20m), will house a rooftop garden, a 250-seat gala event space, a chocolate shop and other facilities. It will employ over 85 people, while the brand aims to attract in excess of 100,000 annual visitors. Paul Sheahan, Tim O’Donoghue and Liam Healy founded Killarney Brewing & Distilling in 2013 and opened a town centre location in 2015, restoring the old Killarney Mineral Water drinks facility into a taproom and pizzeria. This is one serious project. While we wait for the brand’s spirit to mature, Killarney Brewing & Distilling announced on St Patrick’s Day that it was launching two flagship products, an eight-year-old blended Irish whiskey and an imperial stout matured in the same Killarney whiskey casks designed to complement the flavours of the whiskey blend. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

These are some of the most sustainable bottles ever produced.

Diageo makes “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottles ever”

You might recall us previously writing about Diageo’s Society 2030: Spirit of Progress sustainability plan. Well, the series of ambitious environmental goals produced a real result this week as the drinks giant was able to pioneer the lowest carbon footprint glass bottles ever produced for a Scotch whisky brand. In collaboration with glass manufacturer Encirc and industry research and technology body Glass Futures, Diageo has used waste-based biofuel-powered furnaces and 100% recycled glass to the most environmentally-friendly receptacles, which reduce the carbon footprint of the bottle-making process by up to 90%. For the purposes of the trial Diageo used its Black & White Scotch whisky brand, producing 173,000 of the impressive bottles. Further work now needs to be done to develop and scale the trial for future production, but it represents a significant step forward. John Aird, senior packaging technologist at Diageo, who led the project for the company, said the trial was just a first step in the journey to decarbonise this aspect of the supply chain and that the brand still has a long way to go, but that it was “delighted with the results of the collaboration” and the “platform it creates for future innovation”.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

If you guys need any volunteer tasters you know where we are. Also, rad dog.

White Peak Distillery to launch first whisky after crowd-funding success

If you thought the Peak District had everything before 2016, you were wrong. Very close, but wrong. Because it didn’t have a full-scale distillery capable of making delicious English whisky. But five years ago that changed when White Peak was founded by local husband-and-wife team Max & Claire Vaughan. Since then, it’s won plenty of awards for its distillery visitor experiences and tasty gin and rum, while generating lots of excitement with its impressive new make. Now White Peak is gearing up to launch its first single malt whisky in October 2021. To make the most of this pivotal year, the distillery is currently offering the opportunity to become a shareholder in White Peak. Interested parties can contribute to the crowd funding campaign, which already raised nearly £1 million, almost doubling its target of £500,000. The crowdfunding page, which is due to close on 23 April, reveals that White Peak has more than 950 casks of maturing whisky and is operating at 50% of its capacity, allowing further room to grow. The distillery’s prologue release, a two-year-old spirit, sold out in two days. Co-founder Max says the team is excited for the next chapter of the distillery’s story to unfold with the release of the single malt whisky and that the brand’s “journey over the past five years has been incredibly rewarding”. We’re certainly looking forward to tasting the new dram. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Don’t drink and hike. Obviously.

River Rock Scotch whisky ads banned 

One Scotch whisky brand found itself on rocky ground this week after the UK’s advertising watchdog upheld a complaint against it. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has deemed two of River Rock’s ads as being “irresponsible” on the grounds they linked alcohol with an activity or location where drinking would be unsafe. The ads, both seen on 7 January 2021, included a post on the brand’s Facebook page, which read: “What better way to celebrate the launch of batch #2 than with a whisky tasting at 3,500ft?” It was accompanied with images of people mountaineering, with a bottle of whisky shown with the hikers. A second ad, posted on the journal section of the brand’s website, included a similar message. The ASA said that, while neither ad showed someone drinking alcohol, consumers would likely assume whisky had been consumed at 3,500ft due to the question posed. River Rock contested that the images did not show or imply whisky consumption and says the brand takes its position within the outdoor community and alcohol industry seriously. The Scotch whisky makers also revealed it liaised with the ASA and updated the content to ensure it met approved standards. River Rock’s Kirsten Geary says mountaineering images are still allowed to be used to promote River Rock and that its commitment to the great outdoors is “fundamental to the brand”, and “as a proud member of 1% for the Planet which sees the brand contribute one tree for every bottle sold, we will also continue to feature and celebrate Scotland’s wild spaces in our communications.”

Rare Brora whiskies go under the hammer

Brora! Brora! Brora!

Super rare Brora collection goes under the hammer

Did our post this week whet your appetite for all things Brora? Yes? Well read on. Whisky Auctioneer is hosting an auction entirely dedicated to this legendary ghost (though not for much longer) distillery from 15-19 April. Especial rarities include: Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s 61.1, the first-ever bottling of Brora single malt; bottle number one of 60 of a 41 year old 1978 Brora bottled for Diageo’s Casks of Distinction programme; a 1972 Cask Strength 40-Year-Old decanter; and even some bottlings from when the distillery was known as Clynelish. That’s before the new Clynelish was built in 1969 and the old one labelled Brora. Yes, it’s a bit complicated. The head of auction content, Joe Wilson, commented: “The Brora auction encapsulates the distillery’s past as it prepares to turn on the stills to its future with the chance to bid on complete collections and rare single malts created prior to the distillery’s halt in production in 1983 – a timely reminder to revisit these legendary malts and that ‘lost distilleries” are not always lost forever.” He added: Whether you are a whisky collector or lost distillery enthusiast, this is a one of a kind opportunity to get your hands on these special Brora bottles, many of which are rarely seen on the secondary market.” So sell your house, pawn the family silver and get bidding.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

This is actually how Guinness comes over from Dublin, in two enormous cans

Fresh Guinness is on its way as England’s pubs reopen

Here at MoM, we have the date 12 April ringed in our diaries as that’s the day that the pubs in England reopen. Sort of. You still have to drink outside but still, beer! In preparation, Guinness is sending 49 tankers of the black stuff across the Irish sea for the country’s thirsty drinkers. And to make sure that everything is in tip-top condition for the big pour, the company is sending a crack squad of stout technicians to 50,000 venues around the country. Head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah, commented: “Our teams have been working round the clock, undertaking a series of rigorous checks with the utmost care and attention so that when people all over GB have their first sip of a fresh pint, it’s the best it can be.” He went on to say: “The past year has been tough for the hospitality industry, so we want to do all that we can to make sure that their opening week is as successful as it can be.” Seeing as this was only announced yesterday, the pubs reopen on Monday and there are only 50 of these experts, they better get moving if they’re to get around all those venues. Especially as the photos supplied show a Guinness tanker still in Dublin! Come on chaps! We’re dying of thirst here.

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

The dream. This is the dream.

Black Chalk’s vineyard tree houses open this summer

We don’t know about you, but we’ve always wanted a proper treehouse. Just the word ‘treehouse’ conjures up magical images of Swiss Family Robinson (Google the 1960 film version) or the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi. But we’ve just heard about one that’s even better cos it’s right by a vineyard! From 12 April, top Hampshire sparkling wine producer Black Chalk will open its four new treehouses to the general public. The treehouses sit six metres off the ground on the Fullerton Estate. They are built in a Scandinavian style using local materials and designed to blend in with the landscape. Oh, and include outdoor hot tubs. Sexy! Black Chalk’s Andrew Seden comments: “The treehouses are a great addition to the estate and bring another dimension to the Black Chalk experience, shining a light on our Test Valley home and putting our wines in front of new consumers.  Whilst the majority of guests are expected to be from London, and the wider U.K. – especially with international travel restricted – The Test Valley draws in tourists from all over the world, including Japan which is our primary international market.” And if you don’t fancy the full treehouse experience (what is wrong with you?), tours of the winery resume on 12 May. We hear Hampshire is lovely at that time of year. 

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Don’t try this at home. Obviously. Credit: TikTok/@doctortristanpeh

And finally… don’t open beer bottles with your teeth

Madison Beer was in the news recently. No, not a Czech-style lager from Wisconsin, but top American singer Madison Beer. Do try to keep up, dad. But beer is involved. The two beers collided when a video went viral of Beer, the singer, opening a bottle of beer, the delicious hoppy beverage, with her teeth. Then this week, a publicity-seeking Singapore dentist, Doctor Tristan Peh, waded in with a video of his own out that this is not good for your teeth. Duh, thanks doc!

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