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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: wine

Cocktail of the Week: The White Port and Tonic

White Port and Tonic in hand, we take a stroll around the beautiful city of Porto which despite the cancellation of this year’s Festival of São João is welcoming visitors…

White Port and Tonic in hand, we take a stroll around the beautiful city of Porto which despite the cancellation of this year’s Festival of São João is welcoming visitors once more with the opening of the much-anticipated  all-singing, all-dancing World of Wine museum. 

If you’re in Porto and someone hits you over the head with a plastic hammer, do not be alarmed. It’s just the Festival of São João and the person hitting you means you no harm. Ostensibly a religious festival celebrating John the Baptist, it probably predates Christianity and offers an excuse for the whole city to go bananas on midsummer’s eve, 23 June. There’s music, fireworks, concerts, sardines and squeaky plastic hammers. Don’t ask why, just join in. Apparently, Tripeiros (tripe eaters, as people from Porto are known) used to hit each other with leeks which makes complete sense but at some point this changed to plastic hammers. And to keep you refreshed while bashing your neighbour, there’s a choice of two drinks: Super Bock beer and White Port and Tonic, Porto’s answer to the G&T.

Sadly this year because of Covid, São João has been cancelled. It’s hard to social distance while hitting someone on the head with a plastic hammer (unless you have a really big one.) But you can still get in the spirit by having a White Port and Tonic at home. We’re using Taylor’s Chip Dry white Port. This label dates back to 1934, the name comes from the old English expression ‘dry as a chip.’ The name is apt because there’s less sweetness than most white Ports; the alcohol in the form of aguardiente is added later so more sugar is fermented into alcohol. It’s not, however, as dry as fino sherry. The principal grape variety is the honeyed Malvasia Fina combined with other white Portuguese grapes, then aged in oak for between four and five years which gives it a nutty roundness without losing the fresh fruit. It’s a great tapas sort of wine sipped chilled and neat with cheese, or especially melon and ham. Or, of course, mixed with tonic as they do in Porto.

Porto looking lovely as always. WOW is under the red roofs in the foreground

São João might have been cancelled this year but the city is opening up again. According to Adrian Bridge, CEO of Taylor’s, Portugal has had a relatively good Covid. “Portugal has come out as a very safe destination,” he told me. Restaurants and hotels are once again doing business, the border with Spain opens up on the 22 June and Michael O’ Leary from Ryanair is itching to get flights running to Porto airport. Bridge has a particular interest in some degree of normality returning to the city as his €100 million World of Wine (WOW) is due to open at the end of July consisting of six museums, devoted to fashion, cork, Portuguese history, chocolate and, of course, wine all housed in historic Port warehouses on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river

There will also be five restaurants where I imagine thirsty visitors will get through a lot of Chip Dry and Tonics. Just as with a Spanish G&T, it’s fun to play around with garnishes. Mint and lime are good though I find a piece of rosemary brings out woody spicy notes in the wine and a piece of orange peel accentuates the fruit. The orange bitters is a nice addition but not essential. And don’t forget the plastic hammer. In fact, an idea for the Taylor’s marketing department, free plastic hammer with every bottle. I’ll suggest to Adrian Bridge now.

Right here’s how to make a White Port and Tonic:

35ml Taylor’s Chip Dry
65ml Tonic water
1 dash Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

Fill a Highball or goldfish bowl glass with ice, add the white Port, stir, and top up with tonic, Add one dash of orange bitters, stir again gently and garnish with a spring of rosemary and a piece of orange or lemon peel (or mint and lime if you prefer).

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Five minutes with… Simon Rucker, co-founder of Nine Elms

Tannic and full-bodied like red wine, aromatised like vermouth, Nine Elms No.18 is the first in a range of alcohol-free drinks specifically designed to complement good food. Here, we speak…

Tannic and full-bodied like red wine, aromatised like vermouth, Nine Elms No.18 is the first in a range of alcohol-free drinks specifically designed to complement good food. Here, we speak to co-founder Simon Rucker to find out the story behind his game-changing creation…

Nine Elms No.18 is unlike any other low-and-no alcohol option on the market, having been developed specifically to complement gastronomy. Initially modelled on the characteristics of wine – “acidity, tannins, fruit, flavour, body, length; the retronasal smell,” says co-founder Simon Rucker – it has evolved into a wine-vermouth hybrid that’s delightful served as a straight pour, stirred into a cocktail, or simply enjoyed with a splash of tonic, ice and a slice of citrus.

You might not know Rucker’s name, but you’ll likely recognise his work. A product designer by training, he’s designed shoes for Paul Smith and Caterpillar, worked on the Ford Fiesta, shaped Diageo’s provenance-led approach to Guinness, and helped transform Samsung into the premium consumer electronics brand it is today. “I had some ability to spot trends and understand what they meant in terms of changing consumer needs,” Rucker says. “And because I was a product designer, I was also able to conceive what the new products that would fit into that demand space would be.”

His biggest and lengthiest project came about when the company Rucker worked for was asked to “solve the smoking problem”. He spent almost 15 years working on e-cigarettes – and e-cigarette-type products – and became fascinated by the “supertanker of death” tobacco industry. It was there he met future business partner Zoltan Szucs-Farkas, who was head of strategy and insights at British American Tobacco. “We bonded on this interest in, ‘How do you turn around a massive supertanker of death like the cigarette industry and deviate it to something more sustainable?’,” he says. 

It was in a corporate dining room on the eighth floor of British American Tobacco’s vast London office building where the duo first identified the need for a non-alcoholic drink designed for upscale dining. The tobacco company was among the first to frown upon boozy business meetings and banned alcohol outright early on, so lunch and dinner guests were offered cans of Diet Coke and bottles of J2O instead. “It was incongruous,” says Rucker. “It’s a bit like going to a fine dining restaurant and eating with a plastic fork. The conversation came up between us, ‘Why isn’t there anything that fits in this space?’, but it was always just out of intellectual interest. There was no, ‘What if…?’.”

Nine Elms works as a cocktail ingredient as well as a standalone drink

The ‘what if?’ would come five years later, when Rucker and Szucs-Farkas – working for different companies and ready for a career change – met for lunch in Shoreditch one afternoon. “We were both at a stage of our lives, middle-aged white men – the classic ‘male, pale and stale’ – slightly jaundiced by 20 to 30 years of suckling from the corporate teat, but with a bit of money in the bank,” he says.Normally I’d have a glass of wine or two if we had lunch, but Zoltan couldn’t because he had a client call, and the conversation popped up again. We decided to go for it.”

Motivated by the concept of “a non-wine product that behaved like wine”, they spent 18 months talking with universities about the intricacies of hydrocolloids (gums that stop drinks from separating) and liaising with drinks innovation specialists who were hell-bent on creating a slightly fancier version of Shloer (a sparkling grape juice drink). Not only does alcohol trigger your brain’s reward system to release dopamine, the ‘feel good’ hormone, but it’s also an excellent flavour carrier with a mouthfeel that’s nigh-on impossible to recreate. Unless you add heapings of sugar, of course, which didn’t fit with their vision.

Eventually the duo met a former technical developer from Diageo, who found the solution in plant form. “When you break wine down into its components, you want something fruity, spicy, and a bit bitter – and that basically means botanicals and fruit juices,” says Rucker. “Grape juice is pretty boring until you ferment it, and then the yeast creates all these crazy natural chemicals, which is why wine tastes so good. And typically what yeast is producing is often replicated by a plant somewhere else in a different form.”

After much experimenting they settled on the 18th recipe (hence the name), which married the juice of four types of berry with distillates and extracts of 20 different flowers, herbs and spices. A gastronomy journalist and Master of Wine were among the first to sample Nine Elms No.18, paired with a medium-rare steak (plus a glass of house Pinot Noir and house Merlot for comparison’s sake) at private members’ club Soho House. It went down a treat. In fact, both experts preferred Nine Elms to the wine options they were served. 

Nine Elms answers this question of what to drink when you’re not drinking

After years of research and development, Rucker and Szucs-Farkas had realised their goal: to create a viable non-alcohol alternative for high-end eating occasions. “Rather than trying to regulate away – or prohibit – problematic behaviour, my approach has always been to come up with a product that encourages people to make better choices,” Rucker explains. “It’s a truism in life, the carrot and the stick. You need to persuade people, and the best way of persuading people is by providing a better alternative.”

They finally had the liquid. But what about the name? “We realised that the past is a good starting point,” Rucker says. “Most creativity is looking back on what’s been done before and imagining it differently, so we started looking at the history around Vauxhall and the Pleasure Gardens.” Set against the backdrop of the gin craze, Jonathan Tyers’ gardens, adjacent to the Nine Elms area south of the river, defined the city’s nightlife in the 18th and 19th centuries. “He created a walled garden of delights where entertainment was the alternative stimulation versus alcohol,” Rucker says. “Tyers was one of the first people to publicly display art and sculpture, one of the first to put an orchestra in public on a dais. There was food and music. He basically invented mass entertainment, and it was all because he was trying to get Londoners off the booze.”

We’ve come a long way since the rampant alcoholism of the early 18th century. But even in 2020 – whether we’re in a high-end restaurant or enjoying dinner at home – a rich and indulgent meal can feel incomplete without a glass of something-or-other in-hand. And it’s this mealtime occasion where Nine Elms really shines.

Nine Elms no. 18 is available from Master of Malt.

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Five minutes with. . .  Mark Harvey from Chapel Down 

English wine is on a bit of a roll at the moment and the country’s largest producer, Chapel Down, is based right here in Kent. But that’s not all, it…

English wine is on a bit of a roll at the moment and the country’s largest producer, Chapel Down, is based right here in Kent. But that’s not all, it also makes gin, vodka, beer and cider alongside it’s award-winning wines. We thought it was time to learn a bit more. . . 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, those lines seem particularly apt for English wine. On one hand there’s been booming sales, a run of great harvests and increasing brand recognition by consumers; on the other there’s the uncertainties caused by Brexit and Covid plus a lack of profitability among some producers. One company, however, that looks set to thrive even in today’s uncertain times is Chapel Down. It produces everything from popular still wines to the superb single vineyard Kit’s Coty range which tops out at around £100 a bottle for the prestige Couer de Cuvee. In addition, there is beer, gin, vodka and cider. It’s a one stop shop for all your English drinks needs. Recently we ran a sale on the site of Chapel Down products and were stunned by the response so we thought we’d find out a bit more from the company from managing director Mark Harvey who joined the firm in 2015. 

MoM: How are you finding lockdown at Chapel Down?

MH: It’s a really mixed bag. Our restaurants, shops and tours are all shut. The minute we got the advice, we acted pretty swiftly on that, which felt like the right thing to do. All of the on-trade which is heavy on the beer but lighter on the wine is switched off. Then the retail side, we’re in Majestic, Waitrose, Sainsburys, all that lot, they seem to be doing really well. I mean all the signs are pretty positive. And then online it’s just gone bonkers. I mean, literally, 10-15 times up what it would normally be! 

Mark Harvey, MD of Chapel Down

MoM: How are things in the vineyards?

MH: The vineyards just don’t stop obviously and we’re kind of going through frost season [we spoke to Harvey at the end of April] at the moment, so kind of nervously looking at the ground each morning but so far, we got a little bit of frost last week on one parcel of land, one block of land, but nothing major. But we’re not out of the woods yet so we’ve probably got another two weeks of just looking and checking. But the forecast is good, so that should be all right. Last year’s harvest was so big, we are still processing 2019 wines. This week we are doing all of the Bacchus and then we need to get onto blending the sparkling wines because we will start bottling in, hopefully June if the French guys can come over and do it, or if not it might be a little bit later. But yeah, the vineyards and the winery are dead busy. 

MoM: Are you worried about potential shortage of pickers because of Covid 19 and Brexit? 

MH: That’s an ongoing thing. Lots of this stuff is just really unknown. I saw that there was a plane-load of Romanians coming in a couple of weeks back for the fruit that needs picking now, so whether that will happen with us, I don’t know. We obviously work with external companies, who bring these guys and girls in, so they obviously paint a pretty positive picture, because, why wouldn’t they? If we’re in a bit of a corner come August time, it will be around that time, we will probably look to see if we can get local pickers. 

A team of pickers in the vineyard

MoM: And what’s your background before you joined Chapel Down?

MH: I used to work at LVMH so I sold champagne and spirits. I was in the UK for probably half of that and then I was general manager in Ireland. My last job was business director for the whiskies in the US. 

MoM: You joined Chapel Down in 2015, is that right?

MH: It will be five years in September that I’ve been here. It’s gone really quick actually! I’m kind of the glory boy, it [English wine] was already good when I started but it’s going really well now. This next period will be interesting with corona and on-trade shutting down and all of that, as it will for lots of businesses. But long term you step back from it and the future is pretty rosy.

MoM: Do you think at some point there’s going to be a bit of consolidation in the British wine industry? 

MH: Without doubt, yeah. I think this current crisis might possibly accelerate that. And I think the large harvests of 2018 and ‘19 might make things difficult for some as well. Because up until now, the dynamic has been massive demand and not sufficient supply so lots of people have been planting like crazy and then suddenly we’ve had two whopping harvest in ‘18 and ‘19 and I think it’s going to get tougher. And then it’s brands ultimately that win out. There’s lots of lovely boutique wineries but in terms of brands, with a guy wandering down the Waitrose aisle, how many English wine brands does he know? Not many. And even the top ones, like Chapel Down and Nyetimber, the awareness isn’t that high. I think it’s going to be really interesting and yeah, I think a consolidation in the next few years is inevitable. 

MoM: And in the time that you’ve been in the wine business, English wine has changed massively. What are the factors that have seen it become the industry that it is today?

MH: Oh man, it’s changed out of all recognition. I mean, fundamentally, the wines are really good now. I think site selection at the starting point is really important and that’s got better. The knowledge and the expertise of the guys in the vineyards planting the vines and cultivating and all of that, the establishment of the vineyards has got much better. The guys in the winery have got much better. And it’s a combination of talent coming in so there’s some New World and Champagne guys have come over. And then, in our example, it’s two home-grown talents in Richard Lewis and Josh Donaghay-Spire, our winemaker. They’re graduates of Plumpton, the wine school in Sussex. So the expertise has got a lot better and the resulting wines are better. 

Beyond the production-side, you’ve got more professionalism coming in. So, dare I say it, someone like me coming in from LVMH. You’ve got people from big wine organisations coming in, we recruited a guy from Treasury Wine Estates. I’m a massive believer in brands and I think the fact that the leading players are doing the right thing by the brands. The pricing is right, the bottle looks decent on-shelf, it’s sold in the right channel. English wine as a brand is really well-established. The only fear now is that as more wine comes on-stream, that people do the wrong thing with price and… we’ll just have to see how it goes. 

Head winemaker and Plumpton graduate Josh Donaghay-Spire

MoM: What do you think is going to be the next thing that takes off in English wine?

MH: From a varietal point of view, there will be bits and pieces and innovation round the side and we have had a grower that’s planted some Albariño, that was a bit of fun. Ben Wallgate at Tillingham does some interesting stuff and so there will always be bits and pieces around the outside. I think it’s great that you get that diversity. But actually the two main messages whenever I talk about English wine are ‘the traditional method’ and the link back into Champagne. And then Bacchus on the still side. And those, I think, are the two flags that will keep going for a long time. 

MoM: Do you think still Chardonnay will go mainstream or is it always going to be a premium product?

MH: That’s a good question. I think for us it will always be a premium product actually. Just given the scale of it, the quality of it and we shift it, we’re always after more! So unless somebody comes in and plants a lot more… I mean you never know what’s going to happen but I think Bacchus will continue to be at the entry-point still wine scale and then Chardonnay will tend to be at that more premium price point. Our single vineyard chardonnay is 30 quid, which is obviously premium and we just can’t make enough of it. 

MoM: You’re part of the Wine Garden of England group with other Kent winemakers. Do you think Kentish wine has its own identity? 

MH: Yeah, it’s a really interesting one. I like the Wine Garden of England because I think at core there’s a sort of truth to it which is ‘we all believe that Kent is the best place for growing grapes for traditional method wine – lots of clay, lots of chalk and the right climate. So there’s something to it, we’ve all planted in Kent for a reason, so it’s not made up. It makes sense to hold hands on tourism and attracting people to Kent but personally, I don’t think there’s much merit in complicating it beyond that. I think the smart thing to do is just forge ahead as brands. Kent is part of the makeup of what we do, it’s a bit complicated because we also source grapes from Essex and Sussex. I just think that all of us should just go hell-for-leather on our own brands and then the details of ‘Kent’ and ‘England’ and ‘Britain’, it’s just secondary messaging. I think the most interesting things for consumers are individual brands and stories and provenance and that’s what’s of interest. Whether the fact you have an overriding Kent logo or England logo on the bottle, I just don’t think they care. 

Kit’s Coty, Chapel Down’s most prestigious vineyard

MoM: The other thing I wanted to ask you about was the sparkling Bacchus because that’s quite innovative isn’t it?

MH: It is and controversial in a way as well as it’s carbonated. Bacchus, because it’s fresh and it’s meant to be drunk young, you don’t want the brioche-y notes you get from secondary fermentation, so it just works. And it’s cheaper to make. And the price point is lower. And it’s a bit of fun. And we’ve been really happy with it and we partnered with Waitrose from the start, who have gone gangbusters with it, it’s now in Majestic [it’s done very well through Master of Malt too]. It was flying in the on-trade and it’s irked a bit because it was about to skyrocket in a few national chains, but such is life. But yeah, it’s a cracking product. 

MoM: How did making gin come about?

We started making spirits a couple of years back. We make a grappa from the Chardonnay grape skins that are left at the end of harvest and that’s the base of the vodka. And that’s then blended with English wheat spirit and it’s as simple as that. We’ve got two gins. One is a Bacchus base and the other one is a Pinot Noir base. And then the botanicals mirror the flavour profile of that particular grape varietal. 

MoM: How is the beer side of the business developing?

MH: We opened up a brewery in Ashford last May and that’s going well. The difference between wine and beer is that wine is really heavily weighted on off-trade while beer is weighted on-trade, so beer is tough right now. But then the online sales of everything has gone bananas and we have got some retail. 

MoM: And finally, you do a cider as well don’t you?

MH: Yeah, I’ve just been drinking it actually! Every week, it’s a bit cringey, but I do this cocktail online for Instagram and I’ve just made a ‘Taste of Kent’ which is the Chardonnay vodka blended with the Curious Apple. It’s pretty punchy: 60ml of vodka, 40ml of the cider, poured over ice, two cracks, two twists of black pepper, stir it round and that’s it. But it’s very punchy.

The Chapel Down range is available from Master of Malt.

 

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The Nightcap: 29 May

It’s a vintage week on the Nightcap for the last Friday in May, including an Ardbeg aged in New Zealand Pinot Noir casks, a vineyard mosaic, and buckets and buckets…

It’s a vintage week on the Nightcap for the last Friday in May, including an Ardbeg aged in New Zealand Pinot Noir casks, a vineyard mosaic, and buckets and buckets of rosé.

It’s been a short week with the Bank Holiday on Monday, but that hasn’t stopped the booze news from pouring in. That was a pun which was not intended but greatly appreciated. If you’re looking to find out what’s been going on, we’ve got another edition of The Nightcap coming your way, packed full of the latest stories from the drinks world. Dig in.

On the MoM blog this week we launched two competitions, one with the fab folk at Goslings Rum and the other being a Father’s Day special with Tobermory Distillery. Speaking of the upcoming celebration, Adam selected some sublime spirits to give yourself a head start on Father’s Day, or you might consider the funky and fruity joy of Dunderhead Rum, our New Arrival of the Week. Annie returned to uncover Grenada’s best-kept secret and take a closer look at Langley Distillery, before Henry made a cocktail that marries New York and Ireland.

We’d also like to say congrats to Kostas Stavropoulos, who won last week’s virtual pub quiz! Thank you to all who entered, the answers to last Friday’s quiz are listed below, as always. For those who fancy their chances at besting this week’s edition of the MoM pub quiz, it will be on our blog from 5pm as always.

The Nightcap

We welcome any more Kylie-based puns you have

Where the wild rosés grow

Another day another missed opportunity in naming a celebrity pink. Last year it was Jon Bon Jovi declining to call his wine ‘Jon Bon Rosé’ in favour of the baffling ‘Hampton Water’, now it’s Kylie’s turn. The pint-sized pop star has just launched pink and it is not called ‘Where the wild rosés grow’ after her 1996 hit with Nick Cave. Instead, it’s called simply ‘Kylie Minogue Rosé.’ Boring! It’s a Vin de France (i.e. not from a specified viticultural area); the press release says it’s made from “Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sourced from the sun-drenched southern French Coast.” It will only be available from 450 Tesco stores and retails at £9. Kylie herself commented: “I have a great passion for rosé and have loved working for the last two years on developing Kylie Minogue Wines. Working with the brilliant team at Benchmark Drinks we have created a rosé that I am truly enamoured by, it’s fresh, light and the perfect pink.” Benchmark Drinks is the team behind Ian Botham’s, really rather good, range of wines, and there’s talk of other Kylie wines to come including later this year a Côtes de Provence rosé. We should be so lucky. 

The Nightcap

We’re open to Ardbeg sheep-based puns too

Ardbeg Day goes online

Fèis Ìle might off this year, but that doesn’t mean that Ardbeg fans have to miss out. Especially as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Ardbeg Committee. Tomorrow, 30 May, there will be a two-hour programme of tastings, games, and entertainment based around the just-released limited edition Ardbeg Blaaack, which was matured in New Zealand Pinot Noir casks. Distillery manager Mickey Heads said: “We were looking forward to marking Ardbeg Day this year with our dyed-in-the-wool fans here at the Distillery, and at celebrations around the world. Sadly, global events overtook us. However, we’ve put our heads together and come up with a back-up plan to keep our Committee Members entertained, safe at home. I’ll be shepherding the Ardbeg team in an online extravaganza instead expect tastings of some much-loved whiskies, fun, blether, and maybe even a few Blaaack-inspired surprises.” You can join in the Ardbeg Blaaack Whisky Trials from 7pm BST on Ardbeg’s Facebook page. So tune in, and don’t forget your sheep-based puns. Oh, and if you want to get hold of a bottle of Ardbeg Blaaack, don’t worry, it will be baaack in stock soon. Sorry. 

The Nightcap

Rosé Prosecco is on the way, folks!

Rosé Prosecco is coming! 

More pink news just in: Rosé Prosecco is now officially a new DOC category, approved by the Italy’s Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies’ National Wine Committee and all! There are a few things producers will have to adhere to in order to label their wine Prosecco DOC Rosé, such as the grape varieties (Glera and 10%-15% Pinot Nero), a second fermentation and residual sugars, among a few other things. Oh, and it has to be pink. Duh. Stefano Zanette, president of the Prosecco DOC Consortium thanked “all those who have contributed to obtaining this important result, in a moment particularly tough for the wine industry.” The Consortium’s estimates predict up to 30 million bottles of Rosé will be produced each year… We’d better get drinking! 

The Nightcap

There’s everything you need in here to help you open your business after lockdown

100 Day Playbook created for return of hospitality industry

We’re slowly edging towards a period where pubs, restaurants, cafes and more can begin to reopen, which is delightful news. However, relaunching after so much time in lockdown won’t be easy and the hospitality industry could use all the help it can get. That’s why it’s great to see initiatives like the 100 Day Playbook, a marketing and communications guide, be unveiled this week. The playbook comprises over £150,000 of insider knowledge, advice and insight, as well as best practice on branding, marketing, PR, digital and social in order to offer businesses the best possible chance to tackle reopening in a post-COVID19 world. It was created by a collective of agencies and consultants including KAM Media, Fleet Street Communications, ME:MO Media, Smithfield, Supersonic Inc, 2 Forks, DataHawks, Bums on Seats, Wireless Social, Feed It Back, Studio Nomad, and was requested over 300 times ahead of its launch on the 27th May. The 100 Day Playbook is now available at www.100dayplaybook.com and will be free for all operators, although everyone that downloads the booklet will be encouraged to donate to charity Hospitality Action. “This project is about hospitality’s best agencies and brightest marketing minds coming together to really support our venues, brands and businesses in getting back on their feet, and getting as many guests as possibly back into their venues when they reopen” says Mark McCulloch, founder and CEO of Supersonic, who spearheaded the 100 Day Playbook project. “I’m so pleased to be sharing this with our industry and look forward to how businesses incorporate some of insight, methods, tips and tricks we’re sharing.”

The Nightcap

The stunning discovery could date back to the 3rd century AD. Credit: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella/Facebook

And finally… Roman mosaic floor found under Italian vineyard

Have you ever lifted up some carpet or moved an old piece of furniture and found something cool? I’ve had the typical experience of finding some money. A friend of mine found a tiny crab behind a kitchen unit once, which was pretty rad. I think it’s safe to say that a recent discovery in Italy tops all of this, however. A perfectly-preserved ancient Roman mosaic floor dating back to the 3rd century AD was unearthed in an Italian vineyard. Archaeologists had first found the site in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near the city of Verona in 1992, but it was later abandoned. A team from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona returned to the site last October only to have the pandemic halt their progress. Archaeologists were able to resume work this month after Italy eased its lockdown restrictions and discovered the beautiful mosaic just a few metres beneath a row of vines at the site of an ancient villa. “After countless decades of failed attempts, part of the floor and foundations of the Roman villa located north of Verona, discovered by scholars a century ago, has finally been brought to light,” authorities from Negrar di Valpolicella wrote on the town’s Facebook page. “The superintendent will now liaise with the owners of the area and municipality to identify the most appropriate ways of making this archaeological treasure, which has always been hidden beneath our feet, available and accessible.” The town will now work to ensure the stunning floor can be seen by the public, officials said, but they warned: “The result will not come soon and significant resources will be needed.” 

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

1) Which of these cocktails is not mentioned by name in The Great Gatsby?

Answer: Martini

2) How many bottles of champagne make up a magnum?

Answer: Two

3) In which European city did Harry MacElhone open Harry’s New York Bar in 1923?

Answer: Paris

4) What is the name of “Pawnee’s Sickest Nightclub” in Parks and Recreation?

Answer: The Snakehole Lounge

5) How many times does Kendrick Lamar say the word “drank” in his song Swimming Pools?

Answer: 32

6) In Champagne, which of these designations is the driest?

Answer: Brut

7) Which barrel is the biggest?

Answer: Pipe

8) What cocktail did Anthony Bourdain describe as a “hell broth”?

Answer: Negroni

9) Whose mother is erroneously thought to have created the Manhattan cocktail?

Answer: Winston Churchill

10) A Caipiroska is a version of Brazil’s national cocktail the Caipirinha made with what spirit?

Answer: Vodka

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Get a head start on Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is on the horizon and you know it always comes around too fast. Get ahead of the curve by sorting out a brilliantly boozy gift that can be…

Father’s Day is on the horizon and you know it always comes around too fast. Get ahead of the curve by sorting out a brilliantly boozy gift that can be delivered straight to his home.

You know it’s only a few weeks until Father’s Day, right? These occasions have a habit of creeping up on you and it’s easy to panic buy and be the child who buys dad another pair of silly socks or branded mug. We sympathise. Father’s Day is arguably the most difficult occasion to shop for. Dads always say they don’t need anything. And that’s probably true. So you need to buy him something he really wants. A bottle of something special may just be your best bet in your quest to remind your dear old dad how much he’s appreciated. Where can you find one of those? Right here. That’s where.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set 

Our very own Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set is very much a home-run when it comes to great Father’s Day gifts. It says Father’s Day on it, for a start. It really looks like you made an effort when you buy something like this. Especially as we guarantee there are five 30ml drams of superb whisky from world-class producers in this exclusive set. Plus, right now it’s over 25% off. 

The Father’s Day Whisky Tasting Set Contents:

Scallywag

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old – The Character of Islay Whisky Company

The ONE Sherry Expression

Colonel EH Taylor Small Batch

Loch Lomond 12 Year Old

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

Warming, spicy and utterly delicious, this well-rounded single malt from The Balvenie was initially aged in traditional oak casks before it was finished in casks which previously held a select blend of Caribbean rums chosen by malt master David C. Stewart MBE. Perfect for those who love a good Scotch and for those who want something with a touch of the tropical to mark all this good weather we’re having.

What does it taste like?

Tropical fruits, namely passion fruit, sweet vanilla, apples, mangoes, orange and creamy toffee.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Talisker 10 Year Old 

If sweet maritime peatiness, orchard fruit and pleasant spice sounds like the kind of profile your pops would enjoy, then you’d have a hard time bettering this classic Island dram from the Isle of Skye. Talisker 10 Year Old is one of those classic expressions that’s always got a welcome spot in any good drinks cabinet.

What does it taste like?

Smoke, sweet pear and apple peels, maritime salt, seaweed, peat, black pepper, brine and dry barley. 

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Jaffa Cake Gin

What if your father isn’t fussed with whisky? For those who have something of a sweet tooth, we recommend Jaffa Cake Gin. Yep. It’s a gin made to taste like Jaffa Cakes and even includes the timeless treat in its botanical selection. Now we’re talking. An insanely delicious Negroni awaits. Extra dad points are awarded if they position an actual Jaffa Cake on the glass in the style of a citrus wheel garnish.

What does it taste like?

Zingy orange (marmalade-esque), rich and earthy chocolate, vanilla-rich cake, a touch of almondy-goodness and a solid backbone of juniper. Also, Jaffa Cakes!

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva 

If rum is more your dad’s thing, then you’ll want a good premium expression that boasts a large number of fans and a trophy cabinet like Michael Jordan. Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is a delightful blend of dark rums distilled from molasses in ancient copper pot stills before being matured in small oak casks for up to 12 years. This Venezuelan treat is delicious served neat or in cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Daiquiri.

What does it taste?

Dark chocolate, vanilla cream, espresso, orange peel, liquorice and sweet toffee fudge.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Faustino I Gran Reserva 2008 

It’s hard to underestimate the brilliance of a seriously good bottle of red wine, which is exactly what we have here. This Gran Reserva comes from one of the most famous producers in the Rioja region, Bodegas Faustino and the 2008 vintage was crafted from Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo grapes. By law Gran Reserva Riojas have to age for at least five years (two of them in oak). All that time means that by the time you reach for the corkscrew the wine has taken on some seriously complex flavours, which are best enjoyed when paired with roast lamb.

What does it taste?

Rich and subtly oak, but still manages to show off some bright summer fruit sweetness.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

Bathtub Gin

If you’re on the lookout for classic juniper-forward gin, you might as well go for a serial award winner. From Ableforth’s comes this year’s World’s Best Compound Gin at the World Gin Awards, Bathtub Gin. It was named for the 1920s Prohibition method of infusing botanicals in a bathtub, but don’t worry, this tastes a little more sophisticated than that. It was crafted with six botanicals using an interesting technique known as cold compounding. The result? An aromatic, rich profile filled with notes of orange citrus, fragrant spices and a good core of juniper. 

What does it taste?

Juniper-rich bouquet, cardamom, orange blossom and cinnamon.

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The Nightcap: 22 May

We’ve got another smashing edition of The Nightcap to take you into the long weekend. All the week’s top booze stories in one handy chunk.  It’s always pretty hard to…

We’ve got another smashing edition of The Nightcap to take you into the long weekend. All the week’s top booze stories in one handy chunk. 

It’s always pretty hard to predict things. Even just coin flips are tough to get right every time, and there’s only maybe about two outcomes. I’m not sure many people could have predicted how this year was going to go. It’s a bit like taking a sock full of coins, throwing them in the air and trying to predict which one a magpie will swoop in from the window and steal to buy itself a bag of Jelly Babies. However, you could easily have predicted that we would have another edition of The Nightcap, packed with bite-sized bits of booze news, for you to peruse this Friday! Enjoy!

On the MoM blog this week, we invited you to join our celebrations of all things Islay, in light of the absence of a certain huge whisky festival, on Instagram Live! As today is World Paloma Day (have a great one, guys!), we made Mexico’s favourite cocktail the slightly fancy way, while our New Arrival of the Week was a delightful limited edition fino. Elsewhere, Ian Buxton returned to present a story of great wealth and the Scotch whisky industry, while Henry was given a lesson in the complexities of sherry cask-ageing by the fab folk at Tamdhu. Annie then shared some industry top tips for drinking mindfully during lockdown before enjoying four simple and delicious Scotch whisky, Cognac and vodka-based cocktails courtesy of Moët Hennessy.

Congratulations are in order for Alex Priest, who was the victor of last week’s virtual pub quiz! A huge thanks as well to all those who entered and if you’re curious to see all the answers to last Friday’s quiz, they’re listed below. For those who want some more boozy brain teasers or some sweet, sweet discounts, this week’s edition of the MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always.

The Nightcap

We’re big fans of the 2020 edition of the Redbreast Dream Cask

Redbreast’s new Dream Cask is here!

Regular readers will know we’re pretty keen here at Master of Malt on Redbreast Irish whiskey, in all its many forms. That’s why we’re so excited about the launch of the third limited-edition Dream Cask earlier this week. It’s made up of liquids no younger than 28 years from ex-bourbon casks, an oloroso sherry butt and a Port cask, all brought together and finished in a ruby Port cask. The whiskey was bottled at 51.5% ABV. Master blender Billy Leighton commented: “It’s more than three decades since my predecessors went to the Douro Valley and hand-selected the cask which would become Redbreast Dream Cask 2020. I’m delighted to be able to share its creation with whiskey lovers around the world. Blender Dave McCabe added: “Because a Dream Cask is not constrained by volume, we have great licence to select a unique expression with a bold flavour which couldn’t be replicated in a permanent offering. Thankfully, Billy and I were in absolute agreement that this was the right time to release this year’s Dream Cask.” We were given a little taste and we have to say that we were absolutely knocked out: it’s beautifully creamy and spicy with notes of butterscotch, cooked apple, ginger and walnuts, but what really comes through is cherry: fresh cherry, cooked cherry and then on the finish, the lingering taste of cherryade. Top stuff Midleton! So how do you get your hands on this dreamy release? Well, first you’ll need €490, and then you need to go to Redbreast’s private members’ club, The Birdhouse, where you can take part in a ballot that runs from Monday 25 May until 14:59 (GMT +1) on 2 June for a chance to buy a 500ml bottle. There are 921 available. Good luck!

The Nightcap

The new initiative from California’s Wine Institute should brighten up your Zoom meetings

California wine country comes to Zoom

The team here at MoM has just discovered the joy of changing your background on zoom. It’s brilliant, your friends will think you’re in a tropical paradise or floating in space, and there’s no need to rearrange your bookshelves to remove all those old Jeffrey Archer novels. Now wine lovers can look as if they’re exploring the vineyards of Napa rather than in a semi in Surbiton thanks to a new initiative from California’s Wine Institute. Simply download a jpeg from the link here , go to the menu on the bottom left and click virtual background, and then upload your very own wine wonderland. There are loads to choose from and more available from Visit Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, Visit Temecula Valley, Visit California, and Discover Buellton. Amaze your friends! Brighten up dreary marketing meetings!

The Nightcap

Happy 20th anniversary!

The Glencairn Glass celebrates 20th anniversary

While 2020 may resemble what the Mayans predicted 2012 would be for most of us, for the family-owned and award-winning Scottish crystal company Glencairn Crystal Studio it’s a special anniversary. That’s right, it’s been 20 years since it created its iconic Glencairn Glass. The glass, which was designed by the brand’s founder Raymond Davidson, has become the definitive whisky glass around the world today over the last two decades, with over 3 million being sold each year, across 140 different countries in every corner of the globe. The brand boasts clients such as Liverpool FC, BP, Brown-Forman, Cunard, Diageo, Houses of Parliament and Scottish Parliament, Muller, Google and the majority of the Scottish whisky manufacturers. The Glencairn team have marked this momentous anniversary by launching the Glencairn PodGlass series: a series of podcasts with Davidson and guest appearances by some renowned and respected names like Richard ‘the nose’ Paterson. The brand will also release new versions of the Glencairn glass, launch a fundraising initiative with the proceeds going to the company’s chosen charity partners and open the new expanded Glencairn Crystal Studio site in East Kilbride, which incorporates a refurbishment and a substantial new build on the original Glencairn site to cater for expanding demand – all built by local businesses. Glencairn is also encouraging whisky lovers to follow @TheGlencairnGlass and share their favourite stay at home Glencairn moments with the tag: #beathomewithGlencairn. For more info, go to: http://www.glencairncrystal.co.uk/ or https://whiskyglass.com/.

The Nightcap

Noble sentiments from winner Bréagha Wolfgang, though the skeletal hand is a bit ominous, don’t you think?

Fernet Branca coin winner announced

The winner has been announced in the Fernet Branca coin competition and it’s Bréagha Wolfgang of Draffens cocktail bar in Dundee! As we’ve mentioned on the Nightcap before, the competition has been going since 2010, and every year Fernet Branca picks a design to be made into a coin to be distributed among bartenders. There’s even a game that they can play with the coins. In these incredibly difficult times for the hospitality industry, it’s not surprising that a design has been chosen with a positive message (see above). Wolfgang commented on her winning entry: “My coin design was inspired by reflecting on the tough times and stress we all go through in this industry and how incredible it is that our communities support and lift each other during those times. The ‘cheers’ around the edge of the coin is about seeing each other as an equal part in life, drinking to new friends and to those we’ve lost along the way which I think defines our industry well. Winning this means a whole lot to me, getting given a Fernet coin was such an incredible relief after working so hard for so long and now having my very own coin design! That’s something I will never forget the feeling of.” Poppy Croft, Fratelli Branca brand manager, added: ‘Launching the Fernet Branca Coin Design Challenge just after lock-down was something I felt needed to happen, then more than ever, to show solidarity and support to the incredible bartenders in the UK who, at that point, had literally no idea of what was ahead. Bréagha’s design really stood out, reflecting the camaraderie of the industry in the face of stark adversity, a truly well-deserved win and I’d also like to congratulate all the runners up for their incredible designs,we hope to raise a Fernet with them all soon!” Here’s hoping.

The Nightcap

The Cold Brew Espresso Martini

And finally… Cocktail Porter delivers cocktail kit to your door

The lockdown is an ideal time to work on your cocktail-making skills, but ideally, you wouldn’t have to leave the house to get your hands on the perfect ingredients. Cocktail Porter may well have a solution for the budding bartender trying to stir and shake in the comfort of their home. Since 2018, it has delivered over 500 cocktail boxes a month to the Australian market and it’s now arrived in the UK. From the 18 May 2020, it has been delivering craft cocktail boxes from Global Drinks Agency Sweet&Chilli (you may know them as the guys that brought us the fab Nine Lives cocktail bar in London Bridge) containing individual recipes, bottles of spirits, infusions, cordials, home-grown garnishes, infused tonics and bespoke barware to fill out our drink trolleys. Each cocktail in the collection is designed by professional bartenders and the first collection features the ingredients to create a Passionfruit Margarita (Don Julio Blanco Tequila, fresh passion fruit, fresh limes, passion fruit-infused syrup and dehydrated limes to garnish), an Elderflower ‘Le Fizz’ Spritz (Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Double Dutch Soda Water, fresh lemon and with organic Persian rosebuds to garnish), the Whisky Highball Collection (Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky, Belvoir Farms ginger/lemon & mint/elderflower cordials, Double Dutch soda water and dehydrated lemons & candied ginger to garnish), Cold Brew Espresso Martini (Ketel One Vodka, Kuka’s Cold Brew Espresso, Conker Coffee Liqueur, simple syrup and Halo Raw organic dark chocolate to garnish) and a Seville Orange Negroni (Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla, Campari, sweet vermouth with orange to garnish). It should be stressed, these are not pre-batched cocktails, you do have to do some work yourself. Each cocktail is available in The Petite Kit (£45, 6 serves) and The Porter (Full Size) Kit (£85, 17-20 serves) and if ordered by 3pm will be delivered the next day, while live hosted masterclasses on YouTube will show you how to stir things up whilst staying safe at home. Order from the website: cocktailporter.co.uk

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

1) What Champagne brand is Beyonce drinking in 2013 banger Drunk in Love?

Answer: Armand de Brignac

2) Which sweet wine is known as ‘the king of wines, the wine of kings’?

Answer: Tokay

3) Which lager refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach (according to the ad campaign)?

Answer: Heineken

4) Which brewery serves a beer known colloquially as ‘man in the box’ in its tied pubs?

Answer: Sam Smith’s

5) In Breaking Bad, which spirit does Gus Fring lace with poison and gift to the Cartel?

Answer: Tequila

6) What is the pub called in Shaun of the Dead?

Answer: The Winchester

7) What counts as a ‘hole in one’ in pub golf?

Answer: Downing a drink

8) Rapper and singer Post Malone launched a wine brand this week. But what style is the wine?

Answer: Provence rosé

9) Single Pot Still whiskey can only come from which country?

Answer: Ireland

10)   In the book ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ what wine does Hannibal Lector eat with fava beans and someone’s liver?

Answer: Amarone

 

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The Nightcap: 15 May

It’s the eve of World Whisky Day and there’s no better way to prepare yourself for all its boozy brilliance than with a read of another fantastic edition of The…

It’s the eve of World Whisky Day and there’s no better way to prepare yourself for all its boozy brilliance than with a read of another fantastic edition of The Nightcap…

It’s another Friday, and that means another edition of The Nightcap! Tomorrow is World Whisky Day, so if you’re looking to go into it with a brain full of booze news, you’ve come to the right place. Your internet browser. It’s also a good place to go if you’re looking to find out facts about rare species of birds or get into arguments with strangers about what counts as a soup. Of course, you’ll have to visit other websites for that – although we will say that people who think chilli con carne is a soup should reconsider their stance because it’s absolutely not a soup and they’re wrong.

On the MoM blog this week we announced the good news that That Boutique-y Whisky Company has ensured we can still enjoy World Whisky Day together thanks to its World Whisky Summit, which is sponsored by us! We also launched a flash sale (which ended this morning) containing booze from England’s largest wine producer, Chapel Down, before Annie took a peek behind the scenes at Two Drifters’ planet-friendly production process, Adam learned the story behind the Pearse Lyons Distillery and Ian Buxton returned to deliver the second part of his investigation on private cask sales. Elsewhere, Henry enjoyed five minutes in the company of John Little, of Smooth Ambler fame, a deliciously herbaceous Cachaça-based concoction and a bitter bottling from top vermouth producer Carpano.

Once again we’d like to say a huge thank you to all those who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday and salute the winner, Conal Wright. We sincerely hope you enjoy your £25 gift voucher! The answers to last week’s edition are listed below and for those who want a chance to get their hands on the prize or just test their boozy knowledge, the MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always.

The Nightcap

Whisky makers Tomer Goren, Dhavall Gandhi and Michael D’Souza – what a trio!

What’s happening on World Whisky Day…

Wondering how to celebrate World Whisky Day tomorrow (Saturday 16 May)? Well, luckily you’re spoilt for choice, as there’s all sort of fun to get involved with! We’re pretty stoked to be involved with the rather exciting Boutique-y Whisky World Whisky Summit, with quite the lineup of industry greats kicking off at 7pm. Then, if you want to gain some worldwide whisky knowledge, England’s Lakes Distillery has partnered up with Israel’s Milk & Honey and India’s Paul John Distilleries for another virtual celebration at 5pm! You’ll be greeted by Dhavall Gandhi, Tomer Goren and Michael D’Souza,  distillers at each respective distillery, exploring the influence of location on whisky maturation. What a trio! Tune into the Lakes Facebook page for all the goods. Royal Salute has also got in on the act with a series called ‘Behind the Kingdom Doors’, a live stream series that discusses three different topics in style and luxury, taking place over the three weeks. It kicked off this week with a live whisky tasting hosted by master blender Sandy Hyslop and whisky blogger Alex Robertson on Wednesday. Coming up next is a Polo & Lifestyle session hosted by Hyslop and polo star Malcolm Borwick on the 20 May, followed by Around The World With Royal Salute, hosted again by Hyslop and Nathan Wood, prestige whiskies brand ambassador, on the 1 June. What’s more, if it’s a challenge you’re looking for, Whyte and Mackay are hosting a series of online events featuring Jura whisky, and special guests including World Whisky Day founder, Blair Bowman! Head over to the Big Fat Online Whisky Quiz at 7:30pm where none other than Gregg Glass will make an appearance, if you want to test your knowledge. Happy World Whisky Day, folks!

The Nightcap

Cocktail hour is back, but this time it’s virtual!

The Cocktail Hour is back… and it’s virtual 

Though the circumstances that have led to this are less than ideal, we bring you cheerful news: the cocktail hour is back! The last time the cocktail hour was at its peak in Britain was the roaring ‘20s, so it looks like we’ve come full circle. We’ve got some fun cocktail facts for you from a survey by Bacardi for World Cocktail Day (which was this Wednesday, 13 May), which revealed that more than half (53%, if you want numbers) of the Britons asked believe that the cocktail hour has made a comeback in recent weeks, though this time, of course, it’s online. What’s more, it’s not just any old tipple they’re whipping up, with 43% revealed to be experimenting with drinks, and the Mojito taking first place as the number one lockdown serve. Nearly a third are getting real fancy and fishing out their cocktail glasses and shakers, too! Could we be expecting another cocktail renaissance? The good news is that over a quarter of those surveyed said that they will continue hosting virtual cocktail hours with friends and family beyond lockdown. Cheers to that!

The Nightcap

Congratulations on your double win, Dave!

Double win for Dave Broom at the Fortnum and Mason awards

In what will be a popular move in the world of booze, it was announced last night that Dave Broom has won Drinks Writer of the year at the annual Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink awards for his words on whiskymanual.uk. Rather than the usual riot of B list celebs, A-grade champagne and Claudia Winkleman, that normally makes up the awards, it was done online, though still with Claudia Winkleman, obviously. It was a double celebration for Broom as his film, The Amber Light, won the best programme too. Well done Dave! Other winners include the nicest man in food Tom Parker-Bowles as Restaurant Writer of the ear for his column in the Mail on Sunday, Rachel Roddy got the Cookery Writer gong for her mouth-watering Italian food column in the Guardian and we were particularly pleased to see Just the Tonic by Kim Walker and Mark Nesbitt pick up Best Debut Drink book. Congratulations to all the winners and fingers crossed that next year we will be allowed near enough to other people to have a proper party.

The Nightcap

The vineyard features a small quantity of a ‘secret experimental variety’…

Pig hotel man plants vineyard in the South Downs

Imagine you have founded a group of acclaimed upmarket country hotels around England. What’s the next challenge? A racehorse? A football team? A crack at the America’s Cup? Well, the choice was easy for Robin Hutson, he’s long championed English wines in his Pig hotels, so rather than any of the above, he’s just planted his first vineyard in the South Downs. It’s located by Madehurst Lodge which will be the next Pig to open sometime next year. This two-acre south-west-facing site has been planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and a small quantity of a ‘secret experimental variety’. Oooh, mysterious! Hutson enlisted the help of some of his winemaking chums including Ian Kellett from Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire and Charles Simpson from Simpsons Wine Estate in Kent. He’s unlikely to see any fruit until 2022 and wine may take even longer depending on whether he makes still or sparkling. Apparently he hasn’t decided yet. Hutson commented: “I can’t wait to taste that first glass, albeit a couple of years away yet. The investment further endorses our complete commitment to home-grown, to local produce and to local contractors.  We will post regular updates from the vineyard as we progress. Wish us luck!” Good luck!

The Nightcap

Gautier Cognac 1762

And finally… Sotheby’s auctions one of the world’s oldest surviving Cognacs

Sotheby’s certainly know how to put together an auction and it’s latest online sale is no exception. The auction, titled Distilled – Iconic Samaroli, Dalmore 62 and The World’s Oldest Cognac, comprises of 216 lots and is estimated to bring a combined total in the region of £1.1 million. The headline item has to be the oldest vintage Cognac ever to be sold at auction, a bottle of Gautier Cognac 1762. Only three bottles of this vintage still exist, having been held in the same family for generations with their original labels attached. It’s the last and largest of these remaining bottles, known as ‘Grand Frère’, or the ‘Big Brother’, that will feature in Distilled and is expected to fetch between £80,000-160,000. Should your bid prove victorious, you’ll also get to enjoy a bespoke experience at Maison Gautier, courtesy of the distillery. Some people have it all. “The Gautier 1762 is renowned and revered across the world as a Cognac that transcends the world of spirits collecting. This bottle represents not only an example of pre-phylloxera viticulture but also of early cask maturation from the dawn of Gautier’s production and even precedes the French Revolution. This bottle contains a distillation not only of superb brandy, but also of Cognac’s history,” commented Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist. Alongside one of the world’s oldest surviving Cognacs, there’s the aforementioned collection of Samaroli goodies, which comprises of 55 bottles, including three of the legendary Bowmore Bouquet 1966 (estimated at £40,000-55,000 per bottle). Sotheby’s also has two bottles of The Dalmore 62 Year Old which are estimated to fetch £75,000-100,000 each and its first-ever collaboration with a rum distillery. A cask of Dictador’s 1980 single vintage rum will go on sale with the bidding starting at £50 with the proceeds being donated to the Dictador Art Masters Charity Fund to develop an art gallery within the Colombian Jungle, an anchor point for the conservation of the area. The Distilled auction is open for bidding from the 14 to 28 May.

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

1) Which classic cocktail is mixed up on a train in Some Like It Hot?

Answer: Manhattan

2) Where was the inventor of the modern carbonation process, whose name is on bottles to this day, born?

Answer: Germany

3) What does Kesha brush her teeth with in the song Tik Tok?

Answer: Jack Daniels

4) In the Friends episode “The One Where Ross is Fine”, which cocktail is Ross drinking?

Answer: Margaritas

5) The founder of which distillery was famous for packing a pair of pistols to deter criminal distillers?

Answer: Glenlivet

6) In the film Sideways, Miles says, “I am not drinking any f**king —–”. What wine does he say?

Answer: Merlot

7) Which fictional character said “I love Scotch. Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.”? 

Answer: Ron Burgundy

8) What is Captain Jack Sparrow’s favourite drink?

Answer: Rum

9) Which whisk(e)y does Rihanna drink in her song Cheers (Drink to That)?

Answer: Jameson

10)  This year which Champagne house opened some recently-discovered bottles of wine that were buried when a cellar collapsed in 1900?

Answer: Pol Roger

 

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Chapel Down flash sale!

Just landed at Master of Malt, a shedload (this is an actual recognised measurement) of wine from England’s largest producer, Chapel Down. But that’s not all, we’ve got some of…

Just landed at Master of Malt, a shedload (this is an actual recognised measurement) of wine from England’s largest producer, Chapel Down. But that’s not all, we’ve got some of its gin and vodka in too, and we’re selling it all at dramatically low prices until this Friday.

English wine is on a roll at the moment. In the last 20 years, it has gone from something of a joke made by retired colonels to a multi-million pound industry stocked in retailers, pubs and restaurants across the country. Nobody will bat an eyelid if you order English wine now. English wines, especially the sparkling ones, are now exported all over the world. Even Champagne houses are getting in on the act; Taittinger planted a vineyard in Kent in 2017. At the forefront of this revolution is Chapel Down, the country’s biggest and best-known producer, with strong branding, wide distribution and most of all consistently excellent wines from everyday sippers to sparkling wines to rival the best of Champagne. But it doesn’t stop there: the company also produces some great spirits. And we’ve just landed a whole load and we’re offering them to you at ridiculous prices. But be quick – these deals end at 11am this Friday!

Bacchus 2018

Bacchus, a German cross, has become England’s signature grape thriving in this marginal climate and producing crisp wines laden with the scene of cut grass, gooseberries and elderflowers. Tastes like a summer’s day in Kent. 

Flint Dry 2018

Another Bacchus, this is made in a leaner, drier style, it’s all flint (hence the name) and citrus fruit with plenty of herbal Bacchus character. This will appeal to lovers of Sauvignon Blanc.

Sparkling Bacchus 2019

This is a really clever wine. The fizz comes not from bottle fermentation but, to preserve all those vibrant Bacchus flavours, it’s simply carbonated. The result is zingy, refreshing and enormous fun. Excellent chilled on its own or in cocktails like a French (or should that be English) 75

Brut NV

A stone cold classic and one of England’s best selling sparkling wines, a blend of Champagne varieties and bottled-fermented, it majors on green apple and fresh lemon with subtle bready yeasty notes. Sheer class in a glass. 

Brut Rose NV

This gets its pretty colour from a little skin contact with red grapes which also impart a subtle cherry and strawberry flavour. Like the Brut it’s bottle-fermented so expect delicate bubbles with some toasted brioche notes on the finish. 

Chapel Down Chardonnay Vodka

English winery Chapel Down doesn’t simply make wine and then call it done. The team uses the leftovers from vinification to make spirits. Ths vodka is made using the skins of leftover Chardonnay grapes so it’s not only delicious but also ecological.

Bacchus Gin

A gin made with a wheat spirit based combined with a grappa-esque concoction made from leftover Bacchus skins (made by the English Whisky Company) before going to Thames Distillers to be combined with juniper, orange peel, lemon, lavender, elderflower, orris, angelica and coriander.

Pinot Noir Gin

Made in a similar way to the above but with leftovers from Pinot Noir. To accentuate the red fruits, the botanical mix is different including dried red berries, rose buds, coriander, angelica, grains of paradise, citrus, rosehip and, of course, plenty of juniper. It is a gin, after all. 

 

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The Nightcap: 24 April

Another one of those week thingies has passed, which means it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap! A week has passed since the previous edition of The Nightcap found…

Another one of those week thingies has passed, which means it’s time for another edition of The Nightcap!

A week has passed since the previous edition of The Nightcap found its way to the MoM Blog, which means that it’s about time we don our nightcap hats and get a new one sorted. Please note that “nightcap hats” are very different from actual nightcaps that you might see people wearing on TV shows about people in the early 1900s you know, those really long, typically stripey hats that match the person’s pyjamas. Never really got how those were supposed to help you sleep… Anyway, our nightcap hats are metaphorical, and every contributor’s hat is different in their mind. For example, mine is a comically large cowboy hat concealing a comically small cowboy hat underneath it. Yee-haw!

On the MoM blog this week, we launched a new competition with Kingsbarns Distillery, continued our series on top-fives by looking at the best boozy songs and then concluded our virtual reality tours of great distilleries by visiting Aberfeldy and Royal Brackla. Henry got the lowdown on St. George’s Distillery to mark the patron saint of England’s day, while Sam Smith did some exemplary analysis of the perfect snack & spirit pairings (check out that graph, folks). Our Cocktail of the Week was the brilliantly named The New Yolk, a bourbon-based twist on the Brandy Alexander that Annie enjoyed before she cast an eye on the ‘world’s most innovative distillery’. Adam then recommended six tremendously tasty rums and introduced Bombay Sapphire‘s first-ever flavoured gin: Bombay Bramble.

Once again we’d like to thank all those who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday, scroll to the bottom for the answers. Not that Ewan MacFall needs to see those, because he won last week’s quiz and has got himself a £25 gift voucher to use at MoM Towers. There’s another quiz coming later this evening. Metaphorical thinking caps at the ready!

The Nightcap

Oktoberfest usually attracts around 6 million visitors a year

Oktoberfest 2020 is cancelled

Bad but unsurprising news came out this week as the Bavarian state government confirmed that it had taken the decision to cancel the two-week-long Oktoberfest. The famed 210-year-old German beer festival was said to pose too big a public health risk, which is understandable. Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, called the decision a “bitter pill”. GlobalData, a data and analytics company, has crunched the numbers to demonstrate how much of an issue this is for the beer industry. “This is a further blow to the beleaguered beer industry, which is already reeling from the effects of the lockdown. In many areas, the sector has seen the virtual disappearance of around half of its market, with the closure of all pubs, bars and restaurants,” says Kevin Baker, head of beer & cider research (great job title by the way). “According to GlobalData’s COVID-19 Market Impact Model, global beer and cider volumes are expected to decline by around 7% between 2019 and 2023, compared to a previous forecast of 3% growth over the same period. The virus and the attendant lockdown have had a profound effect on consumer behaviour”. Baker did go on to say that “While there are clearly significant challenges for the industry, especially in the short term, companies and brands can also take advantage of the opportunities, such as a renewed interest in local and trusted brands.” Well, that’s something to hang your (Tyrolean) hat on at least. Perhaps you can do your bit by indulging yourself and topping up your beer supply.

The Nightcap

Introducing: Hearts & Crafts Sauternes Cask Single Malt Whisky

The Cotswolds Distillery releases Hearts and Crafts Single Malt Whisky

It was a good week for new drink launches, as Havana Club announced the release of Tributo 2020. But you might not have realised amid the pandemic of it all that yesterday was St. George’s Day. The Cotswolds Distillery made the most of the occasion by announcing the first release in a series of single malts called Hearts & Crafts, inspired by the arts and crafts movement. Hearts & Crafts. Nice. The series will consist of yearly limited editions, each presented in a gift box with a different William Morris pattern. Morris, one of the leaders of the arts and crafts movement that emerged in mid-19th century Britain, had a summer house in the Cotswolds. The first whisky from the collection is the Sauternes Cask Single Malt Whisky, which is the distillery’s first-ever European oak cask expression. We were fortunate enough to get a sample and were very impressed. Think crème brûlée, cinnamon, and honey, but with plenty of peachy fruit and a nice punchy 55.2% ABV to keep you on your toes. It’s every inch the luxury drop as it should be for £74.95, available exclusively from the distillery with only 1,680 bottles available. There won’t be anymore after that, folks! If you don’t manage to pick up a bottle, there’s plenty of Cotswolds deliciousness right here, and you can always look to future Hearts & Crafts releases which will be seasoned with casks that held Pineau de Charentes, Calvados, rum, Port, Madeira, Banyuls, vermouth and more.

The Nightcap

The Batch No. 1 Pearse Irish Whiskey Collector’s Edition set was signed by the late Dr. Pearse Lyons

Pearse Lyons Distillery auctions rare whiskey collection 

In an effort to support the healthcare professionals and frontline workers battling the COVID-19 crisis, Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin has decided to do its bit by auctioning off a set of rare whiskey to raise money. On offer is The Batch No. 1 Pearse Irish Whiskey Collector’s Edition set, a four-bottle collection signed by the late Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder of the distillery and Jack O’Shea, master distiller which includes The Original, Distiller’s Choice, Founder’s Choice and Cooper’s Select whiskies. Proceeds from the highest bid will be donated to the St. James’s Hospital Foundation, which funds resources for doctors, nurses, researchers and staff. “My father knew better than anyone that good whiskey brings people together,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech and son of Pearse Lyons. “What better way to unite even at a distance than in support of our healthcare professionals? This auction reflects the humanitarian spirit of Pearse Lyons Distillery and of Pearse Lyons.” The virtual auction began last Friday 17 April at 5pm (Dublin time) but bids can still be made until Sunday 26 April at 7pm right here.

The Nightcap

UK bartenders must create a cocktail with any of the three Corte Vetusto mezcals

Corte Vetusto launches cocktail competition: The Cut Above Challenge

David Shepherd of marvellous mezcal brand, Corte Vetusto, has decided to do his part to support the UK bar industry. Shepherd has gone and launched the Cut Above Challenge, with the name evoking the mantra of master mezcalero Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz, to create a cut of mezcal so fabulous it invokes the spirit of previous generations, known as el Corte Vetusto or… the ancient cut! No biggie. So, what’s the challenge? UK bartenders have the mission to create a cocktail with any of the three Corte Vetusto mezcals Espadín, Tobalá and limited edition Ensamble II. The drinks can’t just speak for themselves though, the submissions must include why the serve is a cut above! Entries are to be sent through the @VetustoMezcal Instagram, or emailed to david@vetustomezcal.com with the full ingredient list, method and serving suggestion, along with the Cut Above justification. Entries will be judged by David Shepherd (of course), with help from Eduardo Gomez, director of Tequila & Mezcal Fest, and Josh Linfitt of Propping Up the Bar. There are five prizes to be won, with the winner claiming £250 and the three bottles from the Corte Vetusto range. The entry deadline is Thursday 7 May 2020, and we can’t wait to see what the bar community comes up with! 

The Nightcap

James Hocking: man, wine merchant, award-winning amateur horticulturalist

And finally… James Hocking Wine branches out with free plants during lockdown

Even if you can’t leave the house during lockdown, James Hocking Wine will bring the outside to you! The wine importer will now deliver plants along with local wine orders, free of charge. While this may seem  bit random, Hocking is not only a top wine merchant but also an amateur, award-winning horticulturalist, and had been preparing a selection of vegetables for entry into several shows around the U.K. These have sadly been cancelled, but on the bright side, Hocking now has a plethora of plants that need new homes! Local customers in South Hampshire can request anything from sungold cherry tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, Marconi sweet peppers and Apache chilli to arrive alongside their wine (link to website here). To help the beloved veggies flourish, customers will also be supplied with a small bottle of “Hockings Tomato Feed”, a secret formula created by James that is said to be responsible for many a Best in Show. Fancy some top Californian wine and a dose of foliage? This’ll have you covered. Maybe it’ll even spark a green thumb or two!

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

1) What is considered to be Ernest Hemingway’s favourite cocktail?

Answer: Daiquiri

2) Which spirit are you most likely to find a worm in the bottom of the bottle?

Answer: Mezcal

3) What animal is responsible for the majority of agave pollination?

Answer: Bats

4) Which of these grapes is NOT allowed in the production of Armagnac?

Answer: Sauvignon Blanc

5) What gives vermouth its characteristic taste?

Answer: Wormwood

6) Stout originated in which city?

Answer: London

7) In Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye which drink does Philip Marlowe prefer to a Martini?

Answer: Gimlet.

8) What flavour do ants give when distilled?

Answer: Citrus

9) To be classed as Rhum Agricole a rum must be. . . .

Answer: Distilled from cane juice

10) Rapper Snoop Dogg is famous for sippin’ on what spirit and juice?

Answer: Gin

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Top 5 drinks films

We continue our series all about booze-based entertainment in this time of self-isolation and lockdown. This week we take a look at our favourite films that feature a drop of…

We continue our series all about booze-based entertainment in this time of self-isolation and lockdown. This week we take a look at our favourite films that feature a drop of the good stuff.

The best films capture our senses, so it’s little surprise that there is a long, rich history of booze on the silver screen. Here, we assembled five of our favourite drink-based films, from intriguing documentaries to absurd comedies. Our list is sure to provoke much debate so do let us know your favourites in the comments or on social.

Top 5 drinks films

“Do you have any Kahlúa?”

Much like we did last week, we do have a duty to remind you folks that these films don’t always feature responsible drinking. Remember that moderation is the key!

Sideways (2004)

Sideways is a wine-fuelled road trip film set in Santa Barbara County wine country that features brilliant central performances from Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti, garnered critical acclaim and won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. How could we not put it on the list? The humorous and thoughtful film provoked mainstream audiences to engage with wine in a major way and is said to have helped increase tourism to the Santa Ynez Valley region and cause Pinot Noir sales to rise, a phenomenon dubbed ‘The Sideways Effect’. You might have objections if you’re a fan of Merlot, though…

You can find Sideways on Amazon Prime.

The Angel’s Share (2012)

A moving and darkly comic story of redemption from the excellent British cinema legend Ken Loach, The Angel’s Share stars Paul Brannigan as a father who embraces the world of whisky tasting and collecting so he can make enough money to turn over a new leaf after numerous arrests. Fans of whisky, who will know the title refers to the percentage of whisky that evaporates in the cask each year, will have appreciated the distillery tour of Deanston, (Balblair and Glengoyne distilleries also feature) the numerous shots of delicious whisky being poured and a delightful cameo by acclaimed whisky writer Charles MacLean.

You can find The Angel’s Share on Amazon Prime.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

“Hey, careful man, there’s a beverage here!” is just one of the immortal lines spoken by Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski in reference to his beloved White Russian. The Coen brothers cult classic, which features Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi on stellar form, may not strictly be a drinking movie, but it’s the best advert that delicious creamy cocktail has ever had. Cheers to you, ‘The Dude’. That rug really tied the whole room together.

You can find The Big Lebowski on Now TV.

The Amber Light (2019)

There are some truly excellent drinks documentaries out there, from  Ken Burns epic history lesson Prohibition, to Sour Grapes, an investigation into top wine forger Rudy Kurniawan that’s dripping in displays of hubris and greed. But our ultimate pick is The Amber Light, which follows the brilliant Dave Broom on a passionate and curious quest to gain a deeper understanding of Scotch whisky. It frames the spirit as part of the country’s culture and social identity in a manner akin to poetry, music and art in a compelling manner and features some truly great characters along the way, including Ian Rankin. Y’know, the guy who wrote the Rebus books!

You can find out where The Amber Light is screening here.

Lost in Translation (2003)

“For relaxing times, make it Suntory time”. Featuring perhaps the most iconic scene involving whisky of all time, as well as Bill Murray and a young, and relatively unknown, Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation is an absurdly funny, sweet and sad tale of two aimless Americans who strike up a friendship in a Tokyo hotel. While this is another film that’s not all about booze, it’s highlight is surely Murray’s character, Bob Harris, trying to film a commercial for Hibiki 17 Year Old, which suffers from a breakdown in communication between Harris, the Japanese director and interpreter.

You can find Lost in Translation on Netflix.

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