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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Wine and Spirit Trade Association

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: 12 February

It’s a celeb-packed Nightcap: 12 February edition featuring Ryan Reynolds (twice), David Beckham, Diddy and even the European Brand Director of Casamigos. No, really. The European Brand Director. Talk about…

It’s a celeb-packed Nightcap: 12 February edition featuring Ryan Reynolds (twice), David Beckham, Diddy and even the European Brand Director of Casamigos. No, really. The European Brand Director. Talk about A-list.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome the weekend. And what a weekend this is. There’s so much on! Valentine’s Day, which is apparently still a thing, is on Sunday. While today is Chinese New Year (shout out to all you rad Metal Oxes). If you’re in the UK, however, this week has been all about Storm Darcy (cold, beautiful, makes things difficult for people around them. The name actually makes a lot of sense). The freezing temperatures have brought heavy snowfall and the usual British response: State disbelief there’s snow. Say how beautiful it looks. Moan that it didn’t happen in December. Enjoy Christmas card scenes. Moan about the disruption. Get a second wind and take photos. Moan it’s not going away. Finally, moan again when it is gone. It’s comforting how familiar this pattern is. As assured as every new edition of The Nightcap landing at 4pm on Friday. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

This week on the MoM blog we launched a new competition with 1826 cocktails, so if getting bar-quality serves sent straight to your door for free sounds like something you’re interested in, be sure to enter before the deadline on Sunday night. We kept the batched cocktail vibe going by welcoming the Myatt’s Fields range to our site before enjoying a Rusty Nail and then some of the best value new world drams you can get your hands on for bargain prices. There was time to also show off our swanky masterclass videos of the 2020 Diageo Special Releases, hear from Millie about the brands putting real flavour into vodka and do some learnin’ with Lucy on how to pair whisky with cheese.

On this week's Nightcap we remember Brett Ferencz

We’re raising a dram to a galaxy far, far away for this man tonight.

Brett Ferencz, aka Scotch Trooper, dies

We start this week’s Nightcap with some really sad news: Brett Ferencz, known by many whisky lovers as Scotch Trooper, passed away on 11 February following a battle with cancer. He brought joy to so many by bringing together two of his passions: whisky and Star Wars. The worlds collided in the most enchanting of ways, and his posts depicting bottles, cocktail kit, casks and more were always accompanied by a Star Wars character and a warm, often witty note. One of the most remarkable things about Brett – although none of MoM HQ’s editorial team met him offline – was how his love for whisky shone in a way that always welcomed new drinkers into the fold. Of course, you can’t measure a person by their follower count, but the community he built is significant in size and passion, both for Scotch and each other. It’s a sad day for many. His family posted on Instagram: “I didn’t lose my battle with cancer. At best it was a tie. I took the Death Star down with me.” We’ll be raising a dram to Brett and his family this weekend. 

This week's Nightcap stars Ryan Reynolds, twice!

Bet you never thought you’d see Wrexham AFC’s logo on a bottle of internationally renowned gin…

Ryan Reynolds launches Wrexham AFC Aviation Gin 

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have celebrated their takeover of Wrexham AFC by launching a limited-edition Aviation Gin. In a move that has slightly baffled but mostly delighted football fans, the Deadpool actor and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia co-creator have taken 100% control of Wrexham AFC Limited from the Wrexham Supporters Trust. To mark the occasion, one of Reynolds’ other businesses, Aviation Gin, has launched 6,000 bottles with a new design for fans to order from the official Wrexham AFC webshop. “Rob and I are ecstatic to have won the approval of the Wrexham fans and the League and this bottle is for them,” Reynolds said. “It’s a small first step on what will hopefully be a legendary underdog story.” It raises the question: which A-lister will invest in the local football club of a post-industrial North Wales town next? Maybe Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will buy Gresford Athletic and establish a new major football rivalry…

… and donates $1m with Diddy, Becks and Diageo 

Not content with making just one headline this week, Reynolds also appeared in a video with Sean “Diddy” Combs, and David Beckham, the co-owners of DeLeón Tequila, and Haig Club respectively, to show their support to the bartending community, which has been majorly affected by COVID-19. The comedic clip shows the trio making drinks featuring their products and ingredients from Tampa Bay, Florida, and Kansas City, Missouri (in honour of the Super Bowl) which inevitably turns out to be undrinkable and disgusting. So they instead announce that Diageo, the company which produces all three of these brands, will donate $1 million between Drinks Trust UK, the Bartender’s Benevolent Fund and Another Round, Another Rally

On this week's Nightcap we learn that the UK's distillery numbers continue to rise

Even a pandemic and lockdown couldn’t stop the likes of Maidstone Distillery from opening

Covid-19 fails to halt UK’s distillery boom

Remarkable and uplifting news came from HMRC figures, of all places, this week. The data showed that a record number of distilleries were registered in the UK in 2020. The stats, as reported by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, are really something. The number of distilleries grew by over 100 in 12 months for the first time. There’s more than 300 in England (311) for the first time. And the total number registered in 2020 grew to over 560, up from over 440 in 2019. All this occurred despite the many restrictions and implications of the pandemic, including the shutdown of the hospitality sector. However, it should be noted that 2020 was still a phenomenally hard year for many of the UK’s distillers, the majority of whom are small, independently-owned businesses. That’s why the WSTA is urging the government to back distillers. “With such a difficult 2020 behind us and a daunting challenge to recover in 2021, our distillers need the support of the chancellor at the upcoming budget. A freeze at the last budget certainly helped distillers to invest and grow, but we need the chancellor to go further this time, with both a duty cut and an extension of the VAT reduction in hospitality venues, until at least March 2022 – and including alcoholic drinks,” says chief executive of the WSTA and Nightcap legend Miles Beale. “Distillers across the UK will play a vital role in 2021 and beyond as hospitality begins to open up again, and by showing his support for distillers at the Budget the Chancellor can also promote the hospitality industry as it rebounds from Covid-19 restrictions.”

This week in The Nightcap we welcome another new Islay distillery

An artist’s impression of how the distillery will look.

Elixir Distillers’ Islay distillery gets green light

We’re one step closer to seeing another new distillery on Islay. Elixir Distillers has revealed this week that the Argyll & Bute council planning committee has granted planning permission to them to go ahead with its project. The brand, which first announced its intentions in 2018, should break ground in 2021 and will reveal the name of the distillery soon. What we know for now is that it will be located in the southeast of Islay next to the town of Port Ellen, not far from Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg. The distillery will produce 1 million litres of alcohol a year and will use floor maltings to process just over half of the barley needed. Which is neat. You don’t see much of that anymore. There will also be on-site housing for distillery workers, a visitor’s centre and a multipurpose educational facility, with further initiatives to support the local community and an apprentice programme for aspiring distillers to be pursued further down the line. “We’ve worked closely with the Argyll & Bute planning committee to create plans for a distillery that fits into the landscape and supports the community,” said Sukhinder Singh, who co-founded Elixir Distillers with his brother Rajbir (where else do we know these guys from?). “We want to create whiskies that inspire both the people of Islay and Islay whisky fans world-wide, enhancing the already glowing reputation of Islay whiskies, while also becoming an integral part of the community.” Once it and the previously closed Port Ellen (which is undergoing reconstruction) open, Islay will have 11 working distilleries. Sounds like things are getting pretty cramped. There’s plenty of room in Tonbridge if anyone wants to build a distillery next to us…

On this week's Nightcap we gaze lovingly at a 50-year-old Glenrothes

Somebody very lucky will be adding this to their collection soon.

Glenrothes auctions last of 50-Year-Old with Royal Warrant jeweller

It’s not quite as fancy as the Irish whiskey Faberge craziness we reported on last week. Nevertheless, a Glenrothes that’s going under the hammer at Bonhams on 19 February sounds pretty tasty. It’s the 50th and last bottle of the distillery 50-year-old single malt. Naturally, it’s not going to be housed in any old bottle. Oh no. Royal Warrant jeweller Hamilton & Inches has created a one-off decanter with a 22-carat gold label.  And it’s not just any gold as Victoria Houghton from Hamilton & Inches explained: “The decanter will feature the first gold from the Cononish gold mine with Hamilton & Inches being the only fine jeweller to have access to this Scottish treasure.” Exclusive. Kerr Arthur, director of The Glenrothes brand, added: “This collaboration with Hamilton & Inches unites the exceptional craft and commitment of a Master Whisky Maker and Goldsmith to ensure that our last decanter to be released, ‘The 50th of 50’ will be very special and offer whisky lovers from around the world the opportunity to acquire a unique combination: single malt Scotch whisky and single mine Scottish gold.” Best of all, proceeds generated from the sale will go to a charity chosen by the winning bidder. The auction begins at 13:00 GMT on 19 February. Last year a bottle of Glenrothes 50 Year Old sold for £30,000 through Bonhams in Hong Kong. Time to get saving. 

On this week's Nightcap we learn Chapel Down is focusing on wine and spirits from now on.

Chapel Down is focusing on wine and spirits from now on.

Chapel Down quits beer and cider 

Our Kent neighbours Chapel Down has become the country’s biggest and best-known wine producer while also making delicious gin, vodka, beer and cider too. Sadly, the brand has been forced into parting ways with its beer and cider arm Curious Drinks after a strategic review found it had suffered greatly during the pandemic and lockdown. Chapel Down made the difficult decision of putting Curious Drinks into administration, which has allowed the private equity firm Risk Capital Partners RCP to acquire it. RCP will establish a new company to run the business and take on its assets, including the new 2,900hl brewery in Ashford and its on-site restaurant. Chapel Down will receive no payment for the business but will be cleared of its net debt in Curious Drinks. The good news is that there will be no job losses as a result of the deal and that Chapel Down’s wine and spirits division achieved 38% volume growth last year despite the hospitality sector shutdowns. “We see a significant opportunity and a very bright future for Chapel Down,” Frazer Thompson, CEO of Chapel Down Group commented. “We certainly won’t be abandoning the hospitality business – we love it – and will support its return vigorously with our wines and spirits”.

On this week's Nightcap we report on a good vintage for Port

Port continues to thrive despite the difficulties the drinks trade faces at the moment

Port market looking strong as Taylor’s releases its third vintage in a row

We were fortunate to be given a little taste of the 2018 vintage of vintage Ports from the Fladgate stable. This is the unprecedented third year in a row that the company behind Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft, has declared a vintage. CEO Adrian Bridge described it as somewhere in style between the fragrant 2016s and the sturdier 2017s. He added that the decision to declare was “all about the quality of the vintage” rather than about commercial considerations. Because of Covid, however, they delayed the release to this year, despite clamouring from the American market. The wines were on top form: Croft Quitna da Roeda was exotic and fragrant; Fonseca Guimaraens was spicy and packed with dark fruit; while the Taylor’s was weighty and structured, and promises great things for the future. Meanwhile, the Symington Group, Taylor’s great rivals, announced a strong performance in 2020 with sales up 37.3% in the last quarter compared with 2019. Johnny Symington commented: “With pubs, bars and restaurants closed for much of the year and people confined to their homes, 2020 was devastating for our on-trade customers. We were fortunate, however, that demand for port soared in the rest of the UK wine trade. We were extremely proud of our importers, Fells, who decided in September 2020 to return all of the furlough money provided to them by the UK government in response to better than expected trading.” Taylor’s too reported a strong performance. It seems when times are tough, people turn to Port.

On this week's Nightcap we learn about the difficult year Pernod Ricard has had

The results look pretty grim, but Coutures is proud of how the company handled the crisis

Challenging times as Pernod Ricard posts 2020 results

Well, we knew it was going to be tough, and Pernod Ricard’s second half of 2020 results that were announced this morning in a press conference showed how difficult it’s been. The shocker is Beefeater down 20% on the previous year. This is due to the disappearance of the on-trade in the all-important Spanish market. Other big brands struggling are Ballantine’s, down 12%, Chivas Regal, down 12% and Royal Salute, down 28%. Overall sales decreased by 3.9% with profits down by 2.4%. Much of this decline is because of the lack of travel retail sales. Despite the malt tariffs on US imports, Glenlivet was in growth by 2%. There are more grounds for optimism as the UK off-trade is up by 31% with online sales increasing by 138%. Overall UK sales up by 13% with Jameson, Malfy Gin, and Absolut looking particularly strong. Furthermore, CEO of Chivas Brothers Jean-Christophe Coutures said that there had been no incidence of Covid in distilleries. He commented: “I am proud of what we achieved. 100% of staff and salaries have been kept,” and the company has even been recruiting. It also seems that the earlier rift with the Scottish government has been healed. He said that the industry had suffered doubly from loss of export business and closure of visitor centres. The priority was now ending the tariffs to the US on Scotch whisky and he looked forward to potential trade deals with New Zealand, Australia and, most exciting of all, India. David Haworth, CEO of Pernod Ricard UK spoke for everyone when he hoped for a massive boom to the on-trade when lockdowns are lifted and said: “we’ve all been missing the pub.”

On this week's Nightcap we have European Brand Director of Casamigos Tequila Jack Brooksbank.

Congratulations on the baby Jack (right), whoops! We mean European Brand Director…

And finally… Casamigos insists media use correct title for Princess Eugenie’s husband

It can be hard work meeting royalty knowing when to bow or courtesy, whether to call them ‘your highness’, or ‘your majesty, or ‘big Phil.’ Now there’s an added complication as Casamigos, George Clooney’s Tequila brand, is insisting that Jack Brooksbank, husband of HRH (we got that bit right) Princess Eugenie, be referred to by his proper title. The PR missive reported in the Daily Mail stated: Due to the recent news surrounding the arrival of the Royal Baby from HRH Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, we wanted to drop you a note to ask if you are to mention any further details about Jack Brooksbank that you use his official title: European Brand Director of Casamigos Tequila.” Now the happy news about the birth of the royal baby has been overshadowed in the media by this bit of clumsy corporate overreach. Not for us though, we want to offer our congratulations to HRH Princess Eugenie and EBDCT Jack Brooksbank!

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The Nightcap: 8 January

We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings! Well, we’re…

We’ve got a couple of weeks of news to catch up on for the first Nightcap of 2021, so this week is full to the brim of boozy happenings!

Well, we’re one week into 2021 and it wasn’t exactly the turnaround we might have hoped for. But, while you might be inclined to cancel your subscription to the new year after a pretty underwhelming 7-day free trial, we’re optimistic here at MoM Towers. Why? Well, if there’s one thing The Nightcap demonstrates is that each week is filled with something that will make you laugh or get you excited and 2020 proved that nothing can stop the influx of brilliant and bonkers boozy stories. So, assuming aliens don’t invade or a chunky asteroid doesn’t land in Speyside, we think there’s cause for optimism. And if you don’t believe, wait until you read this week’s And Finally…

On the MoM blog, we saw off the last of that wretched year by acknowledging some of the better aspects of it, including our most-read and personal favourite posts, before casting an eye towards 2021 and predicting what it might bring. The new year on the blog, meanwhile, kicked off with our ongoing auction for The Macallan’s incredible Red Collection, which will raise money for Hospitality Action and some delightful new arrivals, including an apple brandy that was aged in Japanese whisky casks and bourbon which is made from four grains. There’s also been plenty of cocktail coverage from Annie, who made the underappreciated Vieux Carré and the real star of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, The Gibson, championed the humble muddler and put together 10 classic cocktail recipes, presented with both boozy ingredients and non-alc alternative and Henry put together a list of splendidly affordable red wines. Elsewhere we found time to run the rule on Tomatin’s core range, look inside the English Spirit Distillery, find out how Irish mead is making its mark in the 21st century and why you should know all about Maidstone gin

The Nightcap

The US will finally allow 700ml bottles, hurrah!

US to allow 700ml bottles for the first time

You’ll be pleased to know that 2020 ended with a rare bit of good news for the drinks industry as it was announced that the law regarding wine and distilled spirits containers in the US were amended to allow the importation of European 700ml bottles. The Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcoholic beverages at the federal level, published new regulations on 29 December 2020 which updated the so-called “standards of fill” for wine (355ml, 250ml and 200ml) and spirits (1.8L, 900ml, 720ml and 700ml), which means that brands will no longer have the burden of spending time and money making unique US size bottles, granting producers greater flexibility and consumers with more choice. Previously drinks makers were forced to produce 700ml bottlings for the European market and special 750ml bottlings to sell in the US, which led to many small independent producers opting to avoid the extra costs by not exporting their tasty goods to the US. While there’s still some work to be done (allowing for  3+ litre sizes for spirits to save on packaging, for example) it’s a welcome bit of economic and logistical relief after a torrid year for the industry. Now wouldn’t it be great if we could reciprocate by allowing 750ml in the UK which would help a lot of small US distillers?

The Nightcap

The Walking Man’s impressive new home edges ever closer to opening…

Johnnie Walker offers glimpse inside Princes Street

If you’re a Nightcap regular you’ll have read all about Johnnie Walker’s exciting new whisky visitor experience in Princes Street, Edinburgh, which is set to open in the summer of 2021. But now, for the first time, the Scotch whisky giant has revealed a glimpse of the eagerly anticipated attraction to fans, which will feature rooftop bars, private dining areas, modern sensory tasting rooms, personalised tour and tasting experiences, and live performance areas. The interior of the building, a closely-guarded secret, is on show, as is The 1820 bar, a cocktail bar and outdoor terrace with views of the Edinburgh famous skyline, The Explorers’ Bothy, a whisky bar that will stock over 150 rare bottles and one-of-a-kind cask editions, and the Johnnie Walker Label Studio, a performance space that will host live events and performances. For more info, click here. The Johnnie Walker Princes Street visitor attraction is at the centre of Diageo’s £185m investment into the transformation of its Scotch whisky tourism, having already revamped Glenkinchie Distillery, while further investment into the remainder of Diageo’s 11 Scotch whisky brand homes as well as the revival of lost distilleries Port Ellen and Brora is also in the works. So there’s something to look forward to in 2021!

Water of Life film to launch among virtual festivities 

The Water of Life, a new feature documentary that focuses on those at the heart of the Scotch whisky revolution that turned the industry of the 1980s into the titan it is today, is on the way. Which is exciting. Even more thrilling, however, is that the film won’t launch with an ordinary premiere, but instead a week-long Burns Night Celebration that you can take part in! Kicking off on the 22nd January and running through the 27th January, the virtual online program includes a screening of the film followed each night by a unique hour-long session featuring the stars of the film. There will also be an option to purchase tasting kits specifically curated to accompany the film and take viewers on a taste journey. “Our biggest challenge, as with any food or drink film, is you can’t taste the screen. When putting this event together it was important that we found a way to bring not just the story to the screen but to engage the audience in a way whisky does,” said director Greg Swartz. “Our Burns Night  Celebration will bring all the senses together through watching the movie, pairing that with the tasting kits, and offering the opportunity to join the stars to hear them talk more about their passions.”  For tickets, tasting kits and more info just click here and if you’d like to see a trailer for The Water of Life, featuring Bruichladdich legends Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier as well as Billy Walker, Dr Rachel Barrie, David Stewart, Kelsey McKechnie, Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison and more, then simply click on the video above!

The Nightcap

Could bars and pubs switch from dispensing beer to dispensing vaccines?

Brewers offer their pubs as vaccination centres. 

Like many things in the modern age, it began with a tweet. Keir Shiels, consultant paediatrician at the Great Ormond Street hospital in London, suggested on the 31 December: “Pubs could be turned into vaccination hubs. There’s space. There’s staff. There’s fridges. There’s refreshment facilities. There’s one in every village.” Since then things have snowballed with both Brewdog and Shepherd Neame pledging their help. Jonathan Neame CEO at Shepherd Neame commented: “We have offered up some of our pubs to act as vaccination hubs, in target areas, in the main they are well located, spacious and with large refrigeration capacity.” Nothing has happened yet though James Watt from Brewdog announced that he is in talks with the Government. Let’s hope something comes off this as it would really help speed up distribution of the vaccine especially if brewers could offer a pint to enjoy while you wait. We’d be first in the queue.

The Nightcap

Some good news from 2020 was that fortified wine got some well-deserved love

A bumper year for fortified wine 

Port and sherry have been rocking this year. There was an article on the BBC website about the so-called ‘tapas effect’ as people unable to travel recreated their summer trips at home with a bottle of sherry. Meanwhile, we reported back in October that Taylor’s Port sales had grown despite, or maybe because of lockdown. Figures just released by the WSTA bear this out: the fortified wine category has seen an increase in sales of nearly 10% in 2020, a remarkable feat considering the impact lockdown has had on on-trade sales. Despite on-trade orders being down 42% (by volume), the category grew from £270 million in 2019 to £303 million last year. This increase was coupled with the category’s best quarter for five years, giving hope that despite such a tough year, Christmas traditions remained as strong as ever in 2020. Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “In such a difficult year, the news that we have been enjoying more Ports and sherries at home recently to arrest slow stagnation in the category is welcome… Santa loves his sherry, and in 2020 many consumers will also be rekindling their festive love affairs with fortifieds!” But as we always say, fortified wine is not just for Christmas and if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got some great wines right here.

The Nightcap

Nightcap favourite Miles Beale is back for 2021

WSTA reacts to Brexit deal

It’s a very special Nightcap this week as we have two stories featuring everyone’s favourite chief executive Mr Miles Beale from the WSTA. Beale has been one of the most vocal voices standing up for the drinks industry and warning of the perils of a no-deal Brexit, so he more than most was relieved that the EU and the British government managed to come to an agreement at the end of last year. Doesn’t it seem like a long time ago? Anyway, here’s what Beale had to say: “Today’s announcement will be a welcome relief to the UK’s wine and spirit sector. We look forward to seeing the detail and to its swift ratification. The threat of the introduction of wine tariffs and the uncertainty over the ability to move goods into and out of the EU were weighing heavy on the minds of businesses already reeling from the effect of Covid restrictions, while also having to prepare for the end of the transition period in a week’s time.” But it wasn’t all good, Beale added: “Businesses have been working hard to prepare for the introduction of new customs processes and systems, new labelling rules, new import certification rules for wine all of which will add to the cost of importing and exporting wine and spirits. And yet, astonishingly, those businesses are still waiting for the government to grip the reins and confirm some of the details to allow trade with Ireland and the rest of the EU to continue next year.” So plenty more work to be done, we haven’t heard the last of Miles Beale in 2021.

The Nightcap

Richard Paterson was one of the drinks industry figures honoured

Richard Paterson and Kate Nicholls honoured by Queen 

The New Year’s Honours list had plenty of interesting names as usual on it for 2021 (although nothing for Sam Smith yet. Give the people what they want, your majesty), including some drinks industry giants such as UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls and The Dalmore whisky blender Richard Paterson. Nicholls, who was appointed an OBE for service to the hospitality, was singled out for her tireless support of the beleaguered hospitality industry during the ongoing Covid crisis, while Paterson was also appointed an OBE for services to the Scotch whisky industry, including over a half a century at Whyte & Mackay. It caps quite a year for the legendary master blender, aka ‘The Nose’, who made the move to step back from some of his Whyte & Mackay duties and also lend his expertise to the exciting Wolfcraig Distillery project. Other members of the hospitality industry recognised included Michelin-starred chef Fergus Henderson and Richard Curtis, the landlord of the Portsmouth Arms in Basingstoke (not the director of Notting Hill and Love Actually) was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) after raising over £52,500 for local charities by holding weekly virtual quizzes in his pub after it was closed in March. Given what a rough time this industry is having at the moment, it is at least nice to see these efforts being appreciated.

The Nightcap

American whiskey lost one of its greats this week

Michter’s master distiller Willie Pratt dies at 78

We were sad to hear this week about the death of an American whisky legend, Willie Pratt, master distiller at Michter’s. Born in Kentucky in 1942, he began his career with Brown-Forman where he worked in all aspects of the business before retiring at the age of 65. But in 2007 he was lured out of retirement and took up the role of head distiller at Michter’s where he became known as Dr No for his refusal to bottle any whiskey until he thought it was ready. Here he oversaw the design and building of Michter’s ultra-modern new Shively Distillery. In 2017 he was inducted into The Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. Michter’s president Joseph J. Magliocco commented: “To work with Willie and to have him as a friend was a tremendous gift. When the challenges seemed overwhelming, that’s when Willie’s leadership would shine through. He was a paradigm of strength and courage.” Distilling is now in the safe hands of Dan McKee who added: “Times like this make me realise how fortunate I was to be able to learn from one of the greats in the industry. I’m going to miss standing back in the distillery with Willie, talking about making whiskey and listening to his life stories.”  Thank you Willie, we’re raising a tumbler of Michter’s Rye to you now. 

And finally… Gin flavoured with car?

We’ve had some pretty strange gins on the Nightcap: gin infused with Brussel sprouts, gin made from peas, we even stock a gin that has been into space, but gin flavoured with car? Sounds like something from the fevered imagination of Jeremy Clarkson but Piston distillery in Worcester has come up with just such a spirit. It’s infused with leftovers from the production of Morgan cars in nearby Malvern. If you had images of bits of oily steel steeping in neutral grain alcohol then think again because Morgan produces gorgeous cars that in many ways haven’t changed much since the 1930s. Part of the car is made from wood, ash to be specific, and it’s these ash shavings that are used to flavour the gin (which is available from Morgan’s online shop for £45). Toby Blythe from the Morgan Motor Company explained: “Ash wood forms one of Morgan’s three core materials, alongside aluminium and leather, and as such is intrinsic to our coachbuilding identity. When we worked with the expert distillers at Piston Gin, we were curious to find out how this material could be infused with their acclaimed gins. The result, we believe, speaks for itself.” Grace Stringer, distillery manager at Piston Distillery, explained to us how the gin was made: ash is distilled with the company’s London dry gin with a little apple to sweeten it, and then some ash is added at the end for colour and mouthfeel. Apple and ash-infused gin, not so barmy after all.

No Comments on The Nightcap: 8 January

The Nightcap: 28 August

Hollywood whisky, interactive distillery maps and the Black Forest coming to London. It’s just another regular week in the wonderful world of booze! It’s basically the last Bank Holiday weekend…

Hollywood whisky, interactive distillery maps and the Black Forest coming to London. It’s just another regular week in the wonderful world of booze!

It’s basically the last Bank Holiday weekend of the year (Christmas doesn’t count) in England and Wales and this is obviously incredibly exciting, because who doesn’t love a long weekend? It’s particularly good news if you’ve lost all sense of time like me and had no idea it was on the horizon. I feel like I’ve found a £5 note in an old coat pocket. A weekend as good as this deserves to be kicked off right. So, pour yourself a dram of something delicious and settle in with some delightful reading material. Like this lovely edition of The Nightcap…

It was another terrific week on the MoM blog as we announced that Drinks by the Dram’s delightful Advent Calendars have returned and also launched our incredible Bank Holiday weekend sale! Annie then kept the good times rolling by tasting new whisky from Tobermory, Deanston and Bunnahabhain and explored why coconut water has become the hot new mixer on the bar scene, while Jess cast an eye on a few awesome specialist bars that are pros in specific spirits, reported on BrewDog’s impressive environmental commitment and asked what’s the deal with bitters? Spoiler: they’re awesome. Adam then enjoyed the delights of a smoky summer sipper with an incredible backstory while Henry tasted an innovative rum that thinks it’s a gin. Oh, and we reviewed the 2020 edition of Diageo’s Special Releases. Spoiler: they’re also awesome.

Don’t forget that next weekend the incredible Scotch and Sofa will take place! Now, to The Nightcap! 

The Nightcap

The Glenlivet is helping to uncover illicit whisky past and highlight the impact of Scotch.

Glenlivet joins project to uncover whisky’s illicit past

Speyside whisky giant The Glenlivet has announced a first of its kind partnership this week with The National Trust For Scotland. The duo has launched the ‘Pioneering Spirit’ project, which pairs archive research with archaeological digs in a bid to highlight the impact that Scotch whisky production has had on Scotland’s cultural heritage and its modern way of life. Led by the Trust’s head of archaeology, Derek Alexander, and The Glenlivet’s archivist, Chris Brousseau, the digs will aim to uncover the illicit stills and forgotten bothies that were used to illegally produce and smuggle Scotch across the highlands in the early 1800s. “We are proud to be supporting the National Trust for Scotland and the amazing work they do to protect, and celebrate, what makes Scotland unique,” says Miriam Eceolaza, global marketing director of The Glenlivet. “As a brand that holds so much history in the distilling of Scotch whisky, we are looking forward to learning more about the illicit trade that our founder was involved in, as well as the lasting impact it has had on the country’s rich heritage”. Once underway, the project will enlist the help of visitors and Scottish residents alike to uncover more about the country’s illicit past and the role that whisky played in defining Scottish culture. To find out more, visit www.theglenlivet.com and www.nts.org.uk

The Nightcap

Are you a booze fan looking to holiday in Britain? Well, you’re in luck.

WSTA creates interactive distillery map

Do you know what would be handy for ‘staycationers’ who are also booze fans? An interactive map that showcases some of Britain’s best distillery and vineyard destinations. Oh, wait, that already exists thanks to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association! This week the WSTA launched its delightful map, which should prove useful for those who want to learn more about the art of wine and spirit making and see which locations offer tours, tastings and places to eat and stay on-site across the country. Currently, the map features over 50 distilleries and vineyards, which are marked by a spirit bottle and grape icon respectively. Simply click on them and you’ll get all the info you need about the brand and what experiences they offer. “The ginaissance has led to a huge wave of investment in exciting new distillery visitor centres and tours. There are now more English vineyards offering tours, tastings and dining experiences than ever before. To celebrate our great British distillers and winemakers we have launched the UK’s first digital wine and spirit map,” says Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA and Nightcap homie. “The pandemic means that more people are choosing to enjoy a staycation over the summer and this August Bank Holiday weekend. The WSTA’s interactive map has been designed to encourage people to find out more about the wave of exciting new wine and spirit experiences on their doorsteps.” Where will you go first? Britain now boasts over 763 vineyards and over 440 distilleries, so you’re spoilt for choice!

The Nightcap

Think you can make a delicious, locally-sourced cocktail? Then Jameson wants to hear from you!

Jameson launches new web series

Last year, Jameson brought bartenders, local farmers and producers from across the globe together to create locally inspired cocktails. Now fans can enjoy this adventure thanks to the brand’s new six-part web series. ‘Grow Your Own Cocktail’ will feature episodes from Dubai, Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Stockholm and Cork (home to Midleton Distillery) and aims to educate and inspire the global bar community. Alongside the series, Jameson is encouraging bartenders to proactively support their local community by launching a new competition that challenges them to create a Jameson cocktail using locally sourced ingredients. To enter you need to post your cocktail on Instagram, outlining the local ingredients used, the background to the collaboration, and explain why Jameson should support them, along with the hashtag #GrowYourOwnCocktail. A €1,000 cash prize will be split equally between bartenders and producers who work in collaboration and winners will also be encouraged to invest their prize back into their community through further local sourcing. “The bar community has faced serious challenges in 2020, so now, more than ever the industry needs solidarity, creativity and innovation to help it through these times. It’s Jameson’s mission to support this creativity and encourage bartenders to use their own environments in truly innovative ways,” says Irish Distillers’ international marketing director Brendan Buckley. Episodes of the web series will be released throughout August and September via @JamesonHosts and Jameson’s YouTube channel. For more information on how to enter the competition, head to Instagram. The deadline for entries is 14 September 2020. 

The Nightcap

German Gymnasium is bringing the Black Forest into the heart of London

The Black Forest comes to London 

There’s been a lot of teaming up this week, and German Gymnasium and Monkey 47 Dry Gin have got in on the act to bring a little slice of Black Forest charm to London through the wonder of gin cocktails. The duo presented A Schwarzwald Summer yesterday (Thursday 27 August), which is a two-month-long celebration designed to help people make the most of the many inevitable staycations that will take place this summer. The Schwarzwald, also known as the Black Forest, is where the Monkey 47 Gin brand is from. Naturally, it has created quite the cocktail list for the event, featuring two refreshing G&Ts, as well as variations on the Negroni, Spritz, Martini and a highball called the Schwarzwald Summer made up of Monkey 47 Gin, elderflower, mint, cucumber, lemon and tonic. There’s also going to be hearty German bar snacks like Black Forest ham and Currywurst, and for the duration of the partnership the outdoor bar will also be completely covered in vibrant pink, red, lilac and yellow flowers to reflect the traditional flower-laden houses seen throughout the Black Forest in the summertime. So, if you head on down, be sure to don your best Trachten, resist the urge to bring up gâteau every forty seconds and enjoy the Schwarzwald Summer!

The Nightcap

Cheers to 60 years of Macduff Distillery!

Macduff Distillery celebrates 60 years

Macduff has some celebrating to do next week as the Highland distillery marks 60 years since its official opening on 1 September 1960. Founded by four Glasgow businessmen, it was one of the first single malt distilleries to go into operation following the Second World War and its first whisky was released in 1968 – a five-year-old labelled ‘Macduff Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky’. You probably know the distillery best for creating The Deveron and Glen Deveron Scotch whisky brands, which were named in reference to the River Deveron, which runs alongside the distillery and its whisky has also been used in blends for William Lawson’s. The Macduff distillery, which is currently under Bacardi ownership following their acquisition of Martini Rossi in 1992, was designed to ensure it was as energy efficient as possible and the focus on sustainability and technology remains key for the distillery. “Production at Macduff was simple and compact, focusing on energy-saving techniques such as lagged pot stills which were also steam heated and the use of gravity instead of pumps. It’s fantastic to see that respect for the distillery’s beautiful natural surroundings still firmly in place today,” says Jacqueline Seargeant, global heritage manager for Bacardi, is responsible for archiving the rich history of Bacardi’s distilleries in Scotland. “From changes in ownership to adapting to changes in technology and whisky production techniques, it’s been a fascinating journey for Macduff over the last six decades, and I have no doubt there will be many more amazing stories to come.” There’s only one way to celebrate such an occasion, pick yourself up some Macduff whisky and raise a glass!

The Nightcap

The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage, looking very swanky indeed

GlenDronach announce new Kingsman whisky

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not, if you love whisky you’ve got to respect the Kingsman films because with each new movie comes delicious whisky! Delicious Glendronach whisky, to be precise. This week the GlenDronach distillery has announced that it will once again release a tie-in tipple in collaboration with director Matthew Vaughn to mark the upcoming release of The King’s Man: Tokyo Drift. The GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage is a 29-year-old single malt matured in Oloroso sherry casks initially and finished in Pedro Ximénez casks. All 3,052 bottles have been labelled, numbered and wax-sealed by hand and each box comes with the Kingsman insignia and the signatures of both Barrie and Vaughn. This 1989 vintage is inspired by the oldest bottle of whisky housed at The GlenDronach Distillery — a twenty-nine-year-old whisky bottled in 1913, just before the outbreak of the First World War. According to Glendronach, three friends had each purchased a bottle before leaving for war, vowing to open the whiskies together upon coming home. Tragically, only one friend returned. Having never opened his bottle, his family later gifted it to the distillery, where it remains unopened and displayed in remembrance of fallen friends. “I have selected casks of the most exceptional character for this rare 1989 vintage, with smouldering aromas of dark fruits and sherry-soaked walnuts, vintage leather and cedarwood,” says The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie. “On the palate, dense autumn fruits meld with date, fig and treacle, before rolling into black winter truffle and cocoa. In the exceptionally long finish, notes of blackberry, tobacco leaf and date oil linger to conclude the rich tasting experience”.

The Nightcap

We’re looking forward to the Android vs iPhone debates on which one can track blood alcohol better

And finally… Your phone could track your blood alcohol 

People joke about phones being able to do everything these days, but in reality, it looks like that really is becoming the case. The latest thing our gadgets are able to do is to track our blood alcohol concentration! Researchers over at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that the phone sensors can identify high blood alcohol concentration. If you’ve got a Nokia then, unfortunately, that won’t do the trick, you’ll need a smartphone for this one (though if you drop it that’s a whole different story). The devices were used to measure walking speed and movements after participants had been given a drop or two of the hard stuff, and it was all rather successful – the phones were more than 90% accurate in detecting when blood alcohol concentration had exceeded the legal limit for driving (which is 0.08%, for future reference). Obviously the hope for this is that it will discourage people from driving under the influence, seeing as they can check it themselves. But like we always say folks, sip, don’t gulp!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 28 August

The Nightcap: 7 May

The Nightcap is early this week thanks to the Bank Holiday, but it’s filled to the brim with plenty of boozy news for you to enjoy. Now, we know what…

The Nightcap is early this week thanks to the Bank Holiday, but it’s filled to the brim with plenty of boozy news for you to enjoy.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. “Goodness gracious, a new edition of The Nightcap? But it’s Thursday!” Well, you see, there’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow, so you’re getting your weekly helping of Nightcap glory a day earlier. You could read it again tomorrow if you fancy keeping to some sort of schedule. It won’t be any different, but it will be Friday. That’s something.

On the MoM blog this week Henry introduced some delicious new Balvenie as part of the Stories range before joining the ranks of Bond, Ernest Hemingway and all kinds of famous explorers by embracing the tropical delights of the Mojito. Adam then cast an eye on crème de cassis, while Annie sat down with bartender Oskar Kinberg from Hide and explained what defines a spirit as ‘single estate’. Once again we’d like to say a huge thank you to all those who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday and an even huger congratulations to the winner, Rohini Mathur. The answers to last week’s edition are listed below and you can look forward to another round of tricky boozy trivia tonight at 5pm.

The Nightcap

The Campbeltown whisky festival experience goes online for the first time!

The Campbeltown Malts Festival goes online

For the first time ever the Campbeltown Malts Festival will take place online. Glen Scotia Distillery has unveiled plans to offer its programme of events on the distillery’s website following the cancellation of the Campbeltown Malts Festival 2020, which had been scheduled to run from 19-21 May. From the 18 May, you’ll be able to take part in virtual distillery tours, a historical Campbeltown walking tour and a video tasting of Glen Scotia’s core range. Charles MacLean will also be on hand to introduce the tasting of Glen Scotia’s 2020 Festival Edition, the Glen Scotia Limited Edition 14 Year Old Tawny Port Finish, which has been released this month. There’s even a dedicated festival playlist collated by the organisers of the Mull & Kintyre music festival. But the highlight is surely the fact that the dunnage warehouse tasting will be available outside the distillery for the very first time. Master distiller Iain McAlister will host the session, which many consider the pinnacle of their Campbeltown Malt Festival experience. This year’s theme is The Casks of Campbeltown, and comes with an accompanying tasting set, The Glen Scotia Dunnage Tasting Box. 200 of these will be released in the UK ahead of the festival, while a further 1800 tasting boxes will be distributed around the world. Each contains five 25 ml samples along with password access to a specially created tasting video also hosted by McAlister and are available here. For more info visit www.glenscotia.com/festival

The Nightcap

You’ll receive vials of whisky so you can enjoy the experience of a nosing and tasting session

The Whisky Ambassador launches online classroom

The Whisky Ambassador has adapted its renowned training course in order for it to be enjoyed while at home. The Glasgow-based company’s new online programme features live tuition and, where possible, each participant will also receive a delivery of vials of whisky to their door in order to enjoy the experience of a nosing and tasting session. The course concludes with an exam, including a blind tasting which, if passed, is recognised with an industry-accredited qualification. Bob Wenting, ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, will deliver the first virtual classroom in The Netherlands on 9 and 10 May, ahead of the global roll-out of the scheme. A second course has also been confirmed in Canada on 9 and 10 June. “The Covid-19 pandemic has stopped traditional face-to-face and experiential training in its tracks, but we have identified that the appetite for skills development is at an all-time high,” said Jo Graham, The Whisky Ambassador managing director. “With day-to-day life not as we know it, we are all continuing to adapt the way we go about our business, both personally and professionally. People across the world are keen to use lockdown as an opportunity to learn new skills or explore new interests – but crucially, without compromising on the quality of learning they would have normally been afforded.” To book, you should visit: www.thewhiskyambassador.com/courses-training/ and you can also email [email protected] for more info.

The Nightcap

10% of sales proceeds will be donated to Mind charity in the UK, and CASA in Porto

Churchill’s Port announces ‘Fortify a Friend’ initiative

Churchill’s Port has launched a new initiative to encourage Port fans to support separated loved ones with a free bottle of the good stuff. The ‘Fortify a Friend’ campaign has the aim of bringing friends together and funding mental health outreach. To get involved, UK consumers can purchase a six-bottle case of premium port from Churchill’s website or a mixed case of Churchill’s Port from the online Bar Douro Bottle Shop and the brand will do the rest, by sending a complimentary bottle of port to a nominated friend, who you think could use some support and/or fortification. The gifted bottles will come with a personalised note with the campaign illustration sending cheer to a friend and 10% of sales proceeds will be donated to Mind charity in the UK, and CASA in Porto, providing mental health support to vulnerable groups in isolation. These contributions will be put directly to use at this moment, to fund emergency mental health calls in the UK and providing meals and mental health support to the homeless in Porto. “In these times of isolation, many of us can feel alone in our struggles,” said Zoe Graham, director of sales and marketing for Churchill’s. “We wanted to do something positive to address this in our own way since Port is all about connection. At our best, we brighten spirits and bring people together. That’s not essential, but right now it seems like a good idea.” You can purchase your Port right here

The Nightcap

We love to see the industry coming together in tougher times.

Introducing, 50 Best for Recovery

The organisation behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and The World’s 50 Best Bars has launched a joint campaign called 50 Best for Recovery! It aims to provide financial relief for the hospitality industry throughout the pandemic, as well as resources for coming out the other side (whenever that may be). The launch comes after the sad news that the event programme for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 (originally due to take place in Antwerp in June) has, like many events, been postponed until 2021. The programme is composed of a few elements. Firstly, the 50 Best Recovery Fund, launched with the founding donors S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna and Perrier, aiding the survival and eventual revival of restaurants and bars. Then, there’s the 50 Best ‘Bid for Recovery’ auction in June, a fund-raising initiative offering gastronomic aficionados the opportunity to bid for top-notch experiences from the restaurants and bars featured on the 50 Best lists! It’s no surprise that there’s an online presence too, with 50 Best Recovery Hubs, a source of advice, information and creative inspiration. We love to see the industry coming together in tougher times. Check it all out over on their Instagram!

The Nightcap

Miles Beale,  Nightcap regular and CEO of the WSTA

And finally… It’s back to Brexit for the WSTA

With the hospitality industry reeling from the effects of a Covid lockdown with no end in sight, the Brexit wars of last year seem a long time ago. Not for Miles Beale from the WSTA. The transition period ends on 31 December and he has written to Michael Gove setting out ways the Government can help the UK’s £50 billion drinks industry when we leave the EU’s regulatory framework in 2021. The general idea set out on a new website called Trade 21 should be to make trade as frictionless as possible and make sure any new regulations do not hinder the industry. Proposals include: a two year implementation period for labelling changes; suspend import certificates on all wine temporarily; remove unnecessary regulation that stifles innovation, and the UK should join the World Wine Trade Group. Beale commented: “While we stand fully behind the Government’s aim of securing a comprehensive future partnership agreement with the EU, many of the outcomes we are proposing are not dependent on securing a deal nor would there be any loss of negotiating capital if the Government were to support UK businesses now in the ways we suggest.” He went on to say: “By committing to act now, the Government would provide a welcome boost to the sector in these unprecedented and uncertain times. The wine and spirit industry is in a good position to take advantage of the new opportunities leaving the EU presents, but if the Government doesn’t deliver it will be venturing into a new trading landscape with its hands tied behind its back.” Let’s hope the letter doesn’t disappear into Gove’s already rather full in-tray. 

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

1) What percentage of corn is required to classify a spirit as bourbon? 

Answer: 51%

2) Which of these isn’t a cider apple?

Answer: Foxton’s Surprise

3) What condiment is used in a Breakfast Martini?

Answer: Orange marmalade

4) Which member of the Royal Family described Chateau Palmer as ‘holy Palmer’s kiss’? 

Answer: George IV

5) Who wrote the Savoy Cocktail book?

Answer: Harry Craddock

6) The family of Charles Tanqueray, founder of the eponymous gin brand, were originally from which country?

Answer: France

7) The ship the Cutty Sark was built to transport what? 

Answer: Tea.

8) Which island produces wines which are thought to be the longest-lasting? 

Answer: Madeira

9) Which former music industry mogul launched his own brand of rum in 2008?

Answer: Chris Blackwell

10) Which of these isn’t a grape allowed in Champagne? Semillon

Answer: Semillon

No Comments on The Nightcap: 7 May

The Nightcap: 13 September

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

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

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

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

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

The Nightcap

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

Glenrothes launches first-ever 40 Year Old whisky

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

World’s first Scotch whisky cask bass drum created

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

The Nightcap

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

The Kyoto Distillery releases Ki No Jyu gin

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

The Nightcap

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

640East launches new Bubbles Menu

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

The Nightcap

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

WSTA announces full line up for 2019 Industry Summit

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

The Nightcap

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

Guinness and nightlife app DUSK offer free pints in London

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

The Nightcap

The brothers gonna work it out

Asterley Bros crowdfunds expansion

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

The Nightcap

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

Bloomsbury Club Bar launches occult cocktail menu

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

Bartenders make music in new Bacardi video

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

The Nightcap

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

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

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

1 Comment on The Nightcap: 13 September

The Nightcap: 31 May

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap! This week for us, and we’re sure…

It might have been our final short week until August, but the barrage of booze news didn’t let up – it’s The Nightcap!

This week for us, and we’re sure for many of you, was Fèis Ìle week. A seven-day extravaganza of delicious Islay-based booze, bands and banter. You’ve probably noticed on the blog this week Kristy and co. enjoying the spoils of another fantastic Fèis Ìle, from an action-packed ‘Day 0’, to all sorts of wonderful adventures with Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and Islay Ales, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardnahoe and Kilchoman. And there’s still more to come!

Elsewhere on the blog we announced the winner of our Cotswolds Distillery competition! Adam then reported on the new Macallan whisky that has entered the world, before enjoying the fourth batch of Dingle single malt, our New Arrival of the Week, and finding time to celebrate Ableforth’s eighth birthday. Meanwhile, Annie talked Ketel One vodka and Henry made The Long Sloe Summer his Cocktail of the Week. Ian Buxton also asked some big questions in his guest column inspired by The Macallan Archival Series.

Now, onto the news!

The Nightcap

Introducing: Whyte & Mackay Light

Whyte & Mackay Light launches low-ABV ‘spirit drink’

Yes, you read that correctly. This is not new whisky from Whyte & Mackay. Instead, this is a spirit drink, created in an attempt to appeal to new consumers in a reaction to the growing popularity of lower ABV drinks. It’s a trend we’ve certainly noticed here at MoM Towers, so it’s little surprise to see more and more drink producers embrace it. The new product, Whyte & Mackay Light, was bottled at 21.5% ABV, which means that it cannot be legally labelled as whisky, which has a minimum ABV requirement of 40%. Hence the term ‘spirit drink’ being used in this case. “We’re continually looking at trends in drinks and listening to our consumers across the UK, which is why we’re delighted to announce the launch of Whyte & Mackay Light,” said Ruairi Perry, head of brand at Whyte & Mackay. “It’s a different product, built with the same younger, lighter consumer in mind. We see a different type of drinking occasion emerging – and Whyte & Mackay Light has been developed to satisfy that occasion.” Whyte & Mackay Light will launch in early June, and is expected to set you back £12.

The Nightcap

The fabulous Craft Cocktails range!

That Boutique-y Gin Company launches ready-to-drink Craft Cocktails

That Boutique-y Gin Company has launched a new canned range of craft cocktails made using the brand’s delicious gins mixed with a host of interesting ingredients. Craft Cocktails, which will be available this summer, will also come in keg form so the on-trade can take advantage of the growing opportunities found within draught cocktails. An initial wave of five variants will be released, including Moonshot Gin and Citrus Tonic, Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin Mule, Cherry Gin and Craft Cola, Strawberry & Balsamico Gin Fizz and Squeezed Yuzu Gin Collins. The Boutique-y team has briefed that it will embrace an approach to the category akin to craft brewing and so expect the range to continuously evolve with future variants, one off batches, collaborations and seasonal lines in the pipeline. “We want more people to have access to interesting drinks in more places. We know that drinkers are looking for increasingly exciting and sophisticated flavour combinations, and that putting these in cans or on draught will allow both retailers and bars to satisfy the demands of convenience and ease of service without compromising on flavour,” TBGC’s Selina Raggett explains. “For the cans, we’ve embraced the true Boutique-y style at its boldest, moving away from the traditional gin in a tin look and feel. That Boutique-y Gin Company is well known for pushing the boundaries with exciting releases and new flavours, and the Craft Cocktails will continue this ethos. We’re already working on an exciting wave of new releases!” While the Craft Cocktails range has launched with gin, we will also get to see That Boutique-y Whisky Company and That Boutique-y Rum Company get a chance to shine in a ready-to-drink format in the future.

The Nightcap

The future is here. And it’s boozy

Grey Goose launches world’s first sub-zero draught cocktail tap system

Grey Goose has its pioneering boots on this week, it seems. The vodka producers have responded to the current trend for ‘tapped’ and ‘draught’ cocktails by creating the world’s first sub-zero draught tap system. In a move designed to put premium vodka at the forefront of innovation within the drinks industry, Grey Goose has attempted to come up with an innovative solution to revolutionise cocktail culture with a system that can provide consistently delicious cocktails for any occasion. The draught cocktail tap system was designed to allow for a variety of drinks to be served with quickly and with ease to exacting standards, all at sub-zero temperatures. It can be charged with nitrogen to add a rich and creamy texture to your Espresso Martini, for example. “We began with the desire to be able to create innovative drink serves in a way that has never been seen or done before,” commented Marc Plumridge, the European programming director at Bacardi who drove the development of the draught tap system. “The cutting edge technology used delivers spectacular cocktails, dispensed at speed, all housed within a transparent casing – allowing individuals to have a full view of the technology at work.” To launch this new technology, Grey Goose has invited consumers to see the system in action at The 12th Knot rooftop bar on London’s Southbank from Friday 31st May – 2nd June.

The Nightcap

Limited edition private cask bottlings could be yours…

Bimber Distillery debuts founder’s club

This week, London’s Bimber Distillery announced that it’s formed its very own Founders’ Club, and they’re taking applications now! Very swanky. This means that it will release a limited number of private casks for members to purchase. All of this is in celebration of the distillery’s first whisky casks finally reaching their third birthday. If you sign up, you can expect your first exclusive cask strength single malt in December this year. Among other treats, members will also be able to purchase their own 30 litre cask (for the meagre price of £895), filled with either Bimber’s peated or non-peated new make spirit, which after maturing at the distillery for three years, will eventually set them up nicely with around 49 bottles of whisky. The club aims to bring together people who “want to be part of a distillery whose mission is to produce true handcrafted whisky”, says sales director Farid Shawish. “Our members will always be welcome for a chat, and their input will play an important part in shaping the future of Bimber Distillery.” Membership will set you back £395.

The Nightcap

Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA

WSTA claims the drinks industry is ‘vulnerable’ to no-deal Brexit

Following the announcement that Theresa May will step down as UK prime minister on 7 June, with no replacement named, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned that the industry “remains vulnerable to a disastrous no-deal scenario”. The latest Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Commons three times in the weeks running up to the original scheduled exit date at the end of March. Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA, has branded May’s Brexit approach as “neither clearly defined nor successful”, adding that “as a result we remain vulnerable to a disastrous ‘no-deal’ scenario. A change of leadership neither provides our industry with the answers it needs, nor change the WSTA’s long stated position – which is for the government to deliver an outcome that allows this industry to continue international trade in its products without delays, barriers or additional costs.” Beale also commented that a no-deal scenario “has never been categorically taken off the table” and that it is “imperative that a new leader confirms that the UK will not leave without a deal and moves quickly to find a solution”. As a result of the current situation, Beale has claimed that nearly 80% of the trade body’s members had made preparations for the original exit date of 29 March and will have to prepare again ahead of the new Brexit date on 31 October. He said: “It’s difficult for businesses to determine the exact cost of Brexit contingency planning, including stockpiling and other measures, but we have heard estimates ranging from £20,000 to £5 million.”

The Nightcap

Maison Brillet, a family vineyard in the heart of the Cognac region

Rémy Cointreau to buy Maison de Cognac JR Brillet

French drinks group Rémy Cointreau has announced this week that it has entered into negotiations to purchase Maison de Cognac JR Brillet from the Brillet family. While financial terms have not been disclosed, it is understood that the deal would also include part of the Brillet family’s vineyard estate which is located in the village of Graves-Saint-Armant and has a history which dates back to the 17th century. Rémy Cointreau’s interest in Maison JR Brillet is motivated by the chance to “integrate spirits with genuine development potential into its portfolio” and increase its inventory of eaux-de-vie and vineyards “of the highest quality”. The signing of the deal, which is subject to administrative procedures, is expected to take place in autumn 2019. The news comes off the back of positive full-year sales that Rémy Cointreau posted last month which showed a growth of 7.8% in 2018/19, driven by a double-digit gain for its Cognac portfolio, with the Rémy Martin Cognac brand proving to be the standout.

The Nightcap

The new Plymouth Gin bottling, which we enjoyed a delightful tasting session!

Plymouth Gin launches special edition craft gin from 177-year-old recipe

There are so many new gins emerging all the time it can be difficult for a drinks producer to stand out amongst the crowd. Plymouth Gin may well have just done that, however, with Mr King’s 1842 Recipe, the first special edition in a series of craft gins made to celebrate the spirit of exploration. It was distilled using a recipe found deep within the vaults at the Plymouth Black Friars distillery (the oldest gin distillery in England) that dates back to 1842. That was 177 years ago, people. Master distiller Sean Harrison has reimagined the recipe to create a new product and thanks to the technological advancements in gin production today, he was able to replicate the distillation process that was attempted in 1842, with even more precision. Mr King’s 1842 Recipe was made with just two ingredients – orris root and handpicked juniper from a single harvest day in the mountains of Frontignano, Italy, after Plymouth uncovered the original sales record that linked the purchase of juniper to the renowned Italian region over 170 years ago. Due to the hyper-local sourcing of the ingredients, this one of a kind gin cannot be reproduced. “Mr King’s 1842 Recipe is a truly one-off craft gin that we will never be able to recreate again. Even if we were to visit the same Italian hillside next year, the climate and harvest conditions would affect the juniper resulting in a different taste profile,” Harrison explained. “At a time when other brands are using many different botanicals throughout the distillation process, Mr King’s 1842 Recipe focuses on just two and the result is something very special.” We went to a tasting of this delightful drink and can confirm that it’s as delicious as it sounds!

These tariffs are not good news for the booze industry

US tariffs impact agave-based spirits and EU booze

In concerning news this week, US president Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 5% tariff on all imported goods from Mexico from 10 June, including Tequila and Mezcal, in response to what was termed the “illegal migration crisis” at the US-Mexico border. Trump was quoted in a statement posted on the White House website saying he was “invoking the authorities granted to me by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act” in order to “address the emergency at the southern border”. The US president has also warned that if the ‘crisis’ persists, tariffs will be raised to 10% on July 1, 2019, 15% on 1 August, 20% on 1 September and 25% on 1 October if the US is still not satisfied that Mexico has taken the action it requests. This follows news from just yesterday, which revealed that trade bodies in the US have called for the removal of EU spirits from proposed retaliatory tariffs from the States in response to an ongoing dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US has been embroiled in a “long-standing” spat with the WTO over civil aircraft subsidies and, on 8 April, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) revealed a draft list of EU products that could be hit by retaliatory tariffs which included alcohol. Trade groups representing the alcohol industry in the US, including the Distilled Spirits Council, have made it clear they oppose such tariffs, however, commenting that they “strongly oppose the inclusion of beverage alcohol production” and that they are “gravely concerned that this escalation would compound the negative impact of the tariffs on a sector that is already feeling the damaging impact resulting from unrelated trade disputes.” The groups, which include alcohol suppliers, wholesalers, importers and retailers, have quoted industry analysis which warns the proposed retaliatory tariffs could affect almost US$6.8 billion worth of imports and could result in a loss of between 6,600 and 45,800 US jobs. Hopefully we’ll have better news on these matters in the future.

The Nightcap

The Johnnie & Ginger, a light and summery treat

Johnnie Walker celebrates National BBQ Week with Berber & Q

Johnnie Walker and East London BBQ restaurant Berber & Q have teamed up to create a new cocktail for National BBQ Week (it’s a thing, a very important thing). The limited edition Johnnie & Ginger, made by barbecue pioneer and Berber & Q founder Josh Katz, was designed to complement al fresco dining, summer sunshine and BBQ food, particularly Berber’s Joojeh Chicken Kebab, as Katz explains, “the smokiness of the charred chicken is offset by the smooth whisky and is given a spicy lift by the inclusion of ginger ale.” The light and summery Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is available at Berber & Q Grill House from 27th May – 2nd June and priced at £9. Katz describes it as “a taste experience and the perfect start to a barbecue.” But don’t fear if you don’t manage to get a table at Berber & Q, the Johnnie & Ginger cocktail is easily recreated at home. All you need to do is mix 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black, 15ml of lime juice, 35ml of pressed Granny Smith apple juice and a little pinch of Zaatar, which you’ll shake with one ice cube for no longer than 5 seconds. Then place the mix in a highball glass filled with ice and top with 35ml of ginger ale. Garnish with a dehydrated apple wheel and mint sprig, and there you have it!

The whisky takes its name from Lake Samilpo

And finally… North Korea launches its own whisky

Reports have emerged this week that suggest that North Korea has distilled its own brand of whisky and plans to launch it at the end of this year. According to the South Korean Hankook Ilbo newspaper, this would be the first time the country has produced whisky, although it’s worth noting that it has not been mentioned yet in North Korea’s own media. The source of the story is the Young Pioneer Tours tourism company, based in China, which specialises in visits to North Korea and other places that “your mother would rather you stay away from”. The tour operator claims to have laid its hands on a couple of bottles of the elusive spirit and described Samilpo’s design as “closely resembling” that of Johnnie Walker, a “well-recognised whisky in North Korea”. According to Pioneer Tours, Samilpo, which takes its name from the lake near Mount Kumgang, will launch three expressions: a ‘40% ABV black label edition, a 42% ABV red label edition and a 45 edition which has not been bottled yet. It is not known what types of grain that goes into the spirit, or how old it is. It has also been reported that the owner of Samilpo hopes to export the whisky to other countries once North Korea’s ‘political situation’ improves. You’re not likely to get your hands on some anytime soon, for those who might have been intrigued.

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The Nightcap: 15 March

Rock, rye and Bristol – that’s what The Nightcap is about this week (among other things. There are many, many other things, too). Time to dig in! Spring is here….

Rock, rye and Bristol – that’s what The Nightcap is about this week (among other things. There are many, many other things, too). Time to dig in!

Spring is here. Kinda. Meteorological spring has been here for a while, but astronomical spring is kicking off next Wednesday. Also, the weather has still been a bit grim. We’re in a bit of a weird mini-season, which we’re going to call wing, partly because it’s the words winter and spring smooshed together, and partly as an homage to Wings, the band The Beatles could have been. Anyway, kick start your wonderful wing weekend with our weekly round-up of booze news – it’s The Nightcap!

Here’s what has been happening on the MoM Blog this week. Our Annie chatted to Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey’s Tony Carroll and then showed off our Cocktail of the Week – The Shallow Negroni. Henry started up a new weekly feature for the blog focusing on exciting new arrivals at MoM Towers, and then did a spot of reading (whiskey-related reading, of course). Kristy caught up on all things Irish whiskey with Irish Distillers master blender Billy Leighton, and had a look at the plans for Gordon & MacPhail’s upcoming distillery. Adam then checked out the new series of photogenic whiskies from Berry Bros. & Rudd. Good stuff all around.

Now. On with the news!

Pernod Ricard

Will Pernod Ricard follow in the footsteps of Diageo and sell its wine brands?

Is Pernod Ricard about to sell its wine brands?

This week, we’re kicking off The Nightcap by dipping our toes into the world of reports, speculation and rumour – but if true, this development could significantly shape the structure of the global wine industry. On 13 March, Bloomberg reported that Pernod Ricard, best-known perhaps for its Jameson, The Glenlivet, Beefeater, and Havana Club spirits brands, is thinking about selling off its wine division. Why is this significant? Because its wine portfolio includes the likes of Jacob’s Creek and Campo Viejo, some of the biggest wine brands in the world. Pernod Ricard itself is tight-lipped, but if it does decide to sell up, it wouldn’t be the first spirits-maker to sharpen its focus on spirits by sacking off the wine. In 2015, Diageo offloaded its Chateau and Estate wine brands to Treasury Wine Estates, and in 2017, Campari Group sold off the Château de Sancerre winery, its final foothold in wine. Will Pernod Ricard follow suit? We’ll have to wait and see – probably with a glass of wine in-hand.

WSTA Brexit

Brexit is difficult and confusing. Booze? Now that we understand…

WSTA ‘delighted’ by apparent Brexit delay

If you’ve had one eye on UK politics this week, you’ll know there’s been a right load of drama. Votes left, right and centre, rebellious MPs, and more confusion than how and why Stonehenge was built – it’s been a palaver and a half. One group who have some sort of handle on what it all means for drinks is the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). On Wednesday, the day after Theresa May’s deal was thrown out (again), Miles Beale, WSTA chief exec, said the drinks trade faced “deeper uncertainty, and for longer”. He continued: “We welcome the decision that there would be a temporary suspension of tariffs on wine and most spirits under ‘No Deal’,” adding that more action was needed to keep the booze industry flowing. He was in chirpier spirits on Thursday though, when he said the WSTA was “delighted” to see ‘No Deal’ off the table. But is it actually? Beale said it was “imperative” for the government to pass emergency legislation before 29 March, the UK’s current leaving date. Still confused? Us too. “The wine and spirit industry still lacks clarity as to what the trading landscape will look like when we do leave the EU,” Beale continued. Can we have some of that clarity too, please?

Foo Fighters

It’s Times Like These you learn to love bourbon! Image: Andreas Lawen

Foo Fighters named Bourbon & Beyond headliners

Like your bourbon with a side of rock and folk? Then you’d better head on down to Louisville, Kentucky from 20-22 September. Annual festival Bourbon & Beyond, founded by whiskey author Fred Minnick and music exec Danny Wimmer, is a celebration of bourbon, music and food (throw in cats and you’ll have our top four all-time favourites), and this week the line-up was announced. Top of the bill? The Foo Fighters! Other acts include John Fogerty, The Flaming Lips, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and loads more, including one big name yet to be revealed. The bourbon line-up is also pretty impressive. Festival-goers will be able to sample more than 40 brands, including the likes of Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, Coopers’ Craft, Evan Williams, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, Michter’s, Old Forester, Wild Turkey, WL Weller, and Woodford Reserve. Blenders and distillers will be on hand to dish out info about their brands, and there’s a full programme of masterclasses, too. Tickets go on sale today, 15 March! Time to book some flights…

Aber Falls

All smiles at Aber Falls distilling Wales’s first rye

Aber Falls distils Wales’s first rye!

Rye whisky fans, we bring you glad tidings: Aber Falls has distilled its first ever rye whisky! It seems that Aber Falls is a distillery of firsts, as it is also the first whisky distillery that North Wales has seen for over 100 years. The distillery has been producing new-make malt spirit for just little over a year, since January 2018. Of course, the rye whisky will only be available from 2020, once it’s mature. Though it appears rye is the first of many plans, as the distillery is aiming to put itself on the world whisky map, building a portfolio fit for the next 20 years. Innovation is key to the distillery and James Wright, managing director at Aber Falls stated that this addition of a rye whisky “allows us to bring into the fold whisky drinkers beginning their journey of experimentation”. For both new and seasoned whisky drinkers, this is fantastic news from those Aber Falls folks.

legent

Introducing: Legent, which you will find at MoM Towers later this year…

Meet Legent, a bourbon where ‘East meets West’

When Japan’s Suntory Holdings snapped up US-based Beam, Inc. in 2014, it was a very stark union of East and West. And this accord is now playing out in actual whiskey! Behold Legent (pronounced ‘lee-jent’), an unusual bourbon developed jointly by Fred Noe, seventh-generation Jim Beam master distiller, and Shinji Fukuyo, the chief blender at Suntory whisky, and only the fifth person to ever hold the role. Legent starts life as a Kentucky straight bourbon made with a classic Beam recipe. It’s then aged in wine and sherry casks, before being blended with more straight bourbon for a “perfectly balanced yet complex and layered” tipple. Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings CEO, described the expression as “the perfect articulation of the amazing things that can be achieved when two great cultures come together as one”. We’re intrigued – but might have to wait a bit to taste it. Legent is due to land a MoM Towers later this year.

Circumstance Distillery

The “unashamedly funky” Circumstance Distillery

Circumstance distillery releases saison yeast spirit

You want innovation? The team at Circumstance Distillery in Bristol has it coming out of their ears. Not content with offering pre-sales with their very own cryptocurrency, the team is now pushing the envelope with the first release. Called Circumstantial Barley, it will be made from 100% British malted barley. Doesn’t sound so crazy does it? The interesting thing is the fermentation process. In addition to distillers yeast, the team is using a French saison beer yeast, and the whole lot ferments for nearly two weeks. Most distilleries are all done within two days. The resulting wash is packed full of flavour. It’s then put through a short column still and, according to head distiller Mark Scot, aged for “six months on a combination of charred bespoke oak spindles and first-fill bourbon casks”. The result? “A beautiful raw spirit, and our short ageing techniques allows the quality of the raw spirit to shine through,” he continued. Co-founder Danny Walker added: “We have thrown out the rule book and are focusing on flavour over tradition and experimenting with every step of the process to make a ‘new world’-style spirit.” It will be bottled 45% ABV and cost £44 for 700ml bottle. Circumstance has a rye and an “unashamedly funky” (who is ashamed of being funky?) white rum in the pipeline. We want to try them all!

Waterford Distillery

Say hello to Hunter (the barley, not the person)

Waterford Distillery successfully makes spirit from heritage Hunter barley

Those barley- and terroir-obsessed Waterford folks are at the grain experimentation game again – this time with a spirited outcome! This week the distillery successfully distilled 10,000 litres of spirit – 50 barrels-worth – from a barley varietal that’s not been available to distillers for 40 years. The grain in question is called Hunter, named after a chap called Herbert Hunter who worked in barley breeding at Ireland’s Cereal Station (cool name, vital work). Hunter (the barley, not the person) was introduced in 1959, but was last used in 1979 when it fell out of favour as other strains provided better yields. So why bring it back now? It’s all part of efforts, led by the Waterford team, to take a flavour-focused approach to barley selection, rather than solely focusing on how much booze it generates. “Contrary to what much of the industry is telling drinkers, flavour starts with the grain and the terroir in which it’s grown,” said Neil Conway, Waterford’s head brewer. “Hunter is an old favourite, a very successful variety, so much so that it dominated for 20 years. That’s why we’re working with Minch Malt and our growers – we’re on the hunt for profound sources of flavour, even if that means going back decades to find these forgotten treasures.” Good luck to them! The Hunter development at Waterford follows the production of the ‘world’s first’ biodynamic whiskey at the distillery last year.

Kestin Hare x BenRiach

Those look lovely – and the clothes are nice too…

Kestin Hare x BenRiach collection arrives

We knew that whisky was fashionable, but combining whisky and fashion? That’s new! Scottish menswear designer Kestin Hare has joined forces with BenRiach distillery for his Spring Summer 2019 Collection! It features five different garments inspired by the whisky itself, the Speyside landscape and architecture of BenRiach distillery. The clothing has been dyed with peat, each shade representing a different aged single malt from BenRiach. Peat isn’t the only influence for the collection; inspired by the whisky casks themselves, Hare created a digital print that reflects the colours and patterns seen on the wood. What’s more, the pieces are fully functional for a trip to Speyside! They’re made from water-resistant fabrics inspired by golfing and fishing garments, while the colour scheme, full of golden sand, grass green and peaty tones, is sure to help you blend into the natural surroundings. Or camouflage into a wall full of BenRiach whiskies. It’s up to you. The SS19 collection can be found in store, online and in selected global retailers from today.

Francois Badel and Aldrick John Baptiste

Congrats to Francois Badel and Aldrick John Baptiste!

Francois Badel and Aldrick John Baptiste named Mai Tai Champions

How’s that for a title – Mai Tai Champion? Well, we now have two new ones following the conclusion of the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai Challenge 2019. What is such a challenge? The Saint Lucian rum brand whisked a whole host of talented bartenders to the island’s Rodney Bay (aka, paradise) to put them through their paces. This was after heats in France, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and the US, so we know we’re dealing with the world’s best here. Each bartender was then paired up with a local St Lucian bartender to collaborate on creating an incredible original Mai Tai-like serve using local ingredients and Chairman’s Reserve as a base. Each pair then had to present their creation to a panel, demonstrating the culture of St Lucia at the same time. And France’s Francois Badel and St Lucia’s Aldrick John Baptiste were named champions! “I was taken aback by the passion these skilful bartenders had for Chairman’s Reserve,” said Margaret Monplaisir, St Lucia Distillers managing director. “Their attention to every detail, their enthusiasm, and knowledge of Chairman’s Reserve was remarkable.” Mai Tai, anyone?

And finally… Joss Stone performs in North Korea as part of ultimate bar crawl

Yep, you read that right. Pop singer Joss Stone, best known for early noughties tunes such as Fell in Love with a Boy and You Had Me, has taken to the stage in a North Korean bar, of all places. Two questions: why; and, surely this isn’t newsworthy?! Bear with us. Stone is embarking on a literal world tour, or in her words, “to bring loveliness in the form of music to every single country on our planet”. It’s a noble effort. She’s already sung in Syria. And why is it newsworthy? We all have ambitions: to drink in every watering hole in town (responsibly, of course); visit as many breweries as possible; enjoy a dram at every Islay distillery. We reckon performing in every country in the world, taking in its many myriad bars as you go, is the stuff of dreams. It’s something we’d certainly sign up for if we could hold a tune. And the more adventurous of us would include North Korea in that…

On that note, have excellent weekends, folks!

No Comments on The Nightcap: 15 March

The Nightcap: 18 January

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to…

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to drink. Yes, it’s time for… The Nightcap!

This week we went Robert Burns crazy with the launch of our poetry competition. We’ve already been inundated with entries, and the winner will be announced on Burns Night itself (25 January.) Then continuing with the Burns theme, Adam rounded up some Scotch whiskies that would have brought a smile to the Bard’s face. Annie looked at some unusual bottles: rye whiskies from Britain, and peat-smoked spirits from everywhere except Scotland (not sure Burns would have approved.) Our Cocktail of the Week was that tiki classic, the Zombie. Kristy visited the Wolfburn Distillery and spoke to top glass maker Denver Cramer about how to get the most out of your nose.

Lots to get your teeth into! And now it’s time for booze news. Here we go!

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London distillers lead the UK’s gin obsession!

Though longstanding, the relationship between London and gin has not always been the healthiest. While city dwellers have not quite harked back to 18th-century-Gin-Craze level fixation (a relief for everyone,…

Though longstanding, the relationship between London and gin has not always been the healthiest. While city dwellers have not quite harked back to 18th-century-Gin-Craze level fixation (a relief for everyone, frankly), their reinvigorated thirst for junipery goodness is almost as unquenchable.

Encouraged by this so-called gin renaissance, distillers have been setting up shop in their droves on both sides of the Thames. The big smoke is now home to 24 gin distilleries*, equivalent to one fifth of the total number in England, which is more than existed in the entire country back in the comparatively gin-dry year of 2010.

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