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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

The Nightcap: 23 July

Dwayne Johnson’s Tequila bus, 70,000 free Pistonhead Beers, and Kraken Rum’s protest ice cream all make an appearance in another cracker of a Nightcap.  Good afternoon folks. We hope you’ve…

Dwayne Johnson’s Tequila bus, 70,000 free Pistonhead Beers, and Kraken Rum’s protest ice cream all make an appearance in another cracker of a Nightcap. 

Good afternoon folks. We hope you’ve all survived the wacky weather and got to enjoy the full return of the hospitality industry. Tomorrow just so happens to be National Tequila Day, so you’ve got even more of an excuse to keep the good times going. You might have noticed that we spent a fair amount of time this week celebrating this event. This is because Tequila is tremendous and we’ll never pass up a chance to chat all about how much we love it. 

This is why we’ve been doing that on the blog the last few days. We put together a competition with El Rayo Tequila, enjoyed a Tommy’s Margarita, welcomed Volcan Tequila and recommended some cracking Tequila cocktails that you may not have tried. Our content wasn’t all agave-based, however. Henry revisited Copper Rivet’s distillery to observe its impressive operation, Ian Buxton was charmed, Millie demonstrated how to make the most of her favourite soft drink, iced tea, and Adam tasted a blend of whisky and rum, before looking at what to expect from the exciting O’Shaughnessy Distillery.  

On the Clubhouse App, meanwhile, we’ve got rum on our minds as we delve into some of the challenges the category faces with guests Peter Holland, Gayle Seale and Philip Everett-Lyons at 3pm. Do join us!

Now on with the Nightcap: 23 July edition!

The Nightcap: 23 July

Dwayne Johnson’s Tequila brand will tour the US in this beauty

National Tequila Day success for Clooney, The Rock, and Kylie Jenner

Ok, last thing on National Tequila Day. Promise. But we couldn’t help but notice there were a lot of stories this week about how the industry is thriving at the moment. Celebrity-backed brands, in particular, are enjoying the spoils of this success. First, Casamigos Tequila revealed it is now a million-case-a-year brand, hitting the sales milestone at the end of 2020. Founders George Clooney and Rande Gerber sold the brand to drinks giant Diageo in 2017 for US$1 billion, but are still involved in what appears to be an incredible investment all-around. The same is true of Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila, which has already exceeded the figures forecast for its first two years of business in the two months since its launch in May, according to the company’s president. Celebrity publication Page Six even claimed that stores had sold out of stock within four hours of its first release. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson meanwhile, is spreading the word about his brand Teremana Tequila with a road trip. The ‘Great American Mana Mobile Road Trip’ will tour across the United States, calling at military bases, firehouses, hospitals, and other locations to show gratitude to the nation’s first responders. The Tequila tour bus will also visit main streets across America to encourage the public to support local businesses while serving Teremana-based cocktails, where allowed, and dishes including brioche French toast with Teremana Tequila-infused maple syrup.

The Nightcap: 23 July

You can expect Ian Burrell to be in top form as usual

RumFest returns with new Spiced Rum Show

We got wonderful news from the folks at London-based RumFest this week: it’s back in non-virtual form! Yes, organisers expect to welcome more than 3,000 actual human people across 15-17 October at the ILEC Conference Centre in west London following 2020’s mostly virtual event. The festival, founded by rum expert Ian Burrell, will host a trade exclusive day on the 15th, providing an opportunity to sample new and rare rums, network and attend educational talks. On the 16th, consumers can then enjoy demonstrations, tastings and talks from distillers and blenders, as well as live music, dancing and food. A line-up of digital events will also be available for those who are not able to attend in person. Finally, on 17 October, the festival will hold its first dedicated Spiced Rum Show. RumFest will once again serve as the culmination of London Rum Week (11-17 October), in which partner bars and restaurants across the city will host consumer events, including special menus, cocktails, pop-ups and supper clubs. The full line-up of events can be found at londonrumweek.com. If you want to pick up tickets for RumFest Live, they are available from rumfest.co.uk for £30, with ‘Golden Tot’ tokens for samples of particularly high-end rums are available to purchase for £5 each. 

The Nightcap: 23 July

The new expression has just arrived here!

The Balvenie unveils new 25-year-old whisky

When The Balvenie releases new whisky, we stand up and take note. The brand and malt master David C. Stewart MBE rarely does things by half measures and the newest expression is no exception. The Balvenie Twenty-Five will form part of the Rare Marriages range, a tribute to Stewart’s dedication to designing and building exceptional flavour through the marriage of rare casks and will join the acclaimed The Balvenie Thirty and The Balvenie Forty within the collection. The Speyside distillery tells us to expect a dram packed with soft autumn fruits, runny honey, crystallised ginger, bold vanilla oak, layers of toasted marshmallow, fresh fruit terrine and cinnamon-infused apple tart, complete with an exceptionally long-lasting sweetness. Stewart says the expression is made from casks that have “stood the important test of time” and that this “special whisky has a distinct profile and experience which we have designed to reveal the wonderful depth of The Balvenie single malt.” You don’t have to take his word for it, however, as we have some. Look. Just click here. Wonderful, isn’t it?

The Nightcap: 23 July

Gregg Glass heads up the innovative initiative

Whyte & Mackay expands its Scottish Oak Programme 

Whyte & Mackay’s exciting Scottish Oak Programme is getting even more love, according to the brand, which will expand its efforts across all its distilleries. The aim is to establish the use of native oak as a quality raw material for the wider spirits industry, starting with Scotch. Spearheaded by master whisky maker Gregg Glass, the programme aims to address some of the historical challenges around working with Scottish oak, such as porosity, quality, consistency of the wood, and cost versus true value. Inspired by his time exploring local sawmills with his Grandfather on the Black Isle, Glass wanted to explore how to harness the local environment and the programme is part of Whyte & Mackay’s commitment to sustainability. The responsible sourcing of Scottish Oak allows full traceability and will create tree planting initiatives in rural and urban communities as well as helping support forest stewardship across Scotland. Glass has been leading this project since he joined Whyte and Mackay in 2016, developing partnerships with organisations like local landowning estates, sawmills and coopers. We’re really looking forward to seeing how it develops from there.

The Nightcap: 23 July

You can be in with a chance of winning a pair of these unique trainers

1800 Tequila launches pop-up with streetwear artist Daniel Cordas

Hand painting artist Daniel Cordas, who counts the likes of Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, and Stormzy as fans, is teaming up with 1800 Tequila for a cool little collaboration next month. A visitor experience will launch at 15 Bateman Street in Soho, London on 14 and 15 August, from 11am to 7pm that will offer those that attend the chance to customise their own trainers from a curated menu of designs while enjoying 1800 Tequila cocktails (that’s cocktails by the brand 1800, not literally 1,800 different serves). Visitors can also collar Tequila educator Oliver Pergl for a tequila masterclass, while limited-edition pieces from merging sustainable streetwear brands will be featured. The main event, however, is the three trainers Cordas will customise ahead of the event with colours inspired by Tequila cocktails. He’ll use bright blue for the Tequila and Tonic, pinky-orange for the Paloma and lemon-lime for the Margarita, each infused with real splashes of 1800 Tequila. These one-of-a-kind trainers will be on display at the event and be awarded to three lucky winners. To be in with the chance to win a hand-painted bottle of 1800 Tequila or Tequila-inspired trainers, keep an eye on 1800’s Instagram page and you’ll soon be able to enter an online ballot.

The Nightcap: 23 July

If you want to try Luxardo’s new expressions, there’s no better place

Luxardo marks 200th anniversary with booze and a bash

Did you know that Luxardo is turning 200 this year? Yes, the legendary Italian booze maker is celebrating a remarkable anniversary in 2021 and, while the brand won’t be able to do all the things it had planned thanks to the pandemic, that doesn’t mean it can’t throw a party or two. One such bash is taking place at Hush bar & restaurant in Mayfair from 5 July until 30 September 2021, offering the public a season of Italian alfresco drinks and food. In absence of a big party, Luxardo will host a sun-kissed Mediterranean experience with a small masterclass tasting of new products, the Luxardo Antico Aperitivo and the limited edition, prestige Luxardo Maraschino Perla Dry Riserva Bicentenario. We had a chance to attend this week and can say from experience that it’s well worth a visit. And don’t pass up a chance to try the Maraschino Perla Dry Riserva Bicentenario. It’s sublime.

The Nightcap: 23 July

It’s a fantastic gesture. Who doesn’t like free beer?

70,000 free Pistonhead Beers offered to grassroots music venues 

As we’re sure you’re all aware, the last 18 months have been devastating for the hospitality and music sectors, with hundreds of venues closing and thousands of live events and festivals being cancelled. It has been brutal but Pistonhead is doing its bit to offer a helping hand. The leading craft beer specialists is throwing its support behind grassroots venues and the reopening on July 19th by giving away 70,000 free cans of Pistonhead Kustom Lager via an online application. With a resale value in excess of £300k, the donation should help grassroots venues to help get cash in the tills, punters at the bar and musicians back performing. Venues can apply for an allocation of this stock through The Pistonhead Foundation right here. I think we can all agree that this is exactly the kind of initiative we need right now, so kudos to you Pistonhead.

The Nightcap: 23 July

Anyone for ice cream?

And finally… Kraken Rum launches protest ice cream

Kraken Rum has something to say. It’s screaming for clean seas and spreading its message with punk rock attitude and rum. And ice cream. No, really. Partnering with marine conservation charity PADI AWARE Foundation, the rum brand’s ‘Ice Clean’ campaign aims to remind millions of staycationing Brits of the impact of litter on the UK’s oceans and beaches. Each ice cream sold will see £1 contributed to the PADI AWARE Foundation, with Kraken promising to match each and every donation helping to support and build the success of the foundation’s Marine Debris Programme. Bursting with tropical flavours, the Kraken-infused ice cream is black, so you know it’s punk rock still. But you can also expect to bite into flavoured 3D-printed edible toppings representing the top polluters in the ocean, including plastic bags, single-use cutlery, milk cartons, plastic bottles, plastic ring-pulls and aluminium cans. It’s basically like consuming a polluted ocean. Only it tastes like rummy ice cream. Hopefully. If you want to get a taste, Kraken will tour the UK across locations including Manchester, Leeds, Brighton and Glasgow, before finishing at music festival All Points East in London. To find out more about The Kraken’s ‘Ice Clean’, visit the brand’s social media pages, while if you want to donate to the PADI AWARE Foundation, head here

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The Nightcap: 16 July

Friday means one thing around these parts: The Nightcap. Settle in for another jam-packed week of boozy news.  Good afternoon, folks. Or, we should say, good afternoon to anybody who…

Friday means one thing around these parts: The Nightcap. Settle in for another jam-packed week of boozy news. 

Good afternoon, folks. Or, we should say, good afternoon to anybody who has managed to avoid melting into a puddle on their desk chair/couch/novelty racing car bed. It’s a scorcher today, isn’t it? It’s probably about time we acknowledged that the UK is in dire need of a mass installation of air conditioning units in its residences. It can get legitimately warm here in the summer now and frankly, none of us are prepared for it. Although, you just know the moment those units were fitted the sun would run off down under again. So probably best to not tempt fate. Instead, let’s pour a cold drink, settle down and enjoy another edition of The Nightcap. 

The blog was lively as ever this week as we announced a new competition that offers you the chance to win a virtual cocktail party with a guest appearance from Phil Tufnell (hell yeah). Millie then explored the phenomenon of infinity bottles, Lucy explained what gin botanicals do, and Jess found out why ice is the vital element in your drink. Henry was then in a very helpful mood, sharing a recipe for our drink of the summer, running the rule on Glenmorangie’s new mixable malt, and letting you know where to holiday in boozy style without having to travel. 

Meanwhile, our Clubhouse room today will see us delve into the murky world of cask investment as we discuss the rapidly expanding market and its potential pitfalls with our guests Blair Bowman, Louise McGuane, and Kristiane Sherry. Do check it out at 3pm today.

Now, it’s on with the Nightcap: 16 July edition!

The Nightcap

London and Kent beer writer Johnny Homer, who sadly passed away at 56

London and Kent beer historian Johnny Homer dies

We received some really sad news this week as we learned that beer writer and radio personality Johnny Homer died suddenly at the age of 56. Homer will be familiar to Londoners as a regular guest on the Robert Elms show on BBC London talking about beer and history. He was born in Clerkenwell and worked as a music journalist contributing to publications including The Face, NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, and Vox, as well as writing seven books on beer and pubs. Later he moved to Whitstable in Kent with his wife and daughter, and became head of media at Shepherd Neame Brewery in Faversham. Chief executive Jonathan Neame commented: “Johnny was a most valued member of our team. He was a fantastic ambassador for the company, for our beers and pubs, and played a significant role in promoting Shepherd Neame. He will be greatly missed. His loss is a great shock to us all, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.” We were very fortunate enough to have been shown around the brewery by Johnny himself and marveled at his knowledge of beer and Shepherd Neame’s rich history. He also seemed like a thoroughly nice chap as the tributes on Twitter attest. 

The Nightcap

Nc’nean continues to impress with its approach to sustainability.

Nc’nean is first UK whisky distillery to reach net-zero Co2 emissions

Nc’nean has always placed environmental responsibility at the core of its business, but this week the business announced it ramped things up a notch by becoming the first UK whisky distillery to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its production. Beating the official Scotch whisky industry target by a staggering 20 years, distillery founder Annabel Thomas says the move “feels like our greatest achievement so far”. The Highland distillery is 100% powered by renewable energy, and is one of the few Scotch whisky distilleries that uses only certified organic Scottish barley. A biomass boiler is powered by wood chips that heats the stills, and residual carbon emissions are offset through a sustainable tree-planting program. In an industry first, all of Nc’nean’s whisky bottles are made of recycled glass, which reduces the typical carbon footprint of a whisky bottle by 40%. The cooling water is continuously recycled via a natural pond, meaning Nc’nean uses 80% less water than a traditional distillery, and reduces energy use to cool it down. It’s an impressive operation and a great example to others on how to make meaningful change.

The Nightcap

The new look MacNair’s, including Exploration Rum

GlenAllachie Distillery unveils first rum

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company is no longer just home to whisky thanks to its latest innovation. For the first time, the brand has branched into rum with a range of small-batch expressions called Exploration Rum. The three bottlings will be released under The GlenAllachie’s MacNair’s brand, which has been repositioned as a Boutique House of Spirits, complete with a new-look design for its Lum Reek whisky brand. The first rums in the series are a 7 Year Old Peated, a 7 Year Old, and a 15 Year Old made with liquids sourced from Panama. Each expression was initially matured in American oak in Panama before being transported to the GlenAllachie Distillery in Speyside, and is presented at 46% ABV. The peated rum underwent secondary maturation in casks that previously held heavily peated whisky distilled at GlenAllachie, while the 7 Year Old and 15 Year Old were filled into ex-red wine, virgin oak, and ex-bourbon casks for more than two years. The process was overseen by GlenAllachie master blender Billy Walker, who says he is fulfilling a “long-held desire to explore and apply my expertise to a new spirit category”, having already made a sizeable impact in Scotch whisky. He explains that rum was a natural choice for him as, like whisky, “it allows for greater scope of innovation and experimentation, particularly in regard to maturation” and that this trio of rums will “explore the influence of wood, but also the impact of maturation in a cooler climate.” We look forward to seeing the results, which you’ll be able to taste for yourself very soon as Exploration Rum is on its way to MoM Towers as we speak…

The Nightcap

La Bandera, the new bar’s signature cocktail

Award-winning Hacha bar announces second site

Why have one excellent agave-focused bar when you can have two? This is the question industry veterans Deano Moncrieffe and Emma Murphy presumably asked themselves recently, as the duo have excitedly announced they are opening a second Hacha location in Brixton’s Market Row. The original location in Dalston opened in 2019 and now Moncrieffe and Murphy are bringing their unique brand of agave-based drinks and authentic Mexican food to South London. Hacha has garnered acclaim for its striking signature serve, the Mirror Margarita, and its comprehensive list of Tequilas, mezcals, and other distillates. Set to launch next month, the new venue sprawls over two floors, with a bottle shop on the ground floor, and a 50-cover bar and an open kitchen upstairs – the latter will be run by Maiz Azul, the residency behind the food at Hacha Dalston. Moncrieffe has also developed a new drink that will act as the bar’s signature: La Bandera, a twist on the classic Mexican three-shot drink. The serve features three mini cocktails, each with a different agave spirit base, in the colours of the Mexican flag. The duo also plan on contributing beyond spirits and cocktails, closing Hacha Brixton once a week to host a ‘community day’ in partnership with Equal Measures. “Community Day is all about providing opportunities for people who want to grow, learn, share and help others,” said Moncrieffe. “We will run seminars, educational courses, workshops, cooking lessons, spirits masterclasses, mentorship sessions, networking events as well as providing a venue for other Black businesses to showcase their businesses.”

The Nightcap

The distillery edges ever closer after the latest round of investment

Uist Distilling Co gains £2m for low-carbon distillery

It just wouldn’t be The Nightcap without news on an upcoming distillery project, and we’ve received good word this week from the Uist Distilling Co regarding its planned low-carbon distillery. The proposed £12.5 million site in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides has received a £1.99m funding boost from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish government’s economic and community development agency. The Uist Distilling Company also secured more than £80,000 (US$110,000) in funding from the UK government’s Green Distilleries scheme. The reason for all this support is that the distillery, which will be located on the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, is that it promises to pioneer innovative low-carbon technology across its design, build, and distillation process. The company has invested £1.25m in building a green energy centre, including a high-temperature heat pump system, which will provide hot water to the distillation process. The distillery, which is the brainchild of South Uist businessman Angus A Macmillan and his son, Angus E Macmillan, plans to produce spirits with a ‘Hebridean flavour’ including single malt whisky, rum, and gin. Production is expected to start in early 2022. “The new distillery aims to be a champion of all things Hebridean and Scottish and will provide a huge boost to tourism in the area,” says Angus A Macmillan. “We want to produce whisky, rum, and gin that will put Benbecula and the Hebrides firmly on the whisky tourist trail while introducing the products we make to a national and international clientele.”

The Nightcap

Cocktails and theatre are coming together in London soon!

Coming soon: an immersive cocktail experience from Mr Tipsy

There’s an immersive cocktail experience coming to London in August. We have visions of being lowered into a giant Negroni or diving into an Olympic swimming pool-sized Martini, but the truth is slightly more prosaic. Instead, ‘Mr. Tipsy’s Down the Hatch!’ will be a combination of a bar and theatre taking place at One America Square in the City of London. So for example, you’ll sip Margaritas on a Mexican beach. It’s the creation of Nick A. Olivero, the man behind Roaring ‘20s experience ‘The Speakeasy”. He explains: “‘Mr. Tipsy’s sprung from my passion of fine spirits and meaningful social interactions. It blends theatre with multiple themed bars and is crafted specifically for post-lockdown groups looking to reconnect with friends in a fun, safe environment. I think it is going to put a lot of smiles on people’s faces and we can’t wait for the spectacle to begin!” The experience costs £39.50 including drinks and lasts approximately 70 minutes (tickets available here). There’s a soft launch on 19 August with the full opening on 9 September. So what are you waiting for? It’s theatre but with cocktails!

The Nightcap

Cheers to your success, Roger!

Dad sells casks of whisky for incredible £225,000

Retirement is coming early for one savvy/lucky 59-year-old bank manager, who has turned an astonishing profit on two casks of whisky. Roger Parfitt, who hails from Coventry, paid £4,700 for the casks 30 years ago and revealed this week that he’s sold them for a remarkable £225,000. In 1994, Parfitt, 59, spent £3,200 on a cask of single malt Macallan and £1,500 on a cask of Tobermory, essentially in the vague hope they might be worth a few quid someday. Parfitt does not consider himself an expert in whisky. However, his gamble worked and he plans to use the profit to pay off his mortgage and retire three years earlier than planned. According to the Daily Record, since whisky casks are categorised as a ‘wasting asset’ by HMRC, the money he has made is also tax-free. “I remember thinking, if it doesn’t appreciate in value, the worst that could happen is that you would have to get it out of the warehouse, bottle it and drink it,” Parfitt says. “It always had that fallback for me – you could drown your sorrows if it didn’t work out financially.” He now plans to buy a cask each for his children, hoping for a similar result. But the market is very different nowadays, as we’ll discuss on Clubhouse later…

The Nightcap

All this will soon be heading China’s way

And finally… Entire whisky distillery ships out to China

We’ve spoken plenty about China making moves in the whisky world. One thing we weren’t exactly expecting to write about, however, was an entire distillery being shipped out from Scotland. Today, more than 35 tonnes of equipment, including stills, flooring, control valves, and pipework, is leaving Buckie in Moray for the port of Tianjin. The shipment is part of a £3 million “design and build” deal signed between Forfar firm Valentine International and China’s Mengtai Group in 2019. The equipment will be assembled at a facility being built in Ordos in Inner Mongolia, becoming its first whisky distillery when it opens, which is expected to be at the end of this year. All of the distillery equipment was built by Forsyths in Rothes, and the firm will send a team of five engineers to supervise assembly, with a team in Hong Kong to provide after-sales back-up and services. Valentine International chairman and managing director David Valentine said the project was the brainchild of Mengtai chairman Ao Fengting, who planned to create a “globally award-winning whisky”. In a separate development, Valentine International also revealed that it has signed a “strategic agreement” with Mengtai to supply bulk whiskies for China. The whisky distiller has not been named, but Valentine did say that it is a “long-established” firm.

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The Nightcap: 9 July

It’s Friday, work is over (or nearly), which means it’s time for another round-up of all the news from the world of booze. We’ve got sustainable cocktails, sustainable Bentleys, and…

It’s Friday, work is over (or nearly), which means it’s time for another round-up of all the news from the world of booze. We’ve got sustainable cocktails, sustainable Bentleys, and a row over Russian Champagne. They’re all in the Nightcap: 9 July edition!

Apparently there’s some sort of sporting jamboree going on this weekend. Something about football coming home?? So we imagine that many of our readers will be glued to the telly on Sunday night. Luckily, there’s still time to order a selection of tasty beverages to heighten your viewing pleasure. For those with no interest in the Euros, there’s always Wimbledon, the Tour de France, and cricket. Or if you don’t like sport, you could go for a walk, read a book, learn a foreign language, or just pour yourself a drink and settle in with another edition of the Nightcap.

On the blog this week

It was another rocking week on the Master of Malt blog. First off, we got very excited about the arrival of a new exclusive whisky from the Lakes Distillery called Miramar. And so did you, seemingly, as it all sold out in under an hour. Whoosh! Then Lucy Britner looked at what you can do with white Port beyond adding tonic water. Ian Buxton gleefully looked at great whisky marketing disasters like the ill-fated launch of Bailey’s whiskey and Cardhu Pure Malt. Meanwhile, Millie Milliken screamed ‘spring break!’ and showed us to make the Sex on the Beach cocktail. We enjoyed a candid chat with Stephen Davies from Penderyn about Jim Swan, Jim Murray, and how everyone laughed when he wanted to make whisky in Wales. They’re not laughing now. And finally, because getting abroad is far from easy at the moment, we rounded up the 10 best drinks to transport you to faraway lands. 

Meanwhile over on Clubhouse

If you’re a fan of Tequila and mezcal, then head over to the Clubhouse app on your portable telephone device at 3pm today, Friday 9 July. Kristy Sherry, Alejandro Aispuro, Richard Legg, and Michael Ballantyne will be discussing whether 2021 is going to be the year of agave. What do you think? Yes? No? A little bit?

Now, it’s on with the Nightcap: 13 July edition!

The Macallan X Bentley Motors - Image 4[13]

Macallan and Bentley team up for some reason which will become clear at some point, probably

Macallan announces “sustainable” partnership with Bentley

First Bowmore teamed up with Aston Martin, and now there’s more whisky/ automotive synergy as this week Macallan announced a new collaboration with Bentley. Because cars and booze go so well together. It’s all a bit vague at the moment but according to the press bumf, the two companies share more than rich histories and even richer customers. Both are, apparently, big on sustainability and are going to help each other become carbon neutral. MD at Macallan Igor Boyadjian explained: “A key focus of the partnership will be our commitment to a more sustainable future. The breath-taking natural landscape at The Macallan Estate provides the perfect platform for us to embark together on this exciting and extraordinary journey.” Bentley’s chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark added: “Transforming Bentley into the world’s most sustainable luxury car company is an exciting journey, and I’m delighted to be working with The Macallan with one common goal – to both lead our fields as we work towards a more sustainable future.” We’ll let you know when there are more specifics but from this week’s press release, it’s clear that neither brand is short of wind power. 

Taittinger Cork

The famous Taittinger cork

Taittinger cork sold as NFT for 69 Bitcoin SV, or £6,200 in old money

If you thought the worlds of Taittinger and Bitcoin wouldn’t collide, then you clearly weren’t at the CoinGeek conference in Zurich a few weeks ago. A bottle of the Champagne was popped by Kurt Wuckert Jr, CoinGeek’s chief bitcoin historian (a real job title, we’ll have you know) at the closing of the conference live on CoinGeek TV – rather handily, it was caught on film. The NFT (non-fungible token) version of this cork (which is basically just a photo, as far as we can tell) then sold for 69 Bitcoin SV. Oh, you don’t know what that means in legal tender? Thank goodness, neither did we – it equals around $8,500. That’s also known as around £6,200, which is how we measure things over here at MoM Towers. Yes, that’s a lot of money for a digital file of a photo of a cork, but the net proceeds are being donated to PROPEL, a charity which helps support children’s education. That’s all rather heartwarming, except now the new owner of ‘The Cork’ (as it’s now known) is trying to resell it here for 2,180 Bitcoin SV. We’ll leave you to work out the inflation on that… Alternatively, if you don’t have big money to blow, you could just treat yourself to a bottle of the good stuff right here!

north-point-distillery-banner

You could win a cask of rum from North Point Distillery in Scotland

Win a whole cask of rum with CaskShare

It’s World Rum Day on 10 July. It’s also Piña Colada day and Teddy Bear Picnic Day. Why not combine the three by making Piña Coladas for your teddies and serving them on a blanket al fresco? And soon, if you take part in Caskshare’s new competition, you could have plenty of rum to share with all your bears. The online spirits marketplace has teamed up with Scotland’s North Point Distillery to offer a whole cask of rum for one lucky customer. All you need is purchase a share of rum (prices start from £40) between 7-31 July, and then bang on about it on social media (full details here). You’ll be entered into a draw to win a one year old firkin of rum containing about 72 bottles worth £2,400. Think how many Piña Coladas you could make with that. And if you’ve got any left over, it’s National Mojito Day on 11 July. So much to celebrate!

The Beaufort Bar (Bar) Lewis Wilkinson.jpg RS

Swanky

The Savoy launches eco-friendly Co-Naissance cocktail

Drinks are often shouting about which far-flung corners of the world their ingredients are from, but the newest cocktail from The Savoy does the opposite. The Co-Naissance cocktail, developed by senior mixologist Cristian Silenzi, is all about local flavours and ingredients, and we were lucky enough to give it a taste at the Beaufort Bar (above). A combination of Portobello Road Gin, and locally-foraged elderflower from Little Venice and fig leaves from Embankment Gardens, is topped off with re-carbonated Champagne that would otherwise have gone down the drain. These local ingredients don’t just show off London’s flora – the cocktail eliminates packaging and waste, and removes single use glass, thus eliminating more than 1.8kg of C02 emissions per cocktail through both waste reduction and reforestation. The Savoy is also planting one native tree in the endangered Kalimantan rainforests of Borneo for each Co-Naissance cocktail served. Needless to say there’s no garnish, though the sublime glassware hardly needs it. As you’d expect from The Savoy, the cocktail itself is a delight, and much more herbaceous than we expected it to be, carried on waves of light florals. If you find yourself on the Strand and fancy doing some good while enjoying a delicious drink, you know where to head.

BBR-SPIRITS-SUMMER_Label_BBR-Small-Batch-Linkwood-2.jpg RS

Snazzy

Berry Bros. & Rudd unveils its first ever bespoke spirits bottle 

London-based Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain’s oldest family-owned wine and spirits merchant, has launched its summer 2021 spirit range, revealing its first ever bespoke bottle in its 323 years! Designed by Stranger & Stranger, the new bottle will be used across the entire range moving forward. Indeed, some new bottles have already landed at Master of Malt. So, what’s new? The shop windows at its home in No.3 St. James’s Street are the inspiration for the label design – easy enough to recognise if you’ve been lucky enough to visit the charming shop. What’s more, each label boasts different levels of detail as customers move through (well, up) the price range. Lizzy Rudd, Berry Bros & Rudd chairperson commented “I’m delighted that after over 300 years, we are opening another new chapter for our prestigious spirits range. The new packaging and advertising draws upon and respects our heritage, whilst celebrating who we are and what we stand for today.” A snazzy new campaign full of lifestyle films and images accompany the launch as the brand looks towards world domination expanding its appeal in the China, Germany, USA, and UK markets.

The Churchill Arms, Notting Hill

Churchill Arms in Notting Hill, hopefully there will be some free nibbles on 18 September

Inaugural National Hospitality Day to run on 18 September 

Here’s a good idea to help Britain’s pubs, bars and, restaurants which have been having a hell of time recently: A National Hospitality Day. Rather like Record Store Day but with more booze. It’s taking place on 18 September and those taking part will put on special events, menus, entertainment and even free nibbles. Free nibbles? We are there. Hospitality Action is the force behind this new initiative. Chief executive of the charity, Mark Lewis explained: “On one amazing day, we’re going to spark the mother of all parties – and all to help the businesses that have been thrown to their knees by Covid-19, and the people who work in them.” Go to the National Hospitality Day website for more information. By supporting, you’ll not only be helping your local, but also raising money for four charities: The Drinks Trust, Hospitality Action, The Licensed Trade Charity, and The Springboard Charity. Let’s hope some of Britain’s brewers get behind this worthwhile initiative and, most importantly, it gets people back down their local. Though remember, a pub isn’t just for National Hospitality Day, it’s for life, so make sure you keep going back, even when there aren’t any free nibbles. 

sovetskoje-shampanskoje-polusladkoje-soviet-champagne-semi-sweet

Proper Russian Champagne, none of that French muck

And finally… Real Champagne comes from Russia 

You might think Champagne (the wine) comes only from Champagne (the place in France) but the Russians have other ideas. A new law passed by Vladamir Putin’s government says only Russian producers can label their products ‘shampanskoye’ (worth reading this explainer on the background to the story). Makers of the original French stuff can keep the word ‘Champagne’ on the front label but on the back can only call their product ‘sparkling wine.’ As you can imagine, the French are not happy with protests from French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie and, at one point Moët Hennessy, announced it was suspending exports to Russia. However, someone high up in the company, probably, pointed out how lucrative the Russian market is because the (French) Champagne giant changed its mind and announced: “The Moët Hennessy Champagne houses have always respected the law in place wherever they operate and will restart deliveries.” Money talks, that’s one thing they can agree on in Moscow and Paris. 

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The Nightcap: 2 July

UFOs, gold beer cans, and a bourbon heist – they are all in our weekly round-up of the news from the world of booze. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition!…

UFOs, gold beer cans, and a bourbon heist – they are all in our weekly round-up of the news from the world of booze. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition!

What is going on with the weather? Sorry, we should be more specific, what is going on with the British weather? Readers in Burkina Faso or Wirra Wirra will probably have their own takes on the local weather. Earlier this week at MoM Towers at a secret location just off the A26 in Tonbridge, we had our slippers on and were seriously considering building a fire out of old pallets. Luckily we’ve got plenty of booze so when we get the shivers, we get the Chivas, if you know what we mean. And then today, the sun’s out and we’re lounging around in muscle vests sipping Tio Pepe. Anyway, whether it’s hot, cold or indifferent where you are, pour yourself a weather-appropriate drink, put your feet up and enjoy our weekly round-up of booze news. It’s the Nightcap: 2 July edition! 

On the blog this week

We had a fun-packed blog this week: Lucy Britner looked at big booze companies hoovering up smaller brands for pots of cash; talking of cash, Ian Buxton cast a sceptical eye over some extremely old whisky releases; while Millie Milliken went completely bananas. Our New Arrival was a new rum brand, Saint Benevolence, making a difference to the people of Haiti, while Henry claimed to have invented our Cocktail of the Week, the Blood Orange Margarita. But that’s not all – Jess visited Quaglino’s, we got in the spirit of the 4th of July with some delicious American whiskies, and even launched a competition that could see you head to Islay as a guest of Kilchoman. Pretty fun-packed, eh?

Meanwhile over on the Clubhouse App this week we’re talking all things low-and-no alcohol while enjoying the usual Nightcap goodness with guests Kristy Sherry, Camille Vidal, and Claire Warner. Be sure to join us if you’re on the app.

Now on with the Nightcap!

Glenglassaugh releases 50 year old “coastal treasure”

Look, it’s by the coast. It’s coastal treasure!

Glenglassaugh releases 50-year-old “coastal treasure” 

Well, it seems to be the season for very old Scotch whisky. Hot on the heels of Dufftown’s 54-year-old release and Gordon & MacPhail 80 year old Glenlivet, comes a venerable bottling from Glenglassaugh. It’s a 50-year-old from this fascinating little distillery that was silent from 1986 to 2008. The whisky comes from a single Pedro Ximénez sherry cask and only 264 bottles have been filled at 40.1% ABV. Looks like they caught that cask in the nick of time, if they’d left it another couple of years, it would no longer be legally classed as whisky. The PR company is really going for the maritime angle with this one describing it as a “coastal treasure” with lots of stuff about North Sea air and even a reference to Dr Rachel Barrie learning to surf near the distillery as a child. There’s a video about it here. The master blender herself commented on the flavour: “Offering a deep and seductive sweetness, the 50 Year Old’s flavour profile ranges from caramelised pear to soft exotic cherries; almond and refined oak beautifully intertwine to present a symphony of tropical notes on a gentle ocean breeze with rolling waves of flavour, which intensify and evolve with each sip.” But don’t take her word for it, the judges at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition were impressed too, awarding it a double gold. And our whisky sage Ian Buxton, who was involved with the distillery’s revival, thinks that these old Glenglassaughs are usually superb (full story to come.) All this for £5,500, or roughly six times cheaper than the 54 year old Singleton of Dufftown. Bargain!

Foursquare Shibboleth

Foursquare Shibboleth – not likely to hang about

Foursquare’s latest limited release rum, Shibboleth, is here! 

We always get a bit hot and bothered by a new Exceptional Cask Selection from Foursquare. The Barbados distillery’s core range is pretty tasty, but when the team pulls all the stops out, the effect is sensational. And MoM customers clearly agree because these often bafflingly-named (‘Empery’?, ‘Détente??’) rums don’t hang about. In fact, by the time you read this, the latest may well be gone. It’s called Shibboleth, and for once the name makes a bit of sense. You’ll certainly recognise that someone is in your tribe if they profess a love of Foursquare rum. It’s a 16-year-old blend of column and pot still spirits, aged in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 56% ABV with none of that filtering, colouring or sweetening. Just pure Barbados goodness. And blimey it is good. We were sent a little sample by Foursquare’s Peter Holland, and we spent a good ten minutes just smelling it. The aroma is heady with toffee, buttered popcorn, and banana bread with cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and refreshing menthol notes. Taking a sip, it carries it’s alcohol beautifully, exploding in the mouth with black pepper, tropical fruit, fudge and chocolate. The finish is extremely long. Shibboleth goes live today, but as we said, it may already be gone. It’s gone

Pappy van Winkle bourbon

Pappy van Winkle bourbon – tempted?

Bourbon crime documentary ‘Heist’ coming to Netflix soon

There’s a new whiskey documentary coming. Don’t worry, it’s not called The Golden Mist or something, featuring Jim McEwan and Dave Broom wandering around Islay. This is a whiskey film with an ‘e’, and melds two of America’s greatest exports, bourbon and organised crime. It’s part of a new true crime series starting 14 July on Netflix called Heist. Two programmes will be devoted to the theft of some seriously expensive Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Dubbed ‘Pappygate’ by the US press, it took place in 2013 when Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger, a Buffalo Trace employee, stole rare whiskeys valued at $26,000 from the distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. It took until 2015 before he was finally apprehended by Sheriff Pat Melton. Cutsinger was sentenced to 15 years, though only served 90 days. The story is further complicated by Cutsinger claiming in this article that although he had stolen barrels of bourbon from the distillery, he did not steal the rare bottles of Pappy Van Winkle. The documentary includes interviews with both Cutsinger and Melton. Director Nick Drew commented: “We all worked together and said, ‘let’s make this a roller coaster ride. Let’s make every beat of it live and sing and match the other stories.’ It was a fun challenge… We leaned into a sort of Coen Brothers, slightly absurd vibe….” It sounds like it’s going to be unmissable for fans of bourbon and crime capers.

Beavertown UFO

Keep watching the sky

Beavertown Brewery teams up with UFO expert for World UFO Day ‘Ask Me Anything’

We don’t know about you, but World UFO Day (2 July) has been in our diaries for months – and it’s finally here! Thought beer would have no place during World UFO Day? Think again, folks. With its zany, out-of-this-world illustrations (Gamma Ray American Pale Ale being a prime example), Beavertown Brewery clearly has an affinity with outer space, too. Today at 4pm, you can catch Nick Dwyer, Beavertown’s creative director and illustrator, and self-confessed space-obsessive, chatting to UFO expert (also known as a ufologist – we want that job title!) Nick Pope on Instagram Live (@BeavertownBeer). The event was appropriately named ‘Nick on Nick, Ask Me Anything’. You don’t have to be called Nick to join, but a zest for beer and the extraterrestrial would probably be handy. Pope isn’t just any ol’ ufologist – he was the former head of UFO investigation at the Ministry of Defence, no less. So gather your thoughts, grab a can of your favourite Beavertown beer, and get ready to question everything you thought you knew. The truth is out there.

St James Bar London

Spot the unicorn cordial

St James Bar launches ‘Imagination’ cocktail menu 

When we last visited St James Bar at Sofitel St James in January 2020, life was very different. We tried the (then new) Passport cocktail menu, which was created unironically, back when our passports hadn’t been gathering dust for nearly 18 months. Anyway, that’s enough dwelling on the past – now it’s out with the old and in with the new for the zazzy London bar, because later this month it’s launching a brand new cocktail menu: Imagination. The talented team used molecular techniques and sustainable processes to create this one, looking to challenge our senses and drive into our olfactory bulb with these new drinks. Inspiration has been drawn from impressionism, dragons, Iron Man comics, and even Elton John lyrics, while big words like spherication, carbonation, and foaming are all processes being used. But we’re not scientists, we’re cocktail lovers, so let’s get to the good stuff. We’re rather intrigued by the serve named ‘Van Gogh’, a combination of Tanqueray No.Ten, yuzu butter, Italicus, white Port, effervescence, husk ash, and something called unicorn cordial. In keeping with the times, sustainability is also a big consideration for the bar, which is using lemon husks in multiple ways and even producing its own honey from hives located at the top of the hotel. We’ll see you there on 29 July to find out how these unicorns are making their own cordial… 

Ardbeg 8 Committee release.png RS

Join the Committee and you can join the discussion

Join the Ardbeg Committee to taste latest 8-year-old sherry cask release

Sound the smoky whisky klaxon! There’s a new Ardbeg on the loose this week. It’s an eight-year-old bottling dubbed ‘For Discussion.’ Master distiller Dr Bill Lumsden explained: “I like to think of it as the ‘alternative universe’ version of Ardbeg Ten Years Old. An aged ex-sherry whisky is new territory for us, so naturally, we want some thoughts! We’re sharing this with the Committee’s experienced palates to help us find that smoky sweet spot. With notes of bold peat smoke, creosote, charcoal and salted caramel, it’s more than guaranteed to provoke discussion among those privileged enough to taste it.” It’s bottled at 50.8% ABV, costs £57 and is only available to members of the Committee – a global organisation of Ardbeg nuts. So if you love Ardbeg, and you’re not a member, what are you thinking? It’s free to join. Distillery manager Colin Gordon will host a live tasting for members on 30 July 2021. He urged: “We look forward to hearing their thoughts on our latest expression.  And, to anybody not already part of the family, we invite you to join the Ardbeg Committee… and join in the conversation!” 

Beavertown Gold Can

Probably not worth £15,000

And finally… all that glitters is not gold for Brewdog

Spare a thought for the PR department at Brewdog who have been working overtime recently. First there was the letter from disgruntled former employees and the resultant media frenzy. Now, just when they were beginning to stop twitching every time the phone rings, another story hits the news. The brewer had hidden 10 special cans in cases of beer for lucky customers. Each can was said to be worth £15,000 and came with £10,000 worth of Brewdog shares. Pretty tasty, eh? The problem is that someone at Brewdog said on social media that the cans were “solid gold” but when one winner, Adam Dean from Shrewsbury, took his to a jeweller to be valued, it turned out the can was actual gold-plated brass and only worth £500. Though the brewer has apologised to one unhappy winner, Mark Craig, it is still claiming that though the can isn’t solid gold, it is still worth £15,000 adding that the value: “somewhat detached from the cost of materials”. Looks like it’s going to be another week of late nights for the Brewdog comms team. 

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The Nightcap: 25 June

It’s nearly the weekend and that means it’s the return of our weekly news round-up! Get your fill of the drinks industry’s latest shenanigans here. It’s the Nightcap: 25 June…

It’s nearly the weekend and that means it’s the return of our weekly news round-up! Get your fill of the drinks industry’s latest shenanigans here. It’s the Nightcap: 25 June edition!

Summer is proving to be a bit of a letdown weather-wise this year, isn’t it? While this isn’t exactly ideal, there are at least plenty of other fun things to do indoors. You can scroll aimlessly through Netflix and pretend like you haven’t already consumed every second of digital content ever published in the last year and a half. Or you could kid yourself into thinking you’ll commit to a new hobby like learning a language or an instrument knowing full well that as soon as there’s a glimmer of sunshine you’ll be in a beer garden so fast you accidentally bring your new clarinet with you. Or you could take the finer option. The connoisseur’s choice. Pour yourself a dram, find somewhere comfy to sit, and dig into another corker of a Nightcap. Congratulations, you made the correct decision. Put down that clarinet, let’s crack on. 

On the blog this week

This week on the MoM blog we did something completely out of character and launched a competition. Can you believe it? This time with The Glasgow Distillery, offering a bundle of whisky, rum, gin, and vodka. Adam then got a taste of Lindores Abbey’s first whisky and a crash course in why you should embrace aquavit from Nuet. Millie, meanwhile, investigated why we love smoky flavours, Lucy offered some tips on how to make the most of holiday drinks and Henry made a vermouth-heavy concoction named after a hard as nails American president after sampling the delights of a Master of Malt exclusive gin liqueur. We also rounded up some perfect drinks for Wimbledon 2021 and our top ten whiskeys/ whiskies for 2021. 

Meanwhile over on the Clubhouse App this week we’re asking questions about the industry’s commitment to sustainability while enjoying the usual Nightcap goodness with guests Russ Wakeham and Carmen O’Neal. Be sure to join us if you’re on the app.

Now on with the Nightcap: 25 June edition!

The Nightcap: 25 June

The giants of bourbon want to end those tariffs. And we agree!

‘End these tariffs!’ says the Bourbon Alliance

A Nightcap without a tariffs story is like one without Miles Beale from the WSTA, missing something vital. Even though we reported last week at the ending of US tariffs on Scotch whisky, there’s still the little matter of the 25% UK tariffs on American whiskey. This was imposed by the EU and is still in place, for some reason, even though the UK is no longer a member state. A new initiative dubbed ‘Free the Spirit’ is campaigning to have them removed. It’s a collaboration between whisky giants Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Brown-Forman plus a group of smaller distillers, importers, retailers, pubs, and bars both in the US and US calling themselves the Rebel Alliance. Sorry, Bourbon Alliance. Founder Martha Dalton from Never Say Die Bourbon commented: “The Free The Spirit Campaign has already galvanised the hospitality industry and shown the united call for the government to cut the tariff. UK consumers have paid over £55m in tariffs on imported American Whiskies. This has hit investment in the hospitality industry when it needs it most.” The group says that US bourbon imports are down 53% since 2018. She went on to say:  “We were delighted to see the Department for International Trade negotiate the resolution of the Boeing – Airbus dispute and  are now calling on the Government to continue the momentum in trans-Atlantic trade discussions, and to remove the  tariff on US Whiskey at the time when the sector needs it most.” We hope to be reporting good news on this in the near future. And then no more tariff stories ever again.

Champagne film featuring Stephen Fry released

A trailer has finally dropped for one of the most highly-anticipated films of the year. Called Sparkling: The Story of Champagne, the feature-length documentary was made by a London-based independent production company called Swipe Films and features a host of notable names. There’s Taittinger president Vitalie Taittinger, Lanson-BCC chairman Bruno Paillard, Louis Roederer cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Dom Perignon chef de caves Vincent Chaperon, as well as wine writers Oz Clarke and Tom Stevenson; authors, Don & Petie Kladstrup, and wine merchant, Tony Laithwaite. Plus, English actor and comedian Stephen Fry! Director, Frank Mannion, described the film as “a love letter to the joys and pleasures of Champagne.” Swipe Films held a premiere at the Ciné Lumière in South Kensington last night, followed by a Q&A with Frank Mannion and then a Champagne reception sponsored by Pol Roger, Fever-Tree, Bolney, and Franco Manca. Sparkling: The Story of Champagne was released today, which means you’ll be able to watch it yourself in selected cinemas.

The Nightcap: 25 June

The humble Espresso Martini. Who would have thought it?

Espresso Martini is named the nation’s favourite cocktail

It’s official: the Espresso Martini IS the nation’s favourite cocktail! Beating out the likes of Mojitos, Piña Coladas, and even the mighty Sex on the Beach for the top spot, the caffeinated classic has apparently stolen our hearts. This is according to Just Eat for Business’ Cocktail Championship study  based on data from BBC Good Food, the UK’s most popular recipe site. When it comes to mocktails, the Virgin Mojito was top, while its alcoholic counterpart proved the second most popular cocktail overall. The analysis found that the most popular spirit across all drinks analysed was vodka, which appeared in 20 of the recipes, followed by gin which occurred in 13, and rum that was the main ingredient in 15 recipes. Trend data also shows that searches for ‘cocktail bar’ saw a staggering 56% increase since indoor bars were allowed to open on 17th May, suggesting Brits are excited to be drinking their favourite cocktails again. Which we already knew, but it’s nice to have it confirmed. To find out more about how popular your favourite cocktail is and which ingredients were the most popular across the UK visit the Cocktail Championship. For now though, if you don’t we’re going to raise a glass of the nation’s favourite to its creator, the late, great Dick Bradsell. Cheers to you!

The Nightcap: 25 June

It’s an inauspicious start for Jordan’s brand

Michael B Jordan renames rum after accusations of cultural appropriation

Michael B Jordan is one of many celebs looking to make a mark in the drinks world but life with his rum brand has hit rocky ground already. The Creed and Black Panther actor has issued an apology after announcing he was launching a line of rums called J’Ouvert. The term signals the start of carnival in the Caribbean and is a cornerstone of tradition in Trinidad and Tobago; which meant that Jordan’s use of the word was felt by many to be cultural appropriation. A line in Jordan’s trademark filing that claimed the term has “no meaning in a foreign language” drew particular ire. ‘J’ouvert’ is a French creole word meaning ‘daybreak’. An online petition to stop the trademark topped 12,000 signatures and the government of the islands also expressed deep concern over the plan. Singer Nicki Minaj, who comes from Trinidad, even urged Jordan to change the “offensive” name on Tuesday. Later that day Jordan posted an apology on Instagram Stories, commenting. “I just wanna say on behalf of myself & my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love & respect) & hoped to celebrate & shine a positive light on,” he wrote. “Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & engaging in countless community conversations …” Jordan has not yet said what he plans to rename his rum brand. How about ‘daybreak’?

The Nightcap: 25 June

You can tune in now!

Irish Distillers launches ‘A Perfect Blend’ podcast

Irish Distillers has unveiled its latest creation this week, a four-part mini-series on Irish whiskey. The podcast, produced and hosted by multi-award-winning radio producer Julien Clancy, focuses on the power of collaboration and features commentary from some of the industry’s most influential voices. The first episode of ‘A Perfect Blend’ features with Irish Distillers cooper Killian O’Mahony and president of Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky, Paul McLaughlin, who discuss the origins of their enthusiasm for coopering. In the second episode, Richard Forsyth of distillery design and build firm, Forsyths, and distiller at Irish distillers, Katherine Condon, speak about great copper pot still. In the third episode, forestry consultant and Pro Silva Ireland co-founder Paddy Purser and Finbarr Curran, the man responsible for sourcing Irish Distillers’ barrels, give an insight into how the industry is working together on cask sustainability. In the concluding episode, Irish Distillers archivist Carol Quinn and design duo Matthew Bolger and Emelie Lindstrom of M+E Design reflect on the art of storytelling and the unexpected benefits of collaboration. Episodes are available to download now in all the usual places. 

The Nightcap: 25 June

If you like beer, this is a no brainer. Get those tickets booked!

BrewLDN is back!

More than 50 new breweries will welcome a festival of discovery, tasting experiences, world-class DJs and street eats as BrewLDN returns in July. The biggest collection of craft breweries to take part in a UK beer event since BrewLDN’s inaugural festival in February 2020, the event will take place in indoor and outdoor spaces at Printworks London from Thursday 29 July to Saturday 31 July. Fortunately, BrewLDN is unaffected by the UK’s recent delaying of the return to normality. “Everyone working in events has suffered during the last year and we’ve been incredibly nervous about our survival prospects. We are extremely grateful that we are able to host the first beer festival and trade show of 2021 at Printworks in July,” says Chris Bayliss, co-founder of BrewLDN. He had more good news to share too by revealing ticket sales are ahead of any previous year and also saluted the more than 50 small independent breweries “committed to taking part, sharing their products and moving forward in this incredibly positive way.” For tickets and more information head to brewldn.com

The Nightcap: 25 June

Global travel retail needs big hitters like this right now

Jim Beam’s Lineage arrives in travel retail

Jim Beam has a swanky new bourbon to show off and for this one it’s keeping it in the family. The aptly titled Lineage was made by seventh-generation Beam family master distiller, Fred Noe in collaboration with his son, Freddie, making it the first bottling released by the brand to feature the latter’s name. Freddie says he enjoys “breaking the rules and creating new and exciting expressions”, so making an expression with his dad “that’s different from anything out there in the bourbon world” was “an honor”. Last week Freddie hosted an interactive tasting session to guide us through the inspiration behind the new whiskey, which meant we got a taste. Oh boy. This one’s a beauty. Aged in charred white oak barrels in Warehouse K since 2004, the new bourbon is 15 years old and is bottled at a hefty 55.5% ABV. But in all the power and darkness there’s a refined quality throughout among the aromatic spice, rich vanilla and thick caramel. Lineage will be available soon, which is good news. It’s also $250 and exclusive to global travel retail, which is less so. However, that’s a sector of our industry that could really use a boost and this expression is exactly the kind of dram that could help.

The Nightcap: 25 June

Jean-Christophe Coutures wants to move on and focus on recovery

Chivas Bros. pay dispute settled

We reported back in May of the threat of strike action by Chivas Bros. workers in Scotland. Now the unions have called off the proposed strike after reaching an agreement with the company behind Glenlivet, Royal Salute and Ballantine’s which employs around 1600 workers in Scotland. Keir Greenaway from one of the unions involved, GMB Scotland, commented: “Chivas have listened to the workers’ voice and our members have now voted to accept an improved offer on their pay and conditions for the next year.” Workers will receive a basic rise of 2.5% in 2021 and by at minimum 2% next year. Chivas CEO and chief executive Jean-Christophe Coutures said: “Despite the unprecedented business challenges we continue to face as we recover from the impact of Covid-19, we have maintained 100% of jobs and pay throughout the pandemic – and even recruited across our Scottish sites. Our newly-agreed offer – which includes guaranteed pay increases in 2021 and 2022 – means we can now move on from the disruption caused by the dispute and refocus our collective efforts on our recovery from the impact of the pandemic and achieving long-term business success.”

The Nightcap: 25 June

One of the best places to drink fine whisky just got even better

Milroy’s’ new Soho whisky terrace is open

One of London’s best whisky venues just got a bit better. Milroy’s has just announced a new 20 cover terrace for its shop and bar on the corner of Greek Street and Soho Square. So you can sip, enjoy the weather and watch the world go by. As well as an unrivalled choice of whiskies from around the world, Milroy’s Soho will have a new ‘Highball-on-tap- menu featuring delicious-sounding whisky cocktails such as the Aberfeldy Peach Tea and the Nikka Days Highball. Best of all for those of us who find booking to have a drink deeply weird, the new summer terrace and the main bar at Milroy’s Soho are walk-in only. Though if you want to visit the basement Vault bar or the Proofing Room at Milroy’s other venue in Spitalfields, you do have to book. We’re looking forward to revisiting this favourite haunt soon. 

The Nightcap: 25 June

Why choose when you can get the best of both worlds?

And finally…. Beer ice cream is coming

When it’s hot do you find it hard to choose between beer and ice cream? It’s one we struggle with at MoM towers. They’re both so refreshing. Well, now you don’t have to because beer ice cream, in fact booze ice cream of all kinds is on its way. First, this week Coors announced a 5% ABV orange hard seltzer ice cream in the US. Secondly a new machine claims to be able to turn anything boozy into ice cream. It’s made by WDS Dessert Stations; the company has dubbed it: “the Ferrari of soft serve machines.” It works using an NIA gel (Nitrogen Ingredient Additive) to turn high ABV drinks into ice cream. So, it’s not just beer, you can have ice cream made from Espresso Martini, Piña Colada, and even vintage Port – imagine that after a long meal. The inventor Will Rogers commented on its success: “When I first came up with the machines. Never in a million years did I think the brewery industry would be our main market but these brewers are the chefs of their trade”. All this science doesn’t come cheap, around £4,300, but that might prove a wise investment if we get a good summer. Beer ice cream, anyone?

No Comments on The Nightcap: 25 June

The Nightcap: 18 June

Distilleries being built or reborn, a light at the end of the tariff tunnel, and the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky. News like this is what The Nightcap is…

Distilleries being built or reborn, a light at the end of the tariff tunnel, and the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky. News like this is what The Nightcap is all about. Let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Well, the UK’s grand reopening on Monday has all gone a bit wrong, hasn’t it? Good thing we have Father’s Day to keep us occupied for the time being at least. Unless you forgot… You didn’t forget, did you? I mean, it’s not like we didn’t try and help. For those of you who did remember, why not kick back with a celebratory dram and enjoy all the latest from the world of booze? You’ve earned it.

Over on our blog, we and our friends at Bunnahabhain Distillery were in a giving mood so we created a new competition to help you to get to Islay during Fèis Ìle 2022. Elsewhere, Adam paid tribute to Charles MacLean who is set to pick up a shiny MBE from the Queen, then made the simple and refreshing Gin Rickey and found out how J&B Rare became a classic blend. Henry, meanwhile, enjoyed a very special dry sherry and picked out our top ten gins for 2021. Lucy then returned to offer tips on pairing BBQ and booze before Millie recommended 12 exciting new bars to visit now that we can finally do that sort of thing again(ish).

Over on the Clubhouse App, The Nightcap returns at 3 pm today to discuss the booziest of news and the growth (and growing pains) of Irish whiskey with our guests Louise McGuane, Mark McLaughlin, and Kristiane Sherry!

Now on with The Nightcap: 18 June edition!

Gordon & MacPhail unveils world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky 

There was a lot going on back in February 1940. David Jason was born. Pinocchio premiered in New York City. Plus, you know, all the war stuff. But something seemingly unremarkable happened elsewhere. A cask of whisky was laid down. So what, right? Whisky is popped into barrels all the time. That’s how it works. But this one is special. This is cask No. 340, containing Glenlivet spirit filled under the watch of Gordon & MacPhail owner George Urquhart. And it has stayed in that cask for 80 years. Longer than any other Scotch whisky in history. And now Gordon & MacPhail is ready to unveil it to the world. The Generations range from Gordon & MacPhail has previously presented some of the longest-matured single malt Scotch whisky ever to be bottled. But this one is the daddy of them all. Bottled at 44.9% ABV, the 80-year-old single malt is said to be “full of vibrant flavour”. Well, they were hardly going to say “yeah, it’s alright I guess. A bit woody”. A total of just 250 decanters, created by acclaimed architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE, will house one of the world’s most precious spirits, which will be released in September 2021. Decanter number #1, meanwhile, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in early October 2021 with proceeds going to Scottish charity Trees for Life whose mission is to rewild the Caledonian Forest. There’s no word on the price yet, but in 2015, Gordon & MacPhail sold a 75-year-old Mortlach single malt for £20,000. So that should give you an idea. It’s a fitting tribute to the man referred to as ‘the father of single malt’, as an 80th anniversary is celebrated with oak. What a shame none of us will ever taste it. 

The Nightcap: 18 June

Can we just appreciate what an amazing stock image this is?

US suspends tariffs on Scotch whisky.

We’ve spoken a fair amount about the tariff war that’s been going on in booze before so we won’t go over the details again, but we can happily report that after a couple of months of things moving in the right direction, two major breakthrough have been struck. The UK and US have come to an agreement which will see the 25% tariff on Scotch whisky dropped, which is estimated to have cost the industry £600 million. Karen Betts from the SWA described it as “very good news for Scotch whisky”. And there was more good news as the US and EU have agreed to a five-year suspension of tariffs on products including vodka and Cognac. In a statement issued on 15 June, US trade representative ambassador Katherine Tai called the agreement “significant progress” towards ending the years-long Boeing-Airbus feud. As you can imagine, the suspension has been welcomed by a number of trade groups, including the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus).“The five-year suspension of these tariffs on distilled spirits is happening at a critical time for the US hospitality industry,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of Discus. “Today’s announcement is an important building block to reset the bilateral relationship and we urge the administration to build on this positive momentum.” But Swonger wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He says that the continued 25% tariff on American whiskey that the EU and UK both impose as part of the steel and aluminium dispute has “severely damaged” the industry and that “the United States’ largest spirits export category will remain at a serious competitive disadvantage in our two most important export market”. But, a joint statement released by the US and the EU said they “will engage in discussions to allow the resolution of existing differences on measures regarding steel and aluminium before the end of the year”. So let’s hope the good news keeps coming.

The Nightcap: 18 June

More Ardgowan whisky will be on the way before you know it…

Green light for Ardgowan Distillery following £8.4m investment

Ardgowan Distillery kicks off a string of distillery-based excitement in this week’s Nightcap by announcing that work will begin this year on its new distillery on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip. An £8.4 million equity investment into the business will allow construction to commence on the million-litre single malt distillery and visitor centre less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow. The plan is to create first-class food, drink, and retail tourist experience to reel in tourists, while locals will be pleased to know the distillery and visitor centre is estimated to create up to 30 new jobs within five years. The first phase of the distillery will incorporate two copper stills and six washbacks, but the output can be doubled to two million litres with the addition of two further stills plus washbacks in an already-approved second phase. The new distillery will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, a grain and industrial alcohol producer founded in 1896 and sadly destroyed in the May Blitz of 1941. £7.2m of the new equity comes from Austrian investor Roland Grain, the owner and CEO of IT company Grain GmbH who has a long track record of investment in distilleries and presumably a love of nominative determinism. His highly successful record includes chipping into the Cotswolds Distillery, the East London Liquor Company, and Manly Spirits in Australia, as well as Potstill Spirits Trading (Austria’s largest whisky importer) and UK spirits business Distil Plc. It would appear the project is in good hands.

The Nightcap: 18 June

Live like MacLean, and drink the bloody thing!

Dictador teams up with Port house Niepoort for £800 rum

Through the magic of global telecommunications, we were beamed into the cellars Porto in the company of Dictador’s master blender Hernan Parra, winemaker Dirk van der Nierpoort, ex-Edrington head honcho Ken Grier and, Charles MacLean MBE, for it is he. They were there to mark the launch of the latest addition to the Dictador 2 Masters collection. This ninth iteration saw four vintage Columbian rums from 1971, ‘74, ‘78 and ‘80 aged for 12-16 months in Port pipes. Parra described the collaboration as “the symbol of merging family traditions, high-quality products and ever-evolving creativity.” Niepoort added: “Producing such a special rum with a good friend seems the perfect combination for such a special bottling.” The result is a rum of astonishing complexity, length, and, it has to be said, quite challenging dryness. The finishing period does not seem to have sweetened the spirit at all, which was Nierpoort’s intention. “Most rums are boring,” he said. Fittingly, each bottle of Dictador 2 Masters Niepoort proudly bears the two men’s fingerprints. Only 620 have been filled and will be on sale for £825 from Farr Vintners. Over the course of the hour-long event, Ken Grier tirelessly pointed out what a good investment this is (compare with the price of Scotch whisky of similar age), while MacLean retorted, “I’d rather people drank it.” Then made his point the best way possible, by repeatedly refilling his glass. Give that man a knighthood!

The Nightcap: 18 June

Ooooh. Doesn’t it look swanky? Hopefully, we’ll see it for ourselves soon…

The Glenlivet shows off new visitor centre

The Glenlivet is having quite the week, seeing one of its spirits bottled as the oldest single malt in the world and then getting to reveal its newly refurbished home. After 18 months of renovations, the brand has unveiled its re-designed visitor experience that will celebrate the life and history of the Speyside area and distillery. Glenlivet has also given visitors the opportunity to discover aged, unique whiskies from the archives, including rare editions, such as the Atlantic Single Cask 40 year old and the newly released 38-year-old Cellar Collection with only 30 bottles filled, and available exclusively at the visitor experience. If that isn’t enough to entice people in, remember The Glenlivet Cocktail Collection that took the internet by storm? Well, they will be there too. “At The Glenlivet, we believe in pushing boundaries and breaking tradition, and this is certainly represented throughout this redesign,” says Linda Brown, visitor experience manager, commented. “I worked at the visitor experience when it was last refurbished 23 years ago, but this is something else! To tell the brand’s story in a truly authentic way, we have reinvigorated the original experience, striving to give whisky lovers the best possible time whilst visiting the distillery. We look forward to welcoming back our loyal fans, as well as new faces.” If you’d like to learn more about renovation you can head to www.maltwhiskydistilleries.com or follow @The Glenlivet.

The Nightcap: 18 June

Images by Michael Laird Architect show what the distillery will look like

New £46m grain alcohol distillery planned for St Boswells

It’s a distillery-heavy Nightcap this week but we don’t mind as it’s all so exciting. We’re now turning our attention to the Scottish Borders, which is about to welcome its first grain distillery. Jackson Distillers has announced plans for a £46 million plant, producing 20 million litres of pure alcohol a year, on the Charlesfield Estate near St Boswells. The aim is for it to meet the growing demand for grain whisky for Scotch whisky blending and a neutral grain spirit for gin and vodka. Jackson Distillers also want the distillery to be the lowest carbon and most resource-efficient grain distillery in Scotland, using renewable energy, recycling waste materials and water as well as prioritising locally-grown cereals, including from the Tweed valley, so consumers can be confident about the sustainability and provenance of the spirit. The planning application is expected to be determined by the Scottish Borders Council in July. “We are excited to bring forward this transformational opportunity for the Scottish Borders. The project will create 20 permanent high-value jobs and a further 200 jobs through the construction stage whilst providing a crucial ongoing contribution to the local rural economy,” says founder and CEO of Jackson Distillers, and owner of Charlesfield Estate, Trevor Jackson. “The distillery will play its part in helping Scotland meet its climate change ambitions, sending zero waste to landfill with sustainability at the forefront of its production practices.” We do love our grain whisky and are looking forward to seeing what the impressive-sounding site creates.

The Nightcap: 18 June

Gosh all these distilleries are looking fantastic, aren’t they? Just begging to be visited…

Refurbished Cardhu once again open to the public

More distillery reopening news! Yesterday, 17 June, Speyside distillery Cardhu opened its doors once more following a refurbishment. It’s the third part of Diageo’s ‘four corners’ £185 million tourism splurge. Glenkinchie and Clynelish opened earlier in the year with the fourth corner, Caol Ila, due to open in 2022. Not forgetting the Johnnie Walker brand HQ on Princes Street in Edinburgh which should be opening this summer. To celebrate the long history of the distillery, Cardhu will fly a special flag that was apparently used by Helen Cumming of the founding family to warn illicit distillers of the approach of the exciseman. The family sold Cardhu to Johnnie Walker & Sons in 1893. At the refurbished distillery, visitors can learn about the Cumming family as well as about the distillation and maturation process, and, most importantly, try some whisky. Which is what it’s all about after all. Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo chief marketing officer, said: “When Helen raised her flag, it was to warn her neighbours and the local community, but today we raise the flag in a symbol of confidence and ambition for the future of Scotch whisky and tourism in Speyside and throughout Scotland.” She went on to say: “The investment we have made creates an exciting and engaging experience that will surprise and delight visitors whether they are local staycationers in the UK or tourists from around the globe when they are able to travel.” As a further incentive to visit, there’s a distillery-exclusive 16-year-old 50.6% ABV bottling. Sounds like we should get the old MoM minibus fixed up for a trip to Speyside.

The Nightcap: 18 June

No more awkwardly trying to eyeball pouring water in from a different glass for us!

Glencairn unveils its product for the people… the Pipette

Glencairn Crystal is the go-to company when whisky companies want to package their rare offerings. It produces decanters that cost thousands of pounds – out of the reach of most whisky fans sadly. But it does make more down-to-earth, some might say, useful products. There’s the ubiquitous Glencairn glass, for example, yours for a mere £10. But now there’s something even more affordable. It’s the Glencairn Pipette! No more trying to dribble the right amount of water to dilute your single malt, the hand-blown glass Glencairn Pipette does it with style. It holds 1ml of water and, naturally, it’s the perfect length for a Glencairn glass. Scott Davidson, new product development director, explained: “We are delighted to introduce the new Glencairn Pipette as the perfect partner to the Glencairn Glass. For those who love a splash of water with their whisky, our pipette will enable the drinker to add a little drop at a time and will prevent the risk of drowning their favourite dram with too much!” At last, the answer to the question of what to buy the whisky lover who has anything. And it’s only £6. Result!

The Nightcap: 18 June

Congrats on a brilliant achievement guys!

New Zealand brothers smuggle whisky across the channel

We don’t know what you did with your Wednesday this week, but we can pretty much guarantee that you weren’t as active as New Zealand brothers Alex and Nick Ravenhall. The duo swam across the Channel from Dover to Calais with a team of four other swimmers to raise money for Sea Shepherd New Zealand. They’ve been coined the ‘Whisky Smugglers’ as they each carried dram of whisky from Bimber Distillery, which was then blended back into a cask and will be sold as limited-edition whiskies later this year. The team completed the swim in a remarkable 12 hours and 58 mins, making it the second-fastest team this season. The Maori brothers support Sea Shepherd, whose project includes protecting Maui’s dolphins endemic to New Zealand, and are the founders of an ocean awareness campaign called Whisky and Waves. Both work in the drinks scene and, excitingly, are actually very much good friends of ours. Nick is now the managing director for Holyrood Distillery, but spent more than four years with Atom Brands (that’s our sister company) before heading to Edinburgh, while Alex is our head of events. This summer, the pair will undergo at least two more swims in some of the UK’s most treacherous waters, including the Corryvreckan. Both swims will be completed with smuggled whisky with the intent to release further fundraising bottlings for Sea Shepherd. Amazing work guys, we’ll raise a dram to you tonight. We might even run it under a tap first in tribute. 

The Nightcap: 18 June

It’s the battle of drinks brands we’re here for at Euro 2020!

And finally… Paul Pogba snubs Heineken

This week at a press conference for Euro 2020, which is taking place in 2021, no idea why they didn’t just change the name, perhaps because they’d already had loads of T-shirts printed. Anyway, at this press conference, top French footballer Paul Pogba moved a bottle of Heineken from sight. It’s not the first time during this tournament that footballers have made their drinks preferences publicly known. The day before, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo did the same with Coca-Cola before encouraging viewers to “drink water” instead. Very healthy, and effective too, with the brand losing something like $4 billion in market value. It seems that Pogba’s actions, in contrast, were motivated by his Muslim faith. However, his gesture appears a lot less powerful when you take a close look at the bottle it reads, Heineken 0.0 – an alcohol-free beer. D’oh!

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Whisky writer Charles MacLean awarded an MBE

Three cheers for Charlie! Whisky writer Charles MacLean has been honoured for services to Scotch Whisky with an MBE after being named in Queen’s Birthday Honours list. There’s something so wonderful…

Three cheers for Charlie! Whisky writer Charles MacLean has been honoured for services to Scotch Whisky with an MBE after being named in Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

There’s something so wonderful about seeing somebody from the world of whisky get recognition from the mainstream. To us, master distillers and leading experts are like rock stars. But to the wider world whisky can still be something of a niche category. 

But every now and then something happens in whisky which makes waves outside our industry. This week the Queen’s Birthday Honours list made headlines and there was one notable figure from our world included, Charles MacLean.

MacLean, author of 18 books including Spirit of Place and Whiskypedia, is being recognised for his services to Scotch Whisky, UK exports and charity with an MBE. One of 47 recipients, MacLean was honoured alongside health and education leaders thanked for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic and pop sensation Lulu, so he’s in good company. 

Charles MacLean to receive MBE

MacLean is now an MBE!

Emotionally overcome

When we called MacLean this morning to offer our congratulations, he said he was “emotionally overcome.” And explained how he was “greatly surprised” when he received a letter from the Cabinet Office on 28 May informing him of the honour. Until the announcement on Saturday, he was “sworn to secrecy.”

In a statement, he said: “It is a tremendous honour to be recognised by The Queen for a career dedicated to a personal passion – Scotch whisky. This honour is one of my proudest moments, and it has been a challenge to keep it a secret from my nearest and dearest, but I am very much looking forward to celebrating with them where more than a few whiskies will likely be enjoyed”.

He also remarked that when he set out to write about whisky that he “could not have imagined the events that would unfold over the next four decades”. MacLean says this was a career he very much fell into. He holds degrees in art history, from St Andrews University, and law, from the University of Dundee. Previously he attempted to embark on a career in the legal profession but he soon realised it was not for him. MacLean then set out to become a writer and got his first paycheque writing about the whisky industry for Bell’s in 1981.

Charles MacLean to receive MBE

McLean will receive his MBE for services to Scotch whisky not tonic wine

Whisky ambassador extraordinaire

He has been writing about whisky ever since and has spent the last 40 years authoring books, touring the world giving talks and presenting tastings as well as acting as a consultant to the whisky industry on a variety of matters, becoming an invaluable ambassador for the national drink of Scotland in that time. 

MacLean was elected a Keeper of the Quaich in 1992 for “his services to Scotch over many years” and elected Master of the Quaich, the industry’s highest accolade, in October 2009. He even played himself in Ken Loach’s 2012 feature film The Angels’ Share

He told us that he celebrated the honour with a few friends and neighbours at a garden party with nothing fancier than Johnnie Walker Black Label. Congratulations to you, Charles. Or, should we say Charles MacLean MBE. It’s a well-deserved honour. 

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The Nightcap: 11 June

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11…

Guinness gets innovative, Rockstar Spirits rocks Dragon’s Den, Lochlea prepares for first bottling and Brewdog finds itself in hot water. It’s another cracker of a week on The Nightcap: 11 June edition!

The weekend is always an exciting thing. But this weekend is particularly thrilling because we’re given the perfect excuse to enjoy some delightful gin. That’s right, tomorrow is World Gin Day and, while we don’t really need an excuse to enjoy the finest juniper-based beverages, it’s always nice to have something to say while you raise your glass in good company. And we’ll be doing exactly that at 3pm today on the Clubhouse App with World Gin Day founder Emma Stokes as well as the Neil Ridley and Kristiane Sherry. Join us, won’t you?

Over on our blog this week we rounded off our Islay Festival coverage with Ardbeg and Jura before launching a fab new competition with our friends at Tomatin. If a hamper full of whisky goodness doesn’t interest you then a) don’t enter and b) seek help. For Father’s Day (it’s soon, don’t forget!) we had a look at brands that keep distilling in the family and rounded-up a list of the finest musician-made booze on the market. Ian Buxton then cast doubt on a dubious claim about column single malt whisky while Lucy Britner busied herself learning the history of the brand that changed vodka. Amidst all this fun and fancy there was still time to enjoy some tasty blended Scotch and a cocktail with a song in its heart

Now, let’s get stuck into some Nightcap goodness!

BrewDog carbon negative

The founders of Brewdog were singled out for criticism in the open letter

Ex-Brewdog staff allege “culture of fear”

We begin with an explosive story that hit the headlines yesterday as former staff at Brewdog published an open letter regarding the “culture of fear” and “toxic attitude” that they allege exist at the company. The signatories said a “significant number” of former staff had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at BrewDog” and that the firm was built around a “cult of personality” of founders James Watt and Martin Dickie. The Scottish brewer and pub-chain has never shone away from controversy in its marketing, but the group calling itself Punks With A Purpose says this came at a cost. That Watt and Dickie exploited publicity, “both good and bad” to further their own business goals, chased “growth, at all costs”, and created an environment where staff were afraid to speak out about concerns. The letter included further statements such as “being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given for those working at Brewdog”. The plots thickened when Unite Hospitality (@FairHospitality) released an email attributed to Brewdog which appeared to encourage current staff to sign a counter letter dismissing the negative views of current and former staff. Watt responded to this and then later released a statement saying Brewdog was “sorry” and that it would not contest the letter, but “listen, learn and act”. It’s not the first time the brand has landed itself in hot water over its practices. And this story clearly isn’t over yet.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Joe Wilson says this is one of the most “collectible independent bottlings in existence”

Rare Samaroli whiskies head to auction

Few bottlers can boast a range of whiskies as desired and collectible as Samaroli so it’s no wonder headlines have been made now that 60 of its rare Scotch whiskies are set to go under the hammer via Whisky Auctioneer this month. Taking place from 17 to 21 June, the online auction will feature whiskies from collector Emmanuel Dron’s personal stash, some of which have been signed by Samaroli himself, including a 1967 Strathisla, 1967 and 1970 Laphroaig bottlings, a 1951 Glen Cawdor (Springbank), and the 1966 Bowmore Bouquet. Bottlings will also be up for auction from The Corti Brothers of Sacramento, such as a ‘very rare’ 1965 Clynelish and bottlings from Balmenach and Imperial, distilled in the 1960s. “This collection is a magnificent example of some of the finest and most collectible independent bottlings in existence,” says Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer. “What’s special about Emmanuel Dron’s collection is that these bottles have unparalleled provenance. Whiskies with such an impeccable source are hard to come by.” And you know what that means. A price tag to match. Expect to see some eye-watering sums next week.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Rumour has it this beauty will be at MoM Towers in the future…

Lochlea whisky prepares for first bottling

For years Lochlea has been known best as the farm in Ayrshire which was the home of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns from 1777 to 1784. By late 2021, however, it will also be recognised for its whisky. The independently owned farm-based distillery has announced this week that it is ready to launch its first expression this year. The distillery is the result of a £6m investment and production of the purpose-built facility began in 2014, taking four years. Lochlea then began laying down its first casks of whisky in the on-site warehouse in August 2018. So while we don’t know the exact launch date yet, we know it will be no sooner than August at least. The Lochlea Distillery team says it’s been working on creating a “truly distinct whisky” and describes the new make spirit as having a profile that’s “bursting with orchard fruit” with a “beautiful elegance way beyond its years”. All production is overseen by distillery manager Malcolm Rennie, who has spent 34 years in this industry at the likes of Kilchoman, Bruichladdich, and Ardbeg. Lochlea says that he sees this whisky, however, as the result of his life’s work. “Ensuring full traceability from field to cask is vital for us. We grow and harvest our own barley on Lochlea farm with the resulting draff used to feed local cattle and the water is sourced on-site. We’ve been able to take advantage of Ayrshire’s natural resources and in doing so it keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum,” says Rennie about the distillery’s process, which does sound extremely promising. Let’s hope it does Robert Burns proud.

The Nightcap: 11 June

We can’t wait to see you all again!

Imbibe Live to return this September

Great news arrived in our inbox this week from the UK’s leading drinks industry event as Imbibe Live confirmed it will be returning to London’s Olympia this September. The return to some normality will run from 13 to 14 September 2021, bringing the industry back together again after a challenging year. Strict standards of health and safety will be adhered too, naturally, as folks discover newly launched and unique products and attend seminars from industry leaders. Helping to curate the programme are the likes of Anna Sebastian, drinks expert and founder of ‘Celebrate Her’, Gabe Cook, global cider expert, Lorraine Copes, founder of not-for-profit organisation Be Inclusive Hospitality, and more. Daniel Zanetti, exhibition director at Imbibe Live, says the industry has shown an “incredible amount of support for one another” during the last year hopes that Imbibe Live “provides those working in the trade with real insight and practical support on how to help their businesses grow and thrive once again”. Registration is open now, although due to venue capacity visitors will be asked to attend on either the 13 or the 14 September to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to go. For further information visit the website and to register visit here. Let’s hope everything goes well between now and then to let this fantastic event take place. Fingers crossed!

The Nightcap: 11 June

It’s a bumper year for the Fiona Beckett

Fortnum & Mason awards 2021 shortlist announced

The Oscars of food and drink writing are back as the shortlist for the Fortnum & Mason awards has just been announced. The big award, as far as we’re concerned, is drinks writers of the year with the Guardian’s Fiona Beckett taking on Hamish Smith from CLASS magazine and beer writer extraordinaire Will Hawkes for his work in Pellicle and Tonic magazine. It’s a bumper year for Beckett as she is also shortlisted in the book category for How to Drink without Drinking (which we covered back in January). Also in the book category is Jane Anson with Inside Bordeaux and Wine Girl by Victoria James. Meanwhile, the debut book line-up features a great-looking new cocktail book which we’ll be covering shortly called CO SPECS by Cas Oh, Drink? by Prof. David Nutt, and Which Wine When by Bert Blaize and Claire Strickett. There’s also some food stuff. The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony on 13 July. Nigella might be there. Oooh!

The Nightcap: 11 June

Tom Hurst rocking the dragons

Rockstar Spirits rock Dragons’ Den

We go for years without featuring a story about spirits brands on Dragons’ Den and then two come along in under a month. In May, we reported on Whisky Me securing funding from all the three ‘dragons.’ And now we were delighted to learn that Rockstar Spirits, the company behind delicous bottles like Two Swallows rum, secured funding after appearing on the BBC 1 programme on Thursday 10 June at 8pm. That’s last night. Founder Tom Hurst received bids from all but one Dragon, winning the backing of both Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani – who will both receive 4% of the premium spiced rum business in exchange for £12,500 each. Most impressively, Hurst managed to secure an offer for double the money and five times the equity from Theo Paphitis. Hurst said that he hadn’t been as nervous “since I had to do a reading in assembly when I was 11,” but that it was a “fantastic experience to take part in the show and a great rite of passage for any entrepreneur to test their mettle against some of the best business brains in the UK.” To celebrate Hurst has come up with a special Dragons Daiquiri cocktail with Two Swallows Citrus rum.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Copper Rivet is one of the many fantastic English whisky distilleries featured

The English Whisky Show is back

For the second year running there’s a whole show dedicated to English whisky called, um, the English Whisky Show. Sadly, like last year, it’s only taking place online but we’re all good at this now and the organisers can boast quite a line-up. All the big names are represented including Adnams, Copper Rivet, Bimber, the Oxford Artisan Distillery, Lakes, and, the granddaddy of them all, the aptly-named English Whisky Company, alongside independent bottlers like That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Taking place on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 September there will be six sessions all with tasting packs hosted by names including Felipe Schrieberg and Fiona Shoop. Prices start at £27.50 per session which seeing as you’ll be tasting some quality liquids including 11 new releases, looks like pretty good value. Tickets are available here and there are discounts for bulk buys and members of Exploring English Whisky. From single malts to spicy ryes and experimental grains, we couldn’t be more excited about the varied and dynamic English scene. So whether you’re already a fan or just English whisky curious, we highly recommend signing up for one or, better still, all the sessions. 

The Nightcap: 11 June

The new ‘world-first’ is a single nitrogen dispense solution. It pours pints from cans, basically.

Guinness launches world-first ‘microdraught’

Guinness was in an excitable mood this week as it revealed its new ‘microdraught’ technology, which aims to serve fresh pints regardless of an establishment’s size or setup. The result of a two-year development process, the MicroDraught unit uses a “keg’ so small, it comes in a can”, so even though the Guinness used is brewed in exactly the same way, the system bypasses the need for the traditional system of kegs, beer lines, and cooling systems. The dispense technology is described by the brand as its biggest innovation “since the development of the widget in 1988”, and is set to be trialed in restaurants in Great Britain from June, in venues in Ireland from July, and fully launched in Korea in July. Further trials in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Germany, and Russia will follow later this year. “Guinness is enjoyed the world over and globally renowned for pushing boundaries in technology.  Guinness MicroDraught is the next step in this journey and today’s launch means that Guinness will be available in over 12,000 more outlets for millions more consumers to enjoy,” says Grainne Wafer, global brand director, Guinness. “The secret to how the MicroDraught unit produces beautiful Guinness every time is the world-first patent-pending double coaxial piercing of the can. It uses an air pump – as opposed to the gas cylinder used in the traditional system – to push the liquid out of the can and through the standard Guinness Draught spout. The result is a beautiful two-part pour with the iconic surge and settle and cold, smooth taste that makes Guinness Draught a beer loved by consumers around the world.” We’re intrigued to see if the innovation takes off and whether the new pints feature on the right Instagram page, or the wrong one

The Nightcap: 11 June

The swanky, new-look Talisker is more sustainable

New sustainable packaging upgrade for Talisker 10 Year Old

Diageo has made a big deal about its sustainability commitments in the last couple of years and the drink giant’s latest innovation concerns Talisker. New packaging for its Talisker 10 Year Old has been introduced as part of the company’s wider 2030 sustainability action plan. The new packaging has increased the recyclability of the classic dram to 99.8%, while the bottle’s plastic components have been reduced by 86% and the original plastic stopper has been replaced with a premium wooden stopper. The brand also ensured the packaging weight was reduced by 6%, which will reduce materials used by 28 tonnes across 2021, meaning less waste to be managed per bottle. Pranay Chandra, malt whisky marketing manager, says that “consumers are increasingly conscious of their own environmental impact, and we are dedicated to supporting and being a part of this.” She adds that “we understand that there is still more to do, however, this is a significant step towards our goals of making all Talisker packaging recyclable by 2030, as well as working towards zero waste across our supply chain.” It’s another positive step in the right direction and we welcome any further improvements in the future.

The Nightcap: 11 June

Shit.

And finally… A beer made from goose poo. Mmmm!

We’ve had some funny drinks on the Nightcap –  like gin flavoured with sprouts or Chernobyl vodka – but a new beer might just take the biscuit. It’s from a Finnish brewery called Ant Brew which has just released a series of beers called Wasted Potential that are brewed from waste including goose droppings. No joke, this shit is for real. According to the press release: “The poop is used in a food-safe way to smoke malt to create a unique stout beer. The goose droppings are gathered from local parks, where geese are causing a messy problem.” Everybody wins! Sort of. Anyway, we can mock but this might be the logical conclusion of sustainability. Ant Brew’s home city of Lahti, aims to have a wasteless economy by 2050. So, in future, when someone says: “this beer tastes like shit”, it’s probably because it’s brewed with real poo. Lovely. 

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The Nightcap: 4 June

The week was only four days long but it was still jammed-pack full of boozy news. The Nightcap is back! Well it’s been a mighty fine week here at MoM…

The week was only four days long but it was still jammed-pack full of boozy news. The Nightcap is back!

Well it’s been a mighty fine week here at MoM Towers, and not just because the sun made a triumphant return to Kent (and burnt the ever-living hell out of half the population), but we’ve also had a whale of a time celebrating the Islay Festival. From learning about Lagavulin’s most iconic serve, to understanding how to pair food and malts festival-style with Laphroaig or hearing Ian Buxton’s Bunnahabhain memories, we’ve managed to ease some of those missing Islay blues. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed all the coverage too. There’s still Ardbeg and Jura day to come, so be sure to look out for them over the weekend.

Elsewhere on our blog, we were enjoying our Cognac, picking out 10 terrific examples we think your dad will love for Father’s Day, and dreaming of a French countryside escape thanks to our latest competition with Hine. We also let our hair down and had an unapologetically garish, blue disco drink after learning all about a very special vintage English pear brandy from the Cotswolds. 

Before we get to the stories this week, we’d just like to remind you to join us this week on the Clubhouse App where our guests Blair Bowman and Kristiane Sherry will discuss all of the below, if the whisky world is too negative, and more!

The Nightcap: 4 June

Check it out: the oldest ever Singleton of Dufftown whisky!

Diageo releases 54-year-old The Singleton of Dufftown 

Master of Malt was invited to a very special whisky launch this week at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. It was for the 54-year-old Singleton of Dufftown and thanks to the magic of the internet we didn’t even have to leave MoM Towers. It’s the second and final release in The Paragon of Time Collection, and the oldest ever release from The Singleton. To chime with the age statement, only 54 people were invited to the event which was hosted by Ewan Gunn and went on for 54 minutes exactly. We were joined down the line from the Diageo archive by malt master Maureen Robinson. She told us about how the original refill European oak cask was filled in 1966. “It was the 1960s era, before expansion, with smaller batches and slower pace,” she said. After 53 years in this cask, she transferred it for around a year to a single PX cask to add another layer without masking the original whisky. Only 235 bottles at cask strength of 44.1% ABV have been filled. It’s a fascinating drop with the old Cognac, varnish, and furniture polish on the nose joined by strong molasses, chocolate, and Christmas cake from the PX cask. But don’t take our words for it, Charlie MacLean, for it is he, described it as “An astonishing dram. I have never encountered a whisky like this before. A rare and unusual malt that has gained richness, mellowness and complexity on its long journey to harmony, this very old whisky shows its age elegantly and rewards proper contemplation.” Naturally, it’s housed in a Baccarat crystal decanter. And the price for all this magnificence? £28,850. Oof!

The Nightcap: 4 June

The brand doesn’t just make great whiskey but supports vital initiatives too

Uncle Nearest launches $50 million fund

Not content with simply uncovering the important story behind the world’s biggest whiskey brand and founding the biggest-selling African-American-owned spirit brand in history, Fawn Weaver has once again demonstrated that her remarkable contributions to the spirits industry seemingly know no bounds. The Uncle Nearest Tennessee Whiskey founder has this week announced the creation of the Uncle Nearest Venture Fund, a $50 million fund that will invest in minority and women-owned spirits brands. The first two brands to benefit are Sorel Liqueur and Equiano Rum. Each company will receive US$2m. The fund is an outgrowth of the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative unveiled a year ago in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. According to Weaver, this initiative helped highlight the need for something greater so on the 100 year anniversary of the destruction of Black Wall Street, Weaver, she took it upon herself to reboot history. “On 1 June 1921, an entire community of wealthy and successful African Americans was wiped out in a matter of hours. We are talking about 35 square blocks known as Black Wall Street. As an African American, learning about that history broke my heart because we, as a people, were really onto something in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We were lifting one another up and creating wealth within our own community, and then showing others how to do it for themselves. We cannot go back and undo the past, but I do believe we have full power over our future, and that recreating a Black Wall Street of sorts within the spirits industry is a great place to start.” It’s a vital and impressive initiative that demonstrates a promising future and that few put their money where their mouth is quite like Weaver. 

The Nightcap: 4 June

I’m sure that won’t be Peaky Blinders whiskey he’s got in his glass…

By order of a Los Angeles court – Peaky Blinder name OK

If you asked a member of the Birmingham street gang what kind of conflicts the Peaky Blinders would be getting into in the 21st century, you’d have been waiting a while before they ever guessed a trademark dispute between a TV show and a spirit brand. But that’s the story that was in the news this week as the company that produces the popular UK series Peaky Blinders was told it can’t block the maker of the booze range from using the name, at least for now, after a Los Angeles court ruling. US District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall rejected Caryn Mandabach Productions’ application for a preliminary injunction against Sadler’s Brewhouse, which owns the brand, and UK alcohol group Halewood, which in turn owns Sadler’s. Reports suggest Mandabach sued last November, alleging the whiskey, gin, rum, and dark beer products were likely to cause confusion. But the judge ruled Mandabach didn’t show it owned a protectable trademark in the name, that Sadler’s products were likely to confuse, or that the alleged confusion could cause irreparable harm. Sadler’s has always maintained it used the Peaky Blinder name because of its historical connections to the gang. The fact it only founded the brand after the runaway success of the show is just a coincidence. The brewhouse was presumably always interested in minor local street gangs. Still, this is a sensible result. You can’t claim a historical organization’s name all for yourself, TV. More good news for fans of Peaky Blinders whiskey is its owners are continuing to explore the possibility of building an Irish distillery for the brand, as its spirit is currently sourced from Great Northern Distillery. 

The Nightcap: 4 June

The three “extra special” casks will be sold by Monday!

Edinburgh’s Holyrood distillery auctions three “extra special” casks for charity

Edinburgh’s first single malt distillery in almost a century, Holyrood, will be auctioning three casks with the proceeds going to three charities: Vintage Vibes, tackling social isolation in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Food Project, and The Drinks Trust’s Covid relief fund. It’s all happening on Whisky Auctioneer with the auction ending on Monday 7 June. The auction house has agreed to waive selling fees and will donate the 10% buyer’s commission to charity. The three “extra special casks” are 200 litres filled with 60% ABV new make which has first been matured in a first-fill American ex-bourbon barrel. These are unusual as the commercial “Made in Edinburgh” output from Holyrood is sherry-cask aged. We were fortunate enough to be sent a wee sample of the deliciously flavoursome new make which comes from a local farm, and is made with a mixture of crystal and chocolate malt fermented with an Edinburgh ale yeast. Co-founder David Robertson said: “We’ve created a spirit that echoes what would have been done 100 years ago”. He went on to say “It was essential for us that we supported local Edinburgh charities, our whisky is made by local people and inspired by the city we’re in, so it was paramount to ensure that communities close to the heart of our distillery are supported during this time.” Joe Wilson, from Whisky Auctioneer added: “The sale presents the very unique opportunity for our global customer base to acquire a piece of liquid history from this trailblazing Edinburgh distillery, whilst giving back to the local community.” The auction ends this Monday!

The Nightcap: 4 June

Foursquare hopes the investment will pay dividends for Bajan rum

Foursquare Distillery backs rum history research

If you’re like a lot of us here at MoM Towers then both rum and history will be of great interest to you. Which naturally means you’ll love a bit of rum history. That’s something we share with the RL Seale & Company, which has agreed to fund scholarships in the University of the West Indies’ department of history and philosophy, through which students will investigate Barbados’ rum history. The owner of Foursquare Distillery plans to use the findings to support the island’s application for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site for sugar and rum, and will “naturally” help its application for a Barbadian rum GI, according to Foursquare proprietor Richard Seale. In an emailed statement to The Spirits Business, the outspoken rum producer said that “as the provenance of Barbados Rum becomes more recognised and more valuable, the time has come for professional, independent and scholarly work on the history of Barbados Rum and for that work to be done at home.” He added that he sees the investment, reported by Barbados Today as being BBD$320,000 (around £112,000) for three doctoral scholarships and six-year postdoctoral fellowships, as one which “will strengthen the category in the longer term”. The fact that receiving government approval for a rum GI is a complex enough issue that it requires such initiatives may seem surprising, but it’s not a straightforward process. Barbados’ four rum producers – Foursquare, Mount Gay, Saint Nicholas Abbey, and West Indies Rum Distillery – must all collectively agree on a proposal and, while the first three distillers decided on GI terms to put forward last year, the latter company did not agree

The Nightcap: 4 June

These four beauties will be with us soon!

William Grant & Sons launches bottled cocktail range

It appears that William Grant & Sons is the latest big brand to enter the bottled cocktail range after it announced the launch of Batch & Bottle. The line-up includes a Monkey Shoulder Lazy Old Fashioned, a Hendrick’s Gin Martini, a Reyka Vodka Rhubarb Cosmopolitan, and a Glenfiddich Scotch Manhattan. The range is being launched in the UK first, then in Australia from September 2021, and other markets from early 2022. For every bottle of Batch & Bottle sold in the UK until May 2022, William Grant & Sons will also donate £1 to leading hospitality charities The Drinks Trust and The BEN as part of its #STANDFAST CAMPAIGN, which is dedicated to supporting the On Trade, raising in excess of £110,000 to date. “Consumers are adopting a ‘less but better’ mentality and are becoming more discerning about the brands they drink. For decades we have continually produced premium and luxury spirits, but for the consumer who wants to indulge in an upgraded at-home experience, they can now do so without the fuss or cocktail accouterments” said Karen Murphy, William Grant & Sons global innovation marketing manager, on the launch. “Batch & Bottle provides an opportunity to showcase the world-class brands in our portfolio, while also providing an uncomplicated solution to perfect cocktail serves created and produced using our industry expertise.” You’ll be pleased to know that all four expressions will be available from Master of Malt soon.

The Nightcap: 4 June

This is your chance to own a bit of history

1889 Tokaji Essencia to go under the hammer in July

Two very special bottles of Tokaji Essencia from 1889 will be auctioned by Dreweatts on 8 July. Essencia is the rarest, sweetest, and long-lived form of Tokaji, Hungary’s legendary sweet wine. It’s made only from a sugary liquid that drips from the grapes before they are crushed. Mark Robertson from the auction house commented: “This supernatural concentration of sweetness is beautifully married with an unusual level of acidity creating a wine that can age effortlessly across the centuries”. It was produced by a family of Jewish landowners, the Zimmermans, whose wines won awards across Europe. This history was brutally cut short in 1944 when the German army occupied Hungary and the family was deported to Auschwitz. Following the war, their lands were seized by the communist state and the quality of Tokaji took a nosedive. Following the fall of communism, Tokaji’s reputation was slowly rebuilt partly thanks to investors like Hugh Johnson of the Royal Tokaji Company. There are two plaques at the company’s offices unveiled by six descendants of the Zimmerman family’s holocaust survivors celebrating the link between the region’s wines and the Jewish community that was destroyed during the war. The special bottles are expected to go for between £500 and £1,000 for 500ml bottles which seems like very little to own a bit of history. Robertson concluded: “These are important bottles and I hope they are enjoyed with a chink of the glass to the man and his family who made them”. L’chaim!

The Nightcap: 4 June

We sure that you, like us, have always wanted to play as a pronghorn

Play as a pronghorn to aid conservation

There are presumably numerous ways to engage in meaningful philanthropy for distilleries and we’ve seen all kinds of initiatives, projects, and fundraisers over the years. A limited-time mobile game is new to us, however. For Great Outdoors Month (apparently a thing), High West Distillery is launching Prairie Dash so whiskey drinkers and gaming enthusiasts alike can help conserve the natural habitat of Montana’s Great Plains in a fun, interactive way. You play a pronghorn who has to face a collection of quick-time challenges like clearing debris and slaloming through herds of bison. Made in support of long-time partner and non-profit organization, American Prairie, for every game played, High West will donate $1, up to $50,000. You can also purchase the distillery’s American Prairie Bourbon on highwest.com with a portion of the proceeds also going to the bottle’s namesake organization. The game, which is available to play for the month of June only, will also have a grand winner. So one lucky person and their travel companion will win a once-in-a-lifetime Western adventure to the distillery’s homeland, Park City, Utah. To be in with a chance and to help raise some dough for a great organisation, head to race.highwest.com to play.

The Nightcap: 4 June

It’s going to take a lot more than an unfortunate association to topple this crown

And finally… Corona remains world’s most valuable beer brand, despite name association

Some people’s chances in life are immediately made harder by their parents giving them truly ridiculous names. But they at least have the opportunity to remedy the situation as an adult and have them changed. When you’re a huge company with brand recognition, a legacy, and a vast network of packaging, advertising and more you can’t just adapt as soon as there’s some name-based crisis. So, for the last 18 months or so Corona has had to deal with the reality that it shares a name with a virus that caused a devastating global pandemic. You may have seen the pictures of bottles languishing on supermarket shelves. You’ve probably heard the jokes or the exaggerated dirty looks someone gives you if you order a Corona at a bar. It’s truly ridiculous that anybody would actually associate the two, but this is people we’re talking about here. Despite all of this, the brand has endured. Findings from the new Brand Finance Alcoholic Drinks 2021 report show that Corona has retained the title of the world’s ‘most valuable’ beer brand. It did record a 28% drop in brand value to the tune of $2.243 billion, however, bringing its current brand value in at $5.8billion. But, overall, the world’s top 50 beer brands lost 16% of cumulative value last year due to Covid-19 so everyone is in the same boat. It demonstrates that the Mexican beer makers are pretty resilient. The name actually means ‘crown’ in Spanish, so there’s something neat about Corona retaining its status as king of the beer world.

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The Nightcap: 28 May

It’s time to welcome the long weekend with a dram and all the latest from the world of booze. 125-year-old Port, 185 years of Glenfarclas, and someone’s been overdoing it…

It’s time to welcome the long weekend with a dram and all the latest from the world of booze. 125-year-old Port, 185 years of Glenfarclas, and someone’s been overdoing it on the fantasy at Diageo, it’s all in the Nightcap: 28 May edition!

It’s the weekend folks and boy is it a good one. Not only is it longer for British readers, thanks to the Spring Bank Holiday, but it’s also the first weekend of the Islay Festival! You might have seen that we’ve already got some features on our blog regarding the event, but be sure to look out for our daily deals too, and check out this delightful Spotify playlist which should help you get in the spirit of things. Just because we can’t be on Islay itself, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the wonderful whisky it produces and celebrate this amazing island.

Elsewhere on our blog, we launched one of the most incredible Father’s Day competitions you’ll ever see with Drinks by the Dram. Did someone say a year’s worth of whisky/rum as a prize? No, really. Get entering now. If you’re still stuck for ideas we have plenty of options. We also learned the story behind a very famous blend, found out how gin brands can stand out in such a crowded market, and got the inside scoop on pairing whisky and ice cream. There was even time to enjoy a party drink associated with Tom Cruise and some delicious apple brandy.

And be sure to join us this week on the Clubhouse App as we’ll have lots to talk about what with the small matter of the Islay Festival for us and our guests – Kristiane Sherry, Dave Worthington, and Richard Legg – to discuss!

Lagavulin 12 year old 2021 Special Releases

Flaming Aslan’s mane!

Diageo’s latest Special Releases labels are literally fantastic 

We got quite a surprise in our inbox this morning with a sneak preview of the labels for this year’s Diageo Special Releases. Our in-house filmmaker Ken Evans described them very accurately as “someone’s been on the fantasy novels over lockdown and had a ‘brilliant idea’.” Lagavulin has a flaming lion and Talisker is being marauded by a sea monster, while there’s all kinds of new age woo woo going on at the Singleton of Glendullan. They are wild. The labels which had been submitted for approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in the US were shown on the American Whiskyart blog. As well as the quite literally fantastic graphics, there’s a high level of information on the labels about these limited releases. The line-up consists of a Lagavulin 12-year-old aged entirely in refill casks, a Talisker 8 “from a selection of our smokiest reserves”,  a 19-year-old Singleton of Glendullan finished in Cognac casks, Cardhu 14 finished in red wine casks, Royal Lochnagar 16 from refill casks, Oban 12 from ex-bourbon and refill casks, a 13-year-old Mortlach aged in refill and virgin casks, and a mighty Lagavulin 26-year-old aged in first-fill Oloroso and PX casks. They’re all bottled at cask strength. All we can say is if the whiskies are as wild as the labels, we’re in for a treat.

 

The Three Drinkers

And then there were two

Colin Hampden-White leaves Amazon Prime show The Three Drinkers

In a move that some in the industry are comparing to Robbie leaving Take That, it was announced yesterday that Colin Hampden-White has left the Three Drinkers. Hampden-White was the spirit expert of the trio whose superpower was wearing blindingly loud shirts. The other two drinkers, Aidy Smith and Helena Nicklin, will continue the team’s myriad activities including an Amazon Prime programme, online magazine and Bring a Bottle podcast. The third spot will be kept for a “revolving range of guests” with the emphasis on “diversity”. It’s not clear how much this is Hampden White’s decision or whether he didn’t fit in with the group’s future plans. The press release, which only sports a photo of Nicklin and Smith, states that Hampden-White “plans to concentrate more on his international whisky pursuits” but also that he is “stepping down… to allow a broader range of talent to be represented.” Hampden-White himself commented: “I hope this leaves room for new faces and new ideas to further the diversity in all things for The Three Drinkers.” Smith echoed the ambiguous tone of the release saying “while we are sad to be saying ‘au revoir’ to Colin, what this change will allow us to do now is very positive. We’ve listened to what the drinks world needs right now and that is a much needed diversity push….” So did Colin get the push?

The Nightcap: 28 May

There aren’t many of these Dunnage tasting packs so get them while you can!

Glen Scotia reveals line up for 2021 virtual festival

Glen Scotia has revealed the schedule for this year’s virtual malts festival which will go live on 7 June. Whisky fans the world over will soon be able to access a range of different events and content by visiting www.glenscotia.com/festival. Master distiller Iain McAlister will be joined by a host of famous faces in a packed programme that features the likes of Charlie MacLean, Neil Ridley, Joel Harrison. Festival-goers can expect an interactive virtual tour of the distillery, a virtual tasting of this year’s festival edition, historic tales from the once whisky capital of the world as well as the keenly anticipated dunnage tasting. This year the tasting will explore the influence of casks on the final liquid, with a particular focus on bourbon, refill American oak, and European oak finishes. There’s not going to be many Dunnage Tasting Boxes so get them from www.glenscotia.com while you can.  The annual Campbeltown Malts Festival is a tremendous celebration and a great opportunity to talk about Scotland’s fifth and smallest malt-producing region and its whisky-making heritage. We highly recommend you get involved if you’re a whisky enthusiast.

The Nightcap: 28 May

Will Liam Hirt’s new program make the splash he hopes?

Still In Cask to revolutionise whisky? 

Every now again we get an email in our inbox from a brand that claims it’s going to change the industry. They almost never do, but we like the optimism. This week’s bold newcomer is Still In Cask, a global platform that says it will give consumers the opportunity to buy shares in a cask of spirit directly from a distillery, from as little as £20 a Cask Share. The self-described “innovative business” has been developed to “democratise the ownership of cask spirits and assure consumer ownership using a public blockchain”. You’ll forgive us for being a little sceptical, but the cask market appears to be the boomiest part of whisky at the moment and the amount of investment and new brands we’re seeing gives us a slight cause for alarm. However, it’s comforting to know then that the brain behind this is Liam Hirt, as in the founder of Psychopomp Microdistillery and Circumstance Distillery, which means it’s at least being run from someone who knows whisky and not just some folks who made a few quid in the city and want to diversify their portfolio. Kicking off this start-up, which is now live to the public, are some  impressive names: Nc’Nean, Circumstance, Cotswolds, Mackmyra, and Connacht Distillery, which is also promising. Hirt says that cask ownership is usually reserved “for those that can afford an entire cask or those that can form a syndicate of like-minded individuals” which leads many enthusiasts to be excluded. He also says cask purchases are “historically complex and investment focused making it even harder to get involved”. Whether he has the solution or not will remain to be seen. For more info or to register your interest, head to StillInCask.com.    

The Nightcap: 28 May

We tasted this range and are big fans

Belvedere launches Organic Infusions range

As a brand that has spent a fair amount of time and money ensuring people understand how much it values its raw materials, it’s shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that Belvedere has entered the organic category with a new range of flavoured vodkas. There are three expressions, the first being Blackberry, Lemongrass with a hint of Sage, the second is Lemon, Basil with a touch of Elderflower and the final bottling is Pear, Ginger with a drop of Linden Honey. Each is made with organic Polish rye vodka, fruits, and botanicals which are farmed with no artificial pesticides, additives, or chemicals. We were fortunate enough to taste each at a virtual launch hosted by global brand ambassador Mike Foster, who says “the time is right and the demand is there” for organic, flavoured products. He added that the new range, coupled with the brand’s Made with Nature campaign, demonstrates that “Belvedere is dedicated to evolving the vodka category into one more rich in substance, more comfortable with the natural approach and more in tune with well-being and responsible lifestyle choices.” It’s a process that has paid dividends, in our opinion. They’re beautifully made spirits, each one is elegant, flavourful, and versatile that make tremendous Vodka Sodas and we can see people having tremendous fun whipping up all kinds of cocktails. Which you’ll be able to do soon as the range will be available from Master of Malt in the near future…

The Nightcap: 28 May

Well these don’t look similar at all…

Lidl lands in hot water for ‘Hendrick’s lookalike’ gin 

Anybody who shops in Lidl or Aldi will know the discount supermarkets love to create slightly cheeky imitations of established products. Just ask Colin the Caterpillar. Once again this approach has landed them in hot water, however, after Lidl was told it must stop selling a redesigned bottle of its Hampstead Gin. At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lord Clark awarded an interim interdict to the makers of Hendrick’s Gin, ruling Lid’s brand breached the established brand’s trademarks. The temporary order stops Lidl from selling the redesigned bottles in Scotland following William Grant & Sons’ claim that the supermarket remodeled the Hampstead gin bottle to resemble the “apothecary-style bottle” used by its gin brand. Which, honestly, is not an unfair suggestion. They look pretty identical. Same dark bottle. Same diamond-shaped label. Similar fonts. The Hampstead gin bottle even has cucumbers on it, which feels like a line crossed (Hendrick’s is famously infused with cucumber). In an amazing turn of events, during an earlier court hearing, social media comments about the redesign were read out, which included gems such as “Hmmm…Reminds me of another gin, but I just can’t put my finger on it… ” and “Looks a lot like another bottle of gin😉”.Lidl said it was disappointed by the ruling, naturally. Maybe the folks over there can console themselves with a drop of Jameson’s. Sorry, we mean Dundalgan Blended Irish Whiskey.

The Nightcap: 28 May

How else would Glenfarclas mark the occassion?

Glenfarclas marks 185 years with whisky

The great thing about being a famous distillery is that whenever you have an occasion to celebrate you already have the perfect thing for it: whisky! So it should come as no surprise to anyone that Speyside distillery Glenfarclas has released a limited-edition single malt whisky to celebrate its 185th anniversary. The producer, who began legally distilling in May 1836, is launching just 6,000 bottles of the Glenfarclas 185th Anniversary Edition in the UK priced at £120. The whisky was made the way all Glenfarclas whisky is, with spring water that emerges from granite under the slopes of Ben Rinnes which is combined with malted barley and double distilled in direct-fired copper pot stills. For the 185th Anniversary Edition, two-thirds of the liquid was filled in sherry casks and the remaining booze into ex-bourbon casks. Oh, and those casks used to make the whisky span six decades, don’t y’know? The whole thing was then bottled up at 46% ABV and slapped with a celebratory label and tin. “Due to my grandfather’s foresight, here at Glenfarclas we are very fortunate to have casks in our dunnage warehouses from seven different decades, from the 1950s to the 2020s,” says George Grant, sixth-generation family member, and current sales director. “To mark 185 legal years we have selected some of our finest casks from across the decades and put together a whisky with old, rich, sherried flavours that remain fresh and vibrant in your glass.” And our very own Ian Buxton has produced an up-dated 185th anniversary edition of his history of Glenfarclas – available only from the distillery

The Nightcap: 28 May

They’ve been through, well, not a lot to be honest, but something.

One Eyed Spirits kills Ron de Jeremy brand and relaunches

You may be aware that about a decade ago a spirits brand decided to create a rum named after “the most famous Ron in the world” as the Spanish word for rum is ron. One Eyed Spirits chose Ron Jeremy, who at the time was known as a the porn film star who became part of mainstream culture. In the last few years, however, numerous allegations have been leveled against Jeremy and he now faces serious jail time after being arrested on charges of rape, sexual assault, and more by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. As you can imagine, One Eyed Spirits terminated its commercial agreement in August 2020, commenting that continuing with the brand was “not a morally sustainable option” and that “the joke is over”. But the brand is determined to stay in the rum world and has created a new range called Hell or High Water. There’s not much info on the rums themselves, all we know is that there will be an XO expression, the “smooth and dry Hell or High Water Reserva” and the “rich, deep and spicy Hell or High Water Spiced. Most of the press release was instead dedicated to outlining that One Eyed Spirits has overcome obstacles and backstabbing, naming its rums after the expression, “come hell or high water”, as a reference to them being willing to do whatever it takes to overcome difficulties or obstacles. It’s laid on a little thick, to be honest, and it’s worth remembering that One Eyed Spirits are far from the true victims of Ron Jeremy’s alleged actions.

Taylor's Single Harvest 1896

Compared with some whiskies, this £4k Port is a steal

We taste Taylor’s 125-year-old Port

Taylor’s has made a thing in recent years of releasing exceptionally old Ports of superb quality. And this latest release from 1896 is no exception. It’s billed as a ‘single harvest’ Port rather than a ‘vintage’ as it was aged in cask rather than bottle. For 125 years! But it’s actually a comparative youngster compared with some Taylor’s releases such as the 1863 and the 1855. Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s managing director commented: “The launch of a wine as old, valuable and unique as this one occurs only a handful of times in a generation. It is by its nature, a historic event in its own right, which Taylor’s is proud to share with wine collectors and connoisseurs of rare wines.” He added: “Savouring such a wine is a once in a lifetime experience.” Only 1,700 bottles have been filled and they will cost around £3950. It’s a lot of money but compared with say, Brora’s recent £30,000 Triptych release, it’s actually a bargain. Our tiny sample bottle filled the room with a heady aroma when we opened it. The wine is almost impossibly complex with strawberries, balsamic vinegar, furniture polish, and Brazil nuts on the nose while to taste you’d never guess it was 125 years old. It’s fresh and vital with a finish you can measure in weeks. What an extraordinary Port.

Charles-MacLean tastes El Dorado

The moment when Charlie MacLean winces is priceless

And finally… Charlie MacLean tastes tonic wine on camera

Eldorado Tonic wine has produced a series of videos with Charlie MacLean and they are hilarious. We’re sure MacLean will need no introduction to Master of Malt readers but Eldorado might. It’s a rival product to the infamous Buckfast, known as LD in Glasgow, it’s extremely popular in Scotland, hence roping in whisky expert MacLean who doesn’t even pretend to know anything about the brand. “I’m not actually sure what a tonic wine is,” he says in the first film. Nor does he pretend to enjoy it. The best bit of the video is when after coming up with some serving suggestions, he gamely sips it out of a coupe. Then at 1.14 winces visibly and says “mmmm, it’s a swanky drink”, before presumably reaching for a bottle of Lagavulin to take away the taste.

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