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Master of Malt Blog

Category: News

Elixir Distillers lands Georgie Crawford as Islay distillery manager

There’s big news in the Scotch whisky transfer market! Elixir Distillers has just signed Georgie Crawford from Diageo to be the manager for the brand’s forthcoming Islay distillery. Today we…

There’s big news in the Scotch whisky transfer market! Elixir Distillers has just signed Georgie Crawford from Diageo to be the manager for the brand’s forthcoming Islay distillery.

Today we learned that Georgie Crawford will be bringing 14 years at Diageo’s Scotch whisky distilleries to a close soon as she moves on to pastures new and joins Elixir Distillers this summer.

A distillery with no name

She’ll oversee the construction of the distillery site (still without a confirmed name) on Islay’s south coast next to the town of Port Ellen, not far from Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg

Elixir Distillers is a creator, blender and bottler of spirits founded by Sukhinder Singh and Rajbir Singh (you know, from that other site. What’s it called? The Whisky Shop?). It’s the name behind brands such as Port Askaig Islay single malt and Black Tot Caribbean rum but until now it’s never had its own distillery.

Getting Crawford on board is something of a coup for the brand, as she brings with her nearly two decades of experience to the role. Most recently, she was manager for the Port Ellen Distillery Revival project, so she has plenty of know-how when it comes to Islay distilleries. 

Her career in Scotch whisky began at The Vaults in Edinburgh, the home of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in 2002. Crawford has since worked for the likes of Talisker, Glen Ord, Teaninich and Lagavulin.

GeGeorgie Crawford Elixir Distillers

It’s Georgie Crawford!

Sukhinder Singh comments

Sukhinder Singh, co-founder of Elixir Distillers, commented: “Having grown up on Islay, attending school a stone’s throw from our distillery site, Crawford’s love for the island and all its distilleries is unrivalled. She not only shares our passion for Islay whisky, but also our vision for the future and I know that she will bring both exceptional expertise and a fresh approach to a new Islay distillery.”

The plan is for the distillery to produce one million litres of alcohol a year and use floor maltings to process just over half of the barley needed. There will also be on-site housing for distillery workers, a visitor’s centre and a multipurpose educational facility, with further initiatives to support the local community and an apprentice programme for aspiring distillers to be pursued further down the line. 

Elixir Distillers revealed in February that the Argyll & Bute council planning committee granted planning permission for them to go ahead with the project, which was first announced in 2018. Now with Crawford joining the team, things should be moving fast. Perhaps she can help them come up with a name.

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The Nightcap: 16 April

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April…

It’s Friday and that means The Nightcap cometh. What has caught our eye from the world of booze this week? Read on to find out what’s in The Nightcap: 16 April edition.

You may have seen the news already, but this week is a big one here at Master of Malt as we’re saying a tearful goodbye to our wonderful editor, Kristiane Sherry who is moving on to pastures new. This humble blog wouldn’t be what it is today without her contribution and we hope you’ll join us in wishing her all the best in her new role. Thanks for everything, Kristy.

Elsewhere, we launched two different competitions, each one offering you a chance to get your hands on some delicious booze. So, if you’re a fan of Darkness and/or River Rock whisky, be sure to check them out. Adam then cast our MoM-branded spotlight on Black Cow Vodka, Henry spoke to Lady Armagnac herself, Amanda Garnham, Kristy heard from Jake Burger about his new book and how the bar trade will endure and Scott Davidson from Glencairn Crystal spoke to Lucy Britner about 40 years of making exceptional glassware. We also enjoyed new Kilchoman whisky, the El Presidente cocktail and ten delightful drinks from independent distillers

Now, on to the Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

5/10, it’s the Mitre in Holland Park,

These are London most mediocre pubs

We’re used to listicles outlining people’s favourite venues; we’ve even seen round-ups of worst places, but The Fence Magazine (an extremely funny newish magazine that we’d highly recommend subscribing to) has come up with an entirely new kind of clickbait when this week it published its top 25 most mediocre pubs in London. The thinking behind it was that the capital’s best pubs would be rammed, what with lockdown restrictions easing in England, so here are some places that nobody in their right mind would queue to get into. The list included such legends of mediocrity as the Mitre in Holland Park, “an archetypal non-place”, the Zetland Arms in South Kensington, “the kind of place you end up going to regularly for a few months, never develop feelings about and, occasionally, go again”, and the World’s End in Finsbury Park, “an adequate place to drink a few pints.” It might be because we’ve been deprived of pubs for so long, but the mention of these ordinary boozers made us feel moderately nostalgic. 

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

This is one for the gin lover in your life

Beefeater celebrates 200 years with snazzy new book

The Beefeater story begins in 1820 when James Burrough began distilling in Chelsea. Since then, the brand that became Beefeater gin has stayed true to its London roots being based since 1958 in Kennington. To celebrate 200 years, Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, the Ant and Dec of drinks writing, have produced a lavish new book. Murielle Dessenis, global brand director for Beefeater, explained “This book is not a time capsule but a creative visualisation of Beefeater’s history, and its future, told by those who have helped shape it.” We were fortunate enough to see an advance copy and it’s very snazzy indeed as it’s laid out as ‘triptych’ so the book opens up three ways. But it’s much more than a pretty face, the book contains a history of the company, insights from master distiller Desmond Payne MBE and evocative old adverts and photos from Beefeater’s long history. The lads commented: “It is London, this city of contrasts, that has provided the backdrop for Beefeater’s greatest moments and achievements. This was a fantastic project to work on as we were able to take a look at what gin means to the people behind Beefeater and to the location in which it is crafted.” It’s something that no gin lover should be without so you’ll be pleased to know it’s available from the Beefeater shop for £50.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Fining dining comes to Chatham’s historic dockyard

Copper River Distillery in Chatham opens fine dining restaurant

You don’t often hear the words ‘fine dining’ and ‘Chatham’ in the same sentence but all that is about to change as the Copper River distillery has just announced that it will be opening a fancy new restaurant. Called the Pumproom, after the beautiful Italianate building (above) housing the distillery in Chatham’s historic dockyard, it’s first service will take place today, Friday 16 April, with diners distanced on a deck overlooking the historic River Medway. Copper Rivet Distillery’s commercial director, Stephen Russell, explained a little about what to expect: “Outstanding food creations by head chef Will Freeman are complemented by expertly curated wines from Kent and from around the world, as the Russell family has had expertise as wine buyers for over 40 years.” And maitre d’ Dom Schefferlie added: “Our team at the Pumproom will be using seasonal ingredients to maximum effect and, in keeping with the ethos of the distillery, will be taking a keen interest in provenance – using local ingredients wherever possible, be they locally grown-vegetables, locally-reared meat or locally-landed fish such as Rye Bay cod. Both the restaurant and the distillery count food miles and the minimising of waste as key deliverables.” There’s both tapas and more formal dining. We have to say that the menu sounds delicious with the thought of a starter of bone marrow, chicken crackling, smoked eel, cockles, radish & toast really getting our juices going. Sounds worth a visit.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Great Islay whisky and delicious Scottish beer have come together in a joyous union once more

Innis & Gunn launch Islay whisky cask beer with Laphroaig Distillery

Any fan of Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn will know it loves to do a bit of innovation and its new limited-edition beer demonstrates just that. Islay Whisky Cask is a 7.4% amber ale aged in ex-Laphroaig 10 Year Old casks. During its 12-week maturation in barrel, the beer is said to have extracted some hallmark Laphroaig notes of peat smoke and brine, as well as cask influences of vanilla and floral aromas. Combine that with the rich, warming malty flavours from the malted barley and it sounds like something that’s right up our alley. Like when Ardbeg made peaty beer. Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder of Innis & Gunn, says the collaboration is a perfect example of the “quality that can be achieved when you work innovatively with your craft and unite with other complimentary talents”. He also comments that the beer “truly evokes the island that inspires both our brew and the iconic Laphroaig” and that the result is evident “even before you take your first sip, as you open the bottle, you’re welcomed with the distinctly peaty, complex aroma that defines Laphroaig”. Just 3,400 bottles of Islay Whisky Cask have been available to buy in the UK from today via the Innis & Gunn online shop, so you might want to hurry if you want to get your hands on one.

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

The research project which could inform future barrel experiments.

Buffalo Trace Distillery begins oak research project

This week we learned that two Kentucky giants, Buffalo Trace Distillery and the University of Kentucky, are teaming up to learn more about white oak. This is handy, seeing it’s the wood bourbon is matured in. The two are joining forces on a 15-year research project called the White Oak Initiative. The idea is to ensure the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak by studying the genetic responses of trees from various regions to different white oak forest establishment techniques in a rural field application. The study kicked off with the planting of 1,066 trees on the farm at Buffalo Trace Distillery this week featuring seedlings from 40 different parent trees from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Dennis Walsh, homeplace manager for Buffalo Trace Distillery, explains further, “We’re excited to partner with University of Kentucky on this project. It’s important that we look towards the future and how we can contribute to the sustainability of the white oak industry. The project will also assess the cost per board foot required to maintain a sustainable supply of new white oak long into the future”. Buffalo Trace is considering adding tours in the future of its farm, which would include education about its participation in the White Oak Initiative. Long term, Buffalo Trace may be able to use some of the oak trees it has planted for future barrel experiments.  

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Anyone else hungry?

Jose Cuervo helps you celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home

With the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo coming up (5 May in case your Spanish is a bit rusty), you can expect to see a host of Tequila and mezcal brands marking the event in the next few weeks. For Jose Cuervo, 2021’s festivities will include teaming up with award-winning chef James Cochran to launch the Around the Cluck X Jose Cuervo Cinco de Mayo at-home-kit. Featuring Cochran’s signature Around the Cluck fried chicken, his favourite Sauce Shop condiments, and exclusive Margarita pairings from Jose Cuervo, the restaurant kit looks like ideal way to celebrate at home with loved ones. The Twisted Piña Margarita combines Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila, with pressed pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, coriander, jalapeño and agave nectar with garnishes of cracked black pepper and a fresh lime wheel. Oli Pergl, Tequila educator at Jose Cuervo, says: “Cinco De Mayo is an important date in the Mexican calendar so what better way to celebrate than a partnership between award-winning chef, James Cochran, his restaurant 12.51 and Jose Cuervo Tequila. Delicious food complemented with perfectly paired cocktails will transport you, figuratively not literally, to Tequila Valley… enjoy!” The kits are available to order from this week until the 3rd May at https://www.1251.co.uk/

The Nightcap: 16 April Edition

Is it madness or brilliance?

And finally…. Crisp-flavoured beer??! WTF?!

Crisps are wonderful things. We’re particularly partial to salt & vinegar flavour Chipsticks here at MoM. And beer is brilliant too. These are things we can all agree on. But what about if you put them together? No, not beer-flavoured crisps, that would be too straightforward. We’re talking crisp-flavoured beer. It’s taken an all-Yorkshire partnership of Seabrook’s crisps and Northern Monk brewery to make this unholy creation come true. The idea was first aired on 1 April so was widely thought to be a joke, but they did the old switcheroo and made their joke a reality. There’s two versions: a 5.4% ABV Cheese & Onion lager which is said to have “notes of cheese and onion”, and a 5% Prawn Cocktail Gose “with the tang of prawn cocktail.” Northern Monk founder Russell Bisset commented: “After one of the most challenging periods in recent history, we decided to take this quest into uncharted territory, creating an experience that would make people laugh – or grimace actually – as lockdown lifts.” We’re not going to knock them until we’ve tried them but, let’s face it, they sound horrible. We’ll stick with a pint of Landlord and a packet of salt & vinegar Golden Wonder, thank you very much.

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Hasta mañana…

From whisky festivals to distillery visits, and even the odd award or two, editor Kristiane Sherry reflects on her time at Master of Malt as she gets set to depart…

From whisky festivals to distillery visits, and even the odd award or two, editor Kristiane Sherry reflects on her time at Master of Malt as she gets set to depart for pastures new.

Usually, when you sit down to start writing a piece, you know exactly what’s going to happen. You’ve usually interviewed someone brilliant, or there’s some breaking news. Or perhaps you’ve tasted something so fabulous you want to tell its story – philosophy, production, palate. This piece is more like a full stop. Today is my last day at the family home we’ve come to call MoM Towers.

It feels tired (and indeed tiring) to focus on the sadness, anxiety and frustrations of life over the last 12-14 months. But I will say that it’s been soul-affirming to go through it all with the wonderful team here. From all the features and guides to video content and Instagram Lives on social, we’ve entertained ourselves (and hopefully some of you!) through the tough months with the wonder of content, drinks storytelling, and most importantly, community. It’s that last part I’m going to miss the most.

(L-R) Kristiane Sherry, Ken Evans, Jake Mountain and Laura Carl at the Port Ellen Maltings. Safety first!

Instead, I want to focus on some of the more joyful moments over the past almost-four years. Because it’s been quite the riot! For all the Islay fans, I’d like to draw your attention to our coverage of Fèis Ìle! The Islay Festival is (was – but I am sure it will be back!) a celebration of the island’s whisky and music, that saw us undertake a whistle-stop tour of each distillery. Want something shorter with added lolz? The 2019 highlights reel pretty much sums it up!

Highlights don’t just include what we do here at Master of Malt. In the last few years, there’s been a seismic change in terms of diversity, inclusion and representation in the drinks industry. While there’s still a long way to go, and it feels like the focus has so far focused solely on binary gender, I’m cheered by the increasing sense that whisky (and indeed wider spirits) really are for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, age, or anything else. I’m delighted that our International Women’s Day coverage this year reflected this. If you’re in need of celebrating the progress we have collectively made as a sector, have a read right here! But let’s not revel too long – we’re not there yet, and we all have a part to play in changing that.

Kristiane Sherry at WhistlePig distillery

Kristiane at WhistlePig distillery

There’s not enough space (even digitally!) to celebrate all the incredible distillers, bartenders, strategists and beyond that I’ve met and been personally inspired by during my time here. And a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has taken a call, met for a drink, or hosted me – grateful doesn’t even come close. It’s dangerous to shout out individuals, but some of the greatest learning curves came on visits to Balcones, Milk & Honey, Kyrö, St George Spirits, WhistlePig, Isle of Raasay, and Cooper King. Whisky is incredible, but it’s nothing without the passion and approaches of the people behind it. 

Sticking with people, and the team here at Master of Malt… there are no words. The editorial, content and PR team – names you may know, like Henry, Adam, Jess, Sam, Jon and Mariella – are talented, witty voices that aren’t afraid to challenge and change the game. But these qualities extend deep behind the scenes, too. The incredible customer service team, the army of web developers, innovative folks across marketing, buying, merch, fulfilment and beyond – Team MoM are a truly marvellous bunch. We’ve collectively scooped a bunch of awards over the years; the two that mean most to me are Best Blog at the UK Social Media Communications Awards, and In-House Team of the Year at the Digital Growth Awards. Team MoM is a team of superstars, and I shall miss everyone terribly. 

But perhaps this is less of a full stop and more of a semicolon. In a joyful twist, I’m going to remain co-hosting the Pour & Sip twice-monthly live tastings. Not familiar? It’s a whisky subscription service, and more. It’s a proper community of whisky geeks, new and (cask?) seasoned. And we have fun. Check it out – and come and join the fun.

Until we meet again via the written word, a virtual tasting, or perhaps, one day soon, over a dram, keep sipping, folks! 

1 Comment on Hasta mañana…

The Nightcap: 9 April

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

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

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

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

Now, let’s get Nightcapping, shall we?

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

We love some fancy Bowmore

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

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

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

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

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

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

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

These are some of the most sustainable bottles ever produced.

Diageo makes “most sustainable glass Scotch whisky bottles ever”

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

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

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

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

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

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

Don’t drink and hike. Obviously.

River Rock Scotch whisky ads banned 

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

Rare Brora whiskies go under the hammer

Brora! Brora! Brora!

Super rare Brora collection goes under the hammer

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

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

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

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

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

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

The dream. This is the dream.

Black Chalk’s vineyard tree houses open this summer

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

Welcome to The Nightcap: 9 April edition!

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

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

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

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Ultra-rare Brora Triptych released as distillery reopens this May 

To celebrate the forthcoming opening of the revived Brora distillery, Diageo will be releasing three historic whiskies called Brora Triptych from this legendary name. Interested? Of course you are! The…

To celebrate the forthcoming opening of the revived Brora distillery, Diageo will be releasing three historic whiskies called Brora Triptych from this legendary name. Interested? Of course you are!

The whisky world pricked up its collective ears when it heard that Diageo was rebuilding the cult Brora and Port Ellen distilleries back in 2017. We’ve eagerly followed the progress since on the blog and this May, a year later than originally planned, Brora will once again be operational for the first time since 1983. Release the party poppers!

Brora Distillery

Brora is reborn! We can’t wait to visit

As you might expect, Diageo is celebrating in style with the launch of three extremely fancy bottlings, called Brora Triptych, which will be available mid-May to coincide with the opening of the distillery. Only 300 are available. The trio consists of:

Elusive Legacy 

At 48-years-old this is the oldest public release from Brora made up of casks from 1972. Very little whisky was produced at this time so this is doubly rare. The tasting note describes it as: “Warm chestnut in colour, there is a delicate aroma which blends wood spice with hints of peach tarte tatin, amidst a powerful rich maltiness”. Bottled at 42.8% ABV

Age of Peat 

A 43-year old-smoky expression made up of whiskies distilled in 1977. It represents a time between 1972 and 1980 when Brora switched to heavily-peated whiskies to meet soaring demand from blends. It’s described as: “Intensely deep and golden, this expression is elegant on the nose with creamy vanilla invigorated by freshly-cut green apples and hints of beeswax, before a long, sweet finish of peat -fired smokiness.” Bottled at 48.6% ABV.

Timeless Original 

A 38-year-old from 1982, the last full year of production, when Brora had returned to its traditional lightly-peated style. The tasting note says: “Glowing yellow gold in hue, sherberty lemon peel, and a touch of fresh green grass dance on the nose.” Bottled at 47.5% ABV.

Brora Triptych

Brora Triptych, note fancy packaging

Master blender Dr Craig Wilson commented: “These are some of our very last precious relics from a Brora of bygone age. Each one represents a moment in time at the distillery and tasting these superb whiskies is to be part of a special moment in history. When selecting the casks for these rare bottlings, we wanted to celebrate  those distinct characteristics that define Brora, and those that we seek to uphold as we begin a new chapter in its story.”

The distillery reopens in May

The three will be sold as a trio in some seriously fancy packaging with an equally hefty price tag of £30,000, and they’re only 50cl bottles. But that does include an invite to visit the distillery when it reopens and be shown around by master blender and Brora native Stewart Bowman who was heavily involved in the distillery rebirth. 

Stewart Bowman

Looking every inch the Scottish country gent, it’s Stewart Bowman

He comments: “The stories of Brora are woven into my own history and I am honoured to soon be able to share these stories with others. My father was an ‘old hand’ at the distillery, and I grew up in the village with the top of the distillery’s bell-tower visible from our kitchen window. In the years after Brora’s closure, I remember my father showing me the old cask ledgers and the records of those final casks distilled in 1983 and asking if Brora would return one day. It fills me with great pride that 38 years after the doors of Brora closed, more casks will now be filled, and we will be able to welcome people once again to this special place. It is our commitment that we will do justice to the Brora of old and hope to welcome visitors to our restored home as soon as that is possible. In the Brora Triptych, we aimed to celebrate the great whisky styles of the past for which Brora is known.”

We will be reporting (virtually, sadly) from the reopening of Brora in mid-May, and there will be further news coming on when and where you can get hold of these extremely rare whiskies. 

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The Nightcap: 1 April

With the Easter weekend on the horizon, you might have thought there would be no new round-up this week. You’d be wrong because we’re doing it a day early. It’s…

With the Easter weekend on the horizon, you might have thought there would be no new round-up this week. You’d be wrong because we’re doing it a day early. It’s the Nightcap: 1 April edition.

Happy April Fool’s Day/long weekend everyone! Today we all had a good laugh when we pretended we aged some delicious whisky in a tonic wine cask. You know, like that infamous drink known as ‘wreck the hoose juice’. Expect it was no joke. Surprise! It was an April Unfool. We really did do it. The old switcheroo. It’s bonkers. It’s brilliant. And it’s totally real. What a rollercoaster. 

Once you’ve gotten over our double bluff, you might also want to enjoy some of our other scribblings this week. Like our guide on how to pair chocolate and booze for Easter, our refreshing recipe for a terrific Tequila-based cocktail, our top picks of blended beauties and a review on a tasty new Tennessee whiskey. We also had drinks advertisements on the mind this week as we considered both how they evolve and who takes a starring role.

But we’re not done yet. There’s Nightcapping to do! Let’s proceed.

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we pay tribute to Caroline Martin

Cheers to you, Caroline. Thanks for all the delicious booze

Diageo pays tribute to Caroline Martin

We kick things off this week by raising a glass to Caroline Martin, who is preparing to retire after a distinguished 35-year career. Since Martin began her whisky journey in 1986, she has made good use of her extraordinary whisky blending skills by working with brands like Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell’s and Roe & Co Irish whiskey. As one of the company’s longest-serving whisky master blenders, Martin has become known for her sensory analysis skills, ability to lead training and panels, and judge prominent competitions, all while blazing a trail for women in whisky. Her achievements have led to honours like becoming a Keeper of The Quaich or winning ‘Blender of The Year’ for Roe & Co by The Spirit Business in 2019. It’s her last role at Diageo’s new Dublin-based distillery that might be her finest hour, re-launching the old brand after creating 106 prototype blends of Irish single malt and single grain to make an expression worthy of its historic name. Rhona Ferrans, Diageo whisky specialist team manager, paid tribute to Martin by acknowledging her “extraordinary contribution” and describing her as a “great example and source of inspiration to all of her colleagues”. Martin herself said, “The past 35 years have been an incredible journey and I am thankful to everybody at Diageo who have made it so memorable”. We sincerely hope you enjoy your retirement, Caroline. You deserve it. 

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we congratulate Stephen Woodcock

Congratulations, Stephen! We’re looking forward to seeing what you do with the distillery

Stephen Woodcock goes to Glen Moray

Glen Moray also has big news regarding personnel changes, announcing that Stephen Woodcock will take the helm at the Speyside single malt whisky distillery. His job title is actually ‘head of whisky creation & stocks’, and he’ll develop Glen Moray’s wide range of whiskies while also working with the other whisky brands owned by Glen Moray’s parent company La Martiniquaise-Bardinet like Cutty Sark, Label 5 and Sir Edward’s. He succeeds Dr Kirstie McCallum, who recently took up a similar role at Halewood International. There’s no word on why her stint with Glen Moray was so short, as she only joined in 2019. Regardless, Woodcock joins with plenty of experience in this industry, most recently with The Distell Group, where he was responsible for Deanston, Bunnahabhain and Tobermory single malts. Which will now be Brendan McCarron’s job. It’s quite the merry-go-round. For lovers of whisky trivia, Glen Moray is the world’s 8th biggest-selling Speyside whisky and the 16th best-selling single malt. A statement from the distillery said “we are thrilled to bring his talent and experience into the LM-B family”. Woodcock added that he’s “so excited to be joining Glen Moray” and that, together with its expert team, he hopes to build on the “legacy of maturing and marrying different casks, to craft great-tasting whiskies, which will be enjoyed by newcomers and connoisseurs alike.”  

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we take a look a certain notable grouse's makeover

What a hilarious April Fool’s. That’s clearly not a lion.

Famous Grouse changes name to celebrate the British & Irish Lions

Famous Grouse and rugby go together like Budweiser and one of those American sports that go on for hours and are baffling to non-Americans. The UK’s number one blended whisky brand has been involved with the sport for 30 years and is currently the sponsor of the British & Irish Lions. To celebrate this special relationship, the bottle has had a makeover which now reads ‘The Famous British & Irish Lions’ instead of ‘The Famous Grouse’. You see what they did there? Chris Anderson, head of Edrington brands, commented: “We are very proud to reaffirm our commitment to this great game with the launch of this limited-edition bottle. On sale throughout the British and Irish Lions tour the bottle will enable us to celebrate the pride and camaraderie we see on the rugby pitch every matchday.” This special bottle which is likely to become a collector’s item will go on sale mid-April ahead of the Lions’ summer tour of South Africa. It should be a belter. 

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we ask whether Glendronach has gone down a dreaded path...

Has Glendronach committed a cardinal sin in the eyes of certain whisky lovers?

Is Glendronach now chill-filtered?

There was a proper few Rory over on whisky Twitter this week when someone noticed the words “non-chill-filtered” had been removed from Glendronach’s packaging. One fan asked whether the whisky was indeed now chill-filtered and posted a message which appears to come from the brand saying: “We have removed ‘Non-Chill-Filtered’ from our packaging to provide the flexibility in our processes to optimise consistently exceptional quality, flavour, clarity and stability.” So sounds like a yes then. Not chill-filtering, a process to stabilise the spirit which some think removes flavour, is a badge of honour among many distilleries and highly prized by whisky lovers. We have asked Spey which looks after the PR for Glendronach and the rest of the Brown Forman stable for comment but have not heard back yet. We will be investigating further in an article coming soon.

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we look forward to a returning festival

Get your tickets now!

OurWhisky virtual whisky festival returns

There’s another virtual festival to pop in your calendars, folks. The team at OurWhisky say its celebration of the water of life will be back for a second year from 29 April to 27 May. The first festival, which took place in April 2020, was made in response to the Covid-19 crisis and tried to unite whisky makers and lovers while raising money for charity. Which it did. Over £12,000 was donated to The Drinks Trust. The 2021 festival will feature another series of fun and welcoming masterclasses, spread out across five sessions with unique themes. On 29 April is ‘Who Run The World?’, then ‘Club Tropicana’ on 6 May and ‘The Ryesing Tide’ on 13 May. Then, on 20 May there’s ‘New Kids on the Block’ and finally ‘WonkaVision’ on 27 May. While those category names are highly suggestive, you won’t actually know the full details until the day of the event, as the contents of each tasting pack, as well as those presenting them, will be a surprise. There are also five Golden Tickets hidden among the tasting packs this year. Lucky finders will be able to choose a full bottle of whisky of their choice from their tasting. Whisky retailer Milroy’s of Soho will partner with the festival to offer guests an exclusive discount on featured bottles featured. All profits from the event will go to The Drinks Trust. Tickets are on sale now for £30 and each includes a tasting pack of five 30ml whisky samples. The OurWhisky Virtual Whisky Festival will be live-streamed at 7 pm GMT on the brand’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.  

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we check out a new drinks website

It might have the aesthetic of a noughties nightclub, but Ooft! could be an invaluable resource for some

New drinks website launches: OOFT! 

A new platform has been made to embrace making the most of drinking in as well as drinking out. Introducing: OOFT! The site went live this month with videos, recipes, articles, masterclasses, events and advice from all corners of hospitality that focus on enhancing both the at-home and drinking out experience. OOFT! was made  by Leanne Ware, the founder of drinks marketing agency Distinctly Aware, in response to our altered drinking culture post-Covid-19. The idea is for it to be an evolving one stop place where you can learn to create cocktails (or get a good one delivered), see what’s happening in your favourite bars and learn about drinks that to expert contributions from the likes of JJ Goodman founder of The London Cocktail Club, Camille Vidal founder of La Maison Wellness and Hannah Lanfear of The Mixing Class. You can even find the perfect spirituous gift as OOFT! has partnered with some mighty fine retailers. Mighty fine, multi-award-winning retailers. Masters of their craft, you might say… Ok, it’s us. We’re talking about us. Anyway, be sure to check out the website.  

On The Nightcap: 1 April edition, we check out the drinks industry's April Fool's celebrations 

Everyone has a had good laugh today. Although, we actually want one of these.

And finally… it’s an April Fool’s or is it?

The booze world really got into the spirit of April Fool’s Day this year with some amusing japes. Top beard owner Blair Bowman and the World Whisky Day team came up with The Dunnage, a limited edition reed diffuser that’s designed to mimic the smell of dunnage warehouses. Bowman commented: “After a decade of celebrating World Whisky Day each year, we thought it was time to stop and smell the roses — and mark our tenth birthday with something special. We couldn’t be happier with the result.” South of the border, English Spirits tried to catch us out with the Cornish Pasty Rum, “rammed with sweet raisin flavours and smooth caramel notes, daringly paired with the savoury palate of a Cornish pasty.” We very nearly fell for that. Is it any sillier than a Brussels sprout gin? Meanwhile, Fake Booze came up with a whole raft of fake boozes including: ”Groanheuser Bush’s new hard seltzer Cacti in association with an American rapper we’ve never heard of. The Agave Spiked Seltzer is unique in the way it features three whole buzz words in the title.” Still, none of them are April Unfools. That takes real genius…

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The truth about our historic Tonic Wine Cask Finish whiskies…

It might be time to sit down and have a chat about those groundbreaking Tonic Wine Cask Finish whisky bottlings we shouted about earlier… Erm, folks… we’ve got some owning…

It might be time to sit down and have a chat about those groundbreaking Tonic Wine Cask Finish whisky bottlings we shouted about earlier…

Erm, folks… we’ve got some owning up to do. We’re really sorry. You know how we love an April Fool’s Day joke. Remember the Master of Malt Luxury Trilogy? What about the 4D Whisky Distillery? And who could forget the iconic Joculus Snift technology? We usually try and go bigger and better each year. 2020 didn’t feel quite right for a ruse, but we wanted to come back with a bang this time round. 

Well… we’re sorry to disappoint. This year, we didn’t do an April Fool. 

We pulled an April UNFool!

The hallowed tonic wine cask-finished expressions

“Huh?!” We hear you cry. “What was all that ‘landmark’ tonic wine cask nonsense?!”

Not nonsense. That’s what. Ok, it is a little bit bonkers to actually source a couple of octave casks, buy LOADS of tonic wine, season them for months, then stuff some really quite fancy whisky in them (yes, we really did go there with the 21 year old blended malt…). But every word in our earlier announcement is true. Well, perhaps not the monastery cat. That we can neither confirm nor deny… 

So it’s true. You can snap up these really rather unusual whiskies right now! Well, for as long as stocks last. They really are super-limited. Enjoy – and let us know what you think!

Our 10 Year Old Tonic Wine Cask Finished Whisky

Our 10 Year Old Tonic Wine Cask Finished Whisky

Tonic Wine Cask Finish Single Malt 10 Year Old, £44.95

A single malt that really might remind you of Limitless… (if you know, you know). This is 10 year old single malt that’s spent some time in an ex-bourbon cask that’s been seasoned with tonic wine! It really does have an intriguingly herbal, slightly rubbery consistency going on. A fun experiment that’s not going to break the bank! 

21 Year Old Tonic Wine Cask

And the 21 Year Old!

Tonic Wine Cask Finish Blended Malt 21 Year Old, £199.95

A blended malt comprising some really good stuff that we ruined enhanced by sticking it in our specially seasoned casks for a few months. We genuinely reckon the fruity, cough mixture vibes actually work really well with the rich whisky character, but don’t listen to us. We may have lost the plot a little…

So. Grab a piece of whisky history (we reckon we’re the first to actually do this?) and enjoy! 

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Introducing our boundary-pushing Tonic Wine Cask Finish whisky duo!

We’ve been pretty busy over the past 18 months working on a top secret, experimental project with our friends over at The Rhythm and Booze Project. The time has now…

We’ve been pretty busy over the past 18 months working on a top secret, experimental project with our friends over at The Rhythm and Booze Project. The time has now come to unveil our Tonic Wine Cask Finish Single Malt 10 Year Old, and Tonic Wine Cask Finish Blended Malt 21 Year Old bottlings!

 

It seems the cat’s out the bag, so to speak. The monastery cat? Ahem… Ever since the 2019 Islay festival when we first bounced some ideas round with Felipe Schrieberg and Paul Archibald, the tip-top duo behind The Rhythm & Booze Project, we’ve been on the lookout for some really quite unusual casks to kick off a bottling collaboration. The thing is, we couldn’t find anything just right…

In the resulting months (it’s been a pretty long journey!) we’ve scoured the land for foodie (and drink!) inspo. We’ve looked at all manner of possibilities. What could we pair with whisky? What would create something truly unusual, something that would pique the interest of even the innovation-weary whisky fan? We didn’t just want to come up with an industry first, we wanted the result to be genuinely rare, too. At points we wondered if we’d set ourselves too much of a challenge. But with prayer and contemplation, we persisted.  

We collectively dug into history books, into the archives. We looked to culture, philosophy and religion for inspiration. We considered finishes that hadn’t been attempted before. And then it happened. We discovered, through stained glass-tinted glasses, the potential of tonic wine as a cask seasoning agent. So we started investigating.

Tonic wine cask seasoning

We got hold of three 1-litre casks and kicked off the test seasoning. Under Felipe and Paul’s watchful eyes, the tonic wine worked its magic on the oak. After some time (we don’t want to give all our secrets away), the wine was whisked out, and the test whisky went in. The results were… quite something. The whisky had taken on a stone fruit, herbal quality, an undeniable influence from the seasoned oak. 

It was time to scale things up. The production team sourced us a couple of casks, and we ordered a LOT of tonic wine. The seasoning proper commenced! We scaled everything up accordingly and then waited. Patiently. More of that praying. 

After the tests, we had an idea of the sort of whisky that would pair really well with those pungent, pronounced tonic wine notes. We needed something super special. So into one cask went a 10 year old single malt (if you’re familiar with our Limitless release, that may give you a clue as to where we got it from…), and into the other went a 21 year old (we’re not messing about with this) blended malt, which pairs Highland richness with Island complexity. Perfection. 

tonic wine cask finish

Our pair of tonic wine cask-finished whiskies!

And… we’re pretty pleased with the results! It’s a genuine flavour-forward world-first, that truly challenges the conceptions of what you can finish a cask with! 

Two great things: this was a true collaboration with the folks at The Rhythm & Booze Project – without their visionary enthusiasm, we never would have crossed this whisky frontier. And the other? The two expressions can be purchased later today!

“We’re always on the look-out for cutting-edge whisky bottlings. But after a while, we realised there was further to go. And why not go there ourselves?” said Guy Hodcroft, Master of Malt buyer. “After a few drams one night with Felipe and Paul, we realised we’d found kindred spirits in our quest for flavour. The rest, as they say, is history.”

tonic wine cask finished whiskies in front of a stained glass window

The hallowed tonic wine cask-finished expressions

Schrieberg added: “We had a meeting where we all tried some of the early tests with the Master of Malt team, and were pleasantly surprised that this actually didn’t taste bad at all, so everyone was happy to move forward with what started as a joke.

“However, Paul drank all the oak-aged tonic wine that came out of the seasoned test casks which meant that we didn’t get to try any at the meeting. That was pretty upsetting.”

Tonic Wine Cask Finish Single Malt 10 Year Old – Master of Malt x The Rhythm and Booze Project

This 10 year old single malt started out life at a renowned but undisclosed distillery (as we say, Limitless may give you a clue…). It was matured in an ex-bourbon barrel before we got our hands on it and finished in our ex-tonic wine cask. Intriguingly herbal and rubbery, with a cough syrup-like finish. Intriguing stuff.

Tonic Wine Cask Finish Blended Malt 21 Year Old – Master of Malt x The Rhythm and Booze Project

A blended malt comprising some really good stuff that we ruined enhanced by sticking it in our specially seasoned casks for a few months. We genuinely reckon the fruity, cough mixture vibes actually work really well with the rich whisky character, but don’t listen to us. We may have lost the plot a little…

We can’t wait to hear what you think! Let us know in the comments, or on social. We’re @masterofmalt everywhere!

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The Nightcap: 26 March

50-year-old whisky from Highland Park, a new distillery on Whisky Galore island and David Beckham. It’s all on The Nightcap: 26 March edition. Get stuck in!  A whole week has…

50-year-old whisky from Highland Park, a new distillery on Whisky Galore island and David Beckham. It’s all on The Nightcap: 26 March edition. Get stuck in! 

A whole week has passed since we last filled our Nightcapping sack full of stories. Which means we get to do it all again this week. You might think that at some point not enough interesting things will happen in this lovely industry of ours and we won’t have anything to write about. But we’ve never had to find out. Because people keep doing cool, interesting or baffling things, like rebuilding a demolished pub brick by brick or putting whisky in mulberry wood casks. And we salute them for doing so. It means we’ve got another cracker of a Nightcap to enjoy this week. So, what are you waiting for? Read on!

If you like winning stuff by doing very little then the MoM blog was the place for you this week as we launched a bottle lottery for a shiny new Macallan whisky and a #BagThisBundle competition with Botanist Islay Dry Gin. If you enjoy smoky blends with plenty of history, fiery zero ABV drinks or bargain vodka you’ll also love this week’s work. There was also room on our blog for plenty of debate with Ian Buxton considering the potential of a whisky bust that could be coming soon and Henry asking if the G&T is a cocktail. Lucy, meanwhile, did some digging into the history of Hennessy Cognac as Adam’s attention was taken by Irish independent bottling and the Curious Bartender popped by to give us some top tips for making cocktails at home.

On The Nightcap: 26 March edition we take a look at the new 50-year-old whisky launched by Highland Park

The new dram certainly looks every bit as old and rare as it is

Highland Park launches 50-year-old whisky

Highland Park is flexing its considerable muscles this week by unveiling a new 50-Year-Old single malt. It’s just the third time a half-century whisky has been released in the distillery’s 223 year history, which should give you an idea of how significant this launch is. The 50 Year Old is the creation of a selection of nine refill casks laid down in 1968 that were married together in 2008 then re-racked into a handful of the finest first-fill sherry seasoned oak casks. Then, after a further 12 years of maturation, one of these limited casks was selected and married with a small quantity of the whisky from the 2016 release of 50 Year Old which in turn contained some whisky from the 2010 batch. Highland Park is describing this as a ‘solera’ as used in the sherry industry, which isn’t quite accurate, but certainly sounds colourful. Gordon Motion, Highland Park master whisky maker, described it as “spectacular”. He reveals the spirit has both the rich sherried flavours from its final first-fill cask maturation, as well as all the delicate fragrance and flavours driven by the original refill casks. The whisky comes in a hand-made walnut box courtesy of John Galvin and the design has all the hallmarks of the Norse heritage Highland Park likes to reference nowadays. Of course, all of this comes with a considerable price tag of £20,000, so it’s unlikely any of us will get to taste it. Still, there’s plenty of tasty Highland Park expressions to enjoy right here, which is a solid consolation. 

On The Nightcap: 26 March edition we take a first look at a new distillery on Whisky Galore island

Yes it looks like every other computer-generated distillery design

Whisky Galore island getting its own whisky distillery

The island where author Sir Compton Mackenzie set his classic novel Whisky Galore is about to welcome its first-ever whisky distillery. The team behind the Isle of Barra Gin brand plans to create a new purpose-built whisky and gin distillery and visitor centre on Barra, where the original movie was filmed. The £5m project will serve as the new home to the existing 300-litre Barra gin still, ‘Ada’ and have a plant for bottling and bonded warehousing, a small café/bar and a retail area, all while creating at least 30 new local jobs. Whisky veteran Alan Winchester (of Glenlivet fame) has been brought on board to put his 40+ years of experience to good use, guiding Isle of Barra Gin founders Michael and Katie Morrison and helping to establish a flavour profile. The plan is for the site to be powered by renewable energy and for it to be built with sustainable materials, while a green travel plan that will limit the number of visitors driving to the site is also in development. Once completed, the distillery will be capable of producing over 300,000 bottles of single malt per year, with the firm planning to use spirit matured in a mix of ex-bourbon barrels, Cabernet Sauvignon casks and Oloroso sherry casks. The founders say the idea is to create a spirit that represents its island home and also reveals that ever since the launch of Isle of Barra Distillers, they’ve consistently been asked if they produce whisky because of the instant connection people make with the much-loved film and the book. If all goes well they should break ground in the middle of next year. Though you’ll have to wait a good while before it’s whisky galore on Barra.

Method and Madness creates world’s first mulberry wood whiskey

One of the many interesting things about the Irish whiskey industry is that it allows producers to mature their spirit in casks other than oak. And that leads to all kinds of cool and curious creations. Like the latest Method and Madness expression. No strangers to experimental ageing, the brand is launching a new single pot still Irish whiskey finished in virgin white mulberry wood. It’s thought to be the first time anyone has used this wood type for maturing whisky. It’s sourced from Hungary, where its air-dried for two years at the Kádár sawmills in Tokaj before being transferred to a cooperage in Budapest. The Irish Distillers brand reveals the casks are just 50-litres which, combined with high porosity and medium toasting, imparts elevated flavours of wood spices and toffee sweetness. Before it was finished in the mulberry wood casks (for around three to eight months), the single pot still whiskey was matured in a combination of first-fill and re-fill American oak barrels. Finbarr Curran, Midleton’s wood planning and maturation team lead, says the innovation is the third world’s first in the Method and Madness range and that the brand’s commitment to wood experimentation and maturation has “taken us all over the world and led to the development of some of the most exquisite Irish whiskeys”. Adding: “It’s been a joyous journey of discovery and we look forward to continuing this exploration as we keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in Irish whiskey.” Oh, and while we’re talking about Irish Distillers, congratulations are in order for Brendan Buckley, the company’s international marketing director, who has been inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame to recognise his contribution to the growth of the Irish whiskey category on the global stage. Slainte, Brendan!

On The Nightcap: 26 March edition we hear about the wonderful tale of a pub revival

The Carlton Tavern before demolition

Demolished London pub rebuilt brick by brick

It sounds like something from the plot of a feel-good film. Developer bulldozes historic pub illegally, locals rally round and the council orders developer to rebuild the pub. And they actually do, brick-by-brick in an exact recreation of the pub’s glory days. But this is exactly what happened to the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London. The pub closed in April 2015. Just before being granted Grade II listed status, the owner, a company with the perfectly sinister name of CTLX, demolished it having previously been denied permission to convert it into flats. Following a campaign by locals led by Polly Robertson, Westminster Council ordered the pub rebuilt, and against all expectations, it happened. Cleverly Robertson and Historic England took plaster casts of every tile because “we had a suspicion before the demolition that they would do something,” she said to the Guardian. Apparently, though, CLTX did a great job of rebuilding the pub which is now in the safe hands of Tom Rees and Ben Martin of Homegrown Pubs and will be opening soon. We just can’t wait for the film version starring Julie Walters, and Steve Coogan as one of the slippery property developers. 

On The Nightcap: 26 March edition we welcome the revived White Heather Scotch whisky brand

White Heather is back, everyone!

The GlenAllachie revives blended whisky brand White Heather

You may know the brand for its considerable range of tasty single malts often aged in intriguing cask types, but GlenAllachie now has its own blended Scotch. It’s called White Heather, you know, like that whisky brand which was discontinued in the 1980s. The rights to it were acquired by The GlenAllachie Distillers Company in 2017, along with the distillery itself and MacNair’s Lum Reek. The blend was concocted in the GlenAllachie Distillery lab by master distiller Billy Walker, whose recipe has a high single malt content, with whiskies coming from the Highlands, Islay and Speyside. Of course, some vintage GlenAllachie is in there too. The whiskies spent an initial 18 years maturing in a combination of first-fill American barrels, sherry butts and second-fill barrels and hogsheads, before an additional three years in a mix of Pedro Ximénez puncheons, Oloroso puncheons and Appalachian virgin oak casks. This means the youngest whisky in this blend is 21-years-old. This factor, as well as there just 2,000 bottles available worldwide and the fact that it’s bottled at 48% ABV with no added colouring or chill-filtration explains the £120 price tag. Walker, who celebrates 50 years in the whisky industry next year (and joining Brendan in the Hall of Fame), says White Heather is particularly close to his heart as it took him back to when he began his career at Hiram Walker, where learned the art of blending. “With White Heather, I poured everything I’ve learned on my whisky journey into crafting a truly memorable small batch aged blend that sits proudly alongside even the very best single malts”. You can see for yourself how he’s done, as White Heather will be available from MoM Towers soon…

On The Nightcap: 26 March edition we've got the lovely David Beckham and his new shiny new whisky.

Blend it like Beckham

Mediterranean Orange Haig Club coming soon

There’s a new Haig Club on the way! Don’t all rush at once. It’s fair to say that Haig Club since it was released in 2016 has taken a bit of a battering, as you can see from the ratings on the Master of Malt website. With its, if we’re being very polite, discrete flavour profile, it hasn’t caught the imagination of whisky fans. We reckon, however, that a new expression might be rather nice. It’s called Mediterranean Orange and according to the press bumf, it was “created in collaboration with brand partner, David Beckham.” Actual David Beckham himself commented: “Developing Haig Club Mediterranean Orange has been in the works for some time now and I’ve enjoyed helping select the final liquid. The orange perfectly complements the signature Scotch notes of Haig Club and it’s a great long drink for summer.” This new expression is not a whisky but a spirit drink flavoured with orange, sweetened and weighing in at 35% ABV which we think plays to Haig Club’s strengths, that discrete flavour profile. Violeta Andreeva, whisky marketing director, Diageo described it as an exciting step forwards for dark spirits,” (dark spirits, lol!) and continued: “We see this as a huge opportunity to recruit a new generation of drinkers as more and more consumers are choosing flavours and sweeter drinks.” We have to admit, in a long drink with lemonade or tonic water, it sounds delicious. Just don’t offer it to your mate with the Ardbeg tattoo.

On The Nightcap: 26 March edition we learn not to mess with the SWA

It does look quite Scotchy

SWA files lawsuit against Canadian whisky producer over ‘Caledonian’ name

Vancouver’s Caledonian Distillery makes much of its Scottish heritage. Well, there’s the name for example. And it was set up in 2016 by a team of Scots including founder Graeme Macaloney and former Diageo master distiller Mike Nicolson with the late Jim Swan as a consultant. Products include Scotch-style single malts as well as Irish-style pot still whiskies. Now, as reported in the Spirits Business, the SWA has weighed in: “We have objected to the company’s use of certain words and terms that are strongly associated with Scotland on their whisky products,” a spokesperson said. Those words being  ‘Caledonian’, ‘Macaloney’, ‘Island whisky’, ‘Glenloy’, and ‘Invermallie.’ The SWA claim that they violate Scotch whisky’s GI and has filed a lawsuit against Macaloney. The firm issued a statement: “We are proud to celebrate our heritage including the Scottish ancestry of our founder and the story of his family, and firmly believe we have the right to do so in a way that celebrates both that history and reputation as a leading Vancouver Island craft distillery.” It will be interesting to see whether the two sides can come to a compromise. The SWA lost a lawsuit in 2009 against another Canadian Distillery, Glen Breton. We’ll keep you updated. 

On The Nightcap: 26 March edition we feared we might win a competition you don't want to win...

Just remember all the good times before you go submitting us…

And finally… the search is on to find the worst tasting note 

Have you ever read a drink description that has left you amused, bemused or tearing your hair out with rage? Now, and not before time, satirical drinks website Fake Booze has launched a competition to find the worst tasting note. Whether it’s wine, beer, whisky or baijiu, according to Fake Booze, “if it’s crap it’s a contender.” The #thecrappies will feature a number of categories including ‘most pompous’, ‘crappiest food match suggestion’, and ‘most sexist.’ We have a top tip for that last category. You can enter with the #crapnotes hashtag on Twitter or send a DM to @fakebooze on Twitter/ fake.booze on Instagram. The winner will be announced at a star-studded ceremony in June, or maybe just on the Fake Booze website. It’s all highly amusing, but what if someone at Master of Malt wins? It won’t be so funny then.

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The Nightcap: 19 March

Islay’s first dedicated rum distillery, a troll-inspired beer and more all await you in this week’s edition of The Nightcap: 19 March edition. Get stuck in. Tomorrow it’s officially Spring™….

Islay’s first dedicated rum distillery, a troll-inspired beer and more all await you in this week’s edition of The Nightcap: 19 March edition. Get stuck in.

Tomorrow it’s officially Spring™. According to the internet, anyway. And when is it ever inaccurate? Usually at this time of year we’d be looking forward to things: the brighter weather; Bank Holidays; Easter and the mountain of chocolate that comes with it. But it’s hard not to look back this year. It’s been a whole 12 months since the UK went into lockdown. The sun has completed 365 keepy-ups with the earth (science isn’t our strong suit) since the first MoM virtual quiz. A lot has changed since then. Even The Nightcap. But it’s still full of fun stories, cool pictures and interesting tidbits. Go and check it out if you don’t believe us. It’s right there. Just scroll down.

We were all a little Irish this week on the MoM blog. Our St Patrick’s Day celebrations were filled with delicious Irish whiskey and plenty of cocktails. Elsewhere, we did our best Soft Cell impression by saying hello to Pour & Sip and waving goodbye to Dram Club. Ian Buxton returned to investigate the merits of mizunara oak. Then Lucy demonstrated how to point and click like a pro. New Ardbeg distillery manager Colin Gordon also stopped by for a chat. And we enjoyed some bargain brandies, a first spiced variant from a rum giant and a fruity twist on a whisky classic.

But there’s still more boozy stories to enjoy ahead, so let’s crack on. It’s The Nightcap: 19 March!

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Big changes are coming to Glen Garioch Distillery

Beam Suntory invests £6 million in Glen Garioch

Things are changing at Glen Garioch thanks to a huge investment by its owners Beam Suntory. The drinks giant is pumping £6 million into renovations. Cutting-edge technology is on the way. As is the return of some traditional production processes. Which isn’t as counter-intuitive as it sounds. The brand will alter its wash still to heat it with direct fire. But, to do that it will use a state-of-the-art, efficient and safe method. It will even reduce the distillery’s carbon footprint by around 15%. Glen Garioch will also soon home to floor maltings. The expectation is that the work, which began last year, will be completed later this year. Distillery manager Kwanele Mdluli says the team have “deep expertise and passion” for traditional distillation and malting methods. François Bazini, Beam Suntory’s managing director Scotch, Gin & Irish, added: “Our whisky has always been made with extraordinary care, and by reinvigorating its distillery and tapping into the brand’s rich history, we’ll be able to build on the quality and complexity that Glen Garioch is already known for. Although we’re looking to the past for inspiration – we’re opening the next chapter in Glen Garioch’s future”.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Islay might be known for its whisky, but the island could soon have its first-ever dedicated craft rum distillery.

Islay welcomes first dedicated rum distillery

There’s a new distillery on the way for Islay, but it won’t be making whisky. Instead, the Queen of the Hebrides will be getting its first dedicated rum distillery. Islay Spirits, a subsidiary of independent bottlers the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, has partnered with an Islay startup called The High Road Rum Company to bring the project to life. The project received planning permission in January 2020. The brand has secured a site, the former Hastie’s Lemonade Factory and Dunn’s Depot in Port Ellen. Following some refurbishment, we can expect to see rum flowing from the stills in autumn of this year. If you love a bit of geeky detail, you’ll be interested to know that a pot and twin retort still has been ordered. Ben Inglis, of The High Road Rum Company, will take charge. Excitingly, it sounds like he’ll be making good use of a rum recipe he’s been developing for several years. Andrew Crook, managing director of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, says the project is an opportunity to put some investment back into the “the spiritual home of our company” and that he hopes the local community will “enjoy seeing a business emerge and develop over the years”. Just to be clear, this is Islay’s first dedicated rum distillery. We know that the Laggan Bay Brewery & Distillery promised to create Islay’s first rum back in 2019. This new project, however, is different. Because it won’t be making any beer or whisky. Just rum. Lots of lovely rum. Cool? Don’t make this like that time we wrote about Mexican whisky

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

One of the events invites you to join Stewart Buchanan to discover ‘Benriach’s World of Flavour’

Spirit of Speyside unveils schedule

Tickets for The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival are now on sale! Now in its 21st year, the four-day festival’s (29 April – 2 May 2021) programme features over 60 events. All of which are, of course, online. But there’s still a host of things to do. Festival-goers can speed network with other whisky lovers. Or check out their favourite brands in the exhibition centre. Or even catch up with friends old and new in the social lounge on the virtual platform. Programme highlights include Would I Lie to You?, which pits the likes of Dennis Malcolm, George Grant, Gemma Paterson and whisky writer Blair Bowman against each other to battle it out to become the best storytellers in Speyside. Then there’s Musical Drams, in which special guests including Charles MacLean, Dave Broom and Becky Paskin aim to bring their chosen whisky to life by matching a dram from Speyside to a piece of music. To grab your tickets and learn more, head to the Spirit of Speyside website.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Soon whiskey will join this line-up

Micil distils first Galway whiskey in over a century

Galway’s only operational distillery has revealed that it is producing the Irish city’s first whiskey in over a century. Micil Distillery’s founders Pádraic and Jimín Ó Griallais marked St Patrick’s Day by announcing that it is following in the footsteps of Micil Mac Chearra, their great-great-great-grandfather who began distilling spirits on a hillside in South Connemara over 170 years ago. In an interview with Pádraic back in January 2020, he revealed that whiskey was on the way. Just a year later casks were full of Micil new make. The process draws on the family’s distilling knowledge. This means historic mash bills, as well as Connemara terroir & provenance. The spirit is made with peated Irish barley, which was malted using Connemara turf from the family farm in Inverin. While the new whiskey matures, Micil will launch two independently-bottled Irish whiskeys finished in its own casks this summer. Congratulations guys, we look forward to tasting the whiskey. Until then, you can always enjoy its poitín and gin, while further information on the news, as well as the history of whiskey and distillation, can be found in this excellent post by WhiskeyTalk2U.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Bottles of booze brands produced by Pernod Ricard will updated by the end of the year

Pernod Ricard prioritises age-restriction labelling 

Pernod Ricard is stepping up its commitments to responsible consumption. Notably by ramping up efforts to add age-restriction labelling to all bottles produced by the group’s brands this year. The initial target was to implement the measures by 2024. This means the drinks giant is more than three years ahead of schedule. It’s one of more than 150 initiatives currently being developed. One saw Pernod Ricard take advantage of the lockdown period to accelerate training. More than 80% of employees have taken in-house digital training courses on the risks of excessive or inappropriate consumption and responsible drinking guidelines. Elsewhere, a digital version of the responsible party initiative Pernod Ricard coordinates with ERASMUS (Erasmus Student Network) was a hit. More than 6 million people, primarily isolated and at-risk students watched ‘Sharing Good Vibes’. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s important work. And it’s good to see a leader in the industry pressing ahead with its commitments.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Here’s to 40 years of Glencairn!

Glencairn celebrates 40 years of innovative glassware

The company behind the world’s favourite whisky tasting glass is celebrating its 40th anniversary. With a dram or two from a certain special glass, we imagine. Glencairn Crystal Studio and founder Raymond Davidson have been making innovative glassware since 1981. And it’s still in family hands. Initially, the business focused on decanters before the creation of the famous Glencairn Glass in 2001. Davidson senior commented: “When I started it was my ambition to create the most innovative, creative and impressive crystal decanters. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone at Glencairn and what we have achieved together in the last forty years. Though we have grown to a team of over 70 staff now, our family values and customer relationships are still at the core of everything we do and we continue to lead the world in creating ground-breaking design and developing unique techniques that delight our customers.” His son and new product development director Scott Davidson added: “Last year was an important year for us with the 20th anniversary of our iconic Glencairn Glass for whisky, however this is also a momentous year for us as we pay homage to 40 years of Glencairn Crystal.” The celebrations will take place later in the year with the opening of new expanded premises in East Kilbride, Glasgow.

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

The whisky boom just got boomier at Annandale Distillery

VCL Vintners “disrupts the market” with exclusive Annandale Distillery deal

The whisky investment world just got interesting. Lowland distillers Annandale has signed an exclusive five deal with VCL Vintners, a London-based firm of cask brokers. The distillery will offer half of its output, around 276,000 litres of pure alcohol, to VCL for sale to investors. As we’ve reported before, the market for casks has been heating up recently. But this move gives VCL an impressive slice of the whisky cake. Especially from a prestigious award-winning distillery like Annandale. Benjamin Lancaster, director of VCL Vintners, says: “Now that we have secured a consistent supply, our clients can benefit from casks with a high-grade premium product. And an even higher potential for return on investment. VCL Vintners intends to disrupt the market and revolutionise the way whisky investors access this high performing, capital growth alternative asset”. He also reveals plans are in place to work with other distilleries on the same basis in the future. David Thomson, owner of Annandale Distillery adds that VCL Vintners were the most “impressive and businesslike” investment house to approach them. “We only make one grade of whisky, so our customers can be assured of its quality. We’re very pleased to have the expert support of VCL Vintners to communicate the quality of our cask whisky. We’re very hopeful that the next five years of this partnership will bring a lot of success”. It’s certainly a bold move by VCL. It looks like the boom is getting boomier. 

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

Come and join The Drinks Community! Everyone will think you’re really cool if you do…

Join The Drinks Community!

A new initiative from industry charity The Drinks Trust goes live this week. It’s called the Drinks Community and it’s a platform for professionals to network, learn and share information. Something particularly important at the moment with the hospitality industry still in lockdown turmoil. Already over 700 people have signed up. Chief executive, Ross Carter commented: “The Drinks Community will be the voice of drinks people, from the point of production to the point of sale. Together, we will create, curate and share the most relevant and exciting resources that will help grow careers and connect more people across our vibrant industry. We will offer the services and opportunities that will help our people become more skilled, ultimately making our sector stronger, smarter, more connected, more resilient and more diverse.” There are different levels of membership from free to £5 and £10 monthly donations. It sounds like such a worthwhile initiative both while the industry gets back on its feet and for the future. So, what are you waiting for? Join up now!

The Nightcap 19 March edition is here!

We can get behind this kind of response

And finally… American brewery releases troll-inspired beer

Whoever said the customer is always right, clearly doesn’t read reviews on Amazon or TripAdvisor. Unreasonable and unpleasant customers are, sadly, all too common. One American brewery is fighting back, however, the only way it knows how. By making beer. WSLS reports that Beale’s Brewery’s latest release is made in response to someone who refused to wear a mask in the taproom in line with Covid restrictions and later sent an email saying: “Your manager is b**** and your beer tastes like hot old orange juice.” We’re not sure what asterisked word is, perhaps some crazy Appalachian swear word like ‘badgerass.’ Whatever it is, it’s not very nice at all. Head brewer Bryson Foutz says: “The sad thing is it’s expected, but the only thing we can do is snap back.” Beale’s response is an American porter called “Your manager is b*****”. It even has a photo of the manager, the magnificently-named Brittany Canterbury, looking very pleasant and not at all like a badgerass. We can’t comment on the flavour. But we expect it won’t taste like hot old orange juice, or badgerass.

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