Whisky distillers brace themselves for taxing times ahead, Kraken rum gets really scary and Bacardi appears to be adding to those 99 problems Jay-Z had. It’s all in The Nightcap: 21 October edition!
This is probably the last normal weekend of the year. Next weekend is Halloween, and then it’s all Christmas until it’s New Year. That went quick, didn’t it? Like Liz Truss. Some hard-hitting satire there for you. Not really our bag, is it? Boozy news is more our speed. Telling you about new Glengoyne whisky, or Seth MacFarlane partnering with an American single malt. Let’s get on with it.
First, as always, a quick detour to blog land where we talked whisky, nostalgia, and the magic of wormtubs, enjoyed the 45 seconds Hibiki Blossom Harmony 2022 stuck around our shelves before it sold out, and showed off this week’s cohort of exclusive treats. Dr Nick then returned to diagnose the symptom of funk in whisky, but not before we created our own haunted house AND a tiki cocktail. What a clever bunch we are. Although we’re giving away vodka and gin from Ramsbury Estate without you having to do much, so maybe not that bright.
Now onto The Nightcap: 21 October edition!
Remember former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng? That was a wild ride, wasn’t it? That ‘mini-budget’ of this is being picked apart by new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and unfortunately, that includes plans to scrap increases in the tax paid on beer, wine, spirits, and cider. It was announced on Monday that duty would rise in line with retail price index inflation from February which, as things stand, would represent an increase of more than 12%. The Scotch Whisky Association has said many distillers were “furious” at the move, warning the decision could add £1.35 to the average price of a standard bottle of whisky, and that the policy change would “dampen” the industry’s ability to invest in the UK and create new jobs. SWA’s director of strategy, Graeme Littlejohn, made the case to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme, explaining that many of the distilleries are small businesses already facing significant costs to their business. “Distilling is a very energy-intensive industry,” he explained. “They are also seeing huge supply chain issues right now, so this is going to add further pressure on to the industry as a whole, but especially those small and medium enterprises.” He also made the point that tax rises could deliver less revenue for the exchequer in the long run, and our two cents on the matter is that we’d like to see one of the UK’s most proud and productive exports be given the help it deserves to succeed, not to be held back after years of already trying circumstances. Not that we have a dog in this fight…
Glengoyne has a new addition to its core collection, a lovely looking 15-year-old Scotch whisky called *checks notes* Glengoyne 15 Year Old. The new whisky is aged in first-fill sherry and bourbon casks before being bottled at 43% ABV, and aims to celebrate the contrast and harmony that is created by the interplay of its chosen casks. “Glengoyne’s spirit spends three times as long in its stills than other whiskies, and this creates a distinctively light, smooth, and fruity spirit style,” explains Katy Muggeridge, brand director at Ian Macleod Distillers. “For the 15 Year Old, we wanted to showcase Glengoyne’s signature style brought to maturity in absolute balance from the combination of both bourbon and sherry casks. The first-fill maturation gives complex depth, bright tropical notes, and a spicy oak finish whilst the refill casks allow the fruity Glengoyne house style to shine through. It’s an exciting and intriguing Glengoyne dram, with a unique flavour profile.” Sherry and bourbon casks do rock together, and we’ll be able to see how they play together soon with Glengoyne’s whisky because the 15 Year Old will soon be available from Master of Malt. Which is us, remember?
But partnering up with a booze brand can end in tears. Just ask Jay-Z, who is reportedly suing Bacardi. The drinks giant is a partner on Jay-Z’s Cognac brand D’USSÉ (one you’ll know if you’re a fan, he name-drops it in songs all the time), co-owning the brand since 2011. But according to documents obtained by TMZ Hip Hop, lawyers for Jay-Z’s company SC Liquor are demanding transparency surrounding D’USSÉ. The lawsuit is demanding to see “all books and records, the location of all warehouses storing D’Usse barrels, bottles and accessories, as well as all info regarding Bacardi’s physical inventory and its inventory process,” TMZ reported. What the issue the man best known as being ‘that fella married to Beyonce’ has is not entirely clear yet, but one excerpt from the document claims that SC Liquor needs to “monitor the conduct of [Bacardi’s] business to protect SC’s rights” as a co-owner in D’USSÉ, per TMZ. Looks like Bacardi is adding to Jay-Z’s 99 problems…
Are you a champion hider? Can you fit yourself into a small, cramped space? Would you like to test out your superior hiding skills in a high-stakes game of hide and seek? Well, Kraken rum is giving you that chance with Screamfest VI: Here We Come. This truly terrifying and twisted immersive horror experience is in London between 27-29 October and will test your hiding skills (and your not wetting your pants skills). Hiders will need to evade a group of masked seekers who have been accidentally unleashed into the real world from an accursed arcade game. These seekers will chase you down and drag you off to meet their master, the Beast – perhaps a tentacled beast? Hiders can find collectibles to exchange for Kraken rewards and get to enjoy the Kraken bar where they can sample Kraken cocktails and drinks after their terrifying game, hopefully with dry pants, but we recommend you bring a spare pair just in case.
After a short delay caused by the global pandemic, Graham’s Port finally celebrated 200 years of fortified wine excellence with a dinner last week at the Stafford Hotel in London. The big reveal was a beautiful cabinet packed with 12 bottles of the finest Port known to mankind including vintages from 1963, 1994, and 2011. The price for all this deliciousness is £25,000 – a lot of money, though something of a drop in the ocean compared with the price of rare whiskies these days. It will be auctioned by Christie’s of London in December with all proceeds going to two charities: the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Santa Casa de Misericordia de Carrazeda. Graham’s is owned by the Symington family and each of the bottles were chosen by different generations. The dinner was stuffed with Symingtons and we got to try some of the fabulous wines including the legendary ‘63. A once in a lifetime treat. The evening, however, began in more affordable style with Graham’s No. 5 White Port with tonic – much more in our price range.
While most of us are bracing ourselves for a looming recession, Pernod Ricard is confident about the future. It has just released its latest results showing growth across its spirits portfolio with the big brands including Jameson, Chivas Bros, Beefeater, Martell, and Absolut up by 12%. While specialty brands such as Redbreast, Lillet, and Malfy gin were up by 16%. The return of travel retail has been an important factor in the good results. The only disappointment came from the wine sector which was down 8% globally. Alexandre Ricard said: “I am hugely encouraged by our start to the year. Our performance continues to be broad-based with growth across many markets and diversified across our portfolio with all our spirit segments in double-digit growth.” But that’s not all, Ricard continued: “We expect this dynamic growth to continue through FY23, demonstrating the strength of our strategy and the dedication and full engagement of our teams around the world.” We’re glad that someone has confidence in the future.
Whisky can sometimes feel like the booze celebs overlook, especially in favour of Tequila. Obviously, Sam Heughan has The Sassenach but he’s Scottish so that’s probably in his Outlander contract (just kidding, Sam – loved the cranachan). Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy, American Dad, and, best of all, writer on Johnny Bravo, has bucked the trend and not followed The Rock or Clooney into all things agave. Instead, he’s chosen to enter the wonderful world of whiskey by becoming brand stakeholder and ‘chief storyteller’ of Bear Fight American single malt whiskey. Now there’s a job title. “There’s a lot of whiskey out there. So for me to put my name on it, you know it’s either great, or I’m getting paid a ton of money,” said MacFarlane. “Well, they’re paying me almost nothing which means Bear Fight is damn good whiskey. I don’t always stare off to the left side of a photo at something off-camera while holding a bottle, but when I do, that bottle is Bear Fight whiskey.” We’d make some kind of Family Guy reference here, but we’re strictly King of the Hill fans at Master of Malt (which is us, remember?) and we’re bafflingly loyal to that.
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