In The Nightcap: 27 January edition we have Glen Scotia unveiling a 21-year-old whisky, Kylie Minogue, and news on a position going for an official whisky taster.
For those doing Dry January, the end is in sight. Don’t give up now. You’ve been so strong. We’re proud of you. Soon you will be able to pour yourself a drink and party long and responsibly into the night. To everyone else, cheers! Another one? Don’t mind if I do. This is rather nice, isn’t it? Right, drink in hand, whether it’s alcoholic or not, it’s time to head into the news from the world of booze with the Nightcap: 27 January edition.
First a look at what we had on the blog. And I know we always say this, but we had a particularly brilliant week on the blog: impassioned features, great recommendations, and even some actual poetry. The week began with a look at another two excellent whiskies from Waterford in Ireland. We then tasted six Armagnacs that will appeal to whisky lovers, Jess tried the Glen Scotia 18 year old, and Adam knocked up a 1796 Spritz with Santa Teresa rum. Meanwhile, the content team fought the January blues by picking our bucket list destinations for 2023. Ben was back with some more brilliant MoM bottlings, Ian Buxton explained how the Scotch whisky industry is on collision course with the Scottish government and we announced not one but five winners in our Burns Night poetry competition. We’ve got some seriously talented customers.
Now it’s on with the Nightcap: 27 January edition!
Diageo, the parent company of Johnnie Walker whisky, Guinness and others, published its interim sales results this week and on the whole, things are looking positive. The figures for the half-year ending 31 December 2022 show sales up by 18.4% or £9.4m. Meanwhile, the all-important profits were up 15.2% to £3.2 billion. Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo, commented: “We have made a strong start to fiscal 23. Organic net sales grew 9%, with growth across all regions, organic volume grew 2%, and organic operating profit grew 10%. In a challenging cost environment, our organic operating margin increased by nine basis points whilst we also continued to invest for the future.” He continued: “Today, Diageo is 36% larger than it was prior to Covid-19, reflecting the strength of our diversified footprint and advantaged portfolio.” The European, Asia Pacific, and Latin American Caribbean markets all saw sales growth. America looked less cheerful with organic sales growth of just 3% and volumes down by 4%. Overall looking at the results though sales are up, volumes are largely down in many markets including Britain, showing the importance of premiumisation, in other words, price increases. With the recent acquisition of Don Papa rum from the Philippines and Balcones whisky in Texas, Diageo clearly thinks that the top end of the market is the place to be.
We had a nice taste of Glen Scotia 18 Year Old this week but you can never have too much of a good thing, so news that the award-winning Campbeltown whisky distillery is launching a 21-year-old single malt is music to our ears. Just 2,500 bottles will be released globally of the new age statement release, bottled at 46% ABV (natural colour and non-chill filtered) and with an RRP of £265. It was matured in a combination of refill bourbon barrels and refill American oak hogsheads before a six-month finish in first-fill oloroso sherry casks, which the distillery says adds “perfumed floral notes, creating a delicately aromatic dram while preserving the signature distillery character of rich fruits, hints of Atlantic sea spray, and subtle maritime nuances”. Glen Scotia 21 Year Old bridges the gap between the 18 Year Old and the incredible but increasingly rare 25 Year Old, which has been snapped up at a considerable rate following its award of Best in the World at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2021 out of 3,800 entrants. You can expect Glen Scotia’s usual attention to detail where presentation is concerned, with lovely hues of purple and gold in the bottle and a display. We’ll have some Glen Scotia 21 Year Old soon, so keep an eye out on our new arrivals page.
To show how brilliantly Black Label mixes, Johnnie Walker has launched a global competition to find the best new cocktail featuring its classic blended Scotch whisky. To enter you must put your special cocktail on Instagram, with the recipe and an explanation of why Johnnie Walker Black Label works so well in your drink. Then tag @johnniewalker and hashtags #KeepWalking and #JWBlackLabel. Entries will be judged by an expert panel of judges with a winner chosen from four regions: South & Central America, Asia & Australia, Africa, and Europe. The prize, as you might guess, is pretty tasty consisting of a trip to Scotland in May 2023 including a tasting with master blender Dr. Emma Walker, a distillery visit, a look into the fascinating Diageo archives, and all kinds of whisky-based fun at Johnnie Walker Princes Street. The prize is open to both professionals and amateurs. Entries are open until 23:59 GMT, 6 March 2023 with the winner announced on 17 March 2023. So if you think you have what it takes, it’s time to get experimenting.
Whiskey tourism in Ireland attracted 677,000 visitors in 2022, an increase of 425%, compared to 2021. We’re not quite at pre-Covid level yet (which peaked at 1.02 million), but these are encouraging figures nonetheless, published as part of the Irish Whiskey Association’s annual survey of Irish whiskey distilleries for 2022. “While 2021 saw encouraging support from domestic visitors, 2022 saw a strong rebound in the number of visitors from international markets, particularly North America, Germany, and Great Britain,” said James Doherty, chairperson, the Irish Whiskey Association, who was also encouraged at the bounceback from two years of closures and restrictions. “While overall numbers are still down on the pre-Covid peak, we are targeting full recovery in 2023. Based on previous assessments conducted in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, we assess that tourists spent over €40 million in local communities linked to visits to distilleries.” The figures also show more than 200,000 bottles of Irish whiskey were purchased from distillery gift shops in 2022, while Doherty says at least 26 Irish whiskey distilleries will be open to visitors in 2023, directly employing over 400 people and he credited whiskey tourism with making a substantial economic contribution to local communities around Ireland, particularly in rural areas. Something for the Scottish government to consider.
Is this the dream job? Stravaig Spirits in Scotland is offering a lucky somebody the chance to try a number of samples over a six-month period to help combine its drinks with food pairings while providing reviews of the samples. The brand is looking for whisky fans who have experience in tasting and says the responses will be used for its 2023 bottling selection. We were going to call it a job, but it turns out the position is unpaid. Still, the whisky is free at least. Entries close today, so if you’re interested you better make a play for it now. “We’re so excited to be opening up this role and beginning the search for our newest employee. So much time and care goes into each of our Tri Carragh bottles, we always want to create the best product we can, so receiving reviews from a true whisky lover will be instrumental in our product development in the future,” says co-founder of Stravaig Spirits, Ola Lopatowska. “Having a taste tester will allow us to get the perfect description of our bottles. If you’re a whisky enthusiast, who thinks you’ll be ideal for this role, please send in your application. Good luck”.
Scotland’s whisky festival season is coming up fast and its biggest dates have been put in the calendar. The Spirit of Speyside is back for 2023, taking place from 26 April to 1 May, its 24th edition of the celebration of whisky from Scotch’s biggest producing region. Ticket previews are live now, with a programme of over 500 whisky-inspired events taking place across distillers, bars, outdoors, and even castles. Highlights include Speyburn opening its doors to the public for the first time to mark the distillery’s 125th Anniversary, Balvenie Distillery’s expert cooper Ian McDonald showing you how to raise your own barrel, the Keith & Dufftown railway “Dram Tram” (expect trains and whisky) and 19 Holes of Golf and Whisky with Glenfarclas, an opportunity to play 18 holes of golf at the Elgin Golf Club Championship Course with Glenfarclas manager Callum Fraser, then enjoy a tasting in the clubhouse before a two-course meal provided by Hardhillock Bar and Bistro. “Whether you’re a dram expert or just entering the world of whisky for the first time, we will be delighted to welcome you to the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in spring,” says George McNeil, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. “Taking place across Elgin, to Kingussie, to Forres, our comprehensive program of events brings the journey of Scottish whisky to life for visitors, creating truly world-class and unforgettable experiences set among spectacular scenery. Our visitors travel from as many as 35 different countries, bringing everyone together over a shared passion and interest for whisky. I can think of no better antidote to the various challenges of the past few years.” Hear, hear. We’ll hopefully see you there.
This headline makes it sound like Kylie Minogue went door-to-door at lightning speeds flogging wine, doesn’t it? A cracking image. But what actually happened was, in the run-up to Christmas and the equally exciting Dry January (what sarcasm?!), the pint-sized pop princess sold one bottle every ten seconds of her “0” Percent Alcohol Sparkling Rosé. The wine brand has now sold over one million glasses since its launch, demonstrating the demand for both zero-alcohol options and celebrity-backed spirits. “I am over the moon with the incredible response to this latest addition to the Kylie Minogue Wines portfolio. Our first zero-alcohol wine and a truly sparkling example of what can be achieved in this area! This really is a tribute to my amazing Kylie Minogue Wines team, ever since we launched, we have focused on delivering many varietals of innovative and high-quality wine, for every occasion and person, worldwide,” says Kylie. “Our Zero Percent Sparkling Roseì is no exception, and I am beyond thrilled it has been received so well. Thank you for the continued support, and cheers to the new year, Lovers!” She really has it all. What makes her so lucky (lucky, lucky, lucky…)?
The cocktail world is not short of rude cocktails like the Screaming Orgasm or Sex on the Beach but even the worldly people here at Master of Malt were taken aback by a cocktail shared by Darren Scott, editor of SFX magazine, on Twitter this week. It’s called the Jizzlord – a creamy blend of Jameson Irish whiskey, Disaronno Velvet, and banana liqueur. Even more bizarrely, this suggestively-named drink was at the launch for a new series from Disney, yes Disney, called ‘Extraordinary.’ And yes, it does contain a character called Jizzlord who is naturally a cat. Suddenly we feel very old. Anyway, our team of crack in-house mixologists is currently working on recreating the recipe so that you too can enjoy a Jizzlord of an evening. What a time to be alive.
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