Renowned drinks expert Tony Conigliaro has opened a new Cognac-focused cocktail bar in France, marking his first international venture outside of the UK.
The new bar, called Luciole, is located on the banks of River Charente in Cognac. Opening earlier this month, Luciole is housed in an historic building that was formerly a horse and carriage stables.
The bar has a vast and unique Cognac selection representing the whole of the Cognac category. Carefully curated by Conigliaro and his business partner Guillaume Le Dorner – who will manage the premises – the collection is displayed on the “Cognac Wall”, a signature feature of the bar.
The 50-cover bar offers an “all-encompassing Cognac experience”, where guests will be able to stay, dine and familiarise themselves with all of the leading Cognac houses. An accessible drinks menu allows visitors to discover Cognac through a variety of angles: age statement, vintages, terroirs, crus and brands.
The cocktail menu features 18 drinks, with a focus on Cognac. House creations include long refreshing drinks such as a Spitfire – Cognac VSOP, crème de pêche, lemon juice, sugar syrup and white wine, and Conigliaro’s twist on a classic New York Sour, which matches a Cognac sour with a peach liqueur.
Shorter, more “serious” drinks include Avignon, which combines Avignon incense, Cognac and Roman chamomile syrup – which is part of a drink series on meditation and religion named after the French city, also known as the “City of Popes”.
The kitchen, a partnership with a local chef, currently offers a simple menu of classic French bar food. Sharing plates include classic French charcuterie and saucission, as well as local cheeses and a tartlets menu.
An article from The Spirits Business by Nicola Carruthers
Puni, Italy’s first and only malt whisky distillery, will make its UK debut this month thanks to a sales and marketing agreement with distributor Magnetic Brands.
The Italian distillers will introduce its ‘Nova’ and ‘Alba’ three-year-old whiskies to the UK which have been distilled with imported Scottish pot stills at its modern facility in Glurns in the Vinschgau valley, Italy.
“Puni’s a fantastic ‘best-kept secret’ in the whisky world,” said Dave Steward of Magnetic. “Few have heard about the area, let alone the whisky – but both are a delight.
“The family’s been determined to get everything just right – as shown by importing genuine Scottish stills and bringing over whisky experts to install them. This attention to detail, the area’s climate and unique ingredients mean these are truly special whiskies.”
Puni’s first whisky was released in 2015 using local rye and its stock is barrel-aged directly beneath the distillery in a converted WWII military bunker.
An article from Drinks International by Shay Waterworth
New figures from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) reveal that demand for wine and spirits education is higher than ever, as more businesses recognise the return on investment in educated staff.
WSET, the largest global provider of qualifications in the field of wines and spirits, is reporting a record 85,487 candidates globally in the academic year finishing 31 July 2017, an increase of 19% on last year, marking 15 years of growth. The UK continued to lead the global table with candidate numbers up 14% to 19,401. However, Mainland China and USA followed closely behind both seeing impressive growth with candidates up 41% to 12,813 and 48% to 11,487 respectively.
Top 10 WSET Markets for the Academic Year 2016/17 (growth from previous year):
Mainland China (+41%)
Hong Kong (+16%)
South Korea (+13%)
Trends behind the UK Growth
According to Wine Intelligence UK Landscapes 2016 Report (released June 2017) the number of regular wine consumers in the UK has dropped from 29 million two years ago to 28 million today. The silver lining for the trade is that wine consumers are showing higher spend per bottle and greater product interest when choosing wine to drink both at home and in restaurants.
The report notes that supermarkets are seeing consumers focus less on discount multi-buy offers and more on region of origin, brand awareness and recommendations, and generally becoming more adventurous with their choices. Evidence from a new study by Franklin & Sons has revealed similar behaviour for spirits purchasing, with consumers favouring more premium brands.
The need for more knowledgeable staff is therefore greater than ever, encouraging businesses to prioritise formal training and accredited qualifications for staff to cater to customers’ discerning tastes and drive profits.
In the last year, WSET expanded its global reach with the opening of its first international office in Hong Kong and launching courses in new markets including Czech Republic and Montenegro. WSET welcomed over 100 new Approved Programme Providers and there are now 750 Providers offering WSET courses to wine, spirits and sake trade professionals and consumer enthusiasts in over 70 countries. In the UK, a total of 243 Approved Programme Providers now offer WSET courses.
This year, as the USA remains a strong region for growth across the wine, spirits and sake arenas, WSET will be cementing its presence in the market with the appointment of a dedicated team on-territory that will nurture the future potential.
The new academic year will also see the release of the freshly updated Level 2 Award in Spirits and the availability of a full suite of printed materials for the Level 3 Award in Sake.
Ian Harris, WSET Chief Executive, says, “I am delighted to see that more and more businesses are recognising that education and well-trained staff are the foundations to better customer service and stronger profits. After another successful year for WSET we’re now setting out strategies to take our progress to the next level.”
Karen Douglas, WSET Director of Education, adds, “The new academic year will also see the release of an improved Level 2 Award in Spirits following the hard work of our Global Education team to make sure WSET offers the most up-to-date and best-in-class education through its network of Approved Programme Providers worldwide.”
An article from WSET Global
A new ‘grain-to-glass’ distillery has opened in the UK city of Oxford, claiming to be the only distillery in the world to use populations of sustainably grown ancient heritage grains
The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD), which opens its doors to the public today (27 July), will produce a range of spirits including gin, absinthe, vodka and rye whiskey. It claims to be one of only a handful of distilleries in the UK to prepare its own neutral spirit on site.
TOAD uses genetically diverse populations of rye, wheat and barley grown exclusively for the distillery on farms within a 50-mile radius of Oxford.
The ancient heritage grains were revived by archaeo-botanist John Letts and grown sustainably in ways last used in the 19th century in 150 acres of bio-diverse fields, known as land races, close to Oxford.
TOAD founder Tom Nicolson said: “Intensive farming has had a catastrophic effect on wildlife. It depletes the soil and contributes to global warming.
“Scientists are also linking pesticides to illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. There has never been a more urgent need to explore less toxic and more nurturing ways of growing our food.”
TOAD approached Paul Pridham from South Devon Railway to produce their first still. Pridham’s team created two stills: Nautilus (2,200 litre) and Nemo (500 litre), named after Jules Verne’s fictional submarine and its captain. An 18th century Grade II-listed threshing barn will initially house TOAD’s casks and grain, with plans for a new barn to house the distillery.
Together with two five-metre, 40-plate copper distillation columns, TOAD anticipates the stills will produce around 1,000 bottles of gin and 750 bottles of rye whiskey from every tonne of grain.
Nicolson added: “So many things are mass-produced – we at TOAD are trying to break the mould. We are entirely focused on creating really great spirits while fighting for the heart and soul of true craft distilling and taking our time to get it right every step of the way.
“We really care about provenance and it’s our devotion to craft distilling which will, I believe, mark the difference between us and other distilleries.”
There are also plans for a visitor centre and restaurant at the distillery site in South Parks.
An article from The Spirits Business by Nicola Carruthers
Warrant executed by HMRC, Cheshire police and Trading Standards
A joint operation has busted an illegal alcohol factory at an industrial unit in Widnes containing 130,000 litres of suspected toxic bootleg vodka.
Officers from HM Revenue And Customs (HMRC), Cheshire police and Trading Standards uncovered the fake booze on Friday, July 31, after a warrant was executed.
The authorities believe that the phoney alcohol seized at the unnamed unit is worth £1.7m in unpaid duty, and investigations are ongoing.
Among the items seized included 130 1,000 litre intermediate bulk containers suspected to contain alcohol from two interconnected stills, alleged counterfeit vodka labels and bottle tops for number 1 Imperial Vodka Blue.
Sandra Smith, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “As well as potentially risking the lives of people drinking the fake alcohol, this factory had the capacity to rob taxpayers of millions of pounds in unpaid duty – money which should be spent on vital public services.
“People buying the counterfeit vodka may have thought they were getting a bargain, but it has been distilled in unregulated conditions and may pose a serious health risk.
“We will continue to work in partnership with other law enforcement agencies such as the police and Trading Standards to tackle the issue of illicit alcohol in our communities and across the UK.
An article from Liverpool Echo by John MCDougall