London Just Got Its First Whiskey Vending Machine

Whisky-Me
Whisky-Me

Guests at London's Napoleon Hotel don’t need to wait for a bartender to order a quality Scotch; they can order it from the vending machine. As Lonely Planet reports, the hotel now has a single-malt whiskey vending machine courtesy of Whisky-Me, a whiskey subscription service.

Whisky-Me was launched by the founders of Black Rock, a whiskey bar located in the Napoleon Hotel. Each month, subscribers receive a roughly 1.7-ounce pouch of rare or exclusive single malt Scotch in the mail for as low as $9 each. But between now and the end of December, you don't have to be a subscriber to get a taste of the action. Just hit up the vending machine at the hotel instead.

Whiskey pouches in the vending machine
Whisky-Me

The machine is set up just outside the hotel, but you won't be able to swing by and get a shot at any moment. (Because, you know, someone has to check your ID.) You'll need to go upstairs to Devil's Darlings, one of the Napoleon's other bars, and purchase a vending machine token. Then, once you have your tokens, you can grab a pouch anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. each day.

The Whisky-Me vending machine under an awning outside the Napoleon Hotel
Whisky-Me

The whiskeys on offer include a special "birthday" variety designed to celebrate the subscription service's first anniversary, as well as some of the previous whiskeys sent out to Whisky-Me subscribers. That includes single malt Scotches from producers like Macallan (which produces Speyside whiskeys), Royal Lochnagar (a Highland distillery), and Aberfeldy (another Highland distillery).

A single-malt Scotch pouch and vending machine tokens
Whisky-Me

Sounds a little more exciting than your average hotel minibar, doesn't it?

[h/t Lonely Planet]

Craft Beer is the Latest Casualty of the Government Shutdown

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Nearly three weeks in, the butting of heads in Washington has nullified a number of federal operations. National parks have fallen into disarray; Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are calling in sick rather than show up to airports to work without pay. Now the government shutdown has claimed yet another casualty: craft beer.

According to Business Insider, the federal approval process for new beers has been halted as a result of the impasse over the contested funding for border security. Labels and recipes for new beers, wines, and other alcoholic beverages are reviewed by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which has closed during the shutdown. Without the bureau's stamp of approval, new and seasonal varieties of craft beers cannot be distributed or sold across state lines.

While this is not an issue for larger, mass-market offerings like Budweiser, smaller breweries that rely on an assortment of new flavors are feeling the impact. Interboro Spirits and Ales of Brooklyn releases new beers weekly; If the shutdown continues, their February sales will suffer, eating into their revenues.

But even an immediate resolution to the situation is no guarantee breweries will rebound. Because the bureau is still accepting applications for labels and even new brewery locations requiring certification, breweries will have to wait for the backlog to be cleared before being given approval to resume normal operations. Come summer, that could mean fewer craft beer options and reduced profits for small businesses that depend on a rotating selection of beverages to drive interest and fuel gatherings.

Until the shutdown is resolved, it appears a lot of craft beer will be sitting in inventory, with brewers hoping the political head-butting won’t break any records. The longest government freeze in history came in 1995, when Republicans advanced a budget met with resistance by President Bill Clinton. That lasted 21 days. Clinton later had a craft beer named in his honor, Exile Chill Clinton, which was distributed in Des Moines, Iowa. The brew was infused with 750 hemp seeds.

[h/t Business Insider]

Swearing Off Alcohol for 'Dry January' Might Have Benefits for Months, According to Survey

iStock.com/BrianAJackson
iStock.com/BrianAJackson

Traditionally, alcohol-related “challenges” have involved seeing how much college kids can drink before requiring medical attention. For "Dry January," the goal is quite different. This challenge, which has roots in a 2014 campaign promoted by the nonprofit Alcohol Change UK, invites participants to give up alcoholic drinks for the entire month. While that might seem to have only short-term consequences of increased lucidity and non-slurred speech, a new survey indicates the benefits of "Dry January" might last for months.

Researchers at the University of Sussex took a closer look at people who underwent the challenge in 2017 and then followed up to see how the dry spell might have changed their drinking habits. Of the 2821 people surveyed, they were able to follow up with 1715 of them in February and 816 in August. Collectively, respondents reported drinking one less day per week than they did prior to the challenge—an average of 3.3 days, down from 4.3 days. They drank a lesser volume of alcohol overall and also stated they got drunk less often, with an average of 2.1 days spent per month pretty much hammered, down from 3.4 days prior to the challenge.

Richard de Visser, the University of Sussex psychologist who headed up the survey, said in a press release that taking the month off may have helped people reconsider the role of alcohol in their lives, with a large percentage of respondents reporting better sleep and more energy during their teetotaling. De Visser also stated that people who failed to complete the challenge—meaning they drank alcohol before January came to a close—also reported decreased consumption overall.

Because the survey was self-reported, it’s possible their impressions of their own alcohol consumption are inaccurate—as with food, people tend to underestimate. But abstaining during "Dry January" still carries a demonstrable series of benefits, from saving money on booze to weight loss. Try it yourself and see.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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