“Every time you think you’ve collected everything, someone else will show you something that you’e not got,” says manager Allan Hudd when we meet at the Briton’s Protection on a wet, rainy Friday afternoon.
The historic boozer has been serving drinkers for generations and has a legacy that harks all the way back to the Peterloo Massacre, but today we’re here to talk about the pub’s epic whiskey collection – which spans over 360 bottles.
When he came on board in 2013, there were already around 190 whiskies on the back bar – but under Allan’s premiership, this has grown massively.
Now, alongside a hearty collection of Irish and Scotch whiskies, the pub also boasts the biggest collection of Jack Daniels in Manchester and pulls in fans and collectors from around the globe.
“These guys they know everything about it. They’re a great bunch, I can’t speak more highly of them, but they know every little detail,” says Allan.
“It’s great when they take pictures of their collection and you see that ours are in there.”
On the shelves, you’ll find some super rare Jack Daniels bottles, including a special flight case of Sinatra Century that holds a tie clip with an unaired recording of one of the singer’s concerts at the Sand Hotel.
The pub also holds Jack Daniels’ full Master Distillers collection, a number of legacy releases, a Green Label bottle you can only get exclusively at the distillery, a bottle of no.7 from the distillery’s Scenes of Lynchburg collection, a Gentleman Jack, and a Gold no. 27, barrelled in maple wood.
Of a collection totalling nearly 50 different styles, though, the real stars of the show are the Briton’s Protection’s own Manchester casks – which the team hand-selects every year, with the help of JD’s master distiller.
Covid aside, every year since 2014 the Britons Protection team has taken an annual trip to Tennessee to visit the distillery and conduct a series of blind tastings in order to cultivate their new barrel.
It’s a process that takes roughly six months from start to finish, resulting in a unique run of around 300 bottles which they then sell on to collectors and to drinkers through the pub.
When they first began making these unique casks, Allan tells us the only other place in the UK that had done the same was The Savoy Hotel in London.
Since then, they’ve gone on to become the place for avid JD fans to get their fix, and have now produced six out of a planned ten exclusive Manchester casks, whilst the Savoy still only has one.
Each bottle in the range offers something a little bit different, playing with JD’s three main flavour profiles. Whether you’re a fan of something light and fruity, woody and oaky, or spicy, trust us – there’s a cask here for you.
Asked which is his personal favourite, Allan tells us it’s cask number three:
“Cask three is probably my favourite, we actually picked that with Jeff Arnett, who at the time was the master distiller [….]
“I turned my paper over and it was the same one he’d picked and I was like if it’s good enough for the man who makes it it’s good enough for me, that’s it we’re done.”
Some of the casks are in incredibly high demand, not least the original cask one – which Allan confides sold so well he only has half a bottle of it left on his back bar.
Typically, they sell all of their cask bottles for £70 a pop – and for this you’ll also get a nice box, some glasses etc – however, due to the demand for this particular edition, he tells us the last one he sold went to a gentleman in Norway for £1,500.
“With whisky, there’s no real price band on it. It’s just whatever people … if you want it, you want it,” he explains.
“I’ve sent these all over the world… to Sweden, New Zealand…
“I sent one to Australia, it cost more to ship it than it did for the bottle but the person who bought it didn’t care. He had a gift of cask 3 at the time, and he was like I need the back catalogue, I need the new ones.”
“It’s just great to see that dynamic of people where a friend from god knows where has come to try it and then they’ll travel all the way here to see what it’s about,” he adds.
The pub’s obsession with Jack Daniels isn’t limited to the back bar, either. Behind the bar is a snug, which they call their Jack Daniels room, and it’s ompletely dedicated to the brand.
Barrel tops have been repurposed as tables, the original Manchester casks hang on the wall with their respective numbers, there are pictures from the distillery and other mementoes dotted about here and there. It’s a Jack Daniels fan’s haven.
The fact might come as a surprise to some, considering that the Britons Protection is also a CAMRA recognised pub with a good selection of ales – but this little gem is full of interesting discoveries.
To sample a whiskey flight or even get your hands on one of the limited edition casks, your best bet is to go down yourself and have a chat with Allan. Trust us, he is a fountain of knowledge on the subject.
You can find the Britons Protection at 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5LE.
Food & Drink
Costa is adding new cinnamon bun lattes, KitKat frappés, and loads of Easter treats to its menu
Cinnamon bun lattes, KitKat frappés, and loads of Easter sweet treats are just some of the things forming part of Costa’s new spring menu.
The popular coffee shop chain is known and loved for its limited-edition menus every time a new season rolls around – and 2024 is proving to be absolutely no different, as Costa has decided to welcome in the sweetest time of the year by announcing a whole host of new and returning drinks, and some tasty food options too.
After welcoming its latest winter menu, the spring menu will be launching at Costa branches all across the UK this upcoming Leap Day (Thursday 29 February).
And one of the stand-outs on the menu has to be the new Cinnamon Bun Latte.
Available to add into to a wide range of barista-made drinks, both hot and cold, the new Cinnamon Bun syrup is apparently set to “elevate the Costa coffee experience” with sweet flavours that are reminiscent of a freshly-baked cinnamon pastry, and you’ll be able to order it from all Costa stores nationwide, as well as at Costa Express machines too.
Elsewhere on the limited-edition menu is the return of the fan-favourite KitKat drinks range, with both the KitKat Mocha and KitKat Hot Chocolate making long-awaited comebacks, as well as a brand-new KitKat Frappé joining the party.
The KitKat Frappé is an indulgent and creamy blended chocolate frappé that’s topped with whipped cream and KitKat pieces.
And, of course for a little Easter seasonal touch, all the drinks in this year’s KitKat range come served with a cute wrapped KitKat Bunny Mini on the side.
There’s new cinnamon bun lattes, KitKat frappés, and loads of Easter sweet treats on the lineup / Credit: Costa
When it comes to the savoury food options, there’s a handful of mouthwatering newbies being added onto the menu this year – including the Halloumi and Chargrilled Veg Toastie, and the Chicken N’Duja Toastie, as well as the Roast Chicken and Bacon Sandwich.
But, of course, Easter is all about the chocolate, isn’t it? For those of you with a sweet tooth, Costa has well and truly got you covered.
There’s a brand-new Blooming Lovely Chocolate Cake made up of layers of scrumptious chocolate frosting and finished with white chocolate flowers, a new and improved recipe for the beloved Carrot and Walnut Cake, and the return of the indulgent KitKat Chocolate Muffins to accompany the popular drinks range.
There’s also some new toasties, sandwiches, and snacks joining the party too / Credit: Costa
The fan-favourite Mini Egg Cookie, and Chocolate Cornflake Nest topped with mini chocolate eggs, are also making a comeback.
So there really is something for everyone to tuck into.
Costa’s new 2024 Spring Menu will be launching tomorrow (Thursday 29 February), and will be available at the chain’s over 14,500 branches all across the UK.
Featured Image – Costa
Food & Drink
New Wave Ramen’s new takeover series is spotlighting the best noods in the game
Manc favourite New Wave Ramen recently launched a brand-new takeover series spotlighting other knowledgeable noodle heads and soup specialists from around the UK, and it’s going down an absolute storm.
The ramen game in Manchester continues to grow year after year and we’re lucky enough to have a plethora of broth-brewing pros right on our doorstep, with New Wave being one of the most popular anywhere in the city.
Making a name for themselves over in Mackie Mayor before building on that success to open up their first brick-and-mortar site over on Tib Lane last year, they’ve become a cornerstone of the cuisine and overall Japanese scene here in 0161, so it’s no wonder other contemporaries have noticed.
After catching eyes all over the country, New Wave held their first collaboration of 2024 earlier this month, inviting Cardiff’s highly-celebrated Matsudai Ramen ’round for the first of many kitchen takeovers and, suffice to say, the gaff was completely packed out. But that was just the start…
The two have teamed up before but it’s still a huge deal to have the two ramen masters teaming up for the new Tib Lane takeover, with New Wave set to welcome their fellow brothy brethren on 17 March and given the success of the previous event, we expect spaces to full up just as quick.
Here’s what you can expect to be slurping if you sign up for the next iteration of the takeover series: all the good stuff and plenty of it.
They say ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ — utter nonsense in this case, sorry.
We will happily sit back and watch some of the greatest ramen restaurants in Britain collide to bring their expertise together in wonderful little bowls of flavourful umami bombs and drink up every last drop until we burst, thank you very much.
The New Wave x Kanada-Ya crossover night takes place from 12-10pm on Sunday, 17 March and those interested are urged to book HERE if they want to make sure they don’t miss out on a seat.
We’re really excited by this takeover series and, if you’re a fan of noods (not that kind, cheeky), you should be too; plus if you’re looking for the very best ramen in Manchester, you can check out our list of the top 10 in full down below: