London cocktail bar Nightjar has been raided by police after animal rights activists alerted them to the fact that the bar's Moby Dick cocktail contained whale skin-infused whiskey. Nightjar's director Edmund Weil writes in a statement on the bar's website that they had no idea using whale skin in the drink was illegal, and that the whiskey used "a single dried piece of whale skin (around 2 x 5 cm) that was bought in a supermarket in Japan last year by one of our employees." Even so, according to the BBC, "the hunting and trading of cetaceans such as whales and dolphins is illegal under EU law."
So what flavors mix well with the whaley-flavor of whale skin whiskey? The Moby Dick consisted of Scotch, Galliano, lemon bitters, English ale and, of course, the whale whiskey, but alas, they've had to pull it from the menu. The bar remains open. Below, Weil's statement:
To all of our customers and any other interested parties,
On Monday 3rd December Nightjar was raided by the Met's Wildlife Unit. This was as a result of one of the ingredients in our Moby Dick cocktail. The contentious ingredient was 'whale skin infusion', which was derived from a single dried piece of whale skin (around 2 x 5 cm) that was bought in a supermarket in Japan last year by one of our employees. This small piece of skin stayed in a single bottle which was topped up with whisky over the course of the year, and used to flavour the drink. We are fully co-operating with the police in their enquiries.
Before the police visit, we weren't aware that the use of this ingredient was unlawful under the COTES legislation which underpins the protection of endangered animals throughout the EU. We unwisely assumed that since it was obtained lawfully in its country of origin, we were not contravening any laws.
In hindsight having this cocktail on our menu – regardless of the legal framework around such products or the quantity used – was a grave error in judgment. We'd therefore like to apologise wholeheartedly to anybody who may have been offended by it. We genuinely feel ashamed about our lack of due diligence around this and our insensitivity to public opinion, and have taken the decision to donate all proceeds from the sale of this cocktail to a whale conservation charity.
The drink has been entirely removed from our menu, which has been reprinted to reflect this. In addition, we will be taking all steps to make absolutely sure that in the future all ingredients on our menu are responsibly sourced.
· Bar in Hackney Raided Over Whale Skin-Infused Cocktail [BBC via Arbroath]
· Moby Dick Apology [Bar Nightjar]