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Noble Rot #21
Out now

Noble Rot #21

Noble Rot, the magazine of ‘Sex & Drugs & Pinot Noir’ has come a long way since issue one – such was the success of the mag that the creators opened later opened the eponymous wine bar in Bloomsbury. It’s just reached its 21st issue – time to take another look at the mag.

‘Noble Rot resounds with maturity — you could take your uptight grandfather there — but also has a deep capacity for grandiose silliness.’ wrote restaurant critic Grace Dent in 2016. Noble Rot the magazine is the paper embodiment of this sensibility, though the mag and bar are classic chicken and egg – you’d be forgiven for assuming that the publication is an accessory to the establishment. It was actually the instantly successful mag that came first, backed by a kickstarter campaign in 2013.

That first issue was printed in black and white, but thanks to the crowdfunding efforts the mag is now consistently one of the brightest we stock in the shop. Many of the recent covers have come in a particular shade of hot pink ink, reliably cartoonish. The liquid logo promises all the giddiness of a long wine soaked evening: dry humour yes, content no (Disclosure: the mag was designed here at magCulture from issues 6–10).

What to expect from issue 21? The quintessential Noble Rot lineup: a review of wine label art (top); DJ Madlib’s quaffing habits on tour; an in-depth gastronomic tour of Rome (above) and the next in an ongoing series of chef’s favourite puddings – Black Axe Mangal’s Lee Tiernan offers a 1,000 calorie deep fried mince pie.

An article about the ‘10 most annoying restaurant affections’ (above, illustration by Mark Long, who alos did the cover art this issue) is a classic offering from the team: the opposite of what you’d expect from the snobbish and catalogue-y wine enthusiast mags of yore. Noble Rot is a mag with high standards, but never talks down to its readers.

My absolute highlight from issue 21, though, is an interview with vino veteran Hugh Johnson (above), in which he describes tasting a wine from 1540 as having ‘the ripeness of sunshine 400 and something years ago… Stored energy’. It’s editorial gold.

That’s Noble Rot all over, pure, unapologetic indulgence. A potential recipe for disaster, of course, but it’s combated by a refusal to slip into fustiness. Emerging from the pages of the mag you’ll feel uplifted, more knowledgeable than before (though potentially determined to sample a now-empty vintage from the Renaissance).

Editors: Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew
Art director: Dan Keeling
Designer: Rachel Dalton

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