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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Karuizawa

The Nightcap: 27 March

It’s another bitesize Nightcap this week, but there’s still plenty of booze news to enjoy – as well as the answers to last week’s pub quiz! Staying in this Friday? Well,…

It’s another bitesize Nightcap this week, but there’s still plenty of booze news to enjoy – as well as the answers to last week’s pub quiz!

Staying in this Friday? Well, what are the chances – so are we! In fact, plenty of us have been staying in quite a bit and getting involved with various projects. Some DIY, learning a few new cocktail recipes, that sort of thing. Our Sam has been trying to listen to every Neil Young album. Turns out there are loads and it’s taking him ages. If you’d prefer a project that’s just a bit easier to tick off your list, we’ve got a brand new edition of The Nightcap right here!

On the MoM blog this week, Ian Buxton returned this to discuss the implications of agave casks being used in Scotch whisky before we helped you explore the drinks world in lockdown-mode by picking five of our favourite drink books. Adam continued the theme by taking you on a distillery tour of Glenglassaugh and Wolfburn without leaving the house. You can thank virtual reality for that. Annie, meanwhile, enjoyed five classic spirits made in non-traditional places and gave us 10 pointers from the pros about how to DIY your G&T. Elsewhere, Henry made an Old Fashioned, but slightly better, and recommended a new bottling that would work particularly well in that serve, as Jess rounded up the best of the best from the World Gin Awards 2020 winners.

And after all that excitement, it’s on with The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Look, it’s Ardbeg Wee Beastie!

Ardbeg unveils new whisky: Wee Beastie

The folks at Ardbeg Distillery clearly understand that at a time like this we need good news and things to look forward to. That’s why it was a welcome surprise to be told this week that the Islay whisky producer is set to launch a new permanent expression. It’s called Wee Beastie, presumably because it was matured for just five years in ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. The press release explains that Wee Beastie is a “feisty and intensely powerful smoky whisky that’s untamed by age”, with “intense aromas of cracked black pepper, sappy pine resin and sharp tangs of smoke”, and an explosive mouthfeel that “bursts forth with chocolate, creosote, tar and savoury meats”. We do love a young, raw and bold Islay bottling here at MoM Towers. Ardbeg’s director of whisky creation, Dr Bill Lumsden, said of Wee Beastie: “I’m in no doubt that Ardbeggians will love this tongue-tingling expression. The casks chosen for its creation make it ideal for enjoying neat or as the mouth-watering main ingredient in a powerfully smoky cocktail.” Soon-to-retire distillery manager Mickey Heads added: “A new permanent expression in the core range is always momentous for the distillery, but Wee Beastie is a particularly special dram. As it’s a younger whisky, it means we’re able to get as close to the still as possible. So it’s safe to say this is a ferociously good wee nip!” Wee Beastie will be available here from May.

The Nightcap

The 52 year-old Karuizawa ‘Zodiac Rat’ 1960 sold for £363,000, a new record

Karuizawa expression sells for £363,000 and sets new record

In these dark times, it’s good to know there are still people with tonnes of money prepared to splash out on whisky. You may recall on a previous Nightcap we previewed an upcoming sale of fine and rare wines and spirits by Sotheby’s and expected big things from Macallan and Karuizawa (as always). Well, they didn’t disappoint. The 52-year-old Karuizawa ‘Zodiac Rat’ 1960 sold for £363,000, a new record for a bottle of Japanese whisky. It’s the oldest expression ever released from the distillery and the bottle is one of only 41 produced, each packed with a netsuke (a miniature sculpture) carved from the oak cask that once held the whisky. Macallan also had a good auction as a complete vertical of The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection was sold for £423,500, while The Macallan Lalique Genesis Decanter 72-year-old was bought for £84,700. The present global situation didn’t appear to disrupt much for Sotheby’s, which sold £3.7 million worth of booze. A substantial proportion of lots exceeded their high estimates and 50% of winning lots were made online. “Against a backdrop of extraordinary circumstance, the persistence and commitment of collectors came through in yesterday’s sales, where a bottle of Japanese whisky became the most valuable ever sold, accompanied by strong prices for Scotch whisky, led by the Macallan in Lalique Decanters,” said Jamie Ritchie, chairman of Sotheby’s Wine. “Collectors also continue to compete for the world’s greatest wines, and when there is an opportunity to acquire the very best the market has to offer, as with the two cases of the legendary Cheval Blanc 1947, they are willing to stretch to the highest level.”

Michael Broadbent in action in the (judging by the haircuts) 1980s. Photo courtesy of Christie’s

Industry pays tribute to Michael Broadbent 

Tributes poured as the wine world lost one of its most eminent figures, Michael Broadbent, at the age of 92. Jancis Robinson MW described him as “a towering figure in the history of wine.” Born in 1927, Broadbent had a varied career in the wine trade, becoming a Master of Wine in 1960 but it was his time at Christie’s, the auction house, where he was most influential. He joined the firm in 1966 and almost single-handedly revived the auction market for fine and rare wines (and later spirits). He was famous for taking notes on (nearly) every wine he tried, and the most notable was published in The Great Vintage Wine Book. He retired from Christie’s in 1992 but remained a consultant with the firm until 2009. In addition, he was chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, president of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and chairman of The Benevolent. He was particularly revered in France where he was made Chevalier of the Ordre National du Mérite in 1979. Au revoir Monsieur Michael!

The Nightcap

It’s the final batch of While We Wait!

Isle of Raasay Distillery releases its final While We Wait

For what seems like about 30 years, the Isle of Raasay Distillery has been releasing an annual single malt under the While We Wait banner (it’s actually only been five years but we’re so impatient it seems like longer.) Now, the wait is almost over as the last batch of WWW whisky has just gone on sale. Appropriately enough, this last batch is called The Last Orders and it’s made up of peated and unpeated spirits matured in bourbon barrels and finished in first and second fill Tuscan red wine French oak casks for 18 months. It will be available only direct from the distillery. Co-founder Alasdair Day commented: “This fifth and final release of our While We Wait series is a highly significant step forward for our distillery. Our team are constantly looking to push the boundaries of whisky making, exploring the effect that different finishes and casks have on the flavour profile, and this spirit is the perfect embodiment of our ethos.” Later this year, the Isle of Raasay’s first single malt distilled on the island will be released which is extremely exciting. Watch this space!

The Nightcap

Get involved, if you’re in the US, of course.

And finally…  Bardstown Bourbon are looking for ‘world’s’ top whiskey taster 

The Company has partnered with Moonshine University to create an exciting contest that calls on whiskey lovers, enthusiasts, fans and connoisseurs alike in the search for the World’s Top Whiskey Taster. Sounds amazing, except it’s not open to the world. It’s just for legal residents of the fifty United States (and District of Columbia). Unless self-isolation has turned my brain to mush, I’m pretty certain there’s a distinction between the US and the world. Might want to reconsider that name. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of $20,000 with a contract to represent Bardstown Bourbon Company as an ambassador, as well as a scholarship to Moonshine University’s Executive Bourbon Steward certification programme, and a trip to Bardstown, Kentucky to blend a custom product with Bardstown Bourbon Company master distiller Steve Nally. Frankly, I don’t know why I’m not entering for goodness sake. Oh, right. I can’t. The competition consists of three phases, starting with an invitation to submit an audition video, followed by regional qualifiers and national finals. “Entrants are encouraged to be creative and have fun,” said Bardstown Bourbon Company vice president of sales & marketing, Herb Heneman. “Tell us what makes your palate as good as it is. Show us things like your favourite bourbon cocktail, your most impressive or underrated pairing, or pick the most amazing bottle in your stash and geek out on it. But most of all, tell us what representing Bardstown Bourbon Company as a distillery ambassador would mean to you.” The full contest rules, terms and conditions are here. To upload your audition video or for more information, you can do that here. But only if you’re in the US, remember?  

The Nightcap

That’s it for the Nightcap this week, now here are the answers to last week’s pub quiz. We appreciate it was a tad on the tough side so today’s edition (coming soon) should prove more accessible. However, congrats to Pete Jeffery who triumphed!

1) Which much-admired Islay distillery manager announced his retirement last week? 

Answer: Mickey Heads

2) How many distilleries are there on Skye?

Answer: Three: Talisker, Torabhaig Distillery and Isle of Skye Distillery.

3) How many times is Mortlach single malt distilled?

Answer: 2.81 times according to the distillery.

4) Where would you find boisé? 

Answer: In Cognac.

5) Which cocktail does the Polish agent drink in John Le Carre’s The Looking Glass War?

Answer: The White Lady

6) What’s bigger, a British pint or an American?

Answer: A British pint. 

7) What sport is the carraway-flavoured schnapps kümmel commonly associated with?

Answer: Golf.

8) What whiskey does Sylvester Stallone’s character Jimmy Bobo request in the 2012 movie Bullet to the Head?

Answer: Bulleit Bourbon

9) What do both the glass Gatsby raises and Tom Buchanan’s car have in common in The Great Gatsby film? 

Answer: They are both a couple (or coupé).

10) Which bourbon whiskey brand inspired a Billy Idol single?

Answer: Rebel Yell

11) Evan Williams originally hailed from which country?

Answer: Wales

12) Which drink brand did the first-ever cinema advert?

Answer: Dewar’s Scotch whisky

13) There are more barrels of bourbon than people in the state of Kentucky, true or false?

Answer: True (two barrels of bourbon for every person)

14) In which wine region would you find ‘the dogs’ teeth’?

Answer: Burgundy

15) How many monkeys are there on a bottle of Monkey Shoulder?

Answer: 9.

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The Nightcap: 28th February

This week on The Nightcap, you can look forward to stories about brand new whiskies, brand new distilleries and… thievery! There’s a leap day tomorrow, which is always a bit…

This week on The Nightcap, you can look forward to stories about brand new whiskies, brand new distilleries and… thievery!

There’s a leap day tomorrow, which is always a bit interesting. Do you use it to delay things you have no intention of doing by saying “I’ll do it next February 29th!”, knowing full well that it won’t happen for another four years? Do you dread it because it adds another day to February, thus making the warm light of spring seem that much further away? Do you completely forget about it and find it disorientating expecting March but waking up in February again then start believing you’re trapped in a time loop? However you enjoy your leap day, go into it knowing what happened this week in the world of booze by tucking into this edition of The Nightcap!

On the blog this week we launched our Merser & Co. Double Barrel Rum competition as Ian Buxton returned to look into the explosive history of distillery fires. Adam then announced the news that Kilchoman Distillery has opened its new stillhouse and visitor centre before inviting you to broaden your horizons through a delightful selection of world whiskies, before Henry tasted the new special limited edition Ardbeg Blaaack and a single cask Bruichladdich bottled by Hunter Laing for our New Arrival of the Week. Annie, meanwhile, enjoyed a Mediterranean take on a classic for our Cocktail of the Week, the world’s first African-Caribbean rum and then got the low-down on peat from a selection of whisky experts.

But there’s still so much more boozy goodness to enjoy. To The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Look, it’s the first whiskey from Waterford Distillery: 1st Cuvée: Pilgrimage!

Waterford Distillery launches its first whisky 

Waterford Distillery has announced the release of its first whisky since it began distillation in 2015. 1st Cuvée: Pilgrimage is the hugely-anticipated launch from the famously terroir-driven producer and is a limited-edition commemorative bottling created by head distiller Ned Gahan. The distillery says Gahan has “brought together each of the 36 farms we distilled in our first year, each one location, captured in spirit, a unique Waterford distillate. Together, they make a mind-bogglingly complex and multi-layered single malt – the determined goal of this intriguing journey – a pioneering concept for the whisky industry”. There are just 1,500 numbered bottles of 1st Cuvée: Pilgrimage, which was bottled at 50% ABV and has a retail value of €150. However, getting your hands on it won’t be easy. 1,000 of these bottles have been labelled “I Was There” and will be available to the public, strictly limited to one per individual, at a distillery open day on Saturday 25th April. Waterford Distillery stressed in the press release that the bottles must be collected in person and that it is only for those who “make the pilgrimage”. To provide a festival atmosphere (among all the strict rules and regulations), local food suppliers, brewers and musicians will be in attendance. Tickets for the open day can be bought on Eventbrite right here.

The Nightcap

The brand home will feature drinks and food made using locally-sourced ingredients.

The Kyoto Distillery opens ‘The House of KI NO BI’

The Kyoto Distillery has a new brand home, ‘The House of KI NO BI’, which will officially open on Saturday 28 March in the centre of the historic city. The renovated traditional ‘machiya’ townhouse was built more than a 100 years ago as a timber mill and the Japanese gin brand has retained the original interiors including earthen walls, beams and roof tiles to preserve its heritage. Just as with the distillery’s gins, local materials were used wherever possible, including bespoke handmade furniture by local workshop In Wood and traditional fabrics from the revered textile company, Hosoo, based in Nishijin, Kyoto’s kimono-making area. The interior design was completed by Douglas Kakuda Croll, son of two of the founders and a graduate of the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL London. The house is open to visitors and will serve classic cocktails and local drinks such as Kyoto Brewing Company beers and wines from the Amanohashidate Winery in the north of Kyoto Prefecture, while the food menu will focus on botanical-inspired dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients. Exclusive items will be available at the Omise no Ma (shop), the exhibition space, Tenji no Ma will showcase information about the history of gin and the botanicals used by the Kyoto Distillery, whilst botanical deconstruction and gin blending seminars will be available at Konwa no Ma (meaning Harmony). Kyoto Distillery’s range of gins, including its classic Ki No Bi Gin, is available here

The Nightcap

The extraordinary Karuizawa 52 Year Old Cask #5627 Zodiac Rat 1960

The Oldest Macallan and Karuizawa ever bottled lead Sotheby’s wines & spirits sales

Sotheby’s upcoming wines and spirits sales on the 18 March is sure to draw headlines as the pre-sale estimate is between £842,420 – 1.6 million worth of rare drink across 87 lots. The Finest & Rarest Spirits selection features some standouts, including the oldest Macallan and Karuizawa expressions ever bottled. The highly sought-after Karuizawa 52 Year Old Cask #5627 Zodiac Rat 1960, is arguably the most coveted bottle from the legendary closed distillery and in 2018, a bottle of this Japanese single malt broke the record for the most expensive bottle of Japanese whisky ever sold at auction, superseded several months later by a rare bottle of Yamazaki 50 Year Old 1st Edition. Macallan whiskies, as always, will draw longing looks from buyers with a range that includes an independently bottled 48 Year Old, an unbroken vertical of The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection (six crystal decanters ranging from 50 to 65 years old) and the 72 Year Old Genesis Decanter, the oldest whisky to be released from this exemplary distillery. Another highlight is an array of old Gordon & MacPhail releases from previous decades with vintages stretching back to the 1930s, which were consigned to Sotheby’s directly from the Urquhart family. “We are delighted to present such a strong selection of bottles consigned directly from producers as well as from private collections to begin our 2020 sales in London. Among the most exciting bottles in this sale are the Gordon & MacPhail Private Decanters, all of which are numbered 1 of their respective outturn. This is the first time that any number 1 decanter from G&M has been offered for sale rather than kept within the Urquhart Family archives,” says Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist. “Offering these alongside such iconic bottles as Karuizawa 52 Year old from Cask #5627 and so many Macallan in Lalique decanters showcases the strength of current demand for the very best in the world of whisky.”

The Nightcap

Have you got what it takes to become the ‘Highballer’ of the Year 2020?

Spirited Union announces ‘The Highballer of the Year Twenty Twenty’ competition

Spirited Union has announced that it will kick-off its first Highballer cocktail competition in March to “find the next innovative expression in botanical rum” and the perfect bartender to become the Highballer of the Year 2020. The ‘world’s first’ botanical rum distillery will task entrants initially with creating a unique Highball recipe using its current range of drinks between 1st – 30 March. Those who make it through to the second round will then be sent a sample pack of five single-origin rums and the competitors must choose a rum that they feel best works with their botanical rum concept while also presenting an idea to help Spirited Union further reduce its carbon footprint. The chosen finalists will be invited to Amsterdam for a three-day competition from 5 – 7 June to distil their own rum recipe in the Spirited Union Distillery. The winning expression will then be launched as Spirited Union’s 2020 Limited Edition Rum which will go on sale throughout Europe. The winner will also help “shape the brand’s ongoing ideas and future distillery plans, alongside the opportunity to consult on new launches in their home country”. If you’re interested in entering or want more information, just click here.

The Nightcap

Dr Stravinsky, one of the two brilliant bars that will curate a delightful cocktail menu

Barcelona comes to Soho in two exciting pop-ups 

Barcelona, renowned for crazy architecture, delicious tapas and, of course, its awesome bar scene. It’s home to Paradiso and Dr Stravinsky, two of the world’s best bars (ranked #20 and #25 in the World’s Best Bars, respectively), and now both establishments are touching down in London for the week with two specially curated cocktail menus! What’s even better is that you can find both pop-ups in the same place, Wardour Street in Soho. Running from Tuesday 3 to Friday 6 March at 100 Wardour Street, the wild and wonderful Paradiso, known for its theatrical nature (in its home city, you’ll find it in a speakeasy hidden behind a fridge door) will be bringing its colourful, boundary-pushing serves. A serve that caught our eye was Caribe Italiano, described as a “Daiquiri with an Italian soul and a tropical touch,” marrying Guatemalan rum macerated with banana and Parmesan, coconut water shrub, fresh raspberry and rocket. Consider our interest piqued. Next door in The Den (at 98 Wardour Street), a bar channelling the intimacy of an old drawing-room, you’ll find Dr Stravinsky from Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 March. With the original bar reminiscent of a 19th-century laboratory and many of the cocktail components made in-house, you can imagine the exciting alchemy the team will bring to London. We’re looking forward to trying Truffle Rosita, an umami-forward serve boasting Blanco Tequila redistilled in truffle, Campari, red and dry vermouth and a Parmesan sheet (looks like Parmesan is all the rage is Barca!) If classic cocktails just aren’t doing it for you anymore, then prepare to have your expectations dazzled over in Soho next week!

Posh Spice’s husband enjoying a drop of Haig Club

Haig Club Clubman made ‘official whisky’ of David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF

David Beckham has brought together his love of football and whisky by partnering Haig Club Clubman and Major League Soccer’s newest club. Beckham not only co-owns Haig Club, with drinks giant Diageo, but he’s also one of the founders of Inter Miami, who he co-created once he retired from playing using his option that was put in contract that allowed him to purchase an expansion team at a price of $25 million when he joined the league with LA Galaxy in 2007. Fittingly, Haig Club and Inter Miami CF will officially kick off their partnership on the 14th March when Inter Miami takes on LA Galaxy at its Fort Lauderdale stadium. Cocktails will then be on sale to fans over the age of 21 at the stadium throughout the football season. Haig Club is made at Cameronbridge Distillery in Fife, and matured in ex-bourbon casks to create a light, sweet and versatile profile that’s ideal for mixing. “I’m so excited that Haig Club is launching in Miami. Miami is like a second home for me, it’s a city that has welcomed me with open arms – the energy and the people are all amazing,” says David Beckham. “Launching Inter Miami CF this year is a really proud moment for me and to have Haig Club be a part of that is really special. I can’t wait to see people enjoying Haig Club in Miami”. 

Is Rajbir Singh about to hit his brother Sukhinder in this photo? 

Plans submitted for new distillery on Islay

Islay’s tenth distillery moved a step closer this week as Elixir Distillers submitted its plans (see photo in header) to Argyll & Bute council. The proposed site will include a floor malting, room for 16 washbacks and four sets of pot stills with a capacity to produce one million litres of pure alcohol per year. According to the press release: “The distillery will feature smaller stills, a mixture of modern and traditional yeasts, and longer fermentation times. Modern technologies around distillation and heat reclaim techniques will be used to maximise flavour and energy efficiency and minimise the impact on the environment”. It will be geared up to innovation with a separate still specifically used to create experimental batches. The people behind Elixir Distillers are Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh who will be well-known to drinks fans as founders of The Whisky Exchange and Speciality Drinks. Sukhinder Singh commented: “I wanted to build a distillery on Islay because I have always loved the island, its people and its whiskies. I’ve been a regular visitor to the island for over 25 years and must have tasted close to 3000 different Islay whisky bottlings! From a liquid point of view, we are determined to produce the greatest spirit possible. We want to create something that inspires the people of Islay and our customers and enhances the reputation of Islay as a source of some of the world’s greatest whiskies. Our hope is that our distillery becomes an integral part of the island community, and one of our key priorities is to work collaboratively with the local community to ensure everyone benefits.” Concrete plans to achieve this include eight houses for staff, a charitable fund to help the community and representation from locals in the decision-making process. We’ll let you know how the plans progress. 

The Nightcap

Fentimans wants you to nominate women who have made a difference

Fentimans Launches ‘She Is Fearless’ International Women’s Day Campaign

Do you work in the drinks industry? Do you work with awesome women who you think should be recognised? The wonderful Fentimans has launched a rather marvellous International Women’s Day campaign, dubbed ‘She Is Fearless’! Running throughout the whole of March, the botanical drinks brand is encouraging anyone in the drinks industry (male or female) to nominate women who have individually contributed to making a difference in the world of drinks and hospitality, from all roles including suppliers and bartenders to brand ambassadors and back of house staff. The name of the award (while obviously celebrating badass women) was taken from the Fentimans logo, the Fentiman’s family (and notably female) dog, called Fearless. All nominees will be graced with a Fentimans ‘She is Fearless’ award at their place of work. Follow this link to nominate a fearless woman you work with! 

Jean-Christophe Coutures

Chivas CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures looks casual

Carbon neutral distillery within two years, promises Chivas Brothers 

This week Jean-Christophe Coutures, CEO of Chivas Brothers unveiled some bold sustainability initiatives. These include the building of the first carbon-neutral distillery within two years, to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses by 20%, ensure all packaging is sustainably-sourced by 2022, make point of sale ‘eco-friendly and finally the slightly less concrete-sounding “roll out sustainable events around the world.” The environmental pledge came with the release of the group’s six-monthly performance which shows net sales up by 4%. Of the group’s big brands, Ballantine’s was up by 5%, Royal Salute by 17% and Glenlivet by 15%, whereas Chivas Regal itself was 2% down in the last six months. Most major markets were growing slowly with the US the standout up 17%, the odd one out was Global Travel Retail which was down by 2%. Let’s see if Chivas can maintain its growth, sustainably, of course.  

Hofbrauhaus

The scene of the crime

And finally. . . American woman returns stolen stein after 55 years

We reported last year that at the Oktoberfest there were 96,912 attempted glass thefts prevented by stewards. But even the most stereotypical efficient teutonic guard will miss a glass or two. Once such lapse happened back in 1965 when American tourist Celeste Sweeney was at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. Speaking to German news agency DPA, she told how she slipped the stein under her coat and smuggled it back to her home in Maryland. Hardly the crime of the century, but it seems that Sweeney has regretted it ever since as recently she spent over $100 sending it back with a note reading: “I took this beer stein from your establishment in the summer of 1965 when I was young, reckless and inconsiderate. I am sorry I did not get it back to you sooner. Hopefully it arrives in one piece.” Wolfgang Sperger from the beer hall was so impressed that he has sent her a replacement mug along with tokens she can exchange for beer. So all’s well that ends well. Now maybe I should do something about that Stella glass that mysteriously appeared in my cupboard one morning in 2006. 

 

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Behold! Six brilliantly old and rare Boutique-y whiskies are here!

‘Old’ and ‘rare’ are terms often bandied about with much abandon in whisky. Not here, folks. We’ve got six really rather marvellous, hard-to-find That Boutique-y Whisky Company gems that certainly…

‘Old’ and ‘rare’ are terms often bandied about with much abandon in whisky. Not here, folks. We’ve got six really rather marvellous, hard-to-find That Boutique-y Whisky Company gems that certainly live up to that billing, including a Macallan and not one but two Rosebanks!

We’re always on the look-out for unusual bottlings that max out deliciousness. And we love the people behind That Boutique-y Whisky Company because they are after the same: they sniff out incredible whiskies, independently bottle the best of the best, and then share them with the world. They are our kind of folk. And they’ve done it again. Say hello to six incredibly exciting brand-new bottlings: Rosebank 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Rosebank 28 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Ardbeg 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Highland Park 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); Macallan 30 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company); and Springbank 22 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)!

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Breaking News: Last Stocks of Karuizawa Acquired

We’ve just received this press release from the Number One Drinks Company. This is literally the biggest thing to happen to Japanese whisky in decades! The entire remaining inventory of…

Karuizawa

We’ve just received this press release from the Number One Drinks Company. This is literally the biggest thing to happen to Japanese whisky in decades!

The entire remaining inventory of Mercian’s Karuizawa Distillery has been acquired on behalf of Number One Drinks by an Asian-based company. International importer and distributor of Japanese malt whisky, Number One Drinks Company, has handled worldwide sales of Karuizawa single casks since 2006 and has helped raise the profile of Japanese single malts internationally, especially with the help of distributors in the key markets of Taiwan, France, UK and Sweden.

Of the 12 Gold Medals awarded by the Malt Maniacs in 2010, four were for whiskies sourced by Number One Drinks (including three Karuizawas) and the Best Japanese Whisky in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2011 was a 1967 single cask from Karuizawa.

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Noh Karuizawa 32 Years Old 1977 – Japanese Whisky Review

I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen a delivery driver so amused. Literally the second the new bottling of the Noh Karuizawa Whisky walked through the door, the office broke…

Noh Karuizawa 32 Year Old 1977 Cask 4592I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen a delivery driver so amused.

Literally the second the new bottling of the Noh Karuizawa Whisky walked through the door, the office broke out into a frenzy – photographers snapping, directors grabbing tasting glasses and falling upon the beautiful decanters like they contained the elixir of eternal life.

Such is the sense of anticipation and wonderment that surround all Japanese whiskies bottled by the Number one drinks company. This particular release is a 32yo Karuizawa from 1977 (Karuizawas before 1981 are revered as somewhat special because of their intense Umami-rich flavour), and it’s spectacular. It’s by no means a gentle giant at 32 years of age – we’d describe it more like being kicked in the face by an angry bosozoku than the peaceful tranquillity brought by Hanami (ed – d’you like that? Bit of Kulcha and that)…

Anywhoo, enough rambling, here are our tasting notes:

Nose: This dram opens with an olfactory delight of walnuts, chestnuts roasting in New York, pineapple and maple syrup. As it sits in the glass the nose develops stewed fruits in mulled wine, a slight note of autumnal bonfire and orange peel element and finishes on glacé cherries

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Whisky Bottles

Judging the Book by Its Cover You might remember, a couple of weeks ago we wrote a post about Highland Park Earl Magnus. As we watched it fly off our…

Judging the Book by Its Cover

You might remember, a couple of weeks ago we wrote a post about Highland Park Earl Magnus. As we watched it fly off our shelves we got talking about packaging, and how important it is for luxury commodities – especially whisky. (NB we’re by no means saying we think it was all style and no substance – the whisky was great, scrumptious even!)

 The Rich Spicy One

Anyhoo, there’s been a recent spate of success stories, from imperialistic decanters to cartoons and artistic fonts. Now everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon, but there were those who did it first, and did it well.

One of the innovators was Jon, Mark and Robbo’s Easy Drinking Whisky Company. The trio were friends and scotch whisky connoisseurs – brothers Jon and Mark Geary, and David Robertson of Macallan fame – and their whisky was a far cry from some of the passé and overly conservative malts around at the time. To make doubly sure everyone knew this, the whiskies were given downright modish names; The Smooth Sweeter One and The Rich Spicy One, bedecked with caricatures of swarming beehives and Middle Eastern marketplaces of Hessian sacks filled with loose spices.

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Turbo-tasting – 5 new Japanese malts (and spirits)

It’s a bit like Christmas at MoM towers today, albeit with fewer board-games and no crap jokes (well, maybe just a few). A very exciting package has turned up from…

Turbo-tasting – 6 new Japanese malts (and spirits)It’s a bit like Christmas at MoM towers today, albeit with fewer board-games and no crap jokes (well, maybe just a few). A very exciting package has turned up from the smashing folks at the ‘Number one drinks company’. It’s their newest selection of cask bottlings, and some sneak previews of the very exciting new malts from Chichibu.

All of these bottlings are currently on a cargo ship from Japan, and should be available in the next two months, keep watching – we’ll get them up as soon as they’re in.

So – enough with the pre-amble and onto the malts. First up, we’ve got 3 single cask bottlings from (the now closed) Hanyu and the sublime Karuizawa distilleries:

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