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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Yamazaki

Why are some whiskies so expensive

You may have noticed that there have been a flurry of fancy whiskies on Master of Malt recently such as the Yamazaki 55 Year Old and The Dalmore Decades. But…

You may have noticed that there have been a flurry of fancy whiskies on Master of Malt recently such as the Yamazaki 55 Year Old and The Dalmore Decades. But what why are they so expensive? Lauren Eads takes a closer look. 

Sometimes it’s obvious why a bottle of whisky costs the earth. A very old or very rare single malt will always carry a high price. That doesn’t mean it will be to your taste, but you can understand its value. The secondary market can dictate price and collectability. Novelty and uniqueness can also play a part. But how can you tell if a bottle is overpriced?

There are some basic factors that affect the price of Scotch, which go a long way in understanding value, no matter the price.

The macallan Fine and Rare 60-year-old

Yours for a cool £1.5 million

The older the better?

Quite often, yes, certainly when it comes to cost. The older the bottle, the higher price it will command. As a general rule, whiskies bottled before 2000 will carry a higher price tag, with this rising higher with those bottled before the 1990 when the 70cl bottle was introduced in Europe. Before then, bottles were labelled as 75cl, 750ml or 26 2/3 fl ozs, making them easy to identify. The same goes for bottles made from limited edition runs, which become rarer the older they get. In general, cask strength whiskies – bottled direct from the cask with no water added – also tend to be more sought after with a higher cost.

But a grand old age does not mean a whisky will taste any different or better to when it was first bottled. Its value will rise because there will be less of it on the market. Whisky doesn’t evolve once bottled (as wine does) – it’s inert with little to no oxygen ingress (unless closed with a cork, but that’s another debate). What you are buying is a drop of liquid history, frozen in time. The bigger factor is the amount of time it spent in cask, which determines a good proportion of flavour. Any bottle can be old, irrespective of its age statement, but a much smaller proportion of whiskies are aged in casks for significant periods of time. These older malts are much rarer.

Add to this the fact that distilleries have been running out of older casks for some time now, increasing the rarity of older malts and making the bottles that do appear on the market even more sought after (and expensive). In 2019 a single bottle The Macallan Fine & Rare 1926 60-year-old set a new world record after fetching £1.5 million (US$1.9m) at auction. Great for the distillery, and those that can afford it, but not great for the wider market. With older casks in shorter supply, many distilleries have introduced more no-age statement bottles in a bid to meet demand and help control prices.

Brora Distillery

Brora is open again – what does this mean for the price of old single malts from this distillery?

What makes a whisky collectable?

So, old = expensive. Old + rare = really expensive, got it. Old + rare + collectable? That’s the hat trick.

Some brands are more coveted than others. Auctions play a big part in this, pushing up the price of certain brands. The Macallan still reigns supreme on the secondary market, but other collectable brands include Highland Park, Balvenie, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and The Dalmore, to name a few.

Bottles from silent distilleries, too, are more sought after. Rosebank, Ben Wyvis, Littlemill and Caperdonich are all good examples. As are Diageo’s Port Ellen and Brora, with pre-closure bottles still commanding a premium (Brora reopened in 2021 after a multi-million investment, with Port Ellen to follow).

Sometimes the fervour surrounding a whisky takes the industry by surprise. In 2020 Highland distillery Nc’Nean, founded in 2013, broke world records when bottle number one of its Ainnir single malt sold for £41,004 (US$54,183) during an online auction. Only 1,320 bottles of the no-age-statement whisky were made.

Love them or loathe them, critics can also build a brand’s prestige. Suntory’s Yamazaki achieved rapid growth after its Sherry Cask 2013 won the coveted Best Whisky Award in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015. Since then, prices have skyrocketed.

Oak barrels at Yamazaki

Oak barrels at Yamazaki

What about independent bottlings?

Independent bottlings are whiskies bottled by companies or individuals who are not part of the distillery, for example the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) or The Boutique-y Whisky Company. But there are dozens more. Bottlers source casks and release small batch bottles of rare or unique malts. Historically, these bottles often used to be cheaper, they were considered a distiller’s cast off casks. Today, there is exceptional quality to be found. Many releases are one-off expressions that can be very collectible and command surprisingly high prices, while also adding to the diversity of whisky.

The price of independent bottles is also tied up with a growing appetite for cask whisky investment. Increasing numbers of investors are buying up casks instead of bottles, hampering the ability of smaller bottlers to procure casks and pushing up prices of independent bottles.

Will 2020 be a good year for Scotch?

Then there are unprecedented events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. With many distilleries temporarily closing during 2020 due to restrictions production slowed with fewer casks filled. The Scotch Whisky Association said in May that during the first lockdown 87% of production sites were either “operating at reduced capacity or closed entirely”.

Consequently, some commentators have tipped whiskies produced in 2020 to become some of the rarest and most valuable. It will be some years before that theory is tested, but perhaps 2020 is as good a time as ever to invest in a bottle?

There’s no accounting for taste

The value of a Scotch can really be found at the intersection of its age, rarity and brand. Of course (investment purposes aside), none of these factors mean much at all if a whisky isn’t to your taste, no matter what it costs. If a particular dram sings to your senses, then the cost is merely a practical consideration. The enjoyment you get out of it – that’s where the real value lies.

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The Yamazaki 55 Year Old is here!

We can scarcely believe what has just landed at MoM Towers, a single bottle of the oldest ever single malt from Japan, a Yamazaki 55 Year Old. That’s right, just…

We can scarcely believe what has just landed at MoM Towers, a single bottle of the oldest ever single malt from Japan, a Yamazaki 55 Year Old. That’s right, just one very special bottle. To tell us more we have brand ambassador James Bowker.

It’s not often that we get a whisky in that’s a piece of history, but this incredibly rare release from Suntory, a Yamazaki 55-year-old single malt, is just such a thing. It’s a blend of three casks of whisky, filled in 1960, 1961 and 1964, and captures a pivotal moment in Yamazaki’s history. The 1960 was filled under the watchful eye of Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii. But in 1961 his son Keizo Saji took over as president and master blender..

Japan’s original single malt

Then in 1963, according to brand ambassador James Bowker, Yamazaki was completely remodelled. The distillery, Japan’s first, was founded in 1923. “Before the stills were like old Macallan stills, quite small and stubby,” he said. They were replaced with the current set-up of eight unique pairs of stills to create a diverse range of flavour styles. So this is a taste of a lost style of Yamazaki that can never be recreated. 

According to Bowker, these casks were laid down with the expectation that they would age for a long time. Current master blender Shinji Fukuyo tasted the 1964 cask “for release to coincide with the 55th anniversary of the Olympics being held in Japan”, Bowker explained. It was “lovely but not perfectly balanced so he brought in the two older casks to harmonise it.” 

Master blender Shinji Fukuyo

Delicate, complex and balanced

Bowker explained how everything at Suntory must conform to founder Shinjiro Torii’s concept of “subtle and refined yet complex,” or “delicate, complex and balanced” as the company now puts it. As such at Yamazaki the team can produce a bewildering array of styles from different fermenters, yeast strains, still types (including some direct-fired stills), and peating levels of malt – and that’s before you even get on to casks.

Compare this with Macallan or Bowmore, Bowker said, “where every drop is identical up until the moment it goes into cask.” He went on to explain the difference. One approach is like “taking a photograph of one aspect of a thing”, whereas at Yamazaki they “take snapshots of all these angles and perspectives of the core malt profile of the distillery.” As such it’s hard to define the distillery’s style but, Bowker said, it always includes tropical fruit and a resinous quality from mizunara, Japan’s native oak. 

Sadly, the records have been lost as to exactly what went into those three special casks but according to Bowker, there is a hint of smoke about the finished whisky. The original casks are also something of a mystery. Bowker thinks the 1960 began in Spanish oak before moving to mizunara after about 25 years. “We re-cask whisky at around 25 years old to make sure it continues to improve,” he said. Finally, the three years were married together in glass for around six months before bottling in 2020 at 46% ABV.

Calm and mysterious

Fifth-generation chief blender Shinji Fukuyo commented: “Throughout the process of blending Yamazaki 55, I used as inspiration the passage of time and ‘wabi-sabi’ – the Japanese belief that imperfections can help to ultimately contribute to perfection. While I often view other extra-aged whiskies as art, I consider Yamazaki 55 to be more like a Buddhist statue: calm and mysterious, requiring time to truly enjoy the inner beauty.”

The result, with a minimum age of 55 years, is the oldest Japanese whisky ever released. Naturally, the packaging is pretty fancy too. It comes in a crystal bottle decorated with gold dust and lacquer. The bottle is wrapped in handmade Echizen washi paper and bound with a Kyo-kumihimo plaited cord, and comes in a box made from Japanese Mizunara wood and coated with Suruga lacquer.

Only 200 bottles have been filled, 100 for Japan and 100 for the rest of the world, and we have one. Just one. So how do you get your hands on this piece of history? Simple click here and fill out the form to register interest, and we’ll get back to you.

Yamazaki 55

Behold, the Yamazaki 55 Year Old

Tasting note for Yamazaki 55 Year Old

Nose: A robust aroma redolent of sandal wood. A sweet, mature bouquet like well-ripened fruit.

Palate: A soft, smooth first sip that blossoms in the mouth with flavor. A mixture of sweet and slightly bitter, followed by a woody note from the mizunara cask.

Finish: Slightly bitter, a fragrance like scented wood and a hint of smokiness. A sweet, rich, lingering finish.

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Magical, mysterious mizunara oak

Thanks to the fashion for Japanese whisky, mizunara oak is highly in demand all over the world. But what makes it different from European or American oak? And is it…

Thanks to the fashion for Japanese whisky, mizunara oak is highly in demand all over the world. But what makes it different from European or American oak? And is it a suitable material to make casks from anyway? Ian Buxton investigates.

Why would you make casks from a tree that takes more than 200 years to grow to a sufficient size? Which is already highly demanded by makers of luxury furniture and thus more expensive than the alternatives? And which is ill-suited to making barrels anyway, being difficult to shape into staves and prone to leakage?

Tasting barrels of whisky at Yamazaki in Japan

Photo courtesy of Yamazaki

Water oak

Even the name might put you off. Mizunara comes from the Japanese mizu, meaning water and nara, meaning oak. In Latin it’s known as quercus crispula. You’d imagine that coopers and distillers would take the hint. But no, mizunara casks are the hottest name in wood and, splashed across a whisky’s label, almost a guarantee of a premium price and a rapid rate of sale. Some, in fact, are so keenly sought after that they become the subject of a lottery.

So what makes this timber quite so desirable? Is it, in fact, Japan’s secret weapon in the world whisky wars? It’s all about the taste, of course, the best mizunara casks offering the distiller delicate hints of sandalwood, agarwood, rich coconut, and a marked fruity note that characterizes the finest Japanese whiskies. The unique sweet and spicy flavour is apparently thanks to – science alert – the oak’s high level of lactones.

Rumour has it, though, that the use of Mizunara oak for whisky casks was an accident of history and due more to the lack of availability of other barrels due to import restrictions into Japan following the second world war than to any recognition of the native wood’s distinctive qualities. Time was also a critical factor. Extended aging of whisky is a relatively recent phenomenon but it appears that it takes time – some commentators maintain as long as fifteen to twenty years is required – for the initially more forceful mizunara wood impacts to dissipate and the full benefit be obtained. In a market where most whiskies were destined for, by today’s standards, rather youthful blends this was a problem.

Scottish distillers take an interest

Thus, with Japanese whisky rather looked down on in world markets until recently, it took the award-winning progress of Yamazaki in important international competitions to draw the attention of the larger global industry.

But even though Western whisky distillers came to appreciate mizunara’s unique qualities they still faced the problem that the wood was difficult to work and casks near impossible to source. So initially, to find sufficient casks, significant resources were needed which explains why early Scotch whisky releases such as Chivas Regal Mizunara and Bowmore came from companies with financial muscle and Japanese connections.

Yamazaki Mizunara 18

Yamazaki Mizunara 18 year old. If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it

A unique flavour

Now smaller companies are getting in on the act. Kaiyo is a small Japanese blender specializing in mizunara-matured whiskies and they claim to have discovered an interesting shortcut to reduce the aging necessary for the full flavour impact. 

According to the company’s Jeffrey Karlovitch, while conventional American and European oak are at their best during the first fill, mizunara improves with time. “The second and third use: that’s where the magic really happens,” he says.

Another example from Japan comes from the Kurayoshi Distillery with their Matsui Mizunara Cask – the lack of an age statement suggesting finishing to me. Mind you, there’s something clearly different about Kurayoshi, whose website claims that “Kurayoshi’s water is soft and it has a condensed taste”. Condensed water – definitely a whisky first!

Buyer beware

Like ‘Japanese whisky’ in general my final point is, as ever, caveat emptor. There is a danger that mizunara is falling into the hands of over-enthusiastic PR and marketing types, eager to associate their product with this magical, mysterious wood borrowing some of its mystique and brand allure without allowing it the time essential to work its undoubted magic.

So, look carefully at your planned purchase and expect to pay handsomely for the real thing.

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The Nightcap: 31 July

It’s Friday and you must know what that means by now, it can only be The Nightcap!  Sometimes you see something wonderful and it restores your faith in the world….

It’s Friday and you must know what that means by now, it can only be The Nightcap! 

Sometimes you see something wonderful and it restores your faith in the world. This week we had probably the best thing that’s ever been featured on our humble collection of boozy stories. It’s a story all about distillery pets. Do you want to see the cats and dogs (and a surprise animal) that reside at your favourite flavour factories? Of course, you do. It’s just the second feature from our new guest writer Lucy Britner and honestly, I don’t know how she tops it. Once you see those loveable animals you’ll feel ready to enjoy the weekend in all its glory. Grab a drink, settle down and kick it off with The Nightcap.

In another tip-top week on the MoM blog, Johnnie Walker kicked things off by announcing it releases four celebratory 200th-anniversary whiskies, while Henry had the pleasure of picking the brain of Elwyn Gladstone, the marketing guru behind such brands as Sailor Jerry rum, Hendrick’s, Malfy Gin and Hotel Starlino. Annie then did some trademark myth-busting on the role of water in spirits before Adam spoke to Michael Kain about 10 years of 6 O’Clock Gin. Fans of our regular posts will have noted that our Cocktail of the Week was the terrifically tasty Grasshopper, while our New Arrival of the Week was a delightful Japanese single malt whisky that was part-aged in an apple brandy cask.

The Nightcap

Founders of Sliabh Liag Distillers, James and Moria Doherty, with their first cask of Donegal whiskey

First Donegal whiskey launched

When we spoke to James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers back in 2019, he told us about his desire to distil peated whiskey and make Donegal to Ireland what Islay is to Scotland. Well, this week the brand has taken its first big step forward to fulfilling this ambition by filling its first cask with a peated single malt new-make. Marking the first time that legal whiskey distillation has taken place in Donegal since the closure of Burt Distillery in 1841, the small-batch production took place at Sliabh Liag Distillers’ Carrick facility while the business’s new whiskey distillery at Ardara is under construction and on Wednesday the brand launched a new crowdfunding campaign to help raise €1.5m of capital for the project. The new make was distilled twice in SLD’s copper pot still, known as Méabh, from peated Irish Craft Malts barley grown in Meath, mirroring the profile of the spirit that was being distilled in Ulster 200 years ago, before it was filled into a first-fill bourbon oak cask. “While Burt Distillery ceased production in 1841, we know illegal distilling continued during the intermittent years, not least by my grandfather who was creating a smoky, double-distilled spirit under the authorities’ radar on the hills ‘up the glen’ in Kilcar. I think my grandfather would approve that we are now distilling the first legal whiskey in Donegal for nearly 200 years, and there’s a lovely sense of coming full circle,” commented Doherty. “There has been a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point – especially last week in hand-mashing 500L of wort for brewing – but it’s given us a huge lift as we embark on the next stage in both our and Donegal’s history. Once we are up and running there, the future of Donegal Irish Whiskey will be even brighter.” 

The Nightcap

If everything goes well the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula should have a distillery by 2022!

Plans unveiled for Benbecula distillery

New whisky distillery alert! Well, potential distillery. This week, The Uist Distilling Company revealed plans for a £6.5 million site at Gramsdale on the tiny Hebridean island of Benbecula! If it gets the green light, the distillery will make rum and gin alongside single malt, and will also feature a visitor centre and food outlet, where visitors can snap up all manner of freshly made local products. What’s especially exciting is that low-carbon tech will be used from design and build all the way through to distillation. Green(er) whisky incoming! 25 jobs will be created, alongside another 60-70 indirect jobs in the supply chain. Good stuff all round. “The new distillery aims to be a champion of all things Hebridean and Scottish and will provide a huge boost to tourism in the area,” said Angus A McMillan, Uist Distilling Company chairman and chief executive. “We want to produce whisky, rum and gin that will put Benbecula and the Hebrides firmly on the whisky tourist trail, while introducing the products we make to a national and international clientele.” The planning application is due for submission imminently, and, if all goes to plan, production will kick off in early 2022. Godspeed, folks!

The Nightcap

Scottish barley being harvested for Bruichladdich whisky

Bruichladdich continues transparent drive with No Hidden Measures campaign 

Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich has long committed itself to transparency. Back in 2016, it stood with whisky blender Compass Box in its drive for clearer labelling rules when it comes to the constituent parts of whisky expressions. Now Bruichladdich is honing in on accountability, with a focus on the prevalence of raw materials in whisky-making. Through its No Hidden Measures initiatives, it ‘hopes to bring a new level of transparency to single malt Scotch’ by publishing the provenance of and recipes for its flagship Classic Laddie and Laddie Eight bottlings on its website. Details include where the barley was grown (on the island of Islay or near Inverness), its maturation details of first- or second-fill casks, and the age of its youngest component part. Interestingly, the distillery also states how EU law restricts its transparency (the subject of the first campaign with Compass Box). “Never before have businesses been in such a privileged position to share the detail in all they do,” said Bruichladdich CEO Douglas Taylor. “Our customers are engaged with us across our big picture thinking down to the granular detail of how our whisky is made. Our aim has always been to make the most thought-provoking spirit possible, and we couldn’t do that without nurturing the same sense of curiosity in our consumers, as we allow ourselves.” He continued: “We’re determined to highlight the complexity behind every batch of The Classic Laddie and The Laddie Eight. There are no shortcuts taken in their creation, therefore we have no secrets… that’s what’s meant by ‘No Hidden Measures’. Some may dismiss this level of detail as unnecessary, but it’s important for us to make whisky accessible AND allow a more sophisticated conversation to take place.” To discover how their bottle was made, customers can pop a code found on the back of the bottles into Bruichladdich’s website. Happy tracking!

The Nightcap

Smeaton’s Gin is the latest brand to do their bit to support the on-trade

Smeaton’s Gin to boost Hospitality Action funds with new cocktail

We all know we’re living in challenging times, and that despite lockdown’s largely easing, the hospitality industry continues to struggle. Loads of brands and retailers alike have pulled together to support the on-trade, the latest being Smeaton’s Gin. The Bristol-based producer ran a cocktail competition to find a fabulous new serve. The winning concoction will be sold in bars and restaurants across the UK, with Smeaton’s making a donation to Hospitality Action for every cocktail sold. The winner? Gin blogger and judge Meme Toor with her serve The Hospitality. The pineapple-based drink “tastes delicious, shines in the glass, and will offer bars an easily-replicable, relatable, value-added cocktail to offer their patrons returning from lockdown,” according to brand ambassador Alex Williams. Smeaton’s owner Michael Palij MW added: “Bars and restaurants embraced Smeaton’s Gin when we launched. Now it’s our turn to help and at this immensely challenging time for the On-Trade, we are committed to supporting Hospitality Action – a charity which supports hospitality workers in times of hardship.” Good work all round!

The Nightcap

Cheers to 10 years of William Grant and Tullamore Distillery’s partnership!

William Grant & Sons Celebrates “10 Years of Tully”

Can you believe we’ve had 10 whole years of Tullamore D.E.W. deliciousness? This month marks an entire decade since it joined William Grant & Sons’ portfolio! Over that time it’s become the world’s second-largest triple blend Irish whiskey, which is pretty groundbreaking stuff. If you want to mark the occasion with more than just a dram (though that will certainly do), then you’ll be thrilled to know that Tullamore D.E.W. visitor centre reopened its doors to the public this month! We love a celebration. Anyway, we’ll leave you with a fact, the kind that’s going to come in handy at dinner parties. Here goes: across the world, 10 shots of Tullamore D.E.W. are consumed every second. Yes, really! Now, go and get yourself a glass of Tully and spread the word. 

The Nightcap

Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest Japanese whisky ever produced.

Oldest Japanese whisky ever distilled goes to auction in August

If you want to see a little piece of whisky history made next month then mark the 21 August (Friday) in your calendar as it’s the day the Bonhams Hong Kong auction of Fine and Rare Wine & Whisky will take place. The highlight of this sale? A bottle of Yamazaki-55 Year Old, the oldest expression ever produced by the prestigious brand and the oldest Japanese whisky in history. The blockbuster of a single-malt was only released in June this year by Suntory, via a customer lottery system applicable only to residents from within Japan. The expression was distilled in the 1960s and matured in both Japanese Mizunara oak cask from 1960 and white oak cask from 1964 before it was bottled at 46% ABV. The whisky, which had an exceedingly-limited outturn of 100 bottles, is said to have a complex agarwood and sandalwood nose, rich in fruity scents with a sweet aftertaste. Excitingly, it’s even older than the coveted Yamazaki-50 Year Old, which – on several occasions over the years – has set the world auction record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky. Other wine and spirits highlights of the sale include a bottle of Saburomaru 1960 55-year-old, which means the auction will feature the two oldest Japanese whiskies currently available to the market, as well as Macallan Lalique 55-Year-Old, Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Blue Geisha and Karuizawa 1974 (40-year-old) Gold Geisha and Bowmore 1955 (40-year-old). “We are thrilled to be the first international auction house to offer this historic and extremely popular bottle to the worldwide audience, which already has a strong appetite for the finest Japanese whisky,” Daniel Lam, Bonhams’ director of wine & spirits, Asia, commented. “One of only 100 that were produced, this amber joy by one of the most prestigious whisky distilleries is as rare as its quality is unmatched.”

The Nightcap

It’s wholesome escapism, Tobermory-style

And finally… need some soothing colouring? Tobermory’s got your back

Remember a couple of years ago when colouring-in books for grown-ups were the thing? Well, Mull-based Tobermory Distillery reckons it’s time for a come-back. After all, lockdowns around the world have inspired many of us to get in touch with our artistic sides, so why not? As such it has launched a Tobermory colouring book, featuring 10 hand-drawn designs by artist Lydia Bourhill depicting the charm of the island, from its technicolour harbour to dramatic landscapes. “Our colourful home on the island of Mull is ample inspiration for those looking to keep up the enriching, artistic hobbies many have started in lockdown,” said Amy Burns, Tobermory Distillery’s global marketing manager. “It’s thanks to this nourishing artistic community and the island’s stunning natural beauty that Tobermory Distillery is expressive by nature, and this is reflected in the spirits we craft.” She continued: “It is this expressive creativity which formed the inspiration for our colouring-in books, designed to let you relax, unwind and unlock your artistic passions over a gin and tonic or dram of whisky.” The colouring books are available from Tobermorydistillery.com – soothing weekend plans sorted!

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Q&A: Brian Ashcraft, author of Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit

Fancy finding out about Japanese whisky but don’t know where to start? ‘Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit’ certainly sounds like a good place to…

Fancy finding out about Japanese whisky but don’t know where to start? ‘Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit’ certainly sounds like a good place to start. We chat to the author, Brian Ashcraft…

On the blog today we are delighted to have Brian Ashcraft, author of a beautiful book called Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit. It’s a brilliant introduction to a complicated subject and, just to make your life even easier, at the end Brian has picked his favourite Japanese whiskies from the Master of Malt range.

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The Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year Old: Lotteries and Charity Auctions

Hello, fellow whisky lover. You might’ve heard about a little thing called The Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year Old. Well, we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on six bottles…

Hello, fellow whisky lover. You might’ve heard about a little thing called The Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year Old. Well, we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on six bottles – and this is what we’re gonna do with ’em.

Want to find out when this is all going down? See the timeline below.

If you’re not sure what all the faff is about, let us explain. This extraordinary bottling is a blend of single malt whiskies aged entirely in Mizunara casks for at least 18 years. Mizunara oak is only found in a few regions in Japan, so it’s pretty hard to come by; it’s also soft and porous, so it’s not particularly great at retaining liquid. Suntory Whisky persevered, and released just 1,000 bottles of this unbelievable whisky worldwide – of which we’re delighted to have six.

To say this bottling is highly sought-after is an understatement. It has an RRP of £1,000, but a quick Google search confirms that it’s going for way more than that already (Think double that price, or even more…), which is why we’ve decided to split our allocation between a 30ml dram lottery, a bottle lottery, and a charity auction.

This has been the case with rarities like this for the past few years (most recently, the hotly-anticipated Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2017, and before that, the Yamazaki Sherry Cask Release, to name just a few). If you’re wondering what the hell we’re on about, we invite you to read this post for an in-depth explanation.

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Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2017 Winners

Jim Murray has announced the winners in this year’s Whisky Bible, with a rye claiming top spot for the second year running and a Scotch whisky in the top three…

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2017

Jim Murray has announced the winners in this year’s Whisky Bible, with a rye claiming top spot for the second year running and a Scotch whisky in the top three for the first time since 2014.

Following on from Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Canadian rye, it’s an American rye whiskey that’s been named World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible this time around: Booker’s ‘Big Time Batch’, aged for 13 years, 1 month and 12 days. Laid down by the legendary Booker Noe himself in 2003, shortly before his death, his son continued to watch over the casks and they were finally released earlier this year. Booker’s first ever rye, it was already described by Beam as an “extremely rare, limited edition offering, made from a very limited number of barrels” and will now become an even more sought-after bottling.

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Spotlight on… Yamazaki!

We take a look at the Yamazaki distillery and its history, and taste a few choice single malt expressions from the renowned Japanese distillery. The Yamazaki distillery. Maybe you’ve heard…

Spotlight on Yamazaki

We take a look at the Yamazaki distillery and its history, and taste a few choice single malt expressions from the renowned Japanese distillery.

The Yamazaki distillery. Maybe you’ve heard of it. If you’re a whisky fan, it’s highly likely that you’re well aware of this legendary Japanese distillery and might have even tasted some of their spectacular Japanese single malt whisky. We’re shining a spotlight on Yamazaki today, so if you want to find out more about the distillery, you’ve come to the right place!

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1897 Quinine Gin – supporting Malaria No More UK

1897 Quinine Gin is made with cold distilled cinchona bark and citrus peels. Over half the producer’s profit (at least £5 per bottle) donated to Malaria No More UK. Saturday…

  • 1897 Quinine Gin is made with cold distilled cinchona bark and citrus peels.
  • Over half the producer’s profit (at least £5 per bottle) donated to Malaria No More UK.
  • Saturday 20th August is World Mosquito Day, marking 119 years since the link between malaria transmission and mosquitoes was discovered in 1897.1897 Quinine Gin

This Saturday is World Mosquito Day. It’s the anniversary of the day on which Indian-born British Medical Doctor Sir Ronald Ross discovered the malarial parasite in the gut of a female mosquito in 1897. “With tears and toiling breath, I find thy cunning seeds, O million-murdering Death. I know this little thing A myriad men will save.” Ross was subsequently able to establish the complete life cycle of the parasite and lay the foundation for fighting the disease ever since, saving millions of lives.

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Charity Whisky Auction up to £1,700 per bottle!

The Wolfburn Inaugural Special Edition auction bottles are up to £1,700 each with just a few hours to go until the hammer claps down at 14:00 BST today! After tax,…

  • The Wolfburn Inaugural Special Edition auction bottles are up to £1,700 each with just a few hours to go until the hammer claps down at 14:00 BST today!
  • After tax, everything raised over the £200 RRP will be donated to Malaria No More UK.
  • Every £5 raised is enough to buy, deliver and hang a mosquito net for a family living at risk from malaria in Africa – protecting their children whilst they sleep.Wolfburn Lottery and Auction

UPDATE: A total of £3,066.66 was raised for Malaria No More UK through the auction!

We’re on the home straight of our Wolfburn Inaugural Special Edition auction and the two available bottles of this brilliant single malt are up to £1,700 each with just a few hours left to go!

The bottle auction runs until 14:00 BST (GMT+1) today and everything raised over the RRP of £200 (net of any applicable VAT) will be donated to Malaria No More UK. This will support the charity’s tremendous work protecting millions of children and their families as well as unlocking funds and leveraging government policy to help bring an end to this preventable and treatable disease. Our previous auction for the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 raised £2,800 for the charity, with these bottles set to top that figure!

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