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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 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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Categories : Japanese Whisky, Whisky
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Is this the world’s biggest Japanese whisky tasting?

Earlier this month, Mayfair bar Sexy Fish opened all 358 bottles in its Japanese whisky collection, from gorgeous everyday expressions to some of the world’s rarest bottlings. We hear from bars director Xavier Landais on how and why he undertook such an epic task, and what it’s like to taste such an incredible array of whiskies…

Japanese whisky is having more than just a moment. Earlier this year, a Yamazaki 50-year-old single malt bottling set a new auction world record, fetching almost £210,000 in Hong Kong. It’s become much harder for drinkers to get their mitts on even the most accessible expressions, especially after a 2015 decision from Nikka to discontinue all its age statement whiskies in most markets. With all this demand, we were intrigued by news that fancy London bar Sexy Fish had opened its entire stock of Japanese whisky bottlings – all 358 of them.

With some of these bottlings experiencing exceptional demand on the secondary market, hitting those lofty auction prices and stirring up all kinds of demand, why open the whole lot? Here, Xavier Landais, bars director at Caprice Holdings (parent of Sexy Fish), explains how a passion for truly understanding the Japanese whisky category and a desire to counter that investment culture informed the decision…
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Categories : Japanese Whisky
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Whisky Advent Day 2: Yoichi/Miyagikyo Single Malts

Yoichi Miyagikyo Whisky Advent

It’s Day 2 of Drinks by the Dram’s #WhiskyAdvent and once again we get to open a window of the excellent Whisky Advent Calendar to see what delights lay within…

Starting with Speyside single malt Scotch yesterday, the second dram takes us all the way to Japan with Nikka’s Yoichi Non Age! If you’re now staring at your dram and thinking to yourself “Hey, hold on, mine says Miyagikyo Non Age”, then I believe we can explain… You see, these advent calendars have been so unbelievably popular this year, with sales surpassing all forecasts, that there are a very small number of days where not everybody could have the exact same dram. Indeed, we’ve been careful to ensure that the contents/spoilers of all the respective calendars were always up to date on the product pages of our site to reflect where this may happen. What we have today then are two single malts from Nikka’s two malt whisky distilleries, set up by the great Masataka Taketsuru (whose own story has recently reached a new generation in his native Japan thanks to the popular television serial Massan).

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Categories : Japanese Whisky, Tasting Notes, Whisky
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Mezan Rum

We recently got the full range of Mezan rums in, and we’re very excited about them. You see, it’s rum as it should be, rum approached in much the same way a malt lover looks at whisky; vintages, distilleries, and all non-chillfiltered and unadulterated.

Let’s start out with the Grenada Westerhall 1998. It’s much like a Lowland whisky, in that it offers up that light, delicate and elegant flavour profile we’ve come to love from distilleries like Rosebank and Glenkinchie… It’s utterly beguiling. The distillery itself is based on a sugar estate which has been family-owned for three centuries, and during that time it produced both sugar and rum, though it didn’t bottle its own product until 1978. The rum, made in a column still, is known for its light character, and is much less smoky than its counterparts in Jamaica or Guyana (which we’ll discuss shortly). More…

Categories : News, Rum, Tasting Notes, Whisky
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Bourbon and American Whiskey

 Small Batch Bourbon

The American whiskey fraternity is enjoying the burgeoning success and ever-increasing popularity of a thing called craft-distilling. There’s always been something intrinsically exciting that surrounds artisan food and drink, and whiskey is no exception. In fact, the spirits industry is abuzz with new releases of wonderfully packaged and gloriously quaint bourbons and other American whiskeys and we thought we’d throw in our two cents. You see, whiskey really is a spirit of provenance and it requires great attention to detail. You simply can’t go about mass-producing the stuff without due care and diligence, and that’s exactly what the new breed of craft distillers are tapping into, and they’re creating some of America’s best exports. More…

Categories : American Whiskey, News, Tasting Notes, Whisky
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Whisky Samples

 Sample of Whisky The Next Batch of Whisky Samples

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the birds are just about to start getting on our nerves. But times are good, and after launching Drinks by the Dram – our whisky sample service – the Master of Malt offices have become organized chaos.

The samples are flying off the shelves and we’ve been flooded with emails and phone calls from you all, telling us how much you like them.

We’ve made a solemn pledge to keep adding loads and loads of new samples to the site every day, so this morning we gathered around the board table (sat in a huddle on the lawn) and came up with the day’s batch of whiskies to “dram” (turn into samples).  More…

Categories : News, Tasting Notes, Whisky
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Yummers-zaki

With so many amazing Japanese whiskies on the market we thought we’d review one of our favourites – the Yamazaki 18 Year Old, a whisky from the more thickly sherried, savoury school of Japanese malts.

A little about the distillery…

Yamazaki was Japan’s first whisky distillery and it was built by Suntory’s founder, Shinjiro Torii, in 1923. In Japan there are only two major players in whisky: Suntory and Nikka. Between them they control almost every distillery in the country.

Because of this there is no trading of malt and grain whisky between companies (as is the practice in Scotland’s whisky blending industry). Distilleries must be as self-contained as possible, so Yamazaki houses a whopping 12 stills of different type and configuration, allowing the distillery to produce a range of whiskies.

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Categories : Japanese Whisky, Whisky
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