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$1 Million Whisky Sets New World Record

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Think you would spend over $1 million on a bottle of whisky? If you won’t then you don’t love the brown distilled spirit well enough.

Over the weekend, two bottles of a rare 60-year-old Scottish Macallan whiskey were shown love when two separate buyers purchased each for a combined sum of $2.11 million.

According to High Snob Society, the whisky bottles were sold off at a Bonhams auction for fine and rare wines and whiskies. Both bottles are 75CL vintage bottles distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986 after maturation in a sherry hogshead cask. Only 12 of each Macallan was ever produced.

“These bottles are some of the oldest whiskies produced by Macallan in the 20th century,” Daniel Lam On-Tai, head of fine wine and whisky for Bonhams in Hong Kong, told South China Morning Post.

Both bottles were named after Italian artist Valerio Adami and British pop artist Peter Blake respectively. One bottle sold for HK $8.64 million to a bidder, while the other sold for HK $7.96 million to another anonymous buyer over the phone.

 

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Whisky & Aging: Everything You Should Know

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The maturation period of whiskey, which involves aging the liquor in wooden barrels, is one of the most interesting stages of the whiskey production process.

The process allows the whiskey to interact with the oak barrels to arrive at the desired state in line with the particular distillery. The type of barrel used for maturation is usually determined by the Master Blender who seeks to achieve a particular character and maintain the style of the whiskey that the house is known for.

What is aging?

Aging refers to the process of storing distilled spirits (or wines) in barrels for a specific period of time. The time may take up to 10 years, 20 years or even more. The aim is usually to extract harsh flavours from the raw alcohol while distinct characteristics are added to it from the barrel’s wood.

Why age whiskey in barrels?

For those who are whiskey aficionados, the answer to this is as familiar as their own names. However, for the spirit drinkers who are new to the world of whiskey, the question begs a comprehensive answer.

What to know about barrel aging for whiskey

Oak Barrels are used

This is about the first thing anyone should know about the maturation of whiskeys. Oak barrels are used because of their distinct physical and chemical nature. Because oak is pure wood, it is preferable to other types of woods like rubber or pine.

The oak adds taste and aroma to the spirit, while also extracting undesirable elements from it. It also interacts with the spirit, adding extractive wood elements as well as giving it the desired colour throughout the aging period.

There is a Toasting or Charring

When the barrels have been created, the whiskey is not just poured inside. Traditionally, the barrels are either toasted or charred when they are built, this creates a layer of charcoal that filters out unwanted flavours from the raw spirit. Bourbon casks are usually charred, while sherry casks are toasted.

Colour comes from the barrels

Whiskey would be a clear spirit just like gin and vodka if they were not aged in oak barrels. It is the barrels that give it colour. As the spirit interacts with the barrel, the colour of the wood is extracted and blends itself into it, giving it the amber or golden brown colour. The longer the spirit is aged, the darker the colour. Moonshine is the only clear whiskey because it is unaged.

The Barrel adds flavour too

More than just the colour, the barrel also adds flavour to the spirit too. How does this happen? The barrel actually mellows out any harsh notes found in the raw spirit through absorption. So when you see whiskey notes with ‘oakiness’ or ‘undertones of charred oak,’ then know that it is referring to the flavours gotten from the oak barrels. Depending on the species of oak used in the barrel, different flavours can be gotten.

Quercus Alba, “White Oak” (American Oak), Quercus Petraea, “Sessile Oak” (Europe) and Quercus Robur, “Pedunculate Oak” (Europe) are three most used species of oak.

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World Whiskies Awards 2018 – The Full List of Winners

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The Whisky Magazine Awards dinner held in London on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 and the final results of the World Whiskies Awards 2018 were released.

Major global whisky producers including Suntory, Nikka, Maker’s Mark, Glenfiddich were present at the event which held at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel. The award which is held annually aims to showcase the very best whiskies in each global category. Several stages of the competition, overseen by world-renowned, expert judges and tasters, are held before the final announcement.

According to Rob Allanson, editor of the Whisky Magazine and chairman of the World Whiskies Awards, the awards have seen an immense growth since its inception.

‘Over 1000 brands were entered this year, all blind tasted by more the 40 expert judges across the world. This year will be interesting,’ he said.

Japanese whisky again performed well in the major categories, while the US and Australia shone in categories no one expected them to.

See the full list of winners below:

  1. World’s Best Rye – 291 Colorado Rye Aspen Stave Finish
  2. World’s Best Grain – Bains Cape Mountain Whisky
  3. World’s Best Bourbon – 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  4. World’s Best Blended Malt – Taketsuru 17-Year-Old
  5. World’s Best Blended Limited Release – Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Limited Edition
  6. World’s Best Blended – Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve
  7. World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt – Sullivan’s Cove American Oak Single Cask
  8. World’s Best Single Malt – Hakushu 25-Year-Old

The night ended with Diageo’s Dr Nicholas Morgan and Kavalan founder, TT Lee and his son, being inducted into the Whiskey hall of fame.

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Did You Know Moderate Drinking Makes You Live Longer than Exercise?

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Regular exercise is said to make one live to a ripe old age, but it seems to drink alcohol trumps what exercise is capable of.

A recent long-term study has found that regular moderate intake of alcohol will help you make it to your 90’s better than exercise can.

The team of scientists from the University of California led by neurologist Claudia Kawas tracked 1,700 nonagenarians enrolled in the 90+ Study that began in 2003 to explore impacts of daily habits on longevity.

According to The Independent, researchers found that subjects who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18 percent less likely to die prematurely. On the other hand, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11 percent.

“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas stated over the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.

Asides the modest drinking, other factors found to boost longevity included weight. Participants who were slightly overweight — but not obese — cut their odds of an early death by 3 percent.

“It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” Kawas noted in her address.

More so, participants who kept busy with a daily hobby two hours a day were 21 percent less likely to suffer an early death, while those who drank two cups of coffee a day reduced the risk by 10 percent.

Further study is needed to determine how habits impact longevity beyond people’s genetic makeups.

 

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Does Alcohol Make You More Attractive to Others?

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Alcohol is capable of many things including the ability to make us immediately appear more attractive to others than normal.

Don’t get us wrong, there is absolutely nothing attractive about a man or woman staggering back home after a rough night. So to get the best out of this magical ability of alcohol, as in all other benefits, moderate drinking is encouraged.

As a matter of fact, it goes both ways – alcohol can affect the way we see and are seen, by people. This just proves that the beer goggles theory is as real as we can imagine.

There is scientific proof

Just in case you have more doubts lingering on your mind, several scientific studies have proven the ability of moderate drinking making you appear immediately attractive.

At the University of Bristol in the UK, 40 students were supplied with wine but were asked to take photos of each other sober before the drinking commenced. They also took a photo of each participant after one drink, then after a second.

The photos taken after just one drink has been consumed were judged as more attractive than the sober photos. However, the photos taken after students drank more than one glass, were rated as less attractive than when they were sober.

“It suggests that, if it’s true, people are rated as more attractive once they’ve consumed a small amount of alcohol,” said the study’s senior researcher, Marcus Munafò, a professor of biological psychology at the University. “But if they go on to consume more alcohol, they’re no longer rated as more attractive.”

The study suggested that a single alcoholic drink could make people seem more attractive because it caused facial muscles to relax, pupils to dilate and cheeks to flush.

“Rosiness is attractive because it characterizes good physical health characteristics,” said Professor Munafò.

This gives us a confidence boost to have a glass of wine or a tot of whiskey before walking up to your crush to drop that cool pick up line.

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How Alcohol Makes You More Creative

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Whether in form of business innovation, artistic creations, scientific experiments, creativity is something we all crave for – even more than alcohol.

Often times, we engage in certain rituals in the hope to boost our creativity. Meditation, sleep, exercise and alcohol are some of the means through which we try to bring our creativity to life.

We don’t know much about the others, but alcohol certainly is a catalyst for being more creative.

How does alcohol boost creativity?

The answer certainly revolves around the effect of alcohol on the brain. It loosens the brain’s controlling instincts, thus allowing you spontaneous thoughts to infiltrate your head. It is one of such thoughts that births a new idea or solves a persistent problem – creatively.

Getting alcohol into our system usually leads to ‘executive functioning’ in our brain, processes that involve focus and planning. This comes about through an altered state of consciousness induced by alcohol. No wonder people come up with the most amazing thoughts when they have a glass or two of wine, whiskey or cognac.

However, the underlying factor is that getting overly drunk does nothing in getting us to think creatively. Getting tipsy is what triggers the creativity.

Scientists Even Have A Proof

Scientific research has corroborated the fact that a drink can help us become more creative in our thoughts and actions as it frees up the brain to think in a different way.

It doesn’t immediately turn you into Picasso or Einstein, but the equivalent of a pint of beer or a small glass of wine was proven by Austrian scientists to help in unleashing creativity.

‘We wanted to do this study because alcohol is so linked with creativity and great writers like Ernest Hemingway,’ said lead author Dr Mathias Benedek, from the University of Graz in Austria.

‘Previous research has found almost half of the great writers had a history of drinking.

‘We found that a small drink can indeed help with certain aspects of creativity, although it may make hard, focused work more difficult.

‘So it might well work for someone who is sitting down to do creative writing or brainstorming ideas in a boardroom.’

The Research

Seventy participants were given a drink of either beer or non-alcohol beer, which they were unable to distinguish between. Half of the participants were given a 0.5% lager, while the other half were asked to drink a 5.2% beer, which they weren’t able to distinguish between.

They were then given a word association task, which included determining one word linking the three words Swiss, blue and cake. The answer is ‘cheese’ and the second group, who had the stronger beer, scored an average of 6/10 in the test. The other half of drinkers scored an average of 4/10.

The alcohol-drinkers also exceeded in a creative thinking task, in which they had to suggest alternative uses for tyres with “a swing” deemed one of the most creative answers.

 

 

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5 Differences Between Japanese Whisky and Scotch Whisky

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Japanese Whisky is relatively young when compared to Scotch Whisky, but has already made so much impact in the whisky world.

Japanese distilleries use exactly the same techniques that Scottish distillers use. As a matter of fact, Japanese expertise was directly imported from Scotland in the early 20th century by MasatakaTaketsuru, founder of Nikka.

There is, therefore, no fundamental differences in the technical process of making Japanese whisky. However, there are a few things that make Japanese whisky different from Scotland.

Five Differences Between Japanese Whisky and Scotch Whisky

Less Peat

Japanese whiskies are less peated as compared to Scotch whisky. Many of the distilleries in Scotland are located on islands and coastal areas, where naturally peat is widely used for drying barley during the phase of malting. Japanese distillers also make use of peat but in a reduced quantity.

Prolific Distilleries

The Scots have more distilleries than the Japanese. The richness of Scotch Whiskies is obtained through the exchange of productions among many distilleries, each producing mainly one type of single malt.

For Japanese whiskies, the distilleries are few but can produce nearly as many different single malts that exist in Scotland. The Yamazaki distillery, for example, can produce over sixty single malts with distinct characteristics, and blended together it allows Suntory to produce a large number of whiskies.

More so, Japanese distilleries have stills of different shapes and sizes that help in the production of single malts with distinct characters. Stills in Scottish distilleries generally have the same shape and the same size.

Fermentation

Unlike Scottish distilleries, Japanese distilleries use a wide variety of yeasts with different characteristics during fermentation. Companies like Suntory have found a way to grow their own strains and even create their own strains. For example, Suntory owns a strain called suntoryeus lactobacillus.

Distillation

Japanese whiskies are distilled using low-pressure distillation techniques. This technique is induced naturally by high altitude, with a lower boiling point. Japan has three of the highest distilleries in the world; Karuizawa (now closed), Hakushu and Mars Shinshu located between 700 and 800 metres. The higher the altitude, the lower the pressure, and subsequently the lesser the boiling point. Low-pressure distillation helps keep a larger number of aromas and a thinner and lighter texture, which makes Japanese whisky taste different from Scotch.

 

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#InternationalScotchDay: 5 Things You Should Know About Scotch Whisky

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Scotch is a VIP member of the whisky family. It is considered as the most popular whisky style in the world.

The first International Scotch Day, designed to be a global celebration of Scotch whisky, held 10 February, 2017. February 8, 2018, the event will enter its second year as Scotch whisky aims to gain more global relevance.

The idea was launched by premium spirit giants, Diageo, to mark the birthday of Alexander Walker, the son of the legendary John ‘Johnnie’ Walker and the man who exported his father’s whisky across the world.

However, as you join other lovers of Scotch whisky to celebrate all things scotch, here are five things you should always keep in mind about the drink.

It is different from other whiskies

All Scotch is whisky, but not all whisky is Scotch – that is a standard fact. Scotch Whisky only refers to whisky that is made in Scotland. It is a legal term the Scots came up with to protect their style of whisky.

Water and Scotch

When water is added to Scotch, it brings out the more floral notes and some of the more citrus notes. That is what is meant by opening up the whisky – it dilutes the alcohol, pushing down the heavier alcohols and allowing the lighter alcohols to come to the surface.

And when you add ice?

Ice also has a chemical reaction when added to a glass of whisky. It cools down some of the fatty oils in the whisky, letting fly a nose that tends to be much sweeter, lingering on the lighter of vanilla. Just like water (which ice is made from), it works on the darker, fattier, heavier notes, allowing the light ones to rise.

Here is how to drink it

Being a whisky of value, Scotch should be taken with finesse. Don’t just gulp the drink, or pour it down your throat without respect to the drink. Sip it, slightly chew the whisky around your mouth – do not swirl like a mouthwash. Keep it in your mouth for a couple seconds, then swallow. Take a deep breath in and out of your mouth, that way, you to get the best out of the whisky as the sweetness and floral notes linger at the front of your mouth. At the back of the palate, the oakier tannins are expressed.

The right glass

Every drink should be drunk out of the right glass. For Scotch whisky, go for glasses that come up to collect the flavor at the top. The tulip-shaped glass Glencairn glass is best designed for Scotch whisky. It aerates the alcohol vapours up, concentrating them so that you can better savour them.

 

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What Your Choice of Whiskey Says About You

The fact that you are a whiskey drinker already says a lot about your personality. However, the choice of the whiskey you drink adds a definitive edge to what people think of you.

Since the 1440’s when whiskey first came into prominence, it has defined the tastes of men and even given the world something extra to judge about.

All whiskeys are tasty and offer different characteristics according to how and where it is made. But the adventurous, fun-loving guy will always choose a different whiskey from the traditional, classy gentleman.

Whiskeys, unlike cognacs, can be made from anywhere in the world. However, our list will only focus on the more popular whiskey variations.

Here is what your whiskey really says about your personality

Scotch whisky

Scotch is the most popular whisky type in the world. To be called a Scotch, the whisky must be distilled in Scotland from Scottish ingredients. Also, Scotch has to be aged for at least three years in old Bourbon casks. Whisky experts rank the Single Malt Scotch whisky among the best whiskies in the world.

What scotch says about you

When you order a bottle of Scotch whiskey, other guests at the bar or restaurant immediately see a man who is steeped in traditions and loves to come off as classic. The bartender is probably thinking you are one who does not want to be disturbed in his belief in how a man should act. You are likely someone who loves to do mow the lawn to relax or you are just that introverted fellow who still loves to stick to old popular traditions. If that sounds like you, go ahead and order your bottle of Chivas Regal or Johnnie Walker today.

Irish whiskey

Irish whiskeys do not only come with the ‘e’ in spelling, they also come with a lot less peat than their Scottish cousins. The Irish love their whiskey a lot less smoky and a whole lot smoother in the finish.

What Irish whiskey says about you

Ordering a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey or Bushmills Whiskey will get the girl across the bar thinking “this must an easy-going, laid back and charismatic fellow.” However, at the same time, it is possible for you to go from 0 – 100 degrees; from a cool demeanour to a hot-tempered bloke. In all, we are comforted by your cool side, and the fact that you love to be original – a little different from the norm.

American bourbon

The Americans came up with the name bourbon, and it has unmistakeably differentiated their whiskey from both Scotch and Irish. To be named a straight bourbon, it must be made from 51% corn mash, and be aged for at least two years in new oak barrels. Bourbons are great cocktails due to their rich, deep notes of caramel, oak, and vanilla.

What bourbon says about you

Ordering a bourbon immediately tells that you are a lively person. You are proud of your achievements and the standards you have set for yourself are impeccable. While you love to be in your own world, you are not shy of socialising and mixing with others even out of your class. You love to show forth your light like Jim Beam, and you have a side of you that goes off the top like Wild Turkey.

Japanese Whisky

Japanese Whisky is significantly the new kid on the block when it comes to countries that make premium whisky brands. Despite being new, Japanese whisky has a luxurious reputation – in some quarters, there are gossips that Japanese whisky has eclipsed Scotch as the world’s number one whisky.

What Japanese whisky says about you

You are elegant, classy and a person of style. You love the luxurious lifestyle and are adventurous enough to go skydiving. Your taste in life is always new just like the rising sun, and you are not just at home in your own world – you run it. If you were a fruit in a tree, you’d be at the very top. Why?  Because you are a rare, enigmatic person, and the bartender will feel lucky to serve you a bottle of Yamazaki or Nikka – it all depends on your order.

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Do You Know The World’s Most Expensive Japanese Whisky?

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For many whisky lovers, Japanese whisky is among those expensive whiskies you pour on that special occasion.

Japanese whisky literally made an impact on the whisky industry when Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 was named the best whisky in the world by the 2015 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. From a rising star, the brown spirit from Japan has taken over the spotlight, even from the more popular scotch whisky.

Coming into commercial production in the early 1920s, Japanese whisky is already popular in Europe and North America, and is gradually making an entrance into the African market.

A bottle of Japanese whisky usually attracts a good budget, but how much would you have to pay for the most expensive Japanese whisky in the world?

Most Expensive Japanese Whisky

On January 30, 50-year-old Yamazaki Single-Malt whisky sold via Sotheby’s Hong Kong for a whopping HK$2.3 million – that’s just slightly above N105.8 million. That sale set the record for the most expensive whisky bottle in the world.

Also, the transaction also proved the continuous expansion of the luxury whisky market – a movement that has been gathering steam in recent years.

“We are thrilled with the new world auction record set by the Yamazaki Aged 50 Years NV, the highest price achieved for any single bottle of Japanese whisky,” said Paul Wong, a specialist at Sotheby’s Wine, Asia.

Japanese Whisky and the Luxe Whisky Market

Japanese whisky has increasingly pushed the limits of the luxury whisky market. In 2017, 296 rare bottles from the Karuizawa distillery sold for over US$1 million at an auction. With that sale,  it took home the crown for the most expensive collection of Japanese whisky ever sold.

Dekantā, a Japanese spirit retailer, is also cashing in on the luxury push. The company has recently launched a ballot to win a chance to purchase one of 150 bottles of Karuizawa 35-year-old single sherry cask whisky. Each bottle will go for AU$15,000 each – that is about N4.2 million.

Looks like the Japanese whisky industry is having much more promise than we hoped for. You might want to cash in too.