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What type of whisky fan are you?

Whisky is a spirit on the rise, spurred by an unprecedented number of new releases and the local pride that followed a Tasmanian distiller recently being named the world’s finest.

But if you think cyclists are tribal with their neat little divisions into fixie-riders, roadies and mountain bikers, they have nothing compared on the clans into which whisky drinkers divide. Regions, styles and brands each have their own fanatical followings.

“Whisky tragics tend to be as bad as (Apple) Mac aficionados,” says Franz Scheurer, the spirits editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine and Australia/New Zealand ambassador for the Islay Whisky Club. “They have a one-track mind. There are ones who like whiskies for a particular flavour or origin; they may like the grassiness of Speyside or the peatiness of Islay.

“Then there are those who like blends. The very snobbish single malt drinkers won’t touch any blends. Blend drinkers tend to be a little bit more open; they will try single malt every now and then, but invariably return to the blend of their choice.”

Scheurer says there are noticeable differences between the whisky tribes. He says the Johnnie Walker brand is favoured by Middle East and Chinese drinkers, who consider it a status symbol. “The company has managed to capture the imagination of a lot of countries that just drink whisky with their food. These are not particularly discerning whisky drinkers, they just like a bottle on the table that people will recognise.”

The biggest whisky fanatics in the world are the Japanese, Scheurer proclaims. And they really relish drinking their local product; imbibing everything from Hibiki to Hakushu. Apart from the Japanese those who enjoy a Japanese whisky tend to be adventurous types, he says. “They are almost always really young whisky drinkers; the kind of person who will jump off a cliff with a hang-glider is likely to try a Nikka from Japan.

“On the other hand, your average Speyside drinker is more likely in his 40s, reasonably well-to-do, and will drive a Saab or a Volvo.”

Scheurer says of all the whisky regions in the world, the one that attracts unprecedented adoration is Islay, a small island in the Southern Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. There are eight distilleries on the island, but the one that appeals to the most fanatical supporters is Ardbeg.

Continue reading What type of whisky fan are you?

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Marijuana wins big on election night

Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada approved recreational marijuana initiatives Tuesday night, and several other states passed medical marijuana provisions, in what is turning out to be the biggest electoral victory for marijuana reform since 2012, when Colorado and Washington first approved the drug’s recreational use.

Of the five recreational marijuana initiatives on the ballot, three passed and one more — in Maine — was leading early Wednesday in preliminary vote totals. A similar measure in Arizona was trailing with 68 percent of votes counted.

On the medical side, voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas have approved medical marijuana initiatives. A separate measure in Montana that would loosen restrictions on an existing medical pot law was leading early Wednesday with only 30 percent of votes counted.

Reformers were jubilant. “This represents a monumental victory for the marijuana reform movement,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement. “With California’s leadership now, the end of marijuana prohibition nationally, and even internationally, is fast approaching.”

How marijuana legalization in Washington, Colorado and Oregon is working out so far

Five states have marijuana legalization initiatives on their ballots. Here’s what they can learn from Washington, Colorado and Oregon, states where marijuana use has already been legalized. (Daron Taylor, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

California has long been seen as a bellwether by both supporters and opponents of marijuana reform. The state is home to about 12 percent of the U.S. population. Given the size of the state’s economy and the economic impact of the marijuana industry there, California’s adoption of legal marijuana could prompt federal authorities to rethink their decades-long prohibition on the use of marijuana.

In a recent interview with Bill Maher, President Obama said that passage of the legalization measures on Tuesday could make the current federal approach to the drug “untenable.”

Still, the likelihood of a Trump White House leaves a lot of uncertainty about the fate of marijuana measures in the next four years. Under Obama, federal authorities largely took a hands-off approach to state-level legalization efforts. But an incoming administration more skeptical of drug reform could easily reverse that approach.

“The prospect of Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie as attorney general does not bode well,” the Drug Policy Alliance’s Nadelmann said in an interview. “There are various ways in which a hostile White House could trip things up.”

Still, Nadelmann pointed to the success of marijuana measures in the midst of an evident Republican wave as a sign that support for legalization now cuts deeply across party lines. And citing Trump’s often contradictory statements on marijuana and drug use in the past, Nadelmann added that “Donald Trump personally could probably go any which way on this.”

With today’s votes, legal marijuana is also making significant inroads in the Northeast. “Marijuana legalization has arrived on the East Coast,” said Tom Angell of the marijuana reform group Marijuana Majority in an email. “What Colorado and other states have already done is generating revenue, creating jobs and reducing crime, so it’s not surprising that voters in more places are eager to end prohibition.”

Opponents of legalization said they were disappointed by the outcomes. “We were outspent greatly in both California and Massachusetts, so this loss is disappointing, but not wholly unexpected,” said Kevin Sabet of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana in a statement. “Despite having gained considerable ground in the last few weeks, the out-of-state interests determined to make money off of legalization put in too much money to overcome.”

Votes on medical marijuana in Florida and North Dakota were decisive. Florida’s Amendment 2 passed with 71 percent support, according to the Associated Press. In North Dakota, the AP reports that 64 percent of voters approving of the medical marijuana measure.

Two years ago, a medical marijuana measure in Florida earned 58 percent of the vote, just shy of the 60 percent threshold needed for passage. Then, as now, opposition to the measure was fueled by multimillion-dollar donations from Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP donor. In 2014 Adelson spent $5.5 million to defeat the measure. This year he’s spent $1.5 million in Florida, and several million more to defeat recreational marijuana measures in other states.

“This is a major tipping point,” said Tom Angell of Florida’s vote. “With Florida’s decision, a majority of states in the U.S. now have laws allowing patients to find relief with medical marijuana, and these protections and programs are no longer concentrated in certain regions of the country like the West and Northeast.”

The victory in North Dakota is something of a surprise as no polling was done on the measure.

The Florida amendment has the potential to be one of the more permissive medical marijuana regimes in the nation. In addition to diseases like HIV, cancer and PTSD, the measure also allows doctors to recommend medical pot for “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” While the 2014 measure allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for any illness they believed it would be useful for, the new measure requires they show the illness is severe — though the wording gives physicians considerable leeway in determining which conditions would meet those criteria.

The medical pot measure in North Dakota allows doctors to recommend the drug for a number of severe medical conditions.

With the passage of Amendment 2, Florida will become the first Southern state to enact a robust medical marijuana regime. Medical marijuana is already legal in 25 other states and the District.

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Powerscourt Distillery lodges plans for €10m whiskey investment

Powerscourt Distillery founders Gerry Ginty & Ashley Gardiner with Sarah Slazenger, MD at Powerscourt Estate
Powerscourt Distillery founders Gerry Ginty & Ashley Gardiner with Sarah Slazenger, MD at Powerscourt Estate
Powerscourt Distillery is to lodge a planning application for the construction of a craft distillery and visitor centre at Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

Entrepreneurs Gerry Ginty and Ashley Gardiner are planning a €10m investment that will create 30 jobs in the construction phase and 18 full-time jobs once the business is fully operational.

The project plans to refurbish the estate’s old mill house into a distillery. At full production the distillery will have the potential to produce over a million bottles of whiskey per year.

Bord Bia has forecast that demand for Irish whiskey will quadruple in size to over 24 million cases worldwide by 2030.

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Whiskey Can’t Hide Its Age Either

Anxious distillers are trying to make bourbon old before its time.


In case you haven’t heard, doomsday is coming—more droughts, floods, famine, class warfare, entitled children, and, brace yourself: a bourbon shortage! Yes, traditional Kentucky distillers didn’t predict or prepare for this Mad Men-inspired mixology epoch. And if it continues on this trajectory, thousands of years from now geologists and archaeologists will be able to identify the bourbon-free era in the absence of fancy rectangular bottles in the remains of fallen civilizations.

That is, unless scientists can build a whiskey time machine, a way to gracefully cheat the slow aging process that offers bourbon its rich oaky tones and sweet and smooth finish.

The popularity of bourbon in the past decade has been a major high and hangover for American distillers. (The name “bourbon” is reserved for barrel-aged whiskeys made primarily of corn in the United States.) In 2002, the U.S. sold 13 million cases of bourbon; in 2014, 19 million cases, generating $2.7 billion in revenue. But the popularity and the time bourbon takes to mature, paired with a shortage of new American oak barrels that traditional whiskeys are aged in, means there simply isn’t enough of the good stuff to go around. Evidence of a shortage is generally delivered in anecdotes, but in an independent opinion survey taken this year by Fred Minnick, booze blogger and author of Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch & Irish Whiskey, 82 percent of 149 high-end bourbon drinkers said they have been unable to find bourbons they once found.

Scientifically savvy distillers have already squeezed the slow aging process into months and weeks.

It is the finest bourbons, those that are produced in limited supply and aged for 12, 18, or more years that have been the hardest to find in the past several years. Drinkers with deep pockets have bought up much of the limited release bourbons from well-established companies—Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Four Roses Limited Editions—explains Lew Bryson, the managing editor of Whisky Advocate magazine. “Having cleared them off the market, they’ve now started in on lesser-known bourbons, almost in a panic-buying mode, buying multiple bottles of whiskeys they feel sure will simply disappear.”

It’s a frightening prospect.

Enter entrepreneurs with start-up spirits and a potential solution. Through a variety of unconventional aging methods, drawing on chemistry, they have already squeezed a two- to more-than-20-year process into days, weeks, and months, much to the chagrin of whiskey connoisseurs, who will tell you the secret to a refined bourbon is time. While some companies have taken age labels off their bottles to get products to market sooner (bye-bye 12-year-old premium bourbon; hello ambiguously aged premium bourbon), new distilleries are experimenting with smaller barrels and rapid oxidation.

The magic that turns harsh ethanol, the product of distillation, into a sophisticated sip of smooth bourbon with undertones of vanilla and caramel happens when young alcohol meets oak barrel. Whiskey aging traditionally starts when an oak barrel is charred, breaking down the lignin in the wood into organic compounds called aldehydes, explains Scott Spolverino, an industry consultant with a degree in brewing and distilling science from Heriot-Watt University, in Scotland. “These are the main building blocks of maturation.” When you add alcohol to the barrel, oxidation transforms the aldehydes into acids—syringic acid (from syringaldehyde), ferulic acid (from coniferaldehyde), and vanillic acid (from vanillin). During the aging process, changes in heat and pressure push and pull the alcohol in and out of the wood. There is a constant back-and-forth between aldehyde and acid, until the acids accumulate en masse and turn permanently into esters, adding complex character and deep flavors.

“Time in the barrel is like sandpaper, smoothing out the rough edges,” says Liza Weisstuch, who writes regularly for Whisky Magazine and the Whisky Advocate.

But a host of new distillers don’t want to wait years to start cashing in on their hefty investments. One entrepreneur trying to cheat Father Time is Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, New York, makers of Hudson Baby Bourbon and Hudson Four Grain Bourbon. When it opened in 2003, Tuthilltown started experimenting with accelerating the maturation of single malt, rye, and bourbon whiskeys by letting the alcohol settle in 2- to 5-gallon oak barrels, instead of the industry-standard 53- to 55-gallon oak casks, increasing the alcohol-to-barrel-surface ratio.

“The small barrels sped up aging significantly; we could get to market in months, instead of years,” says Tuthilltown co-owner Ralph Erenzo, a rock climber who originally wanted Tuthilltown to be a climbers’ ranch. Erenzo and his crew were able to get their whiskey to market in about four months, and they discovered they liked the more pronounced vanilla flavor they were getting by using small barrels. Ten years out, and with the luxury of time, they have grown into bigger barrels—using, for the most part, a mix of 10-, 26-, and 53-gallon casks. But they still have a reserve of 3- to 5-gallon whiskey that they blend with bigger batches so they can “get that character profile that people liked all along,” Erenzo says. In 2010 Tuthilltown sold its Hudson line to William Grant & Sons Distillers, makers of Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whiskies and Hendrick’s Gin.

Spirits aged for short amounts have an edgy taste often described as “hot,” “raw” or “aggressive.”

At Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia, makers of Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky and Copper Fox Rye Whisky, head distiller and owner Rick Wasmund adds toasted oak chips to his 53-gallon barrels, agitating them to increase the alcohol-to-surface ratio and exposing them to heat and cold. You can try your hand at similar bourbon aging methods at home with something called Time & Oak—an oak stick with comb-like grooves that activates “accelerated transpiration through capillary action”—the same theory behind smaller barrels and oak chips.

Terressentia, near Charleston, South Carolina, which specializes in bulk bourbon (sold in 6,000-gallon tankers), uses increased oxidation to mimic aging and take impurities out of young whiskeys, explains Terressentia CEO Earl Hewlette. Terressentia starts with undrinkable 4- to 6-month-old whiskey because they want their whiskey to be brown—something you can’t get without time in an oak barrel. They filter it in plastic tanks with a technology that expedites the aldehyde and acid dance, creating drinkable esters—chemical compounds—in just eight hours. According to Hewlette, the process has the added benefit of turning some of the fatty acids from the original fermented grains into glycerides, which act as a smoothing agent, taking the bite out of the final product. “When the bourbon shortage came along, it gave us a whole new market,” says Hewlette, noting that the same bigger companies who used to sell in bulk have been hoarding their own limited supplies.

Tom Lix, owner of the Cleveland Whiskey Company, uses steel tanks with wood segments under pressure. “One of the reasons behind working on the technology we use and starting this business was an anticipation of this shortage well in advance of when other people started talking about it,” he says. Lix also boasts that his Cleveland Black Reserve 100-proof spirit, the company’s bourbon, holds its own in taste tests against established brand Knob Creek.

Bourbon made in less than a year may be financially savvy, but most bourbon experts say it falls short on taste. “I don’t think new methods are producing whiskey that is comparable,” Bryson says. “Some accelerated whiskeys don’t feel right. They feel too thin; they don’t have the proper ‘roundness.’ ”

Spolverino explains: “When you’re aging a spirit for a short amount of time, the aldehydes and acids don’t have time to come together.” Meaning those raw flavors in fast-tracked whiskeys often come from an overabundance of aldehydes. “Adding more wood to the situation just adds more of those beginning aldehydes, it doesn’t actually speed up the process,” he says. Spirits aged for shorter amounts of time (four months instead of the two years minimum for federally approved straight bourbon, for example), have an edgy taste, often described as “hot,” “raw,” or “aggressive,” with a “shorter finish.” Spolverino has done research into an ultrasonic-energy treatment. “It could physically push the spirit deeper into the barrel staves to draw out more aldehydes and provide catalytic energy for reactions,” he says. “But I’m not entirely sure it could speed up the esterification process.”

Many of the big distillers stepped up production of high-end whiskey five years ago, when word of a shortage started to spread. And there has always been a plentiful supply of non-premium brands: Jim Beam White, Evan Williams Black, Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, 1792, explains Bryson. Most of the big companies dismiss accelerated aging. Mark Brown, CEO of Buffalo Trace, one of Kentucky’s larger bourbon distilling operations, says the company has spent $10 million on research and development on how to make quality whiskey, not on how to cheat time.

“The work done by others over the past 50 years aimed at expediting the aging process does not appear to have resulted in the production of a superior whiskey, quite the opposite,” says the company’s Master Distiller, Harlen Wheatley. “We’re glad people are exploring these [new] techniques,” says Brown. “But generally it only reinforces the need for time in the barrel.”

Tasha Eichenseher is a hot-toddy-sipping, freelance science and environment writer (and a senior editor at Yoga Journal) in Boulder, Colorado.

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If you made a list of the all the Scotch whiskies to try before you die, it’s a fair bet that Black Bowmore would be on it. And for those in The Whisky Show’s 2016 Bowmore masterclass, not only did they tick that particular whisky off their list, they also got to try it in the presence of Eddie MacAffer (master distiller) and David Turner (distillery manager), who have a staggering 75 years’ experience of Bowmore between them.
Eddie MacAffer David Turner

Edide MacAffer (left) and David Turner of Bowmore

Eddie has just retired, and has passed the baton to David, so this could have been the final time the duo sat down to talk about the whiskies they have made together. ‘This will go down as a legendary tasting,’ began our host, whisky writer Dave Broom. He wasn’t wrong.


Eddie: ‘They used to give us a bottle of Bowmore Deluxe a month, rather than a few drams a day. But they must have decided it was too good, because they started giving us bottles of Rob Roy instead

David: ‘When Bowmore gets to 17 or 18 years sold, the smoke tends to die out, and you get a lot more stewed fruit’

E: ‘Our No.1 vaults are right by the sea, almost below sea level. The whiskies are at peace in there – there’ll be ghosts in there, drinking drams’

D: ‘Dave Broom did an apprenticeship with us for two nights; he didn’t turn up on the second one!

E: ‘The 1980s were difficult [for Bowmore] because it was push, push, push, and that affected the quality. Our fermentation was short – about 44 hours – the still was running hot and we were getting all those unwanted flavours in there. You could tell from the smell in the distillery’

E: ‘In the 1960s, there’d be a queue about 100 yards long to try the new-make; in the late 1980s, you’d be lucky to have two or three people waiting!’

D: ‘Suntory had a big impact; from 1989, they invested heavily in good wood’

E: ‘You can hear the roar of the ocean when you taste Sea Dragon. It has a lovely flowery fruitiness’

E: ‘The water [source] doesn’t have any effect on the end product

D: ‘Our reputation was really made with [the 1964] bottling of Black Bowmore. It was one of those whiskies that changed people’s mindsets about what single malts could become

Black Bowmore

Black Bowmore 1964 30 Year Old (2nd edition)
Big sherried nose upfront, with raisins, mocha, stewed fruit and Christmas-cake spices. Even richer on the palate – Maya Gold chocolate, tobacco, cardamom, nutmeg and clove. Stunning.


Bowmore Deluxe

The final two whiskies were sensational and lived up to the hype – not something you can always say when trying something with such a big reputation. But I’m going for the NAS Deluxe bottling from the 1970s, which summed up Bowmore for me: tropical fruit with an undercurrent of smoke.

Having not tried many of these whiskies before, I understand know why Bowmore fans are so passionate about this distillery. The no-holds-barred fruitiness of the whiskies was amazing, as was the way the peat played its part but never took over. Thanks to Eddie and David for a wonderful masterclass.

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A new three-part television series starting this week aims to delve deeply into the world of Scotch whisky – its history, craft, science and business.

David Hayman Scotch the story of whisky
Scotch distilled: Actor David Hayman introduces the new BBC Scotland series

The first part of Scotch! The Story of Whisky will be aired on BBC Two Scotland at 9pm tomorrow (11 October), and will be available to viewers nationwide via iPlayer soon after its broadcast.

The new BBC Scotland series, presented by Scottish actor David Hayman, investigates many facets of the world of Scotch, from the globe-trotting triumph of blends to today’s world of collecting and investing.

It also looks into the modern Scotch whisky industry and multi-national ownership, as well as the perceived threat from whisky-makers from elsewhere in the world, and the burgeoning craft spirits movement.

The first episode sees Hayman take a tour around the history of Scotch and its production, visiting Campbeltown – once home to 34 distilleries – and Springbank to investigate the whisky-making process.

He talks to Kirsteen Campbell, master blender of The Famous Grouse, about the the emergence and huge global success of blends, and analyses the science behind the spirit by talking to graduates in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Watt University.

‘I went on a pilgrimage to find out why such a simple drink has come to mean so much,’ said Hayman.

‘From the makers to the marketeers and the chemists to the cocktail-makers, and from the Highlands to Hobart in Tasmania, I found that Scotch is Scotland’s gift to the world.’

A trailer of the new series is available to watch on the BBC website, alongside a short film in which some recognisable whisky personalities describe their first taste of whisky.

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Back in the 1860’s, Lynchburg Lutheran Minister and part time Distiller. Dan Call taught a young Jasper ‘Jack’ Daniel the secret of making great whiskey. With Dan’s mentorship, Jack went on to build a thriving enterprise that we would all come to know and love. Fast forward 150 years to 2016 and Jack Daniel’s is one of the world’s leading whiskey brands. To celebrate Jack’s own mentorship, Jack Daniel’s is set to inspire the next generation of bartenders with the launch of Tennessee Calling… Three bartenders from Scotland will discover the history, craft and versatility of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey so that they can create their own story. Travelling to the USA, the three winners will then be given the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with their bartending heroes and hone their craft on a trip to Tennessee and New York, helping them reach their full potential.

The first leg of their journey to Tennessee will see the winners visit New York City, to experience for themselves, how the best in the business run their bar. Working with their mentors, the 3 winners of Tennessee Calling will create, plan & host an event at The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York – The World’s Best Cocktail Bar. After leaving New York, the winners will travel to Lynchburg, Tennessee for the ultimate distillery experience, to see for themselves the whiskey making skill at The Jack Daniel Distillery.

Bartenders have until 31st October to enter.

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This year’s showpiece Whisky Show masterclass featured three contrasting figures. The first: an avuncular figure who has held every job possible in a whisky distillery. The second: an innovator, famed for his experiments with casks. And the third: a legendary figure who lets his whiskies do the talking.
Masters of Whisky

The Masters of Whisky masterclass (from left: Alan Winchester, Bill Lumsden, Dave Broom, Shinji Fukuyo) © Simon J Hanna

Our three Masters of Whisky were, respectively, Alan Winchester of The Glenlivet, Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, and Shinji Fukuyo of Suntory, with whisky writer Dave Broom on hosting duties. Indeed, Dave’s first act of this ‘Sunday morning service’, as he put it, was to reveal that moments before the masterclass began, the talk among the three Masters was not in-depth chat about reflux levels and cut points, but far more importantly, the latest news about Strictly Come Dancing.

Each Master brought a trio of whiskies with them, all of which they helped to make or which meant something to them personally. Alan opened proceedings with The Glenlivet 1983 Cellar Collection, a beautifully fruity, well-balanced dram with notes of pineapple, orange and plums, a vatting of 10 casks of 1969 Glenlivet.

Alan said that Glenlivet was a very different place in 1969, with coal-fired stills and worm tubs at the distillery, and explained that his chief blender ‘goes ballistic’ when people describe Glenlivet as a ‘light’ whisky.

Next up was a 15-year-old Auchbreck, bottled in 2014 for the Spirit of Speyside festival, which had that trademark fruit-salad aroma, but was noticeably richer on the palate. Alan’s final dram was a mystery vatting from various years, bottled at 47.6%, and a combination of US and European oak, the latter bringing out rich, spicy notes of ginger and orange.

Dr Bill was next: ‘On 17 March 1984, I went to a student party in Edinburgh, and tasted single malt whisky for the first time – it was a revelation,’ he said. ‘The first I tasted wasGlenmorangie 10 Year Old; the second was Balvenie 12 Year Old; and the third wasLagavulin 12 Year Old. So it was Glenmorangie that kicked it all off for me.’

Glenmorangie 10 Year Old

Eleven years later, Bill started work as Glenmorangie distillery manager, but found the site ‘in disarray’. He said his efforts to instil discipline among his team was tougher than expected, with the staff unsure of this ‘dirty west coaster from Greenock’.

We began with ‘the most beautiful Glenmorangie I have ever tasted’, as Bill put it – a 1981, bottled in 1998, with delicious notes of toffee, roasted almonds and soft floral notes. ‘It’s one of those whiskies I could sit with my nose in all day. If I could make all my Glenmorangies like this, I’d be a happy man.’ The fifth whisky of the masterclass was named Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year in 2014 – Glenmorangie Ealanta, a riot of malt, honeycomb and marzipan. Bill described it as ‘like a piece of butter rolled in sugar’.

He ended with Glenmorangie Signet (‘my magnum opus’). Bill said he had always wanted to make a whisky ‘where you treat the barley like coffee beans’, and so he created Signet with a high proportion of roasted chocolate malt, as used in stouts and porters. He added that the entire project was supposed to be a secret, but the team found out ‘because the distillery smelled like Starbucks’. The whisky itself was a chocoholic’s dream, with rich, dark notes of mocha, honeycomb and chocolate orange.

Yamazaki 1984

Shinji was the last Master to take to the stage. After joining Suntory in 1984, he started atHakushu before moving to Yamazaki in 1992. He opened with a beauty: The Chita single-grain whisky. He said: ‘This is not a serious whisky – it’s comfortable and relaxing. Malt whisky can be very tough; this is very easy.’ His second choice was at the other extreme: a heavily sherried 1984 vintage bottling of Yamazaki, which oozed brambly fruit, rum-soaked raisins, cinnamon, clove and bitter chocolate.

If the 1984 bottling caused contented purring among the audience, Shinji’s final whisky provoked gasps when he produced a blend aged in Japanese mizunara oak, some of which contained Yamazaki from 1960. Spicy and aromatic, the whisky was heady with incense, roasted nuts, dried fruit and cinnamon.

‘Mizunara trees take 150 years to grow to the right size,’ explained Shinji, adding that they bring sweet, coconut notes to the spirit at first, but after two decades, add a rich spiciness to the whisky.

Last year’s Legends masterclass had the feel of a rock concert, with Richard Paterson and Jim McEwan trading blows, and the former throwing whisky around the room, but this tasting had a very different feel – more elegant and subdued, with those present immersed in nine exceptional drams, and a clear respect between our three Masters of Whisky.

My personal favourite was Shinji’s third whisky. It was hugely impressive, and I’d never had a Japanese whisky like it. I suspect I’ll struggle to find a bottle…

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Presidential debate drinking games will make America drunk again

presidential debate drinking games


Presidential debates used to be a time to learn where a candidate stands on an issue or how they plan to tackle a problem. Now they’re more akin to MTV’s Yo Momma, only with Lester Holt filling in for Wilmer Valderrama, who’s too busy filming episodes of NCIS. There’s only one solution – Presidential Debate Drinking Games.

There are plenty of options when it comes to presidential debate drinking games. Everyone knows that you’d have to be drunk to tolerate the utter garbage that will be spewed on screen tonight. I’ve decided to round up a few of my favorites for you.

Presidential Debate Drinking Games

Debate Drinking
Straightforward and easy. Pick your candidate and drink everytime they say one of their six trigger words. There are community words as well that cause a drink if anyone says them. In total, you have to remember 9 words and nothing else. Still too tough? They have a realtime scoreboard.

Like the first, you ride one candidate all night. The drink triggers have a wider range, Lester Holt could get you drunk, and we get our first “finish your beer” rules.

Porch Drinking
This one plays more like a drinking game, which makes sense given the source. Sometimes you take drinks; sometimes you give them. There are sips, finishes, shots, and even pouring one out for Bernie.

First off, immediate bonus points for a handy graphic. They’re drinking with a simple hierarchy of sips, shots, bottle chugs, and full liquor cabinet consumption for the most bro reason ever.

Elite Daily
Not sure you can make it all the way through other Presidential Debate Drinking Games? This one has you covered. Elite Daily made a novice, hard, and bad idea version of their game so people of every tolerance can survive the night.

Meghan McCain Bingo
I’m not sure who she took this from, but I don’t believe she made it up herself. In any case, it’ll get you drunk.

presidential election drinking game