Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert make it a double. Credit Billboard Magazine.
Credit: Billboard

Neat Stuff 8: A shot of country music, 10 bottles for Burns Night and a Japanese world whiskey

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This here’s whiskey country: Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert make it a double

Just like when good ol’ boys Waylon, Willie and Kris ruled the place, our favorite drink remains a fount of inspiration for Nashville. Jason Aldean recently threw a party there to celebrate “Drowns the Whiskey,” a duet with fellow country star Miranda Lambert, hitting No. 1.

In a backhanded compliment to Jack Daniel’s, the song name-checks Lynchberg, Tennessee, lamenting that breakup memories are more potent than a bottle of the town’s finest. Won’t be the last country tune where whiskey and recall duke it out

Credit: Corsair Distillery
Credit: Corsair Distillery

Against the grain: Quinoa whiskey, anyone?

In other Nashville news, sometimes it pays to be a rebel. Just ask Darek Bell, founder of local Corsair Distillery. Bell started making whiskey from quinoa back in 2011, NPR recounts, only to run up against a federal law forbidding all grains except barley, corn, rye and wheat. Huh?

But last December before the U.S. government shutdown, the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau proposed greenlighting quinoa as whiskey-worthy. Other grains getting the nod included amaranth, buckwheat and oats. Who says cereal is dead?

Robbie Burns. Credit: BBC.
Robbie Burns. Credit: BBC

Feel the Burns: 10 young Scotches to sip on the Night

In case you didn’t know, January 25 is Burns Night, the annual celebration of Scotland’s most famous poet, the late Robert (Rabbie) Burns. Go on, take a drink’twill make a man forget his woe, ’twill heighten all his joy.

Credit: Compass Box
Credit: Compass Box

What to pour with your haggis, neeps and tatties? Forbes.com’s Felipe Schrieberg picks 10 no-age-statement Scotches with legs. Among them: the Hedonism blended grain offering from London-area (we know, we know) Compass Box, which Schrieberg sums up as “Vanilla, coconut, and aromatic gorse bushes with the thickness of a crème brûlée.”

Islay single-malt Smokehead High Voltage takes things up a notch: “Once you get past the strength, there’s a nice mix of intense smoke with a little bit of sweetness, like marzipan and chocolate chip cookies, to calm it down.” Och aye.

Credit: William Lawson
Ah, so that’s what’s under there
Credit: William Lawson

Is anything worn under the kilt? No, it’s all in perfect working order

Speaking of hedonism, and burns of a different nature, the Sun reports that a sex club in Blackpool, England, is throwing a Rabbie tribute with whiskey shots, haggis and a good old-fashioned orgy. Participants get bonus points for showing up in a kilt. As another famous Scot—here interpreted by Mike Myers and a piper—said, If you want my body…

Credit: ArKay Beverages
Credit: ArKay Beverages

If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!

We don’t do dry January, but if you’re almost through yours, more power to you. For those who can’t quit the taste of booze but want to skip the alcohol, ArKay Beverages is riding the wave with a line of faux hard liquor. 

The Texas company’s “alcohol-free whisky,” given a firm thumbs-down here, has raised the hackles of the Scotch Whisky Association, Sean Murphy explains in the Scotsman. The SWA’s vows to protect the nation’s honor probably won’t thrill the founder of ArKay, who says he spent five years and $5 million* creating a buzz-free drink that smells and tastes like the water of life, with help from Swiss scientists. Remind us, what was the point again?

*All prices in U.S. dollars

Credit: WAKUWAKU magazine
Credit: WAKUWAKU magazine

Beer run: Japanese craft brewers tackle whiskey shortage

Japan can’t get enough whiskey—or as they call it, whisky—creating an opportunity for craft breweries and distilleries as big producers reach the bottom of the barrel. The head of Niigata Beer tells the Nikkei Asian Review he’s converting a warehouse to a whiskey distillery and planning to grow his own oak for casks. Makers of shochu spirits are joining the race, too, with one soon to start crafting whiskey from wheat and rice.

Credit: Suntory Holdings
Credit: Suntory Holdings

Canned answer


One reason for the dwindling Japanese supply? Suntory Holdings’ canned highballs, whose wild popularity got more people into whiskey. Now the industry is tapping its fingers while remaining stocks mature. As brewers and others step in to stem the shortfall, some worry that their efforts could sully Japanese whiskey’s global rep.

Credit: Suntory Holdings
Credit: Suntory Holdings

Out of the blue

On that note, get ready for Suntory World Whisky Ao, a blend from the giant’s distilleries in Canada, Ireland, Japan, Scotland and the U.S. The 43% ABV newcomer, whose name means “blue,” launches in April for $50, Scotchwhisky.com says. To start, you can only buy it in Japan.

With the nation’s producers fobbing off international blends as Japanese, Ao could help bring more transparency. The next step is defining Japanese whiskey, which seems to be just about anything distillers say it is. Here’s to an honest dram.

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