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July 29 2014

Balls of Steel – Cool Your Whisky For a Cause

There are many different ways to cool your whisky, from the standard method of ice to chilled stones and more.
The other day I was contacted by a company that has come up with an alternative, Balls of Steel.
These are literally, balls of steel and not just a cool product name.

As well as being rather cool looking, the company that came up with them, “OriginalBOS“, are also raising money for a great cause, testicular cancer research, so another reason to give them a look.

Here’s what they had to say:

While there are many types of whiskey, there is only one way to drink it: chilled.

Balls of Steel are stainless steel whiskey chillers that allow you to enjoy your drink without diluting it the way water does. These stainless steel balls will allow you to drink your whiskey the way it was made to be enjoyed. You will no longer have to deal with the unwanted dilution that drowns out the flavors when your ice melts.

Balls of Steel

Balls of Steel

Inside each ball is an arctic core, developed by OriginalBOS, which allow Balls of Steel to get cold fast and stay cold longer. Place the balls in the freezer for at least 90 minutes and then drop them in a glass to enjoy whiskey at the perfect temperature.

Chilling whiskey is not the sole purpose of Balls of Steel. Just by purchasing Balls of Steel, you are supporting mens’ health. For every purchase, OriginalBOS donates a portion of its proceeds to testicular cancer research.

Now you can enjoy your perfectly chilled whiskey and have Balls of Steel.

Balls of Steel are available for purchase at www.OriginalBOS.com

What are Balls of Steel? from Original BOS on Vimeo.

Get your set at: www.OriginalBOS.com

DISCLAIMER: I received no compensation, monetary or otherwise for writing this post. I just thought they looked pretty cool and wanted to spread the word.

June 17 2014

Samurai Beer from Sapporo

To coincide with an NHK drama about Samurai (one of many!), Sapporo have changed the designs of their Sapporo Beer Black Label and Sapporo Mugi and Hop The Gold Daisan cans and added some rather cool Samurai drawings.

Sapporo Samurai Beer

Sapporo Samurai Beer

Sapporo Samurai Daisan

Sapporo Samurai Daisan

The beers are from Sapporo so are pretty drinkable, even the daisan (third-category “fake beer”).

June 16 2014

Father’s Day Sake

My son (with some help from his mum, he’s only 3!) bought me this excellent personalised bottle of sake for Father’s Day this year!

Fathers Day Nihonshu

Fathers Day Sake

It has my name on it in Japanese, and “Thanks Dad” down the side.

Not sure if the nihonshu inside the bottle is any good, but the bottle itself is definitely going to be treasured!

March 4 2014

The Science and Commerce of Whisky : Book Review

I recently received “The Science and Commerce of Whisky“, the new book from Ian Buxton and
Paul S Hughes, to review.

The Science and Commerce of Whisky

The Science and Commerce of Whisky

Now, I got an A in Chemistry ‘A’ level many, many years ago, so I know my inorganic chemistry from my organic chemistry (there’s carbon in one of them!), but it was a long time ago, and would it stretch to the science of whisky making? Hmm…more on that later.

As the books title states, this book is about the science of whisky so a large section of the book is concerned with the chemistry of whisky distilling down to the molecular level, but it also covers the commerce side, discussing branding and marketing of the finished product.

It doesn’t stop there though, there are other topics covered such as the history of whisky, in particular Scottish whisky.

The book is divided into 8 chapters, each covering a specific area of either historical, scientific or commercial relevance to whisky distilling and is extensively researched with references to books (scientific, culinary, poetic and more) as far back as the 1600s and even earlier.

Chapter 1 is Whisky’s Historical Development which gives a good overview of the history of whisky from alchemy (I told you they went far back in history!) up to modern day, with Chapter 2 giving itself over entirely to the history of whisky in Scotland, going fairly in-depth into the companies, distilleries and industry as a whole there.

Things change pace with Chapters 3 and 4, as this is where the science kicks in…

The book is written with whisky industry practitioners and chemistry undergraduates in mind but is also accessible to whisky enthusiasts and laymen like myself.
However some of the chemistry here was way over my head and I spent a lot of these chapters, thinking…”Ok, I’ll take your word for it.“…or…”What do those words even mean?!“.

Maltase liberates β-D-glucose, either from α-1,4-linked chains or terminal glucose residues linked by α-1,6 linkages.

Does it? Oh, right. Cool.

If you’re an undergraduate or actively involved in the distilling process, this I’m sure is
a) understandable and b) very useful to know.
For the rest of us, just go with it, it’ll be worth it in the end.

So Chapter 3 is about the production of New Make Spirit, and Chapter 4 moves on to the casks and the maturation of whisky, which I found particularly interesting as they go into some detail about how casks are made, the maturation and natural colour process and also how the American standard barrels are adapted to hogsheads (larger casks) for the long maturation process.
The barrelling part of whisky production (and wine for that matter) has always fascinated me.

Chapter 5 discusses blending and bottling with Chapter 6 going into detail on branding and marketing of the finished product.

Throughout the book there are tons of fascinating little facts and tit-bits of information, for example, about 70 odd % of the price of a bottle of Scotch Whisky in the UK is actually tax! Which explains why it’s so much cheaper to buy foreign whisky here in Japan where the tax on alcohol is much lower!

The final two chapters discuss “New Whisky Countries” and “Today’s Global Market” which, as can be expected from these authors, contains very detailed tables and statistics on sales and market share for the different kinds of whiskies (blends, American, etc).
There is also some discussion about the new kids on the block – the artisan and craft distillers and their place in the “modern” history of whisky.

All in all, this book is a fascinating and easily accessible study of what goes on “behind the scenes” at distilleries around the world, from creating the whisky through to maturing it, bottling it and perhaps more important than ever these days, the marketing of the product and brand.

One welcome addition however, would have been a glossary for some of the less well-known scientific terms for the non-chemistry-undergraduate whisky enthusiast like myself, but I guess once you start down that road where do you stop – the glossary could end up being pages and pages long.
People who need to know the technical jargon, will probably know already or can look it up, while the rest of us can just be grateful there are people who know this scientific stuff and can capture it in a bottle for us!

The book is published by The Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK and is available from their website http://www.rsc.org/shop/ priced at £27.99.

Disclaimer : I was sent this book free of charge to review but I have received no payment for the review nor am I an affiliate, so won’t receive any percentage of sales for any purchases made after clicking the above link.

February 24 2014

Blue Eden – Underwater Exploration on the iPhone

This post is a bit off-track from booze, but I hope you’ll allow me the digression…

In between drinking and reviewing beers and whisky for this site I also make videogames in my spare time with a friend, and here’s our latest offering.

The game, for iOS, has you joining a school of Powder Blue Surgeonfish as you try to survive in the ocean, season after season.

Each of the four seasons in the year has a unique game type, where you avoid predators, search for food, breed and add more fish to your flock.

The game has an educational slant, with a gallery image section with information about the fish in the game and hopefully it will inspire people to become more aware of not only our oceans and the amazing creatures that live there but also nature in general and our connection to it.

(And now the money bit…)
The game is offered at the low price of $0.99/£0.69 and has NO In-App Purchases, so parents can be rest assured if their children play this they can’t rack up huge bills with Apple!

If you are interested in finding out more about Blue Eden, please visit the App Store
or the Skoobie Games homepage for more information.

There is also a Blue Eden facebook page and you can follow Blue Eden on Twitter .

Thank you!

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