Japan gets whisky right. Even diehard Scotch or bourbon enthusiasts cannot negate how the Japanese have created a distinct, inimitable approach to whiskies — a feat even more remarkable because the nation’s whisky production heritage is barely a hundred years old. Despite the massive following its malt liquor industry has obtained, Japanese distilleries are still pushing the bracket for innovation. Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 is one of its best achievements to date.

The Kansai distillery, owned by Beam Suntory, has produced multiple award-winning whiskies, including the lauded Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 expression that won World’s Best in 2015. The brand is a name aligned with excellence, and its Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 cements the distillery’s way with wood, which we’ll explore more below.

Other enticing releases this month include Mount Gay’s XO Cask Strength rum, a rare expression from the Barbadian brand, Belvedere Vodka’s new bespoke service, as well as the largest wine festival coming to Singapore. Read on to find out where.

For more drinks news, check out our bar guides around Singapore’s hottest boozy districts, including Telok Ayer, Boat Quay, as well as Club Street and Ann Siang Hill.

1
Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 is a triumph for Japanese whisky

When whisky craftsman Shinji Fukuyo envisioned the Mizunara 2017, he stated that he wanted to create a moment of epiphany when people tasted the whisky, and that it ought to be something entirely new for seasoned drinkers. Mizunara oak casks are a bold choice, as they’re extremely temperamental to work with. It is a very permeable wood, and the liquor can easily seep through, spoiling the entire expression. A number of single malt whiskies were matured in Mizunara oak for this new Yamazaki, with the youngest being an 18-year-old, and the oldest, a 50-year-old. A sip unfurls the sweetness of dried fruits, some yuzu jamminess, cinnamon and smoke — making it an unparalleled addition to the Yamazaki portfolio.

The bottle has an RRP of US$1,500 (approximately S$2050).

2
Belvedere Bespoke allows you to brand your own vodka bottle

Ordering a 1.75-centilitre bottle of vodka makes a statement, but the new Belvedere Bespoke option gives new meaning to “go big or go home”. Beginning 11 November, guests at Altimate and 1-Altitude can opt to have their name printed on Belvedere’s behemoth — the Silver Saber. This laser-cut metallic bottle is a first for the brand, and it is a striking addition to bring to any table, or celebration.

Price available on request at the respective venues.

3
Smoke & Mirrors' new menu makes optical illusions out of cocktails

Smoke & Mirrors’ head bartender Yugnes Susela and his team quite literally have a few tricks up their sleeves with the launch of their new cocktail menu, titled The Playful Eye. Culinary techniques are applied to the cocktails and their garnishes, which don’t look edible, but most certainly are. A highlight to order is the new self-titled cocktail, inspired by Susela’s favourite restaurant in Spain, Mugaritz. The punchy drink comes in an edible garden, with different textures of “soil” made from pistachios and cocoa powder.

4
Uncorked: Wine Day Out is the biggest wine festival to arrive in Singapore

Over 600 labels of wine will take centre stage at Uncorked, the largest local wine festival to launch at Savourworld. Spanning 13,000 square feet and held over two weeks, Uncorked is a trip well made for anyone who loves their vino. There will be food, live music, and plenty of masterclasses to sign up for. These include topics like how Coonawarra is not just about Cabernet Sauvignon, and a tasting trail around Spain’s lesser-known wineries.

For more information, see www.uncorked.asia

5
Mount Gay's rare XO Cask Strength rum to be available for a limited time only

Mount Gay is one of the Caribbean’s top rum producers, no question. Its XO rum, packed with notes of Christmas spices and molasses, is found in many cocktails, and sets the standard for its limited edition release: The Mount Gay XO Cask Strength. Only 3,000 bottles of this 63 percent ABV beast are available worldwide, and it is now for sale in Singapore. This coppery Bajan rum is full of oak, spice, toffee and nuts that just cling to the palate. Despite the high ABV, it is mellow enough to drink neat, but adding just a touch of water takes it to another level.

Price TBA.

6
Nutmeg & Clove transforms natural history drawings into impressive cocktails

Nutmeg & Clove has always drawn inspiration from Singapore’s past for its cocktails. An inventive spin on local natural history is the basis for the new menu, which sees ingredients like the aphrodisiac, Tongkat Ali, and the contestable national fruit, durian, applied to classic cocktails. Durian and mangosteen mesh in the King and Queen cocktail — an intriguing spin on milk punch. It tastes far less daunting than it sounds, really.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.