Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bringeth The Dram (Baby Got VAT) - Master Of Malt

Master Of Malt website snapshot

NOTE: This is an old post from 2011. Take note of  all dates posts are made in reference to your current purchasing considerations.

So the time has finally come that I had the opportunity to order form Master Of Malt. A long time coming I know but I have hesitated every time as the cost has always been so much more than the Whisky Exchange (or so I thought so). In the amended words of Sir Mix-A-Lot: "Baby Got VAT". Luckily due to a side note by Jeff over at Scotch Hobbyist about how the VAT on International purchases will be returned on request (after the order is paid for), I made the enquiry directly to Master Of Malt to confirm it is all true.

I know I have only just started this post but this is actually a rather important fact as having the VAT removed makes Master Of Malt pretty much on par with several other online vendors. The whole VAT issue is a marketing flaw easily fixed on the Master Of Malt's site if they choose to. Making this blatantly clear will, I am sure, deliver more orders internationally. Potentially if you trawl the site, page for page, you may find a reference but fact is fact it is not anywhere to be seen quickly. I am happy to now know this for future opportunities!

Moving on Master Of Malt site offers some great opportunities to try before you buy with Drinks By The Dram having many samples of whiskies on offer. One of the main attractions for myself though there is many other things on offer so check them out not just for whisky. Of course not all whiskies are on offer as samples as each bottle must be broken down in order to make up the samples, but none the less there is more than enough to choose from.

9 days ago I reviewed my choices and placed my order itching at what was to come in the mail. Not a bad turn around at all considering the distance form the UK to Australia. Within in 2hrs I had my first notification that the order was processed plus a tracking number and a site to check the status during shipping. Come today the parcel arrived 12hrs after entry in Australia.

The package
Outer carton is quite plain with no defining features of the contents. Only slight damage to the box itself but nothing significant you would not be expecting from you local mail service let alone an international courier. The package was light but some loose movement was clear.

The opening
Spitting open the box I was greeted with 2 twin inflated tubes and a small note of the individual whom packed the contents. Though I thought I could feel movement previous it was clear the inflation was tight and snug. The movement was clearly now coming form the whisky containers themselves inside the inflated tubes (phew). It took quite a bit of strength to get these inflated tubes out of the box. No mess no fuss.

Inflated tubes with whisky inside
On extracting the whisky from the inflated tubes I was less impressed with the result. There is a lot air space in the tops and bottoms where the whisky containers sit and it was clear there had been more than one jolt along the way which had dislodges bit lids to the whisky container tubes. Packing around the whisky itself was simple bubble wrap. This could have been handled much better in order to stop the whisky bottles shifting so much. Maybe this is good enough for local shipping but the extended international time frame has shown it's impact. I guess this is just the risk we take in ordering afar. Whisky was intact which is by far the most important thing.

Inner container packing
Overall I have some tasty drams on offer and my VAT was returned as indicated. Pricing was equivalent in many ways to the Whisky Exchange though it did seem the the Whisky Exchange had access to many more harder to get items in regards to Scotch Whisky (this is the not the first or last time I may be wrong). For me this personal order had more focus on Japanese Whiskies and especially ones I could sample first. I also do prefer the Whisky Exchanges packaging as it was more thorough and stable though it was also messier for clean up (review on Whisky Exchange order here).

The contents laid strewn
The ordering process was fine though I think Whisky Exchange is more refined in getting to the goal posts first. I do also find the Master Of Malt site a little too cluttered for my needs. Me being a graphic designer by trade I tend to cringe at anything that starts shouting at me visually.

Regarding the Drinks By The Dram I will post more about this during the Dramcember festivities but needless to say this is very exciting. I certainly plan at another stage to get myself a few more samples as it really is a great way to see if what you want to by is really in your taste profile. Certainly for us in Aus it is not economical to just get a few samples shipped out but when you have a couple of extra larger bottles in the mix the shipping is minimal. Hands down ordering through Master of Malt (and the Whisky Exchange) is by far cheaper with more selection than any Australian based vendor has on offer (as long as you are ordering multiple items).

If I was to give a dram then it would be 6 1/4 out of 7. A good turn out all round now I know I can get the VAT back. Or should I say: "Baby Got Back!"

The Baron