I've since put in several orders from Master of Malt. Delivery speed can range from really fast to about a week. depending on what you order, it may come straight from the UK or from the East Coast (the sender address is from another wine store). Their customer service has been pretty consistently nice and friendly so I highly recommend.
They've since included shipping + duty in their delivery pricing so there's no surprises at the very end.
I put in my order on a Thursday night, and to my surprise, it was here by Monday.
From UK to Hawaii, that is FAST (as we don't actually have overnight shipping).
Their Christmas Advent Calendars are such
a novel idea and perfect for a gift!
I was a bit worried as the item was packaged in a thin Single-Wall box. However, upon opening--all is well. The inflatable packaging that surrounded the Whisky was highly insulated, and the sample drams were held nicely in the cardboard box with bubble wrap in the exterior and interior.
What really sold me was that Master of Malt had so many varieties of Whiskey samples for sale (brilliant so you don't get stuck with a whole bottle of something you don't like).
I would have loved to pick up the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 that won the World Whiskey Award last year (amazingly, MoM had it in stock at one point at the retail price). It's all sold out except for a few floating around from private sellers. But I don't see the value in paying over $2k+ usd for something that was only worth $150 when it first went to market (though I'm sure some may disagree with me).
I usually don't care for Whiskey as I dislike the after-burn (so take my view with a grain of salt). However, side-by-side, next to a 12 year Hibiki and Hakushu, I actually preferred the Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve. It's a great buy for the price, and it goes down smooth (slight reminiscent of the smoothness found in the Royal Salute 38 years, but way cheaper).
Overall, I thought Master of Malt's pricing was very fair (even with the shipping fee-- it comes out to how much the mark up would have been if the item was available locally). I would definitely use them again in the future for gifts.
Now I can't wait to hit up the Yamazaki Distillery when we return to Japan again!