Wednesday, August 19, 2015

East Meets West - Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish

'Whisky for Everyone' has recently tweeted from the live launch of Bowmore's Mizunara Cask Finish. According to their tweet the limited edition Bowmore has an outturn of 2000 bottles and will retail at 750 pounds per bottle. In addition The Spirits Business have informed their followers with a tweet that the make up of this good looking package is from bourbon and sherry cask parcels respectively, and with a 3 year finish in Japanese Oak. The abv of this whisky, which I presume will be highly sought after, regardless of the hefty price tag, comes in at 53.9%. At this stage there are mixed answers given as to whether this release will be available in Japan, regardless of ownership. This would be unfortunate for local whisky enthusiasts if it didn't make it ashore however, fortunate for others as it would mean a greater opportunity for availability.

Image kindly borrowed from Whisky for Everyone
Title credit given to EastMeetsWest

UPDATE August 20th, 2015: The Spirits Business last night revealed that in fact Japan will receive an allotment. For additional information regarding this release check out their full article (here).

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Birth of a Dream - Akkeshi Distillery - A New Japanese Craft Distillery in the Making

Japan, August 10, 2015. Kenten.Co Ltd, the founding company and owner of one of the nation’s newest and upcoming distilleries, launched an inaugural distillery website. The new site that went live this afternoon gives an invaluable insight into the preestablishment of the Akkeshi Distillery that is a work-in-progress. 

The informative homepage, which is fortunately accessible both in Japanese and English, documents the birth of a ‘new era’ Japanese whisky distillery. The distillery, which was born out of one man’s dream, is significantly situated in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s islands and is located in the town of Akkeshi, a sub-prefecture of Kushiro. 

The new Internet site is divided into sections: who they are and what they are aiming to do, their vision, the region, and the distillery’s character. As with the progression of the distillery Japanese whisky enthusiasts can expect to see the continuing development of the Akkeshi Distillery web portal to flourish.

Without spoiling the experience – take a look for yourselves - visit the Akkeshi Distillery homepage and join in on the new epoch of Japanese whisky:

English version click (here)

Japanese version click (here)

Keep your eyes out for the announcement of the Akkeshi Distillery Facebook page that will follow in due time. Be sure to like the page and invite your friends.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

'The Chita' Release

The Suntory Spirits Company is set to release ‘The Chita’ nationwide from September 1, 2015. The forthcoming addition to Suntory’s portfolio is made by blending various aged grain whiskies that have been maturing at various length at their Chita grain distillery in Aichi prefecture. The vatting of 'The Chita' consists of at least 10 component grain whiskies that have been matured in a variety of cask types including American white oak (the bulk of the vatting), Spanish oak, and wine casks. According to the press release the 700ml bottling will retail at 3,800 yen (excluding tax – and depending on the retailer) and is bottled at 43%. 

The good news for fans of Japanese grain whisky alike is ‘The Chita’ is not a limited edition, there will be plenty of it available therefore, it is likely a standard and long running line-up of Suntory’s stable. The spirits giant appears to be marketing this product as another refreshing alternative for use in highballs and another perfect accompaniment to food, however, by the sounds of their in-house tasting notes that includes subtle flavours and delicate sweetness it sounds like a shame to mix it. Perhaps in coming time we can possibly expect to see another grain bottling released by Hakushu?

Check out Suntory's elaborate homepage of their new brand here

Image kindly taken from the official press release (in Japanese).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Super Nikka Genshu Pure Malt 55.5% Abv

The Super Nikka Genshu was released on the domestic market in 1995. In 2009, 14 years later, Nikka decided to take the product off the market. The first initial debuting bottle (round type) was released with a cork but apparently due to the stopper being insufficient it was replaced the following year with a plastic screw cap. This is a blended malt (vatted malt). The word: 'Genshu' can be roughly translated as 'straight from the cask' or 'non-diluted'. Another simple interpretation is natural cask strength. Two types of bottle designs were used for this expression, one being the square type that is used for Nikka from the barrel, the following bottle type is pictured above.

Nose: Another cask strength whisky with extreme subtleness – no roughness present here. Lovely creaminess in the form of mild cream Sherry and cheesecake. Oak. Retains that welcoming trademark bubble gum aroma followed by orange and mango fruit juice. Then interestingly Earl grey and hints of fennel tea. Maltesers confectionery (malt honeycomb centre, surrounded by milk chocolate) and whispers of subtle peat. Sugar coated nuts. With a little time in the glass lovely lemon basil emerges - too much time can lead to what resembles Imo (sweet potato) Sochu. Floral and candy lemon aromas develop with water along with sweet peat. 

Taste: More heat here. Chewy. Spicy marmalade, cinnamon gum, bitter red stone fruits. Subtle sherry influence. Maltesers. That tasty lemon basil is equally present on the palate with orange and grapefruit peel. Oak. Water changes path leading to sweet-bitterness - yellow/red capsicums. Peat more influential here than the nose but it is still mild.

Finish: Long with a prickly mouth feel. Some mild bitterness as with the taste, again, walnuts and beer nut skins, marmalade and grapefruit peel.Lemon basil and gum.

Comment: Great whisky with a surprisingly adequate nose. The nose can be busy and complex at certain times. Other times standard. Recommended to any die-hard Nikka fan who has yet to try it. Perhaps a little hard to find but not impossible. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eigashima 5yo Single Malt Akashi Old Sherry Butt # 5158

Outturn: 1000 bottles - ABV: 50%

Nose: Besides the obvious fact that this is a relatively young malt to begin with, it retains a dominant young-sweetness resembling new make elements, despite that it is 5yo, and more so than other young malts on the market. Nevertheless, pleasant enough if you enjoy that sort of thing. Past the delinquency you get under ripe stewed rhubarb, floral soapiness, mild apple juice, straw, red icy poles, light honey, plus the tinniest hint of what seems to be PX on the nose. It is however a bit spirity. Perhaps a very tired butt? In my opinion it contains the softest touch of that typical burnt rubber that I believe is very consistent in all Akashi releases - house style perhaps? Not a lot changes really with the addition of water. It kind of lacks the freshness of a good calibre sherry cask. 

Taste: Mild pickled ginger, cloves, cinnamon and baked apple. As with the nose some floral elements, ever eaten a pink carnation? Pomergranate juice. Fruity honey wine.The tyre rubber is also here to stay - in a mild way, which I must say I don't mind at all. A tad of what I presume to be PX influence - only watery. Under ripe fresh rhubarb sticks. Then, peppered green vegetables - mid way bitterness – can’t stop thinking of Brussels sprouts? From here it goes a bit pear shaped with dryness and chalkiness. Water tones down this - slightly.

Finish: Initially prickly and spicy before becoming chalky and dry.

Comment: As you can see by the photo I've played with this malt on various occasions but it never really seems to change, it stays consistent from opening the bottle to finishing it. Not the best from the stable, still, the nose was fun enough I give it that. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mars Single Cask #393 American Oak 15yo for Espoa

Distillery: Shinshu - Distilled: 1986 - Bottled: 2001 - ABV: 59.5% - Bottle Number: 339

Nose: Cheesecake base, cinnamon baked banana with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, banana cake, carnation milk, and custard tart. With time fresh soft liquorice sticks and orange and lemon sherbet. There's a sudden transformation to mild sour sobs and grassy elements with extended time. Immediately with water - further fruity excitement: pineapple chewy confectionary and/or pineapple lifesavers. Dried apricots and mango. While on the candy front ill even throw in a bag of jelly beans. Then, it becomes scented with Bounty chocolate (coconut dressed in milk chocolate).

Taste: Prickly spices - cardamom, nutmeg, and a touch of pickled ginger. Heavily grilled pineapple rings, and a touch of liquorice. Vanilla wood spice. With water glazed grapefruit peel, dusty paddle pop sticks and/or old book pages. Bitter wood, BBQ grapefruit peel, and walnuts. 

Finish: Very long and prickly with a mellow hint of a liquorice, and glazed grapefruit peel. With water mildly spicy coconut chutney.

Comment: Some attentive readers may have already pointed out – there is quite a bit of colour disfiguration on the labels and in particular the ‘Cask Strength’ seal on the bottle neck. Pictures of other bottles in comparison show a black seal that may suggest my bottle had potentially seen a lot of sun/or shop lighting while sitting on the shelf. Significant exposure to light - being natural or artificial can cause colour change and affect the taste, as to how much or if any of this bottle has been affected is anyone’s guess. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Asahi Announces Price Hike for 2015

Asahi breweries Ltd, the owners of the Nikka Distilling Co, yesterday announced their revised prices for both domestic and imported products in the company’s portfolio. According to the Japanese press release (here) prices will become effective locally from September 1, 2015. The price hike, stated by the company is in accordance to the price increase in barley and raw materials such as corn. Some products have risen up to 44 percent in price.

Domestic brand price revision (excluding tax):

In addition, and although Asahi holdings have not officially made a public announcement, word among working people in the industry is that all aged single malt expressions from both the Yoichi and Miyagikyo stables will disappear from the distillery’s portfolio before the end of the year. Along with this hint of what is to come, apparently the infamous no-age single malts will cease in the 500ml bottling and change to 700ml respectively. In short, if you are a fan of either expression it may pay to stock up - that is to say if you can find anything on the shelves.We all know what happened with Yamazaki 10 and 12 year old expressions.

* Graph taken from the Asahi homepage