While on the domestic theme, I was intrigued at the popularity in which Japanese whiskies were receiving from the locals. Throughout the day of festivities, for obvious reasons, I spent a lot of time around the booths of the Japanese brands. This was interesting, as I was not only amongst the spirit of which I have a passion for but in doing so provided a good insight, or a better perspective of how Japanese people perceive their domestically distilled spirit.
It is safe to say that people at these types of events generally have an interest in whisky, some perhaps more than others, and lets face it, they wouldn’t be there otherwise. But the genuine interest the Japanese brands received from the locals was outstanding, and in particular the interest Ichiro-san’s small but constantly busy stand received. Focus was purely on the recent edition of the Black Label Malt & Grain blend, which again, locals took a lot of interest in. Whether it’s the hype, awards received, or the general love of the spirit, all three bottles on the pedestal (Floor Malted, Black and White Label Malt & Grain Blends) generated appeal and kept most people happy. Akuto-san also had a 25-year-old single cask available at 500 yen and a very interesting 33-year-old Malt & Grain blend available for tasting at 1,000 yen. I was expecting a little more from the stand in all honesty, more in the sense of variety, more to sample, but I guess there is not much more that could have been presented as a lot of bottlings are now unavailable.
Next door to Akuto-san was Kirin’s relatively small stand. They were throwing some sort of demonstration showing the effectiveness of marrying their Gotemba Fujisanroku label with brewed tea. The flagship Fujisanroku, both the blend and the 18-year-old single malt was the only two whiskies on their stand, no other house blends cluttered up the table. I welcomed this as I never had the pleasure of indulging in the 18-year-old, purely because I was never willing to lay down the arguable pricey fee of both a full bottle and a dram at a bar. However, I may have to think this over again. The 18-year-old has received mixed reviews over the years but it is one of the few malts that have constantly been on my mind since the festival. Huge dollops of fresh whipped cream and homemade jam on heavily buttered fresh scones engulfed my senses when consuming it (thankfully, a healthy measure in my glass). Although their stand was what it was, hats off to Kirin Gotemba for their imaginative promo materials (catalogues), the best I have seen from any distillery to date.
Part 3 (final and lengthy post) is in the transition from paper to computer. Stay tuned.