Saturday, August 4, 2012

White Oak Blended Whisky by the Measure

While on the hunt for old liquor shops, which is becoming a regular thing to do recently with my obsession to track down original Karuizawa distillery bottlings, and a few other assorted expressions such as Suntory’s black label Hokuto 12-year-old (sadly ceased production), I stumbled across a small chain store that goes by the name of Liquor Kingdom (リカー王国), literally out in the sticks and relatively hidden away from the main road. This liquor chain is fairly small compared to bigger establishments such as Yamaya, but you do stumble across them from time to time and when you do they are almost certain to be in the most remote places. The store I visited was just that, in the most inconvenient place, and most likely not accessible by public transport. A store that you would most likely not try and seek out once knowing about it, unless the odds are you happen to be living in the area. The bright yellow painted store, which is the chains trademark, did however, have something of interest, a ji-whisky barrel selling spirit by the measure. The "Ji" in "Ji-whisky" basically indicates “local” and has the same idea of small quantity distilling or brewing (micro-production). I walked straight past this barrel on the way in and it was only on the way out that I caught a glimpse of the small laminated sign above, with the distinctive White Oak casks in plain view, advertising “Original Ji-Whisky”, sale by the measure, bottled by Eigashima Shuzo Co., Ltd.
As you can imagine I got extremely excited, I had all these thoughts running through my mind of what it could be. I considered it to be some special exclusive store owner’s cask, that was until I saw in small writing “blended by Eigashima” and the cheap pricing system, which automatically canceled out the notion. “Right, obviously a blend” I heard myself say as the excitement receded, “but which blend?” again saying out loud. Unfortunately the store owner, whether true or not, said he didn’t know as reps from the distillery organized the deal, but it was obvious it was either White Oak’s standard house blend (Shirodama) or the Akashi blend. The pricing for a 500ml measure from the barrel at 750 yen ($9) suggested it wasn’t White Oak’s Akashi blend, as the RRP of this in any outlet goes for 1000 yen ($12), therefore I thought it to be the house blend. That was until I got myself a sample, nosed it on the spot, which suggested otherwise (the Akashi blend). Driving on the day eliminated tastings, so it was not until after I concluded it was in actual fact, well in my opinion, the Akashi blend for two reasons alone. Firstly, the palate of my sample strongly suggested flavours of the Akashi blend and not the Shirodama house blend, and secondly the wording on the advertisement at the shop is the same of that on the label of the Akashi blend (ji-whisky). I believe that the price of the 500ml measure of the Akashi blend (presuming it is of course) is cheaper than the RRP of a distillery bottling is simply down to aesthetics. Measures come in a screw top plastic bottle (better quality than a standard juice bottle) with a wide mouth, and there is no adorning label. For the novelty it could be worth considering if you have the intentions to venture to the other side of Hyogo.

Price per measure:
500ml - 750 yen
700ml - 980 yen
900ml - 1,200 yen
1,400ml - 1,780 yen
1,800ml - 2,180 yen
2,000ml - 2,380 yen
2,700ml - 3,180 yen
4,000ml - 4,580 yen

Oshibedani-cho, Sakaie 90 banchi, Nishi-ku, Kobe-shi


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