Thursday, August 23, 2012

White Oak Update

We've learned of White Oak's new no-age-statement that will hit the shelves soon, in fact at the end of the month, so that technically gives us a few days to wait. This new edition to White Oak's portfolio will sadly replace the Akashi 5-year-old single malt and become the distillery's flagship malt from here on. Although sad to see the 5-year-old go, perhaps it could be a significant turning point for the distillery?

According to the distillery the NAS will most likely make its debut around Kansai first, and will be spread out amongst smaller retailers before hitting the big department stores. The Akashi NAS single malt appears to be made up of at least 3 main malts that include the vatting of Spanish sherry oak, American oak, and Bourbon oak casks, compromised of multiple ages from young to slightly matured malt. The cost will be 2,500 yen (excluding tax) and bottled at the ABV of 46%. This year, the first bottling run will see a release of 4,000 bottles, followed by subsequent release year after year.

This leaves White Oak with 5 brands to their line-up: the aforementioned NAS, Akashi blend, White Oak Gold house blend, White Oak red house blend, and the recently introduced 14-year-old Akashi single malt. Excluded from their existing line-up are the 5, 8, and 12-year-olds as production has ceased and stock sold out. That and there really is not enough stock to go around (Akashi 8-year-old had an outrun of 4,500 bottles while the 12-year-old's outrun was 2,000 bottles). In addition, since August last year, the distillery also stopped producing their favoured blend: Crown.

However, the line-up of the 5 brands will at some stage, and in the very near future, decrease to 4. The 14-year-old (although limited is still available at the distillery direct and online), just like the 8 and 12-year-olds was produced with a limited outrun. The first batch of 400 bottles, which appears to have never left domestic shores, and for obvious reasons, is comprised of twelve and a half year old malt from Spanish sherry oak, and finished in French white wine oak casks for the remaining period of one and a half years. There will be a second batch release (late November/early December) that will be equally welcomed, this outrun is speculated to double that of the first batch and will be a little bit more complex in terms of the finish: twelve and a half years in Spanish sherry oak, one and a half years spent in American oak, while the remaining life of half a year is in French white wine oak casks. So in doing the math it's easy to see that White Oak's oldest bottling will not be around in the future once both batches are sold out.

The distillery is doing some great things though for the industry, perhaps we will see some other expressions introduced in the future and witness White Oak becoming that little bit larger than it is now. I cannot wait.

Photo courtesy of Eigashima - White Oak

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