Despite the typhoon that tore through Kansai yesterday (September 30) the annual Whisky History event soared on in
. Enthusiasts braved
strong winds and pelting rain to attend the 2012 NBA (Nihon Bartenders
Association) gathering, which is in its 12th year and labeled as the main
whisky event of Kansai. The scale of the gathering was relatively small
compared to other whisky events and festivals but nevertheless it provided the
perfect opportunity to take your time and get amongst the reps minds with bombarding
questions. The event, which kicked-off at noon, had roughly a little over 20
booths with a heavy emphasis on Scotch, and in particular from independent
bottlers. The Golden Cask and Silver Seal bottlers appeared to be fashionable
on the day. For me the standard out amongst the array of indi's was the Sherry
22-year-old Single Cask Glen Grant bottled by Black Adder (I can still taste
the thick coal tar, surprisingly for what it is). Osaka
Despite the variety of independent bottlings my prime focus of the day was naturally Japanese whisky. The same players were there as the Osaka Whisky Festival 2012, and once again sadly without the presence of the White Oak Distillery. Although not physically present Akuto-san's Venture Whisky booth was gleaming. I was a little disappointed in terms of selection, I was hoping to get amongst some surprise bottlings, but they sell out so quick at events in Kanto therefore bottlings such as the Port Pipe never reach events in Kansai. However, these thoughts vanished as soon as I got amongst the malt on the pedestal: "Chichibu The Peated". Such lush malt. I immediately had hairs standing up on the back of my neck once the transition of thick smoked ham, herbs, and spices rolled over my tongue. There is often a bit of hype surrounding Chichibu releases however; this one deserves all that it gets. This is lovely artisan whisky at its best. I have this in my possession but have yet to crack it so I was lucky to get a glimpse of what I have install, great clarification in great surroundings.
While on the domestic front Nikka had a very minimal stall and selection however, hidden behind the range of Taketsuru Pure Malt laid the 2012 non-chill filtered 17-year-old Taketsuru that appeared to be given out discretely. According to the reps only 600 bottles of this release was allocated to Kansai (total outrun of 6,000 bottles, which isn't mentioned on the label). Sophisticated and clean mouth feel but I favoured the robust nose of the standard 17-year-old when comparing. Suntory of course were present and equally had a small and simple set up with the emphasis on the 2012 Yamazaki Cask Collection (seems like a few bottles were put aside for the event in addition to the distillery's remaining stock). Unfortunately not a lot to say here as I tried the Cask expressions the other day while at Yamazaki, and there was no standard bottlings over the 12-year-old mark to be seen.
Familiar faces from the Mars Distillery were in full force on the day. Interestingly enough they had the last dregs of the Single Cask releases (
Sherry, American Oak) on offer, free of charge (not like the Osaka Whisky
Festival) to sample that one last time. It was basically first in first serve
to have the final pleasures of tasting these expressions, unless you were one
of the lucky punters who secured a bottle already. My focus shifted to their
New Pot, nothing new of course, but it wasn't on offer at the last festival.
Distilled and bottled in 2011 this heavily peated new make at 60% was
sensational. Apparently we can expect some news from Shinshu Mars in coming
months but it was on a "loose lips sink ships" basis, so I guess we
will all have to wait. Cognac
The usual suspects of the retail industry were also present such as Sake Brutus, Sake Shop Sato, and naturally Shinanoya, which had a lovely private bottling of a 30-year-old
and a 35-year-old Dailuaine.
All in all a great day out, once again I'm glad I took my glass, shame the
measures of drams were a bit on the stingy side at some booths along with the
lack of imagination of presentation, but I guess it's what is inside the bottle
that counts. Highland Park