Monday, April 1, 2013

Kirin Evermore 2003


The first "Treasure Trove" entry for 2013 takes us to Sannomiya, Kobe - the first port of call usually for many a traveler before making it to the Mecca of Tokyo. Sannomiya is crawling with hot spots (mom&pop stores) that are less frequented by the city's vast traffic and local shoppers, which makes the area a great hunting experience. Minutes from the Hankyu West station exit in Sannomiya is a small liqour retailer, which is often mistaken for anything but a shop that sells assorted grog of a bygone era, therefore people tend to walk right past the tiny place. Shirogane (shop name) was most likely established to cater for its surrounding snack bars, night clubs, and restaurants in an era when prices for whisky, in particular domestic expressions from the "bubble days" - with according prices.

One of the few standouts among the top shelf bottles is the "Super-Premium" Kirin Evermore 21YO vintage blend bottled in 2003. Arguably an expression which is not often seen on shelves in current times but more so on domestic auction lists. The Evermore series, which was produced in limited quantities, was launched in 1999 nationwide with the first "Evermore 1999" starting a succession of vintages that sadly came to an end with the "Evermore 2005" (a run of seven consecutive bottlings).  It was said that each expression was created using only the best Genshu malt that was matured long-term at the Fuji-Gotemba distillery. The idea behind the series, which on a few occasions was labeled as "the best blended whisky of the year" and "the best premium blend for value", was based on the principle of providing consumers the opportunity to experience the character, individuality, and changes bought about each year from Genshu (distillate) malt distilled in 1978. It was claimed by the Fuji-Gotemba distillery that each vintage, which was aged and bottled at consecutive years was unique and slightly different from one another with no two expressions being the same. Each expression, which apparently gave Hibiki  a run for its money, usually retailed at 10,000 yen when first released, but if you are lucky it can still be found at a much cheaper price

I have yet to give any of the vintages a go, I will however in due time. Someone who has given two out of the seven expressions a go is Brian (aka Dramtastic) over at The Japanese Whisky Review. Brian gives his view and shares the subtle differences between the Kirin Evermore 2001 and 2002 21YO. Interesting reviews with an insight into the flavour profile of these hidden gems. I hope it's not too long before I can give you my alternate reviews.


  1. I've actually tasted 3 versions Clint. The 2 mentioned and the 2005. It is true there are subtle differences.
    I will also add that Horigami san from Zoetrope told me that all of the contained, more or less, whisky distilled outside of Japan blended with Kirin's own Japanese distillate.
    The 2005 contained less of this international whisky as by then the partnership between Kirin and Seagram was well and truly dissolved and there was not as much 'outside' whisky maturing at Kirin's Gotemba distillery to add to the blend.

    1. Cheers for that extra info Brian. The joys of networking - I like it. I now find it, however, hard to part with the 9k asking price with knowing almost, if not all of the Evermore's contain "outside" whisky. Although they sound tasty, and let's face it an attractive bottle, I'd rather buy something else I think. Yes, great experience but...I don't know about it now.

  2. See it wouldn't bother me Clint. I also own an unopened bottle of 2000. Reasons, still great value for a rare, premium, 21 year old blend. The other reason is experience. The base line I use for whisky displaying the Kirin house style is their 18YO single malt. An excellent whisky that is different from Hakushu and Yamazaki 18 year olds and nigh on as good. If the Kirin blends displays the fundamental characteristics of the 18YO, then I know they contain a high proportion of Kirin's in house malt. As this style is very different from the other Japanese whisky distilleries it is very easy to discern. All 3 of the Evermore's I've tried tasted this way. Heck, I'm thinking of collecting the whole set. : )