The Tokyo International Bar Show / Whisky Live 2013 was a first for Whiskies R Us this year, and I must say what a well organized event - hats off to all involved and for the makers who participated. The presentation of the event, which I’m sure you have all heard about from alternate sources, such as The JapaneseWhisky Review, was elaborate and I thought classy. Certainly an exciting alternative to an everyday Sunday afternoon and I must say “afternoon” as I did not make it through the doors until a little after noon as my flight from Kobe – thanks to the airline I will not name – was delayed an hour and a half. Something I guess I should not complain about as the day was eventful regardless.
My first port of call was Mars (Hombo Shuzo), a distillery Whiskies R Us is fond of. There were a few new expressions on show/offer while one in particular was hidden and out of sight - a 24yo vatted malt from four ex-bourbon casks. This lush expression that has an outturn of only 120 bottles unfortunately will most likely not make its way to Kansai according to the folk at Mars and most likely be allocated to selected small retailers in the Kanto region - Kansai Japanese whisky enthusiasts and international connoisseurs most likely will not have the opportunity to try this fine dram, unless of course it pops up at some stage at auction. High-up on the pedestal and in plain view was the Komagatake 22yo, equally enjoyable and an expression that once again proves the distillery is doing great things. I don’t feel comfortable enough with my small measure to provide tasting notes, however, when I can sit down properly with a proper dram (if and when the opportunity arises – outturn under 1500 bottles) I’ll put pen to paper. Another expression well worth mentioning and quite a favourite to be honest was the IWAI blend Wine Cask Finish bottled at 40% ABV, so keep your eyes out for this and a must try if the opportunity presents itself.
The next destination and in no particular order was Suntory - simply for two reasons - the first being their recently talked about “Premium Kakubin” and their equally talked about Yamazaki “Heavily Peated”. Both pleasant, again I’d like to sit down properly with these two new additions to Suntory’s portfolio and review them in a more quite atmosphere. Until then, for an interesting insight/review of the Yamazaki HP take a look at Dramtastic's here. One thing for sure is that the “Premium Kakubin” will most likely become another fixture - permanently - in my cupboard. At 43% ABV and an estimated retail price of 2,000 yen, this fine finished blend with a rewarding palate would be hard not to include as your daily dram. Part two can be read here.