According to yumedia - the creative people behind the magazine Whisky World and whisky events, attendance at the Osaka Whisky Festival 2013, which was held on July 7, saw roughly 2,500 people walk through the door. Last year, the attendance was a little shy of 1,500 people, and it is expected the number to attend next year’s 2014 festival will further increase. Quite a positive result considering this was only the second time for the event to take place in Kansai - hats off to the organizers for their choice of the new location (Umeda Sky Building). This year’s event was a little different for me, usually I get to roam free and indulge among the smorgasbord of whisky from various makers and chat to industry figures. However, this time around I was pushing whisky so to speak opposed to consuming. Nevertheless, what fun would it be if it was all work and no play! I managed to venture away, mingle, and have fun - after all it was a festival.
Belated highlights: On the domestic front there are no new products to report on. It appears Japanese brands tend to showcase their new products by using Tokyo (events) as their promoting platform. Still, we all had the pleasure of having the company of Hombo Shuzo - Mars, who like always, were receiving tremendous interest in there Iwai Wine Cask Finish blend. For those interested in the delicious Iwai Wine Cask Finish and live in Kansai, a limited quantity will be making its way to a few shops in Osaka around mid July. Also, good news for us Mars fans, Hombo Shuzo have a few new expressions to add to their portfolio in coming time, and once that happens I hope to be able to shed more light on them.
Along with Mars, another favourite maker of mine made its way to Osaka - Akuto-san from Chichibu with his distillery crew and new member in tow: Yumi, who has recently just come back to Japan (May) from her long stint at Highlander Inn. As with Whisky Live the Chichibu prototypes were on offer - again the Refill Barrel appearing to be the favourite among aficionados. Perhaps one of the tell tale stories of the day, well two in fact, the first would be that of Suntory’s Yamazaki 1993 Owners Cask. This delicate smoky little gem according to staff made its way to Whisky Shop W on the Monday after the event , a mere 40 bottles at the time but it appears there are only a few left, so it may pay to rush in if you have a soft spot for smoky Yama’s - presuming there is any at all left.
The second would be that of a private release which I mentioned in my July 4 post, nothing overly secretive as many knew of it, well by “many” I mean people who are on certain mailing lists. This release would be that of a 14yo Karuizawa, which was unfortunately not officially on display and therefore not openly available for tasting to the majority of attendees. This Karuizawa, which is very tasty I must say, is from cask# 2316. It is a joint bottling from three well established retailers - Liquors Hasegawa, Sake Shop Sato and Tamagawaya and will be available or should I say released in August (Japan only).
For any reason some of you didn’t make it to WFO 2013 you may be delighted to know Osaka will host yet another event in October - Whisky History Osaka 2013. Here you will be able to try equally just as many whiskies and experience all the major brands and retailers under the one roof. Whisky festivities are still upon us in Kansai and like last year Whisky History 2013 will be held at Umeda Kensyu Centre on October 6 (Sunday). It is my guess there will be some decent limited releases available for pre-order here also. Whiskies R Us will provide further details closer to the date.