Nose: Extremely peculiar and out of the ordinary whisky that presents smells in stages. First round: Wet hessian bags, peeled whole potatoes steeped in water, tangy soil, freshly shorn sheep’s fleece and ointment (I’m thinking lanolin oil). This is followed by incredible decomposing vegetables and a tainted red meat smell. You’d think it would stop there but no - the somewhat unwanted and overpowering smells continue with wet towels left over night, smelly feet, caterpillars (possibly squashed?), metal salvage yards, fresh cardboard boxes, and Paper Mache paste (industrial glue and gelatin). Generally it is a fairly trashy smell. Past these assorted smells regular aromas begin to surface - not too many but their there: Orange tart, mild nutmeg, brine, and a tad earthy/peaty. Dilution enhances all the above and adds a barley grain infusion.
Taste: Eccentric whisky. Not for the faint hearted. Straight up a big mouth explosion but for many wrong reasons. As with the nose it is odd. Metallic, aluminum cans, tainted red meat, minerally, and Goya qualities. Then, things change a bit with assorted Indian spices, burnt rubber, raw peat, eucalyptus, menthol, and cracked pepper. There are also incinerated thin sausages from a BBQ, very numbing on the tongue. If I must be honest this whisky reminds me of the Akashi 12yo (palate only). A lot of water adds wheat and yeast extract and reduces the spice and rubber. For me the palate wasn’t so bad however, there is that decomposing element all along.
Finish: Long with a few unwanted tastes. Also it is metallic with bitter melon, minerals, rubber smoke, raw peat, charcoal, and barley sugar with water.
Comment: Although I would not say this whisky is completely disgusting, unfortunately it coats your mouth with a few unpleasantries that linger way too long affecting the taste of your next malt.
Info: This cask strength malt came from Monde Distilleries Ltd. in Yamanishi-ken. Monde Shuzo is better known for their wine production, their whisky production falls into the “small category sector” often referred to as “Ji-whisky”, which can be interpreted in a few ways but the most understandable terminology could be “micro”. It was bottled by an independent bottler named Tokuoka Ltd. in Osaka for their sub-division better known to some of us as Bon Repas (Marche). The whisky was named accordingly after the city Usui in Yamanashi-ken, and interestingly in the city lays Isawa village - ring a bell? For those in Japan who have visited Bon Repas/Marche will know of their other single malt release bottled at 43% abv with equally the same flavor profile: Isawa Vintage 1983. This is another must try before you buy folks.