Monday, April 7, 2014

An Abundance of Independent Bottlers - Bar Zumon

Update: April 28th, 2014
I have just learnt that the entire area where Bar Zumon is located will be demolished to make way for a "new town". Therefore, the building that houses the establishment will also be knocked down. This bad news means that Bar Zumon will no longer be open from May, 2014 however, the good news is the owner is currently looking for a new premises to re-open. Whiskies R Us will be report on the new location once everything has been finalized, and the bar is up and running. 

Bar Zumon is advertised as a "Darts Bar". Sure, there is one electronic dart board in the place, but this dated piece of machinery gets overlooked on arrival. If the truth be told most people wouldn't notice it - everything but the dart board is just too overwhelming as soon as you step foot in the door. To be critical, the bar shouldn't associate itself with the game and there is good reason.

One thing you quickly learn about this bar is the emphasis on their malt selection rather then on interior. It is safe to say the bar has a no-frills service in terms of decor, but patrons are offered something much more than an exquisite layout. Bar Zumon boasts an enormous selection of whiskies with a heavy focus on Scotch independent bottlers. Literally it is "spot the official bottling", which is fair to say quite unique in any establishment. There are rare independent whiskies everywhere (hundreds), from floor to ceiling, a haven for any aficionado. Someone there has an affection for vintage bottlings and Glen Grant.

Now, it wouldn't be right if I did not mention what is available on the domestic whisky side of things. Here, it's about quality and not quantity. Again, no official bottlings (well not that I saw), and although Bar Zumon has only around three dozen bottles the selection has been carefully chosen. The line-up includes single casks from Karuizawa, Yoichi, Yamazaki, Kawasaki, Mars, and Akashi, as well as Chichibu and Hibiki special releases. Naturally, if you only want to induldge in Japanese whiskies, you can get quantity elsewhere, but if it is exploration you want then take the adventure. Good news is, if there is further interest on Japanese whisky, the bar master - Izumoto-san, will be happy to increase the current selection.

Osaka-shi, Osaka Higashi-Yodogawa-ku, 4-8-26 Awaji Media Building 2F

2 minute walk from Hankyu Awaji station

Click here


  1. Wow, Clint, that sounds like a special place. Independent bottlings often are so much more interesting than official ones. I'd love to go there one day.

    1. I think you would really enjoy this place, Pierre. I know you are a fan if Japanese whisky but I know you equally like a good indi bottling. Lots of obscure releases, lots of closed distillery rare bottlings, and some super vintage malts. A visit I presume would not leave you disappointed, not sure how your wallet will take it though!

  2. Will there be reviews of the 2 whiskies in the photo's Clint. I always regret not grabbing a bottle of the Ichiro's Choice 1976 Single Grain.

    1. I'd like to review them, but if I must be honest I'd need to spend more time with the two whiskies pictured above. These two you need to spend lots of time with, well, for me, I'd like to sit at home quietly with full bottles, in quite surroundings, without a smoky atmosphere to really get stuck into them and understand them. I don't see myself being able to find them in a hurry to do so, and if I did it would most likely be on the resale market making them out of my reach. I get too distracted at bars to write notes, or should I say overwhelmed, which makes it hard ha ha.

      The 76 Kawasaki grain was/is stunning. It melts in your mouth. Fragile in someways, shy, but very alluring with rich bourbon like qualities. If love to nose this privately. If you can manage to find a bottle Brian don't hesitate at all, something I did with the 82 Kawasaki and now it's long gone.

      As for the Ichiro's Choice Sherry Influence Karuizawa, well, it was good, but as a personal preference it was overthrown by a much younger Karuizawa which I liked better. Fair to say two completely different Zawa's, but I really just enjoyed the younger expression. Again though, more time with it would be better.

    2. Once I had the chance to buy the 76 and the 82. But back then all I knew was the Hibiki...

      Talk about regrets ...

    3. Andy, I think many of us have been in that boat, including I. I remember passing up many of the very first cards from the "card series" as I was too focused on other malts. Now...that is a regret!

  3. another place where i definitely need to get to.

    ps thanks for the help, i scored a colored one this morning :)

    1. If you have time and are near the area please do check it out. I'm sure you will enjoy the experience. Glad to hear you got what you wanted - enjoy. Cheers