Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rare Japanese Drams (1): Golden Horse Single Malt 14yo - Hanyu Distillery 57% abv

Nose: Dry but at the same time complex, and with sophisticated sweetness. Ripe golden delicious apple with a touch of pear. Dry sandalwood. Honey and raisin cake along side a mild fruit tea infusion (green banana, mango, and cinnamon). With time Woodroofe's Sno-Top (a brown vanilla-flavoured creaming soda). Water adds barley sugar with mild floral hints and amps up the sandalwood (in oil form). Peanut shells. Then, Juicy Fruit gum. It's fair to say this malt is quite feminine in comparison to other hard hitting Hanyu.

Taste: Relatively dry. Aromatic spices are in play big time, which sends a tingling sensation rocketing your mouth. There is a touch of bitter tannins. Grilled Ginkgo nuts. Textbook sandalwood. Then, flirtatious, mellow Japanese star anise. Peanut husks - from beer nuts, and dried raisins with water. More water in my opinion introduces a burnt, spicy caramel toffee that quickly transits to mild Goya. Ease off the water.

Finish: Medium to long, dry with both chalky and mellow floral soapy elements.

Comment: I first tried this as recent as last year (2013), with Brian at Bar Augusta. I was totally amazed with the sheer quality and flavour profile that I made it my mission to track down a bottle, the conventional way and not on the resale market. It has taken roughly a year to do so, and by no means was it easy seeking out this rare gem. In fact I was giving up all hope. Then, I was lucky to go on a camping trip in the sticks and came across a retailer that I thought wouldn't stock anything interesting...pays to check high and low. Released in 2004 by Tao Shuzo.


  1. Nice review, Clint! I have to admit I was not aware of this one. This just shows how many interesting finds the Japanese whisky landscape has got in store for you. Seems to have been a good idea to go on that camping trip!

    1. Japanese whisky is certainly diverse. There is an abundance of early period whisky still out there waiting to be found, well not as much as there was say five years ago (in my opinion), but enough to keep the search exciting.