Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Japanese Drams of Yesteryear (4): Sanraku Ocean Special Old Blended Whisky 12yo 43% abv

The Ocean-Special Old 12yo bottling was distilled and bottled by Sanraku-Ocean Co.Ltd. The original 12yo version hit the domestic market in 1965 (according to research). The reintroduction of the newly designed bottle and label (pictured above) took place in the late 70s (1977). This was later replaced with a non-age-statement black labeled version (Ocean-Special Old SP) around 1981 before shifting to the white labeled NAS (SP) bottling in 1985, labeled as Mercian. For those interested in domestic trivia there was two label variations of the 70s bottling - two different company locations. The 1977 release was labeled under the company's location 'Muromachi' (pictured above), while the following variation was labeled under the 'Kyobashi' company location. Written on the screw cap is: 'Distillery at Karuizawa & Yamanashi - Blended Whisky'.

Nose: Very fruity - red apples, Japanese orange, and dried figs. Jam rolls mildly doused with semi-sweet sherry. Pink fondant and raspberry jam sprinkled with coconut continues the sweet drive. Then, burnt caramel/toffee. The grain is evident but it is rich, providing mellow bourbon like qualities. There's mid floral notes - hibiscus keeps coming to mind. Mild strawberry lip balm. Green leafy vegetables. Leafy and dusty old orange peel. Water really highlights the tropicana orange, and introduces mashed strawberry (briefly).

Taste: Mildly spicy but equally silky, and sweet with red apple and dried cereal strawberries. Red capsicum. Dry sherry. Underripe plums. Hints of mellow raspberry confectionary. Water, and I mean just a drop, provokes the sweet and semi-spicy combo to come out on initial mouthfeel. Pickled ginger and a tad metallic. Reasonably well balanced.

Finish: Red apple skins. Burnt toast. Slightly roasted red capsicum. Underripe plums. Quite moderate. Becomes rightly silky on the mouthfeel with water however by adding water it awakes a solvent in the grain and tweaks the mellow spice.

Comment: Fair to say a very descent blend. Great for places with warm temperatures. Not even a suggestion of smoke or rubber on the nose with this. Liquid history indeed. 

Take a look at 'Japanese Drams of Yesteryear': 1,2,and 3.

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