Friday, May 22, 2015

Mars Single Cask #393 American Oak 15yo for Espoa


Distillery: Shinshu - Distilled: 1986 - Bottled: 2001 - ABV: 59.5% - Bottle Number: 339


Nose: Cheesecake base, cinnamon baked banana with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, banana cake, carnation milk, and custard tart. With time fresh soft liquorice sticks and orange and lemon sherbet. There's a sudden transformation to mild sour sobs and grassy elements with extended time. Immediately with water - further fruity excitement: pineapple chewy confectionary and/or pineapple lifesavers. Dried apricots and mango. While on the candy front ill even throw in a bag of jelly beans. Then, it becomes scented with Bounty chocolate (coconut dressed in milk chocolate).

Taste: Prickly spices - cardamom, nutmeg, and a touch of pickled ginger. Heavily grilled pineapple rings, and a touch of liquorice. Vanilla wood spice. With water glazed grapefruit peel, dusty paddle pop sticks and/or old book pages. Bitter wood, BBQ grapefruit peel, and walnuts. 

Finish: Very long and prickly with a mellow hint of a liquorice, and glazed grapefruit peel. With water mildly spicy coconut chutney.

Comment: Some attentive readers may have already pointed out – there is quite a bit of colour disfiguration on the labels and in particular the ‘Cask Strength’ seal on the bottle neck. Pictures of other bottles in comparison show a black seal that may suggest my bottle had potentially seen a lot of sun/or shop lighting while sitting on the shelf. Significant exposure to light - being natural or artificial can cause colour change and affect the taste, as to how much or if any of this bottle has been affected is anyone’s guess. 

12 comments:

  1. Ah, but did you enjoy it Clint?
    Brian

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    1. Hi Brian, I did, but l if I must be completely honest I would have liked a bit more riding on the palate. One thing that I think you will agree on is that both old and new era Mars distillate works well with American oak. As I wondered out aloud, any possible tainting from light? Nevertheless, I really love the nose on this cask strength cask - the highlight, and naturally it certainly beats all the other low abv (43%) single cask Espoa releases. Cheers

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  2. I can't believe that you had a bottle of this left, Clint. By now this is almost like liquid history, isn't it? Good to read that you had a reasonably pleasant experience while dramming it. I've never had Bounty flavours with any whisky before - this must have been fun!

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    1. Hi Pierre, I guess you could say it retains a lot of history - in a bottle - as a liquid. There are not too many of these around anymore. But if you are in the right place at the right time you might be lucky. But that is a big 'might'. The reason being is that at RRP this is 10k, and not too many locals at the time of release or even after would drop that on domestic whisky, and especially at most country mom&apoptosis stores. That's where you will most likely find a bit. When I found mine, which was not 'many moons' ago, human instincts kicked in and I thought 10k was asking a bit for a 550ml - then my survival skills kicked in and I made a comparison. 10k for a 15yo single cask Japanese whisky from a defunct distillery is not asking for too much, especially when the new era is charging the same price for a 3yo non single cask. As you will see in coming time, I've began to crack many of my 'liquid history' bottles simply because A) I can't compete with the others punters out there when a new release comes out (what's the point waiting at a computer the minute a release comes out and/or a shop release becomes available - most of its sold before hand anyway) and B) simply I'm not willing to or be in the position to pay the astronomical prices we see today. Therefore, like most people I presume, you raid what you have. And why not. Better to drink it than to have it lost. Cheers.

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  3. Randomly I bought a bottle - now waiting for it to be delivered... so looking forward to taste it!

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    1. Please do share your thoughts/notes if you wish. I'd be very interested to hear what you think of this. In addition, well done on the find, very hard to come by, good find.

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    2. Just collected mine - it's bottle 485. The "cask strength" label is slightly darker than yours, and the fill is about 2 or 3mm higher. Will open it on a slow evening.

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    3. Did that "slow evening" come around or are you yet to crack it? I'd like to hear your thoughts and/or notes on this cask strength - cheers, Clint.

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    4. Finally the quite night came.

      Nose: dried apricot, peach liquor, ground almonds, really big on the alcohol, tinned fruits, citrus, then followed by something green in the background - like pokka melon jelly.

      Palate: strangely alcohol isn't that obvious, the lighter side of medium bodied, quite smooth, orangey, some menthol-like sensation. Gives way to some bitter citrus notes.

      Finish: spicy. a little short for my liking. Like a mouth-drying, orange candy.

      Still, it was interesting. My first Mars whisky.

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    5. Hi Andy, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this Mars. I enjoyed reading your notes, interesting to see a few similarities on the nose and palate. Was surprised to hear you thought the finish was short. Interesting bottle indeed and one worth trying. I don't think this bottle would sit well if it was bottled like other Espoa bottlings at 43%. I still wonder if my sun/light riddled bottle was effected? Cheers.

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    6. Had a half-dram tonight. The finish could have been better, I still found it dry - as for the shorter length comment, perhaps it's because I felt it gave way to the dryness too quickly.

      A thought came to mind as I sipped the whisky - out of all the casks a distillery produces, how many do you think would be distinct/good enough to warrant being bottled as a single cask?

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    7. Interesting question, one which I presume comes to many people's mind. I presume it all depends on the basics: calibre of cask, initial calibre of new-make, the position in which the cask is matured i.e on the lower ground of the warehouse, and even the warehouse itself - is it a typical dungeon style or barrel palletizing. All these factors contribute to when the liquid reaches its peak in the eyes of the distillery manager/blender/whoever. Economics could also play apart. I think it is only human to say however that it must not be as easy as some may think as to deciding when a cask is ready to be bottled as a 'single cask'. As to the actual percentage of casks that warrant a 'single cask bottling' is hard to say.

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