Monday, January 31, 2011

White Oak Akashi Single Malt 12yo

Distillery: White Oak - ABV: 50 % - Whisky type: Single malt - Outturn: 2,000  bottles - Volume: 500ml

Nose, Taste, Finish, Balance: In my opinion there is a slight peat background - nothing on initial contact but slowly the aroma creeps up. Strong presence of a shearing shed with all the elements. Small apple vinegar spice and tyre rubber is evidently present. This is a winner (only in my opinion) compared to all the other expressions (excluding the 14yo) from White Oak. Very distinguishable. 

Not an overly long aftertaste, but enough to keep you interested. Sweet wafts of candy and bubble gum. Major spice and slivers of ginger. Dab of aniseed with a slightly overpowering alcohol burn - missing a clean and crisp finish to give this malt more stardom. 

Comments: Non-chill filtered, no colour, bottled at 50% abv. Cask type: Spanish sherry butts. A far better distill than the 8 year old that was limited to 4,500 bottles and now sold out. Various expressions are available for online purchase (in Japanese).

Reviewed by Clint A

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Avid fans alike should be familiar with Nonjatta. For those of you who are not, this is arguably, in my opinion, one of the most all-embracing blogs about Japanese whisky, and the relating scene in Tokyo.

Nonjatta, maintained by Chris Bunting, a journalist currently residing in Tokyo, provides an in depth look into a wide range of Japanese whiskies, reader reviews, Tokyo bar and shop reports, and general history about the Japanese dram. Just like “Whiskies R Us”, Nonjatta is completely independent and tells it like it is. Its local knowledge of bars in Tokyo, in particular Shinjuku, such as the Nikka Blender’s bar and Zoetrope is extensive. My favourite, which I thoroughly recommend to all Whiskies R Us readers, is to take a look at Nonjatta’s detailed malt mapping. The map outlines and reviews single malt bars of Tokyo and provides users with clear, easy-to-understand shop details.

Also, there is information on Tokyo's 2011 Whisky Live event which I'm sure you will all appreciate reading. Great resources and articles for all of you visiting Tokyo.

When visiting Tokyo and in search of a dram, be sure to check out Nonjatta. For quick access into the Tokyo scene, I have added links on the right sidebar of Whiskies R Us.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nikka Yoichi Single Malt No-Age-Statement 43%abv

Nose: Serges of strawberries & cream chewy lollies (Allens), mandarine zest, gingerbread, white chocolate, flat sarsaparilla.

Taste: Salty licorice, sarsaparilla, black forrest cake, slight peppermint.

Finish: Short and dry; but with an unusual,medium keyed, prolonged, gum numbing aniseed mouthfeel. 

Balance: Nothing overly complex about this malt. Simple, a bit flat, always waiting for a change to come.

Comment: This is my third tasting but the first to accompany notes. This malt is intriguing. I seem to capture something different every time. There is always a note on the tip of my tongue which I can't pinpoint, making me go back for more. My personal preference out of the two no age statement malts from Nikka would have to be the Miyagikyo.

Reviewed by Clint A

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt No-Age-Statement 43%abv

Nose: Christmas fruit cake, custard pudding, cinnamon sticks, slight hint of fennel, and vanilla ice-cream. Once the initial sweet notes are exposed, a wave of wood presents itself; hiding and lurking in the background....perhaps balsa wood. Whiffs of yellow capsicum.

Taste: Fresh licorice, sweet onions, Chinese-5-spice, straight chai tea, fresh, non-crushed pepper balls with a slight salty tang.

Finish: A very deceiving malt with the initial indication of nothing but sweet sensations, followed by a long wave of spice on the finish.

Balance: Smooth but not silky; mouth watering with little oily presence. Not a massive kaboom in your mouth but it pulls its weight and covers the majority of departments.

Comments: Let this malt open up a bit before nosing. Give it a good 5 minutes in the glass before tasting. No water added.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yamazaki Owner's Cask 1997/2009

"Suntory Single Cask Whisky - The Owner's Cask 58 percent alcohol".

Distilled: 1997 - Bottled: 2009 - Cask number: BX 70190 - Cask type: hogshead 

Nose: Tinned fruit salad. Fruit Tingles. Vanilla, musk, new car upholstery, maple syrup, vanilla ice cream, lamingtons, flat cola, and Chico jelly babies. Then, white chocolate with dusty almonds and light honey (sounds like a Toblerone). Lurking - mellow hints of Licorice Allsorts

Taste: Rich fruit salad syrup with sweet balsamic vinegar. Spicy Fruit Tingles. There is a lovely mouthful of custard tart and other assorted subtle spices. Again, that mellow hint of licorice is also present on the palate with cola. With time a dash of honey and nougat.

Finish: Sensational. Spice begins initially small then leaves an array of mixed prolonged spice on the palate. A welcoming party on your tongue.

Balance: Very well balanced and holds its weight and character. Quite silky with long lasting temptations.

Comments: Satisfying, worth having a dram of this malt during the evening. Bigger, better, bolder, and richer as time prevails both in the glass and in the bottle. Don't judge on your first glass.

Reviewed by Clint A

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Welcoming Retreat - O’BAR

O’BAR, situated conveniently adjacent to Ikuta Jina (shrine) is one of Kobe’s overlooked retreats. The bar, established in 1993, provides its patrons with a considerably wide area to converse, compared to the average whisky bar. The interior of the bar is decked out in traditional dram bar aesthetics (wood grain) and provides a warm atmosphere with cozy lighting. O’BAR stock a variety of whiskies that include traditional single malts from both Scotland and Japan as well as a variety of cocktails to please everyone’s pallet. The convenience of the location couldn’t be better as it is only a 5-minute walk form Sannomiya station. Worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood. 

O’BAR Information

Shimoyamatedori Ichi Bldg B1F
2-17-12 Chuo-ku ,
Kobe, Hyogo

In Japanese
神戸市中央区下山手通2-17-12 日宝壱番館ビルB1F


Opening Hours

Introduction by Clint A

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hip Highball

The Japanese distillery Nikka, arguably Suntory’s rival, has joined the movement and began to supply the Japanese alcohol beverage market with premium canned whisky and soda. “Highball”, the coined term for a pre-mix of whisky and soda usually appears on supermarket shelves in 350ml cans and has an alcohol volume of 8%.

Until recently Suntory was the major player supplying millions of local thirsty whisky drinkers with their refreshing non-overly carbonated Kaku highball. Credit should inevitably be given to Suntory for starting another fad and bringing competition and variety to the pre-mixed market.

To show their support of this successful boom, Nikka have produced premium pre-mixes using TAKETSURU Pure Malt that has been maturing for 12 years. Mr. Taketsuru is the legendary distiller and founder of Nikka who went against the odds and provided people with authentic whisky in an era dominated by Japanese spirits.

The TAKETSURU “highball” consists of malt whiskies matured for 12 years or more at the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries that are blended in vats to produce outstanding pure malt whisky. It is delicious, lightly carbonated, and fragrant with a rich body and enjoyable aftertaste that lingers. This is indeed very good, certainly a standout worth consuming.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Welcoming Retreat - BAR CADBOLL

In one of the outlying districts of Osaka lays a little gem hidden away in an alley from the mass of daily traffic and pedestrians. The majority of people aware of this cozy little malt bar named CADBOLL is due to word of mouth. The “Master” of this well antiqued wood finished bar has a profound knowledge on single malt, in particular domestic bottlings. There are a number of whiskies to suit the palate of every visitor and Mr. Hayashi is happy to provide personnel recommendations for those who want a challenge.

Besides stocking standard favourites from the motherland, BAR CADBOLL’s emphasis is on Japanese malts that include a range of Ichiro’s famous card series along with a variety of Yamazaki’s Owner’s Cask editions. There is nothing complicated about this informal little retreat. Tucked away from the main street, this hideout provides unforgettable warmth while complementing its whisky with music.

CADBOLL is a short walk from the Temmabashi subway station and is relevantly easy to access.

Osaka Chikamatsu Bldg 1F
2-20-2, Kokumachi, Chuo-ku

In Japanese
大阪府大阪市中央区石町2丁目2-20 近松ビル1F


Introduction by Clint A

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Suntory Offering that Little Bit Extra

The renowned whisky giant Suntory have opened up a shop specializing in whisky right in the heart of Osaka, Japan. WHISKY SHOP W, the first of its kind has been established to apparently help provide consumers with an understanding on how to enjoy their favoured malt liquid. The establishment and intentions of the shop are to bring forth “whisky awareness” and to appeal the value of whisky, either to those who are in the know or for those who would like to break out of the standard alcoholic beverage realm of beer and sochu.

Supposedly, WHISKY SHOP W features a large variety of whiskies domestically- produced or imported by Suntory making whisky readily approachable, accessible, and enjoyable. The well-decorated shop allows customers to not only make purchases of whisky and related gifts but also sample some premium whisky (charges apply).

WHISKY SHOP W is located on the first floor of the Suntory Bldg in Dojima, Osaka.

Suntory Building 1F
2-1-40, Dojimahama, Kita-ku
Osaka city

06 – 6341 - 3123

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

White Oak Whisky Distillery - Akashi City (Eigashima)

Entrance to the distillery

Scenic, reasonably comfortable one-hour train rides from the heart of Kobe city delivers you practically to the doorstep of the White Oak Distillery. The distillery is in Eigashima, which is located in the city of Akashi. The whisky produced at this distillery is of a small proportion as the company’s main production concentrates on Japan's iconic beverages – sake and sochu.

Although the distillery was founded in 1888, they dabbled in whisky from 1919, but genuine whisky distilling did not take place until the company built a new facility in 1984 to house the production of malt whisky. Prior to this all the whisky that was produced was used in a variety of blends known as White Oak.

The low production of malt at the distillery means that little whisky can be aged long enough to be adequate for single malt bottling. On my visit to White Oak I was told that the pot stills are only fired up once a year for a very short time. In 2007, they made their debut and joined the single malt industry by releasing their first single malt. 

White Oak have distilled three single malts and a variety of blends. The single malt expressions labeled as “Akashi” (taking the name of the hometown) consist of a 5, 8, and 12-year old. Only 4,500 bottles of the 8-year old expression were released but staff at White Oak said it's no longer available to purchase on-line or direct from the distillery. 

Since my visit I have been lucky enough to come across a bottle of the 8-year old on my travels so it can be hunted down. The other expressions are readily available and can be purchased on-line. Note, the 12-year old is limited to 2,000 bottles and is labeled as a non-chill filtered whisky with no colouring.

From left: "Akashi White Oak" blend, 5-year old, and12-year old.

                  Tour information

919 Nishijima,
Okubo-cho, Akashi-shi

In Japanese
674-0065 兵庫県明石市大久保町西島919

Telephone: 078-946-1001

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Soothing Fragrance of Whisky

Distillery entrance for visitors

The Yamazaki distillery is a Japanese whisky distillery that started production in 1923. The founder of the distillery, Shinjiro Torri, constructed the distillery on the fringes of Japan’s historical city Kyoto, creating the birthplace of Japans first whisky manufacturing operation. The valley in which the distillery is situated provides Yamazaki with an abundant water resource that is said to provide the ideal framework for the maturation of whisky.

On my second visit to the distillery I came across some fascinating literature about Suntory’s research into the effects of fragrance and flavours in whisky. The research led Suntory to present to the community findings that these ingredients are effective in relieving stress and soothing the mind.

Suntory's proclaim that whisky combines its warm comfort with the
relaxing qualities of pure nature.

The awarded visitor centre provides a guided tour with a look at the facility, as well the pleasure of sampling Suntory’s single malt expressions consisting of Yamazaki aged 10 and 12  years and their famed Hakushu malt. For further tour information visit Suntory.

A variety of up to five types of oak casks in different
shapes and sizes can be seen at the warehouse.