Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bar Harbour Inn

Amongst the huge array of bars in the heart of Umeda, Bar Harbour Inn, with its trademark doors of encrusted brass palms, is one of very few bars conveniently located within the shortest walk (85m) from both the JR and Hankyu Umeda stations. Situated on the 3F of the Maruche building, this establishment is placed ever so close to Yodobashi Camera, cheekily behind the fast food burger chain Fast Kitchen, and let’s not forget above Nobu, another worthwhile bar it seems.

Harbour Inn is simple, clutter free, and in everyway welcoming. Predominately an Islay bar, its heavy emphasis on big brands from the island is easily recognizable with one of the walls splashed in black lettering identical to that of the Bowmore distillery. Due to the Islay theme, there is not an overly imaginative selection of Japanese malts, so if you are looking for your favourite owners cask from Suntory or something from Ichiro’s card series, perhaps it may be best to seek somewhere else. On the other hand if peat is your thing, which it certainly was on this night, than this is the place be at.

Maruche Shibata 3F
1-3-7, Shibata, Kita-ku


Business hours
5:00PM~1:00AM daily

Sunday's and every 3rd Monday

Introduction by Clint A

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nikka's All Malt Sibling

On a recent escapade to yet again the humble supermarket, I came across a find that appears to have fallen under the radar. Nikka’s All Malt, fairly familiar to enthusiasts of Japanese whisky, appears to have a new sibling, and I’m not talking about Malt Club that is bottled in an identical bottle. Nikka’s All Malt, which is a blended malt whisky that states being made with Yoichi, Miyagikyo, and malt whisky from the their Coffey still, apparently now comes in two different tastes. According to a staff member at the supermarket, the newly orange coloured label pictured on the right is smoother and slightly drier compared the original silver labeled bottling pictured on the left. Both All Malt expressions have an identical label and again bottle shape, both have an alcohol volume of 40% and come in 700mls. Since I have not tasted the newly flavoured edition and it only coming to my attention, any further information on this from readers is encouraged.

Update 09/21/2011: Dramtastic (aka Brian) kindly quoted a brief explanation from The Whisky Exchange website. " A fascinating whisky made with Yoichi, Miyagikyou and some 'grain' whisky that isn't really grain - it's malt whisky made in a Coffey still at Miyagikyo! So this is really a vatted malt, or 'blended malt whisky' as we're supposed to call it these days" Therefore it appears the wording in the post "containing grain whisky" is an error.

Update 09/22/2011: changed the text "grain" to "malt whisky from their Coffey still".

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Suntory's New Ambassador

Farewell to a familiar face that braced many a train carriage, billboard, magazine, and TV advertisement throughout Japan. No longer will the star-studded actress Koyuki-san imbed your minds and continue to push the lucrative highball boom. Today, September 15, Suntory announced that it has appointed a new actress to fill the role of the former ambassador to reinforce the brand. From September 23, Miho Kanno will become the new face of Suntory’s kaku highball campaign, and make her first appearance in Suntory’s new Kaku highball TV commercial that will be televised throughout Japan.

Update: September 16, I was later informed hours after writing this post that there was more to the "brand reinforcement". Basically when Koyuki-san fell pregnant Suntory decided it was not appropriate to mix pregnancy with alcohol, hence the replacement. So we may see her  familiar face again.

images taken from sankei

Monday, September 12, 2011

World's Cheapest Single Malt?

Throughout your journey into the realm of Japanese whisky, you either own or have owned, or at least want to own a bottle of the world’s two most arguably cheapest single malts. Not just any single malt, but whiskies that come from the cool climates of a distillery surrounded by picturesque mountains in Hokkaido to a distillery by the breezy coast in northern Honshu. Considering the demographics, pleasantries and the maker behind it all, consumers will be surprised that possibly the cheapest single malt in the world has now become even cheaper at this particular time. From September 8th to September 21st, both the quality Yoichi and Miyagikyo no age statement expressions from Nikka are on sale in Daie supermarkets for 1,350 yen (about $16AUS/12 EU/ $17US). Nikka have strongly discounted a lot of their expressions over the last few months, and it looks like it is going to continue. I find this interesting. I have not seen Nikka’s major domestic competitor offer any of their expressions at discount prices in any supermarket for as long as I can remember. Either way, such a high qulity whisky at such a low price is certainly welcoming.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Whisky Shop W - 1st Anniversary

To celebrate the 1st anniversary of Whisky Shop W, two limited edition single cask bottlings from Suntory will be on offer. The first of the two expressions is a 12-year old Yamazaki, which was distilled in 1998 and aged at the Oomi cellar in sherry butt casks. Whisky Shop W states this single cask Yamazaki is heavily fragranced with raisins, strawberry jam, and caramel with a long and rewarding mouth feel. The 700 ml, 60 percent ABV Yamazaki is limited to 395 bottles with a price tag of 10,000 yen each.

The second expression, certainly much more appealing to me, is the 12-year old Hakushu. This single cask, also distilled in 1998, was carefully aged in bourbon barrels amongst the warehouses of the Hakusyu distillery. This dram is said to feature a fragrance of jasmine, vanilla, and green apple with a long, refreshing, and neat lingering mouth feel. As with the Yamazaki expression, the Hakushu is also a 700ml, 60 percent ABV bottling that will retail at the same price. However, the Hakushu expression is limited to 173 bottles. Both expressions will be available for purchase from September 8th. For online ordering visit Whisky Shop W.

Image obtained from the Whisky Shop W-Suntory website.

Ichiro's New Blend Hits Hankyu

The new Malt & Grain blend by Ichiro Akuto, which contains nine different types of distillate, has finally arrived at the Hankyu department store in Umeda. Tasting is on offer but for those who wish to purchase this better hurry, as stocks are limited. As with any bottling of Ichiro’s, in particular the Card series (single malts), they tend to sell out as soon as they hit the shelves. This is expected to be the case with the new blend according to staff at Hankyu. The 46 percent blend is retailing at the Umeda Hankyu department store for 3,500 yen. The price of the 700ml bottling may vary by a few 100 yen depending on where purchase is made, but at this stage Hankyu department store are the only retailers stocking the blend in Umeda, therefore this could possibly justify the extra coinage. Although, staff at Hankyu tends to think that the Takashimaya department store in Namba is also most likely to stock the blend, however that’s only their opinion until confirmed. I had the pleasure in sampling the blend but I will not say too much about it until I have a proper tasting with a decent glass and time on my side.