Monday, March 31, 2014

Hakushu Pure Malt Distillery Release 43% abv

Nose: Clean and fresh with a lovely creamy, vanilla-lime ice block in full swing. Quite big on citrus which is refreshing (lemon sherbet mingles with the lime). This malt has presence of dust (note: this bottle although sealed was not completely airtight and the cork very loose - lots of oxidization?). The lime is domineering with lovely hints of Sudachi. Past this, pine is evident - dusty (again) pine logs before allowing sweet peat smoke to surface. Earthiness (freshly dug rich soil). Then, Orange fruit tingles over time with thin strips of freshly cut Shiso leaf, and green tea and postatio meringue.

Taste: Menthol, very little natural citrus if any. Dried mint leaves and spicy lemon drops. That dust thing is present in mellow qualities, along with a moderate nutty feel.

Finish: Earthiness with a mixture of mellow menthol / mint attributes, and mild ginger.

Comment: Although I adore the citrus zing on the nose this will not go into WRU seal of approval. But I honestly think, again, it is due to the cork not being air-tight, which possibly may have played with the taste.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Karuizawa The Colours of Four Seasons 2nd Release

Distilled: Dec 1, 2000 - Bottled: Feb 1, 2013 - Aged: 12 years - Cask #: 5173 - Cask: Sherry Butt - Outturn: 185 - ABV: 64.8% - Private release (2nd): Liquors Hasegawa

Nose: Strikingly sweet with some tangy elements at intervals. Soft and restrained red licorice, tinned pineapple juice, cupcakes with lime vanilla frosting, and barley sugar. Then, my favourite, assorted Vietnamese dried fruit chips. There is a continuing presence of mild whiffs of dried, slightly dusty tree bark .

Taste: Spicy wood chips and green pineapple. Toffee is unmistakably present along with Duran fruit chips, dried lime (black lime) and a subdued ginger kick.

Finish: Moderate with subtle suggestions of green pineapple and again that dusty tree bark.

Comment: Another young, decent Karuizawa in my opinion that quite rightly tastes better in many ways opposed to some older expressions I have tasted. I quite enjoyed it not having a massive sherry kick.

Note: Although I own the bottle pictured above, this review was taken from a sample I was luckily enough, or should I say cheekily enough to have received. As I don't own too many Karuizawa this bottle is going to be kept for down the track. Thanks Brian.

For an alternate review at TJWR take a look here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hakushu Sherry Cask 2014 Release 48% abv

Nose: Sweet and sour. Golden syrup, sweet BBQ sauce and/or marinade, Italian violet candy, sweet pear tart, and a spot of Dr Pepper. Then, red licorice, Black Forrest cake, English breakfast tea, and raspberry chewy confectionery. A drop of water (literally) highlights the sourness (raspberry vinegar). There's also a detection of wine mustard (French Cassis de Dijon).

Palate: Spiced-red licorice, sweet and sour cranberry sauce, fino sherry, black tea. Not as sweet as the 2013 release in my opinion. Again, hints of Dr Pepper. Ginger syrup. Mellow bitter coffee with time? Although not needed, the addition of water really ramps up a mixture of dry sourness and bitterness, but in a pleasant way. 

Finish: The sweet and sour combo is still present with an additional bitterness. Port tipped cigars.

Comment: The sourness that is present from start to finish is not potent nor dominant therefore it's certainly not off putting. Again, as a personal preference I got more out of last year’s release (even though it is often said there is not a lot of change difference between releases), nevertheless this is good - I've got only half a bottle left.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Back to Basics (3): Suntory Kakubin 40% abv

Part 3 of this mini-series looks at Suntory's iconic Kakubin (square bottle) blend, which as the label suggests was launched in 1937. 

Nose: Sweet grain bread with a smidgen of honey. Mellow vanilla candy sticks (fads), and suggestions of rice pudding. Raw button mushrooms, brown paper bags, and rich buttery grain. Then, pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds. Creamed corn and/or cream cheese spread. Floor wax. A tad fruity. Water brings forth French toast and malt content.

Taste: Just as decent straight as it is as a highball, certainly not one to categorize as a "mixer" only. Vanilla, oaky malt, and smooth grain cereals. Vegetal: baked, slightly peppered squash, Relatively smooth for a "low budget" blend with toffee and Weet-Bix. Water enhances a spicy/bitter combination and cardboard qualities, which are not unpleasant.

Finish: A sprinkle of white pepper, moderate, with a slight bitter/sweet grain finish. Pink grapefruit and hints of honey.

Comment: Perhaps a good "go to blend" between malts to refresh your palate. Although it is quite enjoyable in its iconic highball form it is well worth trying it straight, something I must confess not really doing until now. In a critical sense it is not extremely exciting but nor is it unpleasant, it is actually not that bad if the truth be told. It gives the Premium Kakubin a run for its money.

Part 1 and 2 can be seen here and here.