Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bar Zumon Renewal Opening

Bar Zumon reopened its doors on July 25 after reestablishing itself and relocating to a better internal environment. The renewal of the whisky and cocktail bar includes a new long bar counter and chairs with modern trimmings, a stimulating new glass selection, plus an extensive wall library of independent bottles (back/front bar walls), all creating a much more spacious and authentic bar environment. The fresh upgrade continues to be conveniently located - right next door to the building that housed the original watering hole. Long gone is the out-of-place dart board and 1980s interior design, in exchange you will be greeted to an establishment that is visually attractive while retaining the traditional aspects of an educated dram house.

Currently Bar Zumon has over three dozen quality Japanese whiskies on offer (pictured above - excluding standard official bottlings), but with shared enthusiasm this will eventually increase and compliment the most extensive collection of independent Scotch single malt whiskies under the one roof. Besides all the new alluring aspects, I personally like the fact that there is no snobbery at this bar - a down to earth establishment where the patrons and bar master (Izumoto-san) equally share the passion. Pop in and have a dram, and while doing so soak up the history provided on each and every label - it may become your new favourite spot. Be sure to mention you heard about the renewal open from me (Clint) and the 500 yen cover charge will be waived (first time only). Please be advised that a handful of bottles (extremely rare releases) are only available on certain anniversary days (not just the bar but also the celebration of important figures and events in the whisky industry) - be sure to ask.

4-8-27 Higashi-Yodogawa-ku, Awaji, Osaka City 
Zip Code 533-0032 
二十八万石 Building 3F

大阪市東淀川区淡路4827 二十八万石ビル3階

2 minute walk from West Exit Hankyu Awaji station - turn left at the alley adjacent to the UFJ bank and clock.

阪急淡路駅 徒歩1分 UFJ銀行前の時計の路地を入ってください


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Suntory Special Reserve 10yo 43%

Nose: Peaches, apple custard, crepes with sliced banana and sweetened whipped cream, milk bottles (a soft, chewy, milky flavoured lolly). There's a cheeky citrus peel rolling of the top - I'm going for mandarin. Among these aromas there is a nice welcoming soapy element - reminds me of an 80s bottling of Edradour 10yo. With time an interesting rich golden straw element and mild oak. Then, a vegetal note of fried radish stems and leaf. 

Taste: Straight up you get tantalizing spice - cloves, ginger cookies and/or traditional spicy ginger ale. Stewed apples abundant with again, cloves. Creamy and mellow. A touch of that mandarin is present. Like the nose you get that floral-soapy touch, which I like. With time it presents bitter tannins. Peppered celery. Mild oak. Once the bottle becomes oxidized the presence of iron tablets kick in.

Finish: Spice and green vegetal notes (again, celery). Mellow, moderate finish with a descent balance.

Comment: The Special Reserve 10yo, which was aged in White Oak barrels using key malt from the Hakushu distillery tends to get over looked by many malt enthusiasts. With all the hype around other Japanese whiskies this little guy often gets passed up. I'm guilty of it my self, it has taken me over a few years to make a purchase, and an extremely cheap purchase at that. An everyday but rewarding whisky that everyone should have in their cabinet. 

The Suntory Special Reserve review (circa 1980s) that carries a no-age-statement can be seen here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Japanese Whiskies Under the Hammer

Lauren Eads from The Drinks Business has recently written an article named: 'Rare Japanese Whisky Auction Set For HK'. According to the article Asia's largest auction house declares that it will host "the most comprehensive collection of Hanyu and Karuizawa whisky in the auction history of Bonhams HK". Apparently the auction will feature over 200 lots that includes more than 170 bottles of Karuizawa. Readers may recall a similar article posted by the leading drinks trade publication, which Whiskies R Us announced back in May, 2013 (here). Although this large public sale can easily highlight the growing popularity of Japanese whisky the question is, which has been covered more than once, and by various sources, how many people will actually buy to personally consume opposed to buying for investment purposes? Either way, consumer or investor, a hefty price tag is attached when buying on the resale market - you will be paying through the nose. The auction market often has mixed reactions, ask everyone who buys and drinks whisky. Some say that it is a good opportunity to obtain bottles that they would never of had the chance to find elsewhere, while others, including the producers of the whisky, say it often leaves a bad taste in their mouths to see the astronomical prices. One thing which is clearly evident: a large amount of rare Japanese whisky has been sourced, making it even harder for dedicated drinkers such as you and I to obtain. Perhaps given the geographical market place of the auction the majority of the whisky could be snapped up by drinkers (personal speculation only)? What's your take on the subject?

Image kindly taken from Bonhams HK auction listing: Japanese & Rare Whisky