Monday, November 9, 2015

Kirin Fuji-Gotemba 20th Anniversary Pure Malt 40% abv

Nose: Straight off the rim of the glass you get an array of fruits including coconut sticky rice with sliced mango (Thailand desert), sliced banana soaked in rich tin fruit salad syrup, dried apricots and baked pear, and without doubt stewed apples with a touch of clove. Vanilla soft chewy candy. Mellow hints of soft liquorice sticks. Pencil shavings. The most delicate hint of peat. Fruity chewing gum (Juicy Fruit). Wood varnish develops with a bit time along with a grassiness. 

Taste: Thin and reasonably mild-to-light, a tad tangy with a touch of menthol before going straight-up dry. Outside the dryness you get mostly stewed apples with cloves (clove ratio to apple is out weighing – mellow spice). Subtle hints of liquorice. Then, dried apricots and dried orange peel. Perhaps a little less estery here than the nose. If only there was a bit more going on the palate.

Finish: Dry. Not a huge change from the taste with the same elements of subtle liquorice, dried apricots, cloves and apple, followed by dried orange peel and grassiness. Walnuts on the last leg. 

Comment: This vatted malt would most likely have been a stellar whisky if the palate showed a bit more potential as did the nose. Still, very enjoyable, and most suitable for warm weather. Interestingly this reminded me of a few other Japanese whiskies I’ve had before from different distilleries.  

Note: The Kirin Fuji-Gotemba distillery began operating from 1973. The release of this pure malt (vatted malt) in 1993 was to commemorate the distillery’s 20th anniversary. According to various sites, including Kirin, some malt parcels contained in this blend were distilled in commonly used continuous stills. This whisky was/is perceived as a limited release but from what I was told and can see it is still available at the distillery and on-line at an RRP of 3,240 yen (including tax)…silly me for paying too much for it on the second hand market!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu The Peated 2015 Cask Strength

Distilled: 2011 - Bottled: 2015 - Outturn: 5980 bottles - ABV: 62.5%

Nose: Past the obvious attributes of earthy elements and sweet peat a mixture of sweet and savoury layers emerge. In no particular order a lovely layer of banana fritters caress your nose – quite prolonged really. Between bursts of cold charcoal ash there’s a sweet fragrance of dried sweetgrass, barbecue savoury crackers, and a few assorted dried meats (semi-smoked pork) - actually Jamaican Jerk chicken? Thai basil. Quite chameleon in character with the introduction of water, and all for the better in my opinion. H20 draws out what I associate to be lemon Strepsils. Time and H20 revealed what I associate to be a subtle likeness of Yuzukosho. Engine oil. Then, what I can only describe as a Tiger lily that has been squirted with tar spray…

Taste: Naturally the earthy peat and charcoal ash is relatively dominant. But there is more to it. Smouldering cigar leaf, PVC toys, spicy citrus BBQ sauce, and the lemon Strepsils are back. Thai basil. Perhaps one of my favourite tastes on the pallet is the unmistakable mouth coating flavour of Porky Bits (pork crackling cracker snacks). With water salted pistachio and ash baked potato skins. However, a little too much water can make this go a bit dry.

Finish: Maintains a reasonable ride with Thai basil, pork crackling snacks, and ash dust from baked potato skins. With water, again, salted pistachios. 

Comment: The 2015 edition is the 3rd release of Chichibu’s ‘peated expressions’. All 3 limited releases maintain their own uniqueness and subtle characteristics that I liked so I’d be hard pressed to nominate a favourite. If pressed I’d most likely reveal however which one I’d lean to the most.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu Single Cask PX for Modern Malt Whisky Market 2014 Tokyo

Cask type: Pedro Ximenez Sherry - Spanish Oak: Hogshead - Cask# 2640 : - Distilled: December 2010 - Bottled: - September 2014 - ABV: - 59.7%

Nose: Strawberries and cream soft chewy lollies. Earl grey tea fruit cake, lemon and honey tea, maraschino cherry and/or black forest cherry sauce. Soft tonnes of fresh licorice sticks. Late arrival on sourness. With water golden brown toasted raisin bread with a smear of butter, strawberry wafer biscuits, and Umeshu. Sweet and sour sauce. Hints of vermouth at times with fragrant orange.

Taste: To begin with it is hot. Then it moves expressively to spicy grilled figs, pink pepper corns, dry sherry - more so than PX, and Rocky road. Time in the glass works well with this Chichibu, which allows further development of menthol, earl grey tea, and spicy lemon peel. With water this malt has a lot more riding - berry marmalade, a touch of star anise, and mint leaves lollies. If you can be extra patient and let it sit after dilution you get a lovely liquid herb combo (again Vermouth?) and a hint of eucalyptus honey.

Finish: Moderate to long. Menthol spices, a touch of licorice, raspberry spicy sauce, dry sherry, dried orange peel, and marmalade. Dry. Water loosens up the dryness and takes a notch of the spicyness.

Comment: To date with what I own and have opened this is one of my favourite single casks from a handful of Chichibu's. Have yet to open the Oloroso.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Akkeshi Distillery Launches Facebook Page

Kenten Co. Ltd, the owners of the upcoming Akkeshi Distillery in Hokkaido, has created an official Facebook page, as a platform to communicate with potential fans, and to provide an additional scope into the birth of their distillery-in-progress.

From today onward (September 1, 2015 – 12:00pm JST), Japanese whisky enthusiasts will be able to follow the fruitful efforts of the people responsible for one of Japan’s newest proposed distilleries, and find out about the latest developments of the distillery as they happen.

Take a look at the Akkeshi Distillery’s recently developed website, and keep an eye on their Facebook page for highlights. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

East Meets West - Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish

'Whisky for Everyone' has recently tweeted from the live launch of Bowmore's Mizunara Cask Finish. According to their tweet the limited edition Bowmore has an outturn of 2000 bottles and will retail at 750 pounds per bottle. In addition The Spirits Business have informed their followers with a tweet that the make up of this good looking package is from bourbon and sherry cask parcels respectively, and with a 3 year finish in Japanese Oak. The abv of this whisky, which I presume will be highly sought after, regardless of the hefty price tag, comes in at 53.9%. At this stage there are mixed answers given as to whether this release will be available in Japan, regardless of ownership. This would be unfortunate for local whisky enthusiasts if it didn't make it ashore however, fortunate for others as it would mean a greater opportunity for availability.

Image kindly borrowed from Whisky for Everyone
Title credit given to EastMeetsWest

UPDATE August 20th, 2015: The Spirits Business last night revealed that in fact Japan will receive an allotment. For additional information regarding this release check out their full article (here).

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Birth of a Dream - Akkeshi Distillery - A New Japanese Craft Distillery in the Making

Japan, August 10, 2015. Kenten.Co Ltd, the founding company and owner of one of the nation’s newest and upcoming distilleries, launched an inaugural distillery website. The new site that went live this afternoon gives an invaluable insight into the preestablishment of the Akkeshi Distillery that is a work-in-progress. 

The informative homepage, which is fortunately accessible both in Japanese and English, documents the birth of a ‘new era’ Japanese whisky distillery. The distillery, which was born out of one man’s dream, is significantly situated in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s islands and is located in the town of Akkeshi, a sub-prefecture of Kushiro. 

The new Internet site is divided into sections: who they are and what they are aiming to do, their vision, the region, and the distillery’s character. As with the progression of the distillery Japanese whisky enthusiasts can expect to see the continuing development of the Akkeshi Distillery web portal to flourish.

Without spoiling the experience – take a look for yourselves - visit the Akkeshi Distillery homepage and join in on the new epoch of Japanese whisky:

English version click (here)

Japanese version click (here)

Keep your eyes out for the announcement of the Akkeshi Distillery Facebook page that will follow in due time. Be sure to like the page and invite your friends.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

'The Chita' Release

The Suntory Spirits Company is set to release ‘The Chita’ nationwide from September 1, 2015. The forthcoming addition to Suntory’s portfolio is made by blending various aged grain whiskies that have been maturing at various length at their Chita grain distillery in Aichi prefecture. The vatting of 'The Chita' consists of at least 10 component grain whiskies that have been matured in a variety of cask types including American white oak (the bulk of the vatting), Spanish oak, and wine casks. According to the press release the 700ml bottling will retail at 3,800 yen (excluding tax – and depending on the retailer) and is bottled at 43%. 

The good news for fans of Japanese grain whisky alike is ‘The Chita’ is not a limited edition, there will be plenty of it available therefore, it is likely a standard and long running line-up of Suntory’s stable. The spirits giant appears to be marketing this product as another refreshing alternative for use in highballs and another perfect accompaniment to food, however, by the sounds of their in-house tasting notes that includes subtle flavours and delicate sweetness it sounds like a shame to mix it. Perhaps in coming time we can possibly expect to see another grain bottling released by Hakushu?

Check out Suntory's elaborate homepage of their new brand here

Image kindly taken from the official press release (in Japanese).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Super Nikka Genshu Pure Malt 55.5% Abv

The Super Nikka Genshu was released on the domestic market in 1995. In 2009, 14 years later, Nikka decided to take the product off the market. The first initial debuting bottle (round type) was released with a cork but apparently due to the stopper being insufficient it was replaced the following year with a plastic screw cap. This is a blended malt (vatted malt). The word: 'Genshu' can be roughly translated as 'straight from the cask' or 'non-diluted'. Another simple interpretation is natural cask strength. Two types of bottle designs were used for this expression, one being the square type that is used for Nikka from the barrel, the following bottle type is pictured above.

Nose: Another cask strength whisky with extreme subtleness – no roughness present here. Lovely creaminess in the form of mild cream Sherry and cheesecake. Oak. Retains that welcoming trademark bubble gum aroma followed by orange and mango fruit juice. Then interestingly Earl grey and hints of fennel tea. Maltesers confectionery (malt honeycomb centre, surrounded by milk chocolate) and whispers of subtle peat. Sugar coated nuts. With a little time in the glass lovely lemon basil emerges - too much time can lead to what resembles Imo (sweet potato) Sochu. Floral and candy lemon aromas develop with water along with sweet peat. 

Taste: More heat here. Chewy. Spicy marmalade, cinnamon gum, bitter red stone fruits. Subtle sherry influence. Maltesers. That tasty lemon basil is equally present on the palate with orange and grapefruit peel. Oak. Water changes path leading to sweet-bitterness - yellow/red capsicums. Peat more influential here than the nose but it is still mild.

Finish: Long with a prickly mouth feel. Some mild bitterness as with the taste, again, walnuts and beer nut skins, marmalade and grapefruit peel.Lemon basil and gum.

Comment: Great whisky with a surprisingly adequate nose. The nose can be busy and complex at certain times. Other times standard. Recommended to any die-hard Nikka fan who has yet to try it. Perhaps a little hard to find but not impossible. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eigashima 5yo Single Malt Akashi Old Sherry Butt # 5158

Outturn: 1000 bottles - ABV: 50%

Nose: Besides the obvious fact that this is a relatively young malt to begin with, it retains a dominant young-sweetness resembling new make elements, despite that it is 5yo, and more so than other young malts on the market. Nevertheless, pleasant enough if you enjoy that sort of thing. Past the delinquency you get under ripe stewed rhubarb, floral soapiness, mild apple juice, straw, red icy poles, light honey, plus the tinniest hint of what seems to be PX on the nose. It is however a bit spirity. Perhaps a very tired butt? In my opinion it contains the softest touch of that typical burnt rubber that I believe is very consistent in all Akashi releases - house style perhaps? Not a lot changes really with the addition of water. It kind of lacks the freshness of a good calibre sherry cask. 

Taste: Mild pickled ginger, cloves, cinnamon and baked apple. As with the nose some floral elements, ever eaten a pink carnation? Pomergranate juice. Fruity honey wine.The tyre rubber is also here to stay - in a mild way, which I must say I don't mind at all. A tad of what I presume to be PX influence - only watery. Under ripe fresh rhubarb sticks. Then, peppered green vegetables - mid way bitterness – can’t stop thinking of Brussels sprouts? From here it goes a bit pear shaped with dryness and chalkiness. Water tones down this - slightly.

Finish: Initially prickly and spicy before becoming chalky and dry.

Comment: As you can see by the photo I've played with this malt on various occasions but it never really seems to change, it stays consistent from opening the bottle to finishing it. Not the best from the stable, still, the nose was fun enough I give it that. 

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. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Asahi Announces Price Hike for 2015

Asahi breweries Ltd, the owners of the Nikka Distilling Co, yesterday announced their revised prices for both domestic and imported products in the company’s portfolio. According to the Japanese press release (here) prices will become effective locally from September 1, 2015. The price hike, stated by the company is in accordance to the price increase in barley and raw materials such as corn. Some products have risen up to 44 percent in price.

Domestic brand price revision (excluding tax):

In addition, and although Asahi holdings have not officially made a public announcement, word among working people in the industry is that all aged single malt expressions from both the Yoichi and Miyagikyo stables will disappear from the distillery’s portfolio before the end of the year. Along with this hint of what is to come, apparently the infamous no-age single malts will cease in the 500ml bottling and change to 700ml respectively. In short, if you are a fan of either expression it may pay to stock up - that is to say if you can find anything on the shelves.We all know what happened with Yamazaki 10 and 12 year old expressions.

* Graph taken from the Asahi homepage

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ariake Barrel - Undiscovered Japan

Ariake Sangyo was founded in Kyoto in 1963 as a small, family-owned business established by the Odawara clan. It was here, at the Kyoto headquarters that the firm began its history. In the early days it started out making wooden crates to cradle Japan’s traditional 1.8 litre Sake bottles that are known locally as Sho-bin

Then, in 1984 the firm, using its knowledge of wood properties officially began making casks to meet the initial requirements of wine and Sochu makers all over Japan. Due to a stand-out reputation, increasing demand, reservations and inquiries from whisky distillers, within a few years it was necessary to expand and in 1997 built its present warehouse–Ariake Barrel. Situated in Miyazaki prefecture, located in the southwest of Kyushu, in Japan’s third-largest island, the establishment is one of the few remaining cooperages in the island nation. 

In terms of scale and activity, the amount of employees, and cask turnout, the cooperage is relatively small when compared to international large-scale ‘mega’ production facilities. Eleven highly-skilled 20 year veteran craftsmen on average turnout about 3,600 casks annually or 300 units per month–each barrel a testimony to the many years of experience and dedication to the master coopers. It takes patience, skill, and passion to create the perfect barrel. Time and attention that a small-scale artisanal cooperage like Ariake Barrel painstakingly put into making casks is extremely significant, especially at a time when most large cooperages have significantly replaced man with machines.

Ariake Barrel continue the age-old craftsmanship using traditional methods and tools where the majority of the workload is by hand involving hard physical work.  Here, highly skilled individuals have not been replaced mechanically, the only aid given to the ageing specialists is one mechanical hoop driver for putting on head hoops. Quarter and central hoops, stave repair, and the fitting of barrel heads are implemented the old-fashion way–wielding a weighty hammer and driver. 

There is no automated assemblage or charring here, no computer driven technology, nor any gas burners in sight, traditional toasting and charring methods are employed. Open end casks are placed over open-fire wood burners for a pre-light toast before wood chips and wood shavings are added for 15 seconds to achieve the right level of char. Degree of charring is determined by the eyes and expertise of the coopers who will, when ready, physically and theatrically burrow behind flamed engulfed casks, and by using their body strength and hands lay the casks on their side and roll them for an additional 8 seconds before being extinguished–timing, speed, and the personal pursuit of excellence remain at the forefront. Singed and blackened faces coincide with the beginning of popping and cracking sounds. 90 percent of these newly coopered barrels will go to Sochu industry while the remaining 10 percent is allocated to domestic whisky produces, most of which being for craft or upcoming distilleries. In addition to the production of American Oak barrels at the cooperage Ariake-Barrel import new virgin casks (whole) - French wine (95 percent) and American Oak (5 percent), along with refill casks (whole) - Brandy (50 percent) and Sherry (50 percent).

Currently Ariake-Barrel is not officially open to the public but this may well change in due time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cask Adventures: A Visit to a Japanese Cooperage

Just a little over a month ago I had the opportunity to accompany another party and go behind the scenes at the Ariake Barrel cooperage in Miyazaki prefecture, Kyushu, to see first hand how artisan casks are traditionally made. Odawara-san, the grandson of the founder was kind enough to provide an up close and personal tour of the establishment that is situated 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Tachibanadori, Miyazaki city. Stay tuned for the full write up of this family-owned business and dying trade in the coming weeks.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mercian Karuizawa 15 Year Old Original Bottle 40% abv

Nose: A touch of cream sherry, coffee essence, raspberry gummies, red apple skins, and overripe halved strawberries. Staying on the produce mild tropical fruits begin to surface - star fruit and Vietnamese dried fruit chips. However, although the aforementioned aromas are clearly detectable, overall it is quite light and perhaps a tad watery on the nose. Like many bottlings out there this would have benefited being bottled at a slightly higher strength, and it is hard to detect that this is a 15 year old whisky (containing other parcels of Karuizawa up to 31 years of age). With oxidization, in my opinion, it becomes much bolder. This is where things begin to happen…raspberry vinegar dressing, Redskins lollies (raspberry-flavoured chewy confectionary), and honey powder.

Taste: As with the nose it could be said that the mouth feel is equally light. Nevertheless enjoyable with a subtle tease of smoke, liquorice, and granola with dried strawberries. Slight hint of concentrated Ribena fruit syrup.  A touch of honey with a grassy note. Can become prickly on the tongue.

Finish: The tease of smoke and rubber continues to caress your tongue. It is slightly metallic and/or minnerally. Grassy. The finale is short coming however.

Comment: Sufficient time in the glass makes this much more rewarding – if you can be patient. I truly love the essence of this of bottle design, simple yes, but savvy. It retains the original ethical beauty of the brand - if there is such a thing. The design of the bottle above superseded the square-dimple type. Well worth the original RRP if you can still find it at that (regardless of the light aromas and palate), otherwise I struggle to understand the prices paid on the secondary market today.

Follow up: At the half way mark this bottle has began to take a shine on me. It has become a bit more complex and generally overall a lot more satisfying. In short it has began to represent the distillery's house style. My daily dram that I suspect will be missed when emptied.

If you scour the internet there are not too many reviews to be found on Mercian era Karuizawa official bottles. You have an alternate review of this 15 year old from Pierre over at Connosr. You can see notes of the 17 year old dimple-type bottling at TJWR,  Whisky Fun, and WHISKYBASE. I've seen print reviews from Dave Broom and Martine - but not a lot around really. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Whisky Shop W. Hakushu Distillery WSO-003 48% abv

Nose: Not your typical Hakushu, which makes everything that bit more interesting. Sure, it has the typical house-style aromas bamboo, and whiffs of forestry.  However, it is the cask that influences this little number – creating a whole new game. Pink marshmallows, strawberry jam, and grated coconut on a malt biscuit. Dried figs dipped in white chocolate. Cinnamon. Sour grapefruit gummies.

Taste: Winter berry spice, Cherry Ripe (grated fruit cherries and coconut, chocolate). Cranberry sauce, oloroso sherry elements, pepper, bamboo, and greenery.

Finish: Moderate and prickly with pepper, cinnamon, and sour grapefruit gummies.

Comment: Red wine barrel maturation or finish? The WSO-003 had an outurn of 1500 bottles.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Whisky Shop W. Single Grain Chita Distillery WSO-004 48% abv

Nose: Clean and subtle. Elegant sweetness consisting of puff wheat cereal with warm milk and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Honey lemon slices, vanilla, and white chocolate. As expected there’s a lovely floral graininess. From here a mixture of assorted sweet savoury aromas - creamed corn, mashed pumpkin and sweet potato, and a distinctive but low key sourwood waft. Shea butter? Adding a few drops of water creates herbal notes and mandarin. 

Taste: Velvety, refined, and mouth-watering. Melons, mild pepper and light oak. Sweet potato butter spread. Whole grain honey puffs cereal. Popcorn. Some mild creamy nuttiness – almond butter. Then, it tends to become variable with dryness. Sour -  light fruity tartness. Sweet vinegar. With time the nose reminds me of Irish Poitin - sugar beet distilled spirits. Wood sap. It's quite neutral with water in my opinion.

Finish: Moderate to long lingering. Refreshing bitter-sweet element. Grassy and dry. Sugar beet. Light oak and pepper. Baked grapefruit peel. 

Comment: I’m a sucker for single grain whiskies, especially on the home front, and like most domestic grain whiskies this one ticks all the right boxes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hakushu Single Cask 2000 for Whisky Shop W. 4th Anniversary

Bottled: 2014 - Cask type: Hogshead - Wood type: White Oak - Cask No: EL41108 - ABV: 60% - Outturn: 600 bottles

Nose: On natural sweetness mild dried pear and apple, green banana, honeydew melon, and hard unripe pineapple. Vanilla cream. On artificial sweetness a mix of soft banana shaped and milk flavoured confectionery. Then, white chocolate. Waves of woody aromas and fresh tatami mats. Wholegrain wheat cereal with a sprinkle of brown sugar. With water mild apple pie, banana custard, followed by some soapiness, green tea, green bamboo and herbal suggestions. 

Taste: Mild notes of soft fresh licorice. Ground ginger and roasted grapefruit peel. Then, a herbal presence consisting of parsley along with Sansho. Rice straw. Both sour and bitter compounds. Biscuits. Diluting this is well worth it,  creamy, the Sansho remains but the sourness and bitterness mellows out while adding a tropical fruit purée element. 

Finish: Mild bitterness and wheat biscuits. Walnuts. 

Comment: As most of you know, when it comes to Suntory's stable I favour Hakushu more so than Yamazaki, and not just single casks but standard bottlings, with the exception of any fully matured sherry Yamazaki expression. This Hakushu single cask confirms my preference however straight up, I preferred the 6th original store bottling single malt Hakushu (006) from Whisky Shop W over this. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mars Komagatake Sherry & American White Oak 2011 Aged 3 Years

Outturn: 5200 bottles - Cask strength - 57% - Bottled: 2014

Nose: An abundance of sweet aromas projecting strawberries & cream (soft chewy flavoured jellies), toffee apple, pink marshmallows, coffee and vanilla essence, sultanas, guava, chocolate and toffee coated coffee beans (mainly on opening), and for good measure Cobbers lollies (chewy caramel coated in chocolate). This is lovely stuff, among the sweetness there is a cheeky tease of peat smoke – it is evidently there. A hint of sourness. With a dash of water mango puree, sweet buttered popcorn, and strawberry mouse become present. Brown creaming soda with time in the glass. Very busy for such a young whisky. 

Taste: Thick and mildly creamy. Nutty (beer nuts) with cinnamon banana slice, coffee beans, hints of port cigar leaf, and moderately spiced mocha. Ground allspice berries, and a sprinkle of pink pepper. Malty and woody. Water accentuates that  peat smoke, which in my opinion is much more evident on the palate. 

Finish: Long with spicy caramel popcorn, pepper and peat. This becomes a little dry and the nuttiness becomes evident when cut with water.

Comment: Cask combination works a treat on this 3yo. In my opinion another fine specimen of a very young Japanese whisky. I quite enjoyed this second release from the 'new era'.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu Chibidaru 2014 Release

Distilled: 2010 - Bottled: 2014 - Outturn: 6200 bottles - ABV: 53.3%

Nose: On the very first dram a small alcohol bite is present but dwindles from there on to reveal, in every other following glass, moderate sweetness - butterscotch (a consistency in the 2013 release and Shinanoya’s private cask), Scolten cookies, and sugar coated Weet-Bix in warm milk, banana custard, and caramel sauce. Over a short time there is that lovely presence of eggnog and tropical fruits. A sweet and sour combo emerges from here (sweet and sour pork sauce). Then, moving on from this side other aromas such as flowery hops, oak, and an intertwining mixture of malt, grist, chaff, and an oat (perhaps getting back to Weet-Bix) element enter the game. Walnuts and grapefruit peel present a hint of bitterness. Then, things completely shift resembling a good Mescal and a touch of lemon lozenges’.

Taste: Initially a big burst of prickly wood spice and a combination of cardamom and endless nutmeg. There's a lovely touch of peppermint that caresses your tongue. Some mellow bitterness - walnuts and grapefruit peel. Lingering oak. Vegetal. Quite woody and thick with roasted flavours - tea leaves? Water lures the sweetness to the game but not as moderate compared to the nose.

Finish: Moderate to long while retaining most of the characteristics from the palate - wood spice, oak, nutmeg and a slight bitter note on the last leg. Again, a touch of roasted tea leaves.

Comment: Interestingly this works well paired with Kamoboko dipped in soy-sauce and freshly grated ginger. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rihga Royal Hotel Osaka & Nikka stage a joint exhibition to mark their 80th anniversaries

To celebrate the establishment of the Rihga Royal hotel in Osaka and the foundation of Nikka whisky the two industry brand names have come together to introduce  what the hotel has named ‘Taketsuru Museum Exhibition’. According to the hotel’s webpage patrons can experience the passion and dedication through the footprints of Masataka Taketsuru – the “father of Japanese whisky”, and a man who opened up a new era in Japanese whisky. Fans alike can take a look at memorabilia that supposedly includes train tickets of Taketsuru-san’s journey from London to Glasgow, along with detailed notes (in Japanese) of his Hokkaido site search, and the famed notebook that contains notes from his studies in Scotland (replica). Unfortunately the exhibition finishes Friday 9th 2015 – apologies for the belated post. Original link can be seen (here) in Japanese.

Images borrowed from the Rihga Royal Hotel Osaka Website.

*Images of exhibition may be simulated