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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Miyagikyo Original Blended Whisky Distillery Bottle 40% abv


Nose: Maintains a lovely fruity combination that is typical of Miyagikyo - persimmon jam, golden delicious apples, and soft banana slices from tinned fruit salad. Definitely carries aromas for warmer weather opposed to winter. Fair to say this holds a sweet nose, which includes strawberry icing sugar pushing through to caramelized cinnamon sugar glaze once past the fruit. Regardless of knowing - one could easily think that there is little if not no grain at all in this, very clean. Plain corn chips. Right at the end there is the slightest tease of peat.

Taste: Lightly bodied and extremely easy drinking. Retains a reasonably mild spiced fruit chutney and nutmeg mouth feel. Under ripe (semi-green) strawberries are evident along with a mellow creamy custard. More fruits are evident initially but they begin to quickly fade away before you can differentiate characteristics.

Finish: Short to moderate with mildly spiced walnuts and leaf vegetables. No distinguishable fruit here unfortunately. Here is where the grain becomes evident but nevertheless it is very respectable.

Comment: Ends a bit too quick but nevertheless this is another Nikka blend that deserves the "thumbs up"! This would shine much more at 43% and be a stellar blend at anything higher. This blend can only be purchased at the distillery and comes in 500 / 700mls respectively.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Release Reminder - Highball Cans Bearing the Founder of Nikka



Back in August Asahi Breweries, Ltd.  announced the forthcoming release of two new premixed beverages that will hit the market. Many of you have already seen pictures of the beverages circulating on the net and read about the anticipated release, in conjunction to the hit NHK drama ‘Massan’, so nothing new - just a reminder, but many have been waiting for the cans to hit the shelves. To commemorate the Nikka Whisky Distilling Co. Ltd 80th anniversary and milestone of Masataka Taketsuru’s birth, 2 illustrative premixed cans will be released nationwide from December 2, 2014. The limited edition cans that consist of a ‘Taketsuru Highball’ (7% abv) and a ‘Rita Highball’ (liqueur 7%abv) will be on sale until the end of March 2015. 



Image kindly borrowed from Asahi Breweries Ltd. official press release in Japanese (here).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Suntory Release for Bic Camera


If you’re looking for a new release that has recently hit the market, other than the new 'Sherry & American White Oak 2011 Komagatake', then pop into a Bic Camera store nearby. The chain establishment was once renowned for carrying ridiculously cheap Owner’s Casks at a time when Japanese whisky perhaps didn’t have the popularity as it does today. It is fair to say a release by the mega store is well overdue but only this time, and like most things these days,  you will be paying for it.

Characterized as carrying a heavy oriental profile, the no-age-statement premium Japanese whisky has been selected and blended for Bic Camera by Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo. According to specs this expression was exclusively blended with the core component being matured in Mizunara casks with an average maturity of around 25 years or more, with the addition of Spanish Oak matured smoky malt and grain whisky serving as an element. Although neither the front nor back label states it in writing apparently this is limited to 1000 bottles, and available at most major stores. Despite the interesting label, Mizunara influence, reasonable fancy wooden box, and it being a limited edition, I cannot see these flying of the shelf in a hurry, given the fact it is a blended whisky with a retail price of 39,744 yen (including tax) – just a personal opinion.