Mars and Me

I bought my first bottle of Mars Whisky on my first trip to Japan. That trip, as you my have read on my about page, was the first time I had tasted Japanese whisky of any kind. I certainly had not heard of this brand, then again, I had not heard of Karuizawa, Hanyu, Akashi or many of the long since closed Japanese distilleries either. Can’t say I was particularly impressed by that first bottle of Mars Whisky either. Still, with such a cool name, at least to me, that was not going to stop me trying more of this intriguing little distilleries offerings.
Now I would never think that a company with such a relatively small whisky output would not bottle some average(or worse) stuff. What has really amazed me about Mars though, is that when they get it right, they produce whisky that is the equal of any other distillery in Japan. Check out my Full Tasted List and you’ll see what a relatively high percentage of Gold Medal ratings I have given to Mars whisky compared to how many I’ve tasted so far. The Achilles heel has been most of their sherry cask offerings that have had ‘dirty sherry'(sulphur) issues. They are not alone in this respect as so does Hanyu and Karuizawa. In contrast, after tasting all their new pot peated whisky, this stuff has future legend written all over it once it has fully matured.
The other great thing about Mars whisky for myself is that it is still a relative secret outside of Japan. So, as the rest of the world hangs on every new release of overpriced, mostly overrated Karuizawa, Mars whisky remains a unique and still rare pleasure for those who have access them. Selfishly, I hope it remains so for a little while longer at least.

4 thoughts on “Mars and Me

  1. I have been to the Mars distillery twice and both times were splendid. We took the unguided tour and the smell inside the where house with all the wood barrels was so delightful; that alone made the trip worthwhile. The only downside was that I was the designated driver and could not indulge in the tasting room. If I recall correctly, there are some bottling that are only available for sale in their gift shop. Both times that I visited I came away with quite a haul of bottles. The only disappointments were the bottles of “Amber” and “Mars Old Whisky”. They were drinkable but kind of ordinary for me. The distillery itself is situated in a forest close to a mountain range, very peaceful and picturesque. It’s been several years since I visited; I think a return is in order this coming spring!

    • Thanks Mike, nice report. I’ll have to get there one day myself. The Mars Malt Gallery series they release and sell at the distillery can also be purchased from their online store for those that live in Japan.

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