Yoichi Single Cask # 406973 2005 10YO 57%abv

P1050277Nose: A medley of dried fruits made up of apricots, papaya, pears and dates. Quince jam, old leather chairs, pepper, cloves, hint of vanilla, eucalyptus, camphor, charred oak and candied orange slices. Water adds lime water and brandy snaps. Could nose this all day long!
Palate: A bowl of mixed nuts, an earthy element, camphor, menthol, ginger, paprika, the candied orange slices, hoisin sauce. With water we have the quince jam, dates and dried papaya.
Finish: Cloves, pepper, menthol, dried tobacco leaves, salted dark chocolate and cocoa.
Last Word: Another cracking Yoichi 10YO Single Cask Whisky. Can find no reason why this would have needed a single day longer in the barrel!

Rating: 90/100

Nikka The 60th Anniversary Est. 1934 Blend 45%abv

P1050330Nose: Banana mouse, brandy, blueberries, toffee, steamed corn cob, apricots, maple syrup, hint of orange, bay leaves.
Palate: Paprika, oregano, chili powder, chocolate coated coffee beans, mashed banana’s, blueberries, toffee, old leather, dried tobacco leaves.
Finish: Oregano, pepper, dried tobacco leaves, fried banana, pineapple, bay leaves.
Last Word: The mainly sweet nose belies the herbaceous palate and finish that follows. A very smooth and approachable blended whisky, there should still be enough flavor and complexity to satisfy many. A little bit of Yoichi peated whisky in the mix to add a smoky element would not have gone astray.

Rating: 86/100

White Oak Akashi Limosin Oak Cognac Cask 5YO 55%abv

P1050324Nose: Honey, toffee, white grapes, white peaches, Rose(wine), pink grapefruit, dried pears. Water adds a floral note of heather.
Palate: Savory spices, puff pastry, raisins, Rose(wine), pink grapefruit. Quite prickly on the palate without water. With water more of the pastry, heather honey, pepper, apples, macadamias and the dried pears.
Finish: Puff pastry, baking spices, heather honey, apples, Rose(wine) and a little drying wood.
Last Word: To get the best out of this I diluted to about 40-43%abv. Probably different to most of the Japanese whiskies you might have tasted, I’d say more Scottish in style(yes I know there are a ton of different Scottish Whisky Styles). I quite like it after a liberal dash of water is added.

Rating: 84/100

Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu IPA Cask Finish 2017 57.5%abv

P1050322Nose: The IPA cask influence shows it’s hand straight off the bat. Some maltiness and very hoppy/fruity. There is a dustiness like dust covered old oak barrels. Orange peel, peach skin and yeast. Incense which grows stronger with water.
Palate: Lots of malt and hops. Some big hot spices. The dry dustiness, orange peel on the verge of going moldy, sugared grapefruit. Water adds salt, lemon zest and citrus tart. For mine water is a must with this whisky to subdue the hot spices which are a little out of balance and to add some nuance.
Finish: Fairly short on the malt and hoppy/fruity flavors.
Last Word: The casks first contain Chichibu whisky, then refilled with IPA beer from a number of different IPA craft breweries before being refilled with Chichibu whisky for finishing.
The Chichibu quality is there but the final product is extremely cask forward in profile and for my tastes maybe a little too much so. Almost like a novelty whisky.

Rating: 85/100

Ichiro’s Malt Card Series Full Set Of 58 Bottles For Sale At Auction

Ichiro's Malt Card Series
Offered for sale for the first time is a full set of 58 bottles of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series as part of Sotheby’s Hong Kong Finest and Rarest Wine Auction this Friday and Saturday 29-30th of September.
For those who are trying to figure out how a deck of cards is 58 it’s not. Just so happens that back in the day Ichiro Akuto bottled and sold a about a quarter of the whisky from 4 different single casks then later bottled and sold the rest of the whisky from these casks. The casks used became the Ace of Spades, the Queen of Hearts, the King of Diamonds and the Jack of Clubs hence double bottling’s of these cards and the total number in the series as 58.
Price guide for the full set of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series is from a ridiculously low US$256,000 to US$512,000.
As a set of 54 cards without the 4 doubles sold at auction a couple of years ago for US480,000 I personally expect the upper range of the price guide to not only be reached but exceeded.
So if your a wealthy whisky collector here is a rare opportunity, for the rest of us we have a few days to win the lottery.

**Update: Lot sold for US$455,000 so it seems prices have stabilized or even declined a little.

Chichibu For Tokyo International Bar Show 2015 French Oak Cask #2360 62.3%abv

P1050314Nose: Cinnamon coated Danish apple pastry, apricot jam, ginger bread, toffee’d oak, pouch tobacco. A salty maritime not like fresh shellfish. After a while a floral note, even more so with water added.
Palate: OK, while there is some big spicy punch on the palate there is zero burn on the way down which speaks of quality distillation. There is the Danish apple pastry, Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts. The spices are a cross between baking spices of cinnamon and nutmeg and some ginger and pepper heat. The peppery spice then mixes in with some salt. Water brings out Maltesers and tangy orange.
Finish: Starts out with the the salt and pepper combo, nutmeg, Maltesers, then leather and pouch tobacco. This finish is loooooong, the pepper and salt bounces back after 5 minutes with a vengeance with just enough toffee/malt to balance. A Yoichi like Chichibu in many ways. Impressive!
Last Word: This is the most complex Chichibu I’ve tried and amazingly so for only 6 years old. My new favorite Chichibu! Recommended!

Rating: 89.5/100

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 18YO and Nikka Limited Edition Whisky

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017There has been plenty of posts from different websites over the last week or so about the Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 18YO. The basics are 1500 bottles at 48%abv. 200 of the bottles were offered in a lottery by Suntory in Japan only. The winners received their notification 2 days ago though of course it was no freebie. If you won you still had to pay the Japanese price of Yen108,000 or about USD$1000. No doubt the lottery was well oversubscribed. I would suggest that most of the remaining 1300 bottles will be offered to bars. Official release date is the 3rd of October. I have only seen one online retailer advertising this so far and they are already asking US$3300 for a bottle!!!

Anyway moving on from a bottling that will be nothing more than a unicorn for most people to something a little more relevant. Nikka is releasing some Limited Edition No Age Statement bottling’s. There will be Moscatel Wood Finished and Rum Wood Finished versions from both Miyagikyo and Yoichi bottled at 46%abv.Nikka Limited Editions 2017
There will be 3500 bottles of each version. Something I find a little bit odd is that the Moscatel Wood Finished bottling’s will be Japan only releases and the Rum Wood Finished bottling’s will be Europe/US releases. No doubt the Japanese version will be available a little ways down the track on the secondary market either online retailers or auction.

According to the official website the RRP for the Japanese bottling’s is Yen15,000 released on the 26th of September and 2 separate pricing regimes for the Europe/US bottling’s. In Europe they will be offered as the set of 2 at a RRP of Euro395 and in the US as single bottles for US$190 with a release date sometime in November. Europe and Japan bottling’s will be 700ml and the US version 750ml.

Suntory Blended Whisky For The Peninsula Tokyo 2014 43%abv

P1050318Nose: At 43%abv it’s no heavy hitter but elegant and complex. Dark cherries, roasted chestnuts, raisins, vanilla, Valencia oranges, nutmeg, red grapes, a waxy note, Cherry Ripes, subtle oak, brandy snaps.
Palate: Faithfully follow’s the nose for the most part but the oak is definitely firmer. There is also cloves and old leather. Water brings out sultana’s, mint milk chocolate, red berries and cocoa powder. The fruit flavors are nice and juicy.
Finish: Medium length on mint milk chocolate, menthol, nutmeg, oak and cocoa.
Last Word: High quality and classy blend with classic Suntory Sherry Cask matured whisky elements wrapped up in a elegant package. I’ll add that in reality much darker in color than the photo which is heavily backlit.

Rating: 92/100

Mars Tsunagu Blended Whisky Bourbon and Wine Casks 46%abv

P1050319Nose: Raisins, stewed apples, figs, malt, marzipan, wood chips, rhubarb stalks, orange peel.
Palate: Malt, stewed apples with custard, marzipan, nougat, mixed herbs, chili, yeast, orange peel. Water adds camphor, butter and candied nuts.
Finish: Quite herbaceous, orange peel, camphor and fresh cream.
Last Word: A nicely constructed, smooth blend and worth a punt if you can get it at a decent price. This was bottled for Japanese department store chain Isetan.

Rating: 86/100

Kirin 17YO Small Batch Single Malt Whisky 46%abv

P1050313Nose: Fresh cut timber, apricot, straw, pineapple, mustard, prune juice, passion fruit.
Palate: Passion fruit, strawberries, rye spice, nutmeg, salt, orange, pineapple, saw dust, balsamic. Light bodied.
Finish: Lots of chewy mints, passion fruit, pineapple, orange, timber.
Last Word: Has a number of typical elements found in many Kirin whiskies. Pineapple, passion fruit and Bourboneque is style. If your not a bourbon fan you probably won’t fancy this, but I like the fact that Kirin has it’s own house style at least in relation to other Japanese distilleries. This one although smooth and well made is not outstanding.

Rating: 84/100

Yoichi Peaty & Salty NAS 55%abv

P1050306Nose: Caramel salted popcorn, earthy peat, salted peanuts, mushrooms, fishing trawler diesel exhaust, marmalade, blueberries, vanilla.
Palate:
Very salty, possibly the saltiest whisky I’ve tasted and no problem for me as a saltoholic. Peanut brittle, salted caramel chocolate, mushrooms, the earthy peat, mint chocolate biscuits, cola, nutmeg, pepper, seaweed. Water brings out vanilla and toasted marshmallows. Where the nose is reasonably soft/subtle, the palate is big and bold.
Finish: Heavily salted pork crackling, earthy peat, peanuts, ash, toasted marshmallows, mint jelly, seawater.
Last Word: Pretty much gives you all it has from the get go so don’t expect this to have many hidden treasures. One thing is for sure, I wish this was Yoichi’s standard NAS single malt instead of what they are currently bottling.

Rating: 88.5/100

Yamazaki Limited Edition 2017 43%abv

P1050309Nose: Turkish delights, creme brulee, red apples, red grapes, leather tobacco pouch, cinnamon, treacle, cloves, oak. Water brings out vanilla and intensifies the leather/tobacco notes.
Palate: Ginger snaps, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, tobacco, hint of sherry, gentle oak. red grapes, nutmeg, Arnott’s savory shapes, Turkish delights, marzipan, fig jam, bran. Water brings out some tangy orange, nutmeg, cashews and papaya.
Finish: Brandy snaps, spearmint, cashews, Turkish delights and bran.
Last Word: As per the 2016 the finish is a little short which again drops the score. If you have had previous versions you pretty much know what to expect. Very Japanese/Yamazaki is style. These sold for around Y10,000 in Japan which I think is very reasonable for the quality.

Rating: 88.5/100

White Oak Akashi Single Malt Uozumi Sherry & Bourbon Casks NAS 46%abv

P1050305Nose: Oloroso sherry, honey, charred oak, pepper, nutmeg, paprika, maple syrup, dried apricot and dried mango. A floral not that becomes stronger though not intrusive when water is added.
Palate: Some big wood spices, Oloroso sherry, orange, nutmeg, cocoa. Water adds some chili heat, roasted nuts and dried mango.
Finish: Chewy mints, honey, pepper, dried fruit and palate drying wood.
Last Word: Solid mix of sherry and bourbon cask whisky that can often be hit and miss in my experience and I’m a fan of spicy whiskies.

Rating: 85/100

Suntory Ageing 15YO Blended Whisky 43%abv

P1050296

Nose: Rich and Fruity. White peaches, apricots, cherries, toffee, ginger snaps, white pepper, cinnamon, tobacco pouch, bourbony orange and rye.
Palate: Follows the nose closely and adds some salted peanuts and subtle oiliness. Nice balance of fruit and spice.
Finish: Peppery spice, the bourbon orange and rye, sweet tobacco and leather. The oiliness assists in allowing to flavors to cling to the palate for good length.
Last Word: A smooth whisky blended to to be a neat sipper not a mixer though no doubt a mixologist could use this in a fancy cocktail. I’d call it satisfying from nose to finish.

Rating: 86/100

Nikka Pure Malt Red 43%abv

P1050291Nose: Cantaloupe, rose water, vanilla wafers, white peaches, fresh cut timber, pink grapefruit.
Palate: A bowl of mixed nuts, white peaches, peanut butter, there’s both savory and herbal elements, strawberries.
Finish: Salt, nuts, herbs such as cloves and oregano.
Last Word: Not a whisky that is going to blow your mind but blended with a purpose to be lighter in style to accompany food or as a summer sipper and with an emphasis Miyagikyo Malt Whisky. If this was Scottish it would be a Lowland Whisky.

Rating: 82/100

Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu The Peated 2016 4YO 54.5%abv

P1050289Nose: Antiseptic, diesel, smoked ham hocks, fresh potato skins, stewed apples, currants, soy sauce, soot, apricots. An approachable nose.
Palate: Big hot alcohol hit for ‘only’ 54.5%abv. Paprika and chili’s. Soot, sump oil, toffee, nougat, lemon meringue pie. Water adds. salt, orange sherbet, Brazil nuts, bitter dark chocolate.
Finish: Iodine, soot, antiseptic, nougat and menthol.
Last Word:The palate is a bit unbalanced with the amount of alcoholic heat. Water does quell the fire but you need a fair splash. The nose is really nice and the finish has decent length. Overall it’s still a solid young peated whisky but not as good as the 2015 version.

87/100

Largest Known Collection of Karuizawa Hitting the Auction Block

Whisky Auctioneer, a UK based auction house, has announced an exclusive auction of the largest know collection of Karuzizawa whisky. 290 bottles in total and while nothing like their claim of “includes close to every expression created by the renowned Japanese distillery”, Whiskybase lists 460 expressions, it is still very impressive. The lots include the 1960 pictured. Karuizawa1960.jpg
According to the website the lots are being sold individually and while there may be a record price broken here or there for individual bottling’s, I would have loved to have seen a single lot auction where I’m sure the single lot price would have been smashed for any collection of whisky. Auction kicks off on the 5th of April and runs through to 17th of April. FYI, with the prices of Karuizawa these days I didn’t bother registering to bid : ).

Mars Single Cask #1704 American White Oak 2013 3YO 56.9%

DSC_9542Nose: Banana, vanilla, toffee, pear flavored lozenges, lemon zest, wood chips, apricot juice. There is a fair amount of wood influence for a young whisky. Water adds shellfish and heather.
Palate: Tangy orange, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, banana, salt, spearmint. Water engenders this with a creamier mouth feel, adds chewy Allen’s Minties, toffee and enhances the tangy orange.
Finish: Mint jelly, nougat, oak, leather and tobacco.
Last Word: American white oak matured whisky is a specialty of Mars Shinshu. They rarely disappoint and this well selected cask is no exception.

Rating: 87/100

Kirin Fuji Gotemba Single Cask 1995 10YO #M000505 45%abv

P1050287Nose: Peated and while by no means to Ardbeg or Laphroaig level peating, this would be classed as heavily peated by most Japanese whisky distilleries. You can pick up the peated note from 2 feet away. Diesel, creosote, barley, candy apple, dried pears, pomegranate, shoe polish, toffee.
Palate: Toffee coated nuts, nutmeg, toffee apples, tar, dried papaya, dried pears, spearmint, licorice. Water adds milk chocolate and cafe latte.
Finish: Tar, spearmint, toffee, a mineral element and lingers on cafe latte.
Last Word: I am not a peated whisky fanatic but this has a nice balance between the peaty and the sweeter elements of toffee, dried fruit and the bitter sweet cafe latte. These single cask Kirin have been available at the Fuji Gotemba distillery from time to time. I have tried a few but this one being bottled in 2005 is even rarer. Liked this whisky a lot from the start and I’ll definitely grab another if one becomes available.

Rating: 88/100

The Blend of Nikka 17YO 45%abv

P1050283Nose: Blueberries, malt, brandy snaps, a candy note, nicely controlled oak, pepper and a hint of sherry. Water adds nougat.
Palate: Currants, brandy snaps, salt and pepper, mixed nuts, menthol, blueberry bubblegum, some ash and smoke. Water adds some toffee and assists with the balance and smoothness.
Finish: Works best with water and has impressive length. I’m talking 10 minutes and counting as I write up these notes. Pepper, menthol, blueberry, ash, smoke, tobacco, brandy snaps and some mouth coating oiliness.
Lat Word: Very heavily malt based and I would say on the Yoichi side. The nose is subtle and clean, the palate smooth and balanced with water and the finish impressively long and satisfying.

Rating: 87/100