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

Mars Burn The Barrel Blended Whisky Virgin American White Oak Cask Finish 40%abv

P1050175Nose: Quite oaky. Fried banana’s, oranges, apricots, bran, pepper, Makers Mark or similar type bourbon.
Palate: Caramelized orange juice, fried banana’s, fresh cream. pepper, rye, the Makers Mark, oily and oaky.
Finish: Cream, oranges, savory shapes biscuits, fried banana’s, olive oil, drying oak.
Last Word: Very much a bourbonesque style of whisky. A bit heavy on the oak.

Rating: 80/100

Mars Iwai Tradition Wine Cask Finish 40%


I previously mentioned this bottling during my TIBS/WhiskyLive Tokyo 2013 report. Well it’s hit the retail shelves in Japan with an outrun of 2495 bottles finished in ex-red wine casks for about 12 months. Price is Y2310 for a 750ml bottle. For those not familiar with the history, Mars parent company Hombo Shuzo has been producing a variety of wines in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan for around 50 years. This was the 3rd bottling I tasted at the Hombo Shuzo(Mars) stand at the show. The first 2 were the “Komagatake” 22YO and the “Komagatake” Bourbon Barrel 24YO. After those two, the thought of being knocked out by a 40%abv blended whisky with no age statement finished in a wine cask seemed highly unlikely. Well I was knocked out by the quality of this whisky for the price and so was everyone else I talked to that tried it. Ok, it was only a single dram so it will not be until my bottles arrived that I can confirm, but initial impressions were that this will be right up there with the best value, quality daily drams anywhere in the world. Hmmm, I think I should buy a few more……….

Mars Iwai Tradition Blended Whisky 720ml 40% – Something New, Something Old


Hombo Shuzo(Mars Whisky), release of new bottling’s continues this week. Well, in the case of this particular bottling it’s a repackaging and with Mars now receiving some well deserved exposure both domestically and internationally and a wider retail distribution(in Japan), more good news for the vibrancy of the Japanese whisky scene. The Awai Tradition is a malt and grain blend and a nice one at that. Retail price Y1850 for a 720ml bottle. There are still some of the old bottle style stock being sold side by side, same price, same bottle size. Here’s my review of the original bottle style which also won a IWSC Silver Medal in 2012.

Mars Iwai Tradition 720ml 40%abv.
Nose: Thick Manuka honey. Soft oak, sweet orange peel, dry sherry and toffee.
Palate: Manuka honey, raisins, all spice, dry sherry, toffee and a little smoke. Mouth coating.
Finish: Short on honey, toffee, oak, butter, sherry and gentle spices. Errs on the side of malt rather than grain.
Last Word: A great session whisky, I’ve already polished off 3 bottles.

Rating: 82/100