Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mars Whisky Komagatake The Revival and Sherry & American White Oak 2011

Shinshu Mars Distillery in Nagano stopped distilling whisky in 1992, but started up again in 2011. The first whisky distilled that year was bottled in 2014 and released as a limited-edition single malt called "The Revival 2011 Komagatake." (Cask Strength - 58%)

This first-edition of the reborn whisky was limited to 6000 bottles, and given quite positive reviews overall for such a young expression (3 years). If you know how quickly selling prices have gone up for limited-edition bottles of Ichiro's Malt (Chichibu Distillery - Saitama) held by collectors savvy enough to get their hands on them while they were still on the shelves of liquor stores at original retail prices, you know that buying a few limited-edition bottles from the newest craft distillery on the Japanese block is a worthy investment.

This week, I was able to get my hands on some bottles of "The Revival 2011 Komagatake" and a single bottle of the next single malt release "Sherry & American White Oak Komagatake" (Cask Strength - 57%) also distilled in 2011 and bottled in 2014 (Aged 3 years).

If only I'd gotten my hands on some of the Ichiro's Malt "Card" whiskies when they first went on sale...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Springbank 10 Year Old: Campbeltown Complexity

I love a challenging whisky, and Springbank 10 Year Old delivers. For the price (around $43 US), you won't find a better entry into the world of complex whiskies. And, before you ask, it is a tasty dram; Often, terms like challenging and complex, when used to describe a whisky, mean not necessarily delectable.

You can't help but love Springbank Distillery for so many reasons; other than producing quality whiskies at fairly reasonable prices, they use barley produced locally, they do their own floor malting, and they do their own bottling. Also, they give back to the local community by providing a good number of jobs for people there, even when they could cut costs by becoming more automated. A traditional distillery for a whisky with traditional quality.

The Facts
  • Bottled at 46% a.b.v.
  • non chill-filtered (Springbank standard)
  • no artificial coloring (Springbank standard)

Tasting Notes

Honey gold

Rich, pungent
Pears, raisins, floral, butter, leather, lubricating oil, honey, salty sea spray, herbal, vanilla, slight peat, peppermint (with water), cereal maltiness

Rich, quick delivery, smooth intensification
Sweet, sour, butter, toffee, vanilla pudding, caramel, spices, peppery

Oaky, soft smokiness, caramel sweetness

There's a whisky for almost every situation, and Springbank whiskies are hard to nail down. But, one thing's for sure, when you want to sit with a whisky that is complex right from the start, and evolves beautifully over time while never losing any of its quality, it's hard to do better than Springbank.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Yamazaki 12 Year: Big in Japan

It seems that a 700 ml bottle of Yamazaki 12 Year Single Malt Whisky will run you about 54 pounds in Great Britain and around 82 dollars in the US.

In Japan, however, this bottle can be had for around $53 US, so being a resident of Tokyo, I'm in a great position to explore the world of Japanese whisky at a relatively fair price. Not for long though; Suntory is set to raise prices across the board on all of its products, including Yamazaki Whisky. Of course, one would expect the difference in prices overseas vs domestic prices to remain the same, but it would be hard for me to say that Yamazaki whisky could be had here in Japan at a relatively fair price. In fact, it's a bit overpriced as it is...

Yamazaki 12 Year is an enjoyable whisky, though, all price considerations aside (Hard to do, I know).

Tasting Notes

Honey gold

Strong, highly aromatic
Sweet, floral, tropical fruits, mild honey

Smooth and steady
Starts sweet, developing spiciness initially, fruity, creamy, mild citrus

Sweetness lingers, mild spiciness, fruits and vanilla pudding

As with most Japanese whiskies I've tasted, this one drowns easily in water, so proceed with caution when tasting initially. Personally, I keep water far away from this stuff.

Conclusion: Lovers of Speyside and Highland single malts will enjoy this whisky immensely. It is a high-quality dram and has earned a permanent place in my collection. This year's price increase, however, has motivated me to give Nikka's whiskies a closer look...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Mighty Aberlour A'bunadh

Yes, another cask-strength whisky in the collection. Lovely.

This is one that I'd been wanting for awhile, but had shown quite a bit of restraint when confronted with the temptation to buy a bottle; My pub was in need of some other whiskies on the shelf first, ones the customers were keen to drink. The Aberlour A'bunadh was going to be mostly for my benefit.

But, the time finally came, and I bought a bottle of Batch 47 at 60.7% a.b.v.

Aberlour A'bunadh is one powerful beauty of a Speyside whisky. Aged exclusively in Oloroso sherry casks with no chill filtering and no color added, you can't help but like this whisky on principle alone.

Tasting Notes

Golden red

Aggressive and pungent
Sherry and sherry, spices, floral, candle wax

Bittersweet, black cherry, cough syrup, bitter chocolate, orange, vanilla

Cloying, spicy, hot, bitter chocolate, medicinal

This one can stand a fair amount of water, but as always, one should add it with measured caution.

Conclusion: A powerhouse Speyside whisky that should be in everyone's collection.