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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

April 9, 2014


Three Japanese sherry monsters

… But before the sherry monsters, let’s have a ‘simple’ hogshead as the aperitif to prepare our palates. I think it’s always better to do that before tussling with these extreme sherried whiskies…

Hanyu 1988/2005 ‘Vintage’ (56%, OB, Ichiro's Malt, hogshead, twist cap, 600 bottles)

Hanyu 1988/2005 ‘Vintage’ (56%, OB, Ichiro's Malt, hogshead, twist cap, 600 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: starts very fruity, in an unusual way. A lot of rhubarb and oranges, then rather kiwis. Bags of kiwis. That makes it slightly eau-de-vie-ish but the fruitiness is really spectacular. After a few minutes, there’s more moss and pinesap, as well as touches of wild mushrooms. Globally very lively and ‘nervous’. This should be perfect before the sherry monsters… ;-). With water: the sappy notes come out more. Some chlorophyll too, cut grass, a kind of sweet smoke… Mouth (neat): same feeling, except that everything is mixed, including some smoke this time, as well as all these rather citric fruits. The smoke’s a little rubbery, in fact. With water: it’s the oak that plays first fiddle now, but the orange remain there in the background. Finish: long, rather green and acrid, but all that isn’t unpleasant. Comments: a notch too oaky but other than that, very fine. I think we’re now ready for the three sherry monsters… SGP:461 - 84 points.

Yamazaki 1994/2006 'Owner's Cask' (63%, OB, sherry butt, cask #4R70109, 452 bottles)

Yamazaki 1994/2006 'Owner's Cask' (63%, OB, sherry butt, cask #4R70109, 452 bottles) Five stars Colour: red mahogany. Nose: chocolate, chocolate and chocolate everywhere, plus drops of crème de cassis. Maybe whiffs of burning tyres as well, but this is so strong, I won’t take any further chances with my nostrils. So, with water: perfect! Much more complex, as expected, very tertiary, with some earth and tobacco, engine oil, old cellar… A lot of humus too, which I enjoy madly. So, who was the Japanese gentleman who used to own this cask?  Mouth (neat): really massive, with a lot of sherry of course but what’s also striking is this feeling of spices, especially ginger and nutmeg. First fill European oak? It’s very, cough, cough, strong. With water: perfection made whisky. Huge stuff, ridden with plums and prunes, then liquorice, chocolate, ‘sucking a lead pencil’ and dozens of more minor flavours. Finish: very long, now a tad fresher, with more bitter oranges, for example. Only the feeling of new oak in the aftertaste is a little less to my liking, it’ll lose one or two points here. Comments: no, seriously, who was the owner? He/she deserves loud applauses! SGP:662 - 91 points.

Yamazaki 1993/2012 (57.5%, OB for LMDW, sherry butt, cask #3T70070, 300 bottles)

Yamazaki 1993/2012 (57.5%, OB for LMDW, sherry butt, cask #3T70070, 300 bottles) Five stars This baby won one of the only 4 Gold Medals at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2013. Just like Karuizawa, Yamazaki is one of the Ferraris of the MMAs, they win often! Colour: coffee. Nose: it’s a fruitier version after the 1994, but that may be the ‘easier’ strength. There’s also something Glendronachy, in a way. Coffee, earth, menthol, black raisins… With water: a calmer version of the 1994, better polished thanks to the extra-seven years of ageing, with rather more marmalade and various plums, all very ripe. Or the jams made thereof. Mouth (neat): there is not, this time, a heavy gingery side, but nutmeg can be felt, as well as cinnamon. In other words, screams first fill. Other than that, there’s a lot of ganache, or eau-de-vie-filled chocolate. Raspberry, kirsch… And pipe tobacco, heavy Balkan style. With water: a little greener and leafier this time. Orange zests, pepper, strong liquorice. Finish: very long, with excellent balance between the greeny spices (forgot to mention cardamom) and the fruits, whether fresh or dried. Funny aftertaste, with some strawberries now coming to the party. Comments: same very high quality as the 1994. Very rich whisky again. SGP:661 – 91 points.

Karuizawa 30 yo 1981/2012 'Founder's Cask' (60.8%, OB, Number One Drinks, cask #2084, 347 bottles)

Karuizawa 30 yo 1981/2012 'Founder's Cask' (60.8%, OB, Number One Drinks, cask #2084, 347 bottles) Four stars I think this one’s quite rare. Well, all Karuizawas are rare, aren’t they. Colour: coffee. Not fast-food coffee! Nose: this is completely different from the Yamazakis, and yet it’s massively sherried. It’s much drier in fact, more mineral in a way, with a lot of ‘guns that just shot’ – unless that’s one single huge machine gun - at first nosing, and once that’s gone away, splendid notes of cigar humidor, cocoa, soy sauce, balsam and dried porcinis. My kind. With water: the machine gun is back, as well as the cigars. Smoking a Cuban double-corona in front of a huge humidor. An open humidor, of course. Mouth (neat): we’re closer to the Yamazaki this time. Feels rather less ‘engineered’, with probably more very tiny flaws, but also a much bigger complexity. Maybe you just cannot have it both ways. There’s even a very tiny soapiness here, but even that is an asset, in a way. Great whisky, but it’s very strong, so… With water: oops! Water did not work too well, a lot of soap came out. That can happen, so let’s wait and check if that goes away (knowing that we already always wait for a few minutes before tasting a whisky after reduction, which should be obligatory in my opinion)… zzz… After fifteen minutes: not. Finish: long, a notch cologny and metallic when diluted. Almost impeccable when neat, very dry and peppery. Comments: I think it’s not the first time I find a glorious Karuizawa at super-high strength that doesn’t quite swim. Only one solution then, have it drop by drop, unreduced. I’m afraid it has to lose points because of that – dura Lex, sed Lex at Whiskyfun Towers. SGP:363 - 85 points.

(With mille mercis to Bert and Michal)







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