Google Extremes of Japan

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

March 7, 2018


Extremes of Japan

Just a small bag of Japanese whiskies, chosen (almost) at random…

Golden Horse ‘Musashi’ (43%, OB, pure malt, +/-2017)

Golden Horse ‘Musashi’ (43%, OB, pure malt, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
The label mentions Hanyu, but I highly doubt there’s any Hanyu malt inside, although I may be wrong. This is ‘pure malt’ but remember it’s not obligatorily ‘pure Japanese’, unless it clearly says so. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, fruity, barley-y, in the style of Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. Apples, hints of oranges, a touch of marzipan, a wee chunk of brioche. Very soft, very light, not unpleasant. Mouth: very young Scottish in style, with more apples, barley water, cake, a drizzle of acacia honey, a touch of cinnamon from the oak, a touch of vanilla… Nothing clearly Japanese in this, but it’s pretty good. Finish: medium, barley-y, very easy. Honey and cinnamon roll in the aftertaste. Comments: some loyal average young malt whisky. Nothing against this.
SGP:441 - 78 points.

Mars Komagatake ‘Shinanotanpopo’ (52%, OB, Nature of Shinshu, single malt, +/-2017)

Mars Komagatake ‘Shinanotanpopo’ (52%, OB, Nature of Shinshu, single malt, +/-2017) Three stars
This is clearly Japanese single malt (beware of the pure malts) and we’ve already tried a handful of rather brilliant Komagates. Colour: gold. Nose: some pencil shavings and quite a lot of vanillin, then rather apples and whiffs of coal smoke, which works very well. Some burnt brownies too, cooked honey, and a little camphor and thuja wood. With water: freshly sawn pinewood! Mouth (neat): you feel that the oak plays an important part here, and some could even find it a little oak-heavy, but the mentholy notes, as well as these hints of incense do bring something special to it. In short, it’s not ‘sawdust and basta’. With water: well, not quite. Finish: medium, rather pastry-like, with some drier honey notes. Comments: okay, the oak’s a little loud for me, but other than that, what a fine drop!
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Akashi 6 yo 2011/2017 (50%, OB, Eigashima, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, cask #61191)

Akashi 6 yo 2011/2017 (50%, OB, Eigashima, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, cask #61191) Four stars
I fully trust our friend Hideo Yamaoka’s selecting abilities. This was first matured in Cognac wood then finished in chardonnay for 8 months. Colour: pale gold. Nose: both the Cognac and the chardo are relatively discreet here, I’m rather getting some vanilla cake, some crushed fresh barley, some brioche dough, and just a lovely fresh maltiness. Japanese muesli? With water: not many changes, but it’s nice like this. Hints of Danishes, preserved apricots… Mouth (neat): ah, yes! Punchy and very fruity, with perfect wine gums, orange sweets, perhaps cranberries and gooseberries, touches of pineapples and bananas, and yet no dull(ish) ueberfruitiness. Perhaps am I dreaming but we’ve known Rosebanks… With water: gets pretty splendid and, yes, even more Rosebanky. Bananas, tangerines, vanilla, fresh figs, dried ones… Finish: rather long, and void of any obvious oakiness. Very smart. Comments: a little discreet on the nose, but the palate really delivered. Very well selected, Hideo.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

No Japanese session without a Chichibu, that’s our new motto…

Chichibu 2010/2018 (61.3%, OB, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, 188 bottles)

Chichibu 2010/2018 (61.3%, OB, single malt, selected by Hideo Yamaoka, 188 bottles) Five stars
You can’t do more Japanese, can you. And Hideo’s at it again… Colour: gold. Nose: on full fresh bourbon mode, apparently, but there is a pine-y feeling to it. Some butter cream, cedar wood, balsa wood, butter pears, custard… With water: ooh, perfect. Got softer, on true vanilla pods straight from, say, Madagascar. Mouth (neat): unusual and extremely good. White cherries, regular cherries, barley syrup, cinnamon mints, eucalyptus drops, candied citrons, beedies, then drops of cough syrup and a wee glass of retsina. With water: appeased, more on apricot tarte covered with custard. Like. Finish: rather medium, on fresh pastries at around 6:30am. Of course I know this from experience. Comments: totally loved this soft Japanese vanilla-ed cough syrup by another name.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Have we reached the pinnacle of Japanese whisky yet? Perhaps not quite…

Yoichi 11 yo 1990/2002 (61.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #116.2, ‘Spice box and orange oil’)

Yoichi 11 yo 1990/2002 (61.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #116.2, ‘Spice box and orange oil’) Five stars
One of the first Japanese whiskies from 28 Queen Street (although Queen Street had actually opened after this Yoichi was bottled - thank you Arthur), and a bottle that comes from Arthur Motley’s own stash. Thank you again Arthur! Colour: dark amber. Nose: wonderful, with some inoffensive patchouli at first, then a maelstrom of incense, menthol, coconut wine, moss… do you say ‘whirlwindy’? With water: there’s more varnish coming out, then some smashing notes of menthol cigarettes (remember Kool?) and eucalyptus. This may have shocked a few moustachioed noses in Edinburgh… Mouth (neat): heavy and unusual. Freshly baked pumpernickel, molasses, spearmint, liquorice, and tar. Richer than rich (no I haven’t trademarked that one). With water: very good, very thick, balsamic, with notes of triple-sec and crème de menthe. Almost refreshing and totally wonderful. Finish: very long and wonderfully mentholy. Comments: quite a star, with some incredible power. Now I do seem to remember a few controversies here and there when this monster came out…
SGP:472 – 91 points.

(Heartfelt thanks to Hideo, Arthur, Angus, and, well, everyone within the circles)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Japanese whiskies we've tasted so far






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