Google Today Akashi part 1

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

September 26, 2019



Genuine Japan,
today Akashi, part 1

We had some very good Eigashima by Blackadder the other day, so White Oak/Akashi, time to have some of their OB. All single malts, so fully Japanese and not some their blended Aksahi, which is not Japanese or at least not fully Japanese, I’ve heard. So this is a situation akin to that of Cardhu ten or fifteen years ago, remember? A bit shady…

Akashi White Oak 5 yo ‘Oloroso Cask’ (55%, OB, cask #1484, +/-2017)

Akashi White Oak 5 yo ‘Oloroso Cask’ (55%, OB, cask #1484, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Three years in a hogshead then two years in an oloroso cask. Similar combos that we have tried before have been very good (WF 83-85) Colour: gold. Nose: a little harsh at first (varnish), with quite some toasted oak too, then rather leaves and stems (not unseen in sherry finishes) and pencil leads and shavings. Well, pencils. With water: really a lot of fresh oak, toasted oak, warm sawdust and all that. Mouth (neat): extremely spicy and strong, with bags of pepper and nutmeg, also cinnamon mints. Not exactly drinkable like that, I would say, water is needed. With water: indeed it got a little easier, with oranges, but the pepper remains huge and bites your tongue. A little extreme. Finish: very long, very peppery. Comments: careful, this one stings and bites. Extreme pepperiness.
SGP:371 - 78 points.

Akashi White Oak 4 yo ‘Chardonnay Cask’ (61%, OB, for Mitsukoshi Isetan, cask #61091, 2017)

Akashi White Oak 4 yo ‘Chardonnay Cask’ (61%, OB, for Mitsukoshi Isetan, cask #61091, 2017) Three stars
A similar ‘double wood’ set-up, excusive to Shinjuku’s Mitsukoshi Isetan department store. Naturally, a chardonnay cask does not make much sense, which country was it from? Which region? Chardonnay’s just a grape that’s made just everywhere in the world. Colour: gold. Nose: once again, really a lot of fresh oak, with an even grassier side than with the oloroso. What’s nicer is that a few tropical fruits seem to be hiding in the background.  Mangos and guavas, I would say. With water: back to sawdust, toasted wood, cloves, cinnamon… Yeah I guess you could say cask is king here; it’s dictatorship. Mouth (neat): loads of oak, with a little lemon and grapefruit juice. At this strength, the pepper just burns. With water: phew, we got it! Still a lot of oak – you can’t get rid of this much oak just by adding water – but some nicer and easier citrus manages to make it through. Citrons, touches of cranberries… Finish: long, a tad smoother, and not too peppery although the tannicity would remain pretty huge. Comments: they should not sell these without a free bottle of water.
SGP:461 - 80 points.

Akashi White Oak 5 yo ‘Red Wine Cask’ (50%, OB, cask #61592, 480 bottles, 2017)

Akashi White Oak 5 yo ‘Red Wine Cask’ (50%, OB, cask #61592, 480 bottles, 2017) Four stars
Red wine in whisky, remember our motto, that’s like pineapple on pizza! This is a shorter finish (a few months) and nobody will tell you which ‘red wine’ it was, except that, apparently, it was French. French oak, perhaps? Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, what’s cool here is that it’s way less oaky than its bros., and consequently, much fruitier and breadier. Ever tried some bread with some goji berries inside? A touch of umami too, which is very cool too. No heady wine aromas, that’s cool as well. With water: very nice and cool. Fruit breads, dried berries, barley… I cannot not think of some of Westland’s offerings. Hope Westland are doing well! Mouth (neat): I rather enjoy this, even if it’s a little wacky. Balance has been found, with obvious notes of coffee-kirsch, Schwarzwälder cake, butterscotch, and brioches. A drop of mandarin liqueur. All fine, surprisingly fine. And cool! With water: really good. Orange cake, pepper, figs, a touch of wax, some cherries but not too many (Pinot Noir cask?) and a good deal of coolness. Finish: rather long perhaps a little drying this time. Black tea, tannins, sawdust, white pepper. Comments: a whole different category.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Akashi White Oak 15 yo ‘Sherry/Konara Cask’ (58%, OB, cask #40100, 795 bottles, 2017)

Akashi White Oak 15 yo ‘Sherry/Konara Cask’ (58%, OB, cask #40100, 795 bottles, 2017) Four stars
A pretty rare older Akashi, first matured for 12 years in sherry, then for the remaining years in some Konara cask, a.k.a. Quercus serrata, which is some kind of East Asian oak that we call ‘Korean oak’ or ‘Jolcham oak’ here in the West. Strange set-up, but let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: this is pretty fragrant, resinous, rather around tiger balm and eucalyptus at first, before it would become a little balsamic and tarry, with touches of latex, new Wellies, tyres... With water: same, plus patchouli and pot-pourri. Whisky for old hippies? Hints of black truffle as well. Mouth (neat): more sherry this time, as well as the usual huge pepper and cinnamon that are to be found in many young or youngish new spirits that are rather oak-driven. In the middle distance, rather bitter oranges and tonic – we’re approaching Campari and bitter herbs. With water: more spices, cloves, caraway, cinnamon, and a pretty glutamate-y ending, from the sherry I suppose. Finish: long oaky, spicy, with some ‘Japanese’ character that’s geared towards miso. Seville oranges in the aftertaste, which is nice, obviously. Comments: I need to know if the tarry notes came from that Konara oak. Any ideas? Excellent nonetheless, without any excessive pepper this time.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Let’s see what happens with longer aging in sherry, an no Konara oak…

Akashi White Oak 10 yo ‘Sherry butt (60%, OB, cask #105206, 795 bottles, +/-2018)

Akashi White Oak 10 yo ‘Sherry butt' (60%, OB, cask #105206, 795 bottles, +/-2018) Four stars
Did I already say that all these young Akashis, however good they are, are rather expensive? Like, €200 for this one. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s really rather rubbery this time, if not sulphury. Gas, tyres, then Aperol, jasmine tea, grenadine, then back on rubber and flints. Intriguing , shall we say, but you know, at 60% vol…. With water: miso again, that’s funny. Soy sauce, bouillons, all that over red plums and more Aperol. No, of course we won’t make any sacrilegious Spritz out of this. Mouth (neat): completely different. Loads of bitter oranges and grapefruits, then those flinty notes, as well as some blackcurrant jelly. It’s got something Burgundian, shall we say. With water: the rubber’s back. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a huge, quasi-sulphury rubber, it’s just as when we were chewing rubber bands at school, remember? Finish: long and, I should admit, rather Aperoly again. Tonic water, cinchona, bitter oranges, all that…  Comments: a little less ‘different’ than the Konara, but it’s a very fine cask-driven whisky for sure.
SGP:562 - 85 points.

Good, that’s a session, but we’ll be back with many more Akashis. I hope we’ll find at least one spirit-driven one…

(Thanks again, Chris!)

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