Google New Japan by seven

Serge whiskyfun
Thousands of tastings,
all the music,
all the rambligs
and all the fun


Facebook Twitter Logo
Guaranteed ad-free
copyright 2002-2017


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

August 8, 2017


New Japan by seven

Almost no more age statements and many new names, that’s the Japanese landscape today as far as whisky’s concerned, and perhaps is it time that we adapt to the situation. No? (very bad pun, S.) But just one word of caution, unless labelled as a single malt from one particular distillery, Japanese whiskies may partially, or even entirely contain whisky from other countries, especially from bonnie Scotland. Weird rules… Well, no rules.

First, a current NAS blend by a large company, just as a point of reference…

Toki (43%, OB, Japan, Suntory, blend, +/-2017)

Toki (43%, OB, Japan, Suntory, blend, +/-2017) Two stars“This new expression embodies how tradition meets innovation to move forward.” Scary, innit, they may have forgotten to add "and make this a better world". Now it seems that all whiskies inside are Japanese, which is obviously better. What’s much worse is the price for some NAS blend, £80.55 at the good TWE! Colour: white wine. Nose: fine, rather grassy at first, with a mineral side and quite some grapefruits and white peaches. The fruits are having the upper hand after just thirty seconds. Refreshing, good. Mouth: indeed, good and refreshing, with a bitter kind of maltiness that I always enjoy, and little custardy notes. So I find it rather bright. Finish: medium, with a little ginger and juniper this time, as well as orange drops. Comments: it’s young and fair. Sure not £80.55-fair, but fair. The Suntory ‘Royal’ has much more happening. SGP:551 - 75 points.

Kurayoshi ‘Pure Malt’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016)

Kurayoshi ‘Pure Malt’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016) Two stars and a half A new brand only for Japan so far, by sake makers Matsui in Tottori, south of Honshu, with perhaps some Scottish whiskies inside, as well as, perhaps, some White Oak, which cannot be bad. Not too sure, only rumours… Colour: gold. Nose: starts well, on sweet oak and a good maltiness that’s quite Japanese, then goes toward porridge and fresh baguette, before some rather lovely whiffs of spearmint and, perhaps, kombucha tea come out. Nice simple nose. Mouth: starts smooth and rounded, with some vanilla and ripe white fruits, but tends to become a little oak-bitter. Slightly plank-ish, I’d say, but good otherwise. Finish: medium, well balanced, pleasant… Not much else to say. Comments: reminds of the first naked Arrans. SGP:441 - 78 points.

Kurayoshi ‘Sherry Cask’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016)

Kurayoshi ‘Sherry Cask’ (43%, OB, Japan, Matsui, blended malt, +/-2016) Two stars and a half Aged in sherry casks ‘for more than three years’, which is very reassuring. Colour: gold. Nose: a slightly bigger version, with the expected raisins and toasted brioches and breads. We’re rather in Founder’s Reserve territories, to give you an idea. Quite gentle so far, and well balanced. Mouth: a good drop for sure, with oranges at first, then more orange blossom water, oriental pastries, earl grey, those sorts of things. Finish: medium, all on orange-y things. Comments: I enjoy this little one. It’s fresh, it’s easy, and it’s well made. Good for summer, which is timely, isn’t it? SGP:541 - 79 points.

We’ll have older Kurayoshis soon. In the mean time…

Reki ‘Pure Malt’ (40%, OB, Japan, Helios, blended malt, +/-2017)

Reki ‘Pure Malt’ (40%, OB, Japan, Helios, blended malt, +/-2017) Three stars Helios, on Okinawa, are rather known for their rums. Apparently, this mysterious whisky is distributed by the Sapporo brewery, which leads some good people to believe that the content doesn’t entirely come from the distillery on Okinawa. Who knows? What’s sure is that the blue glass bottle is lovely (if a bit Haig Club). Colour: gold. Nose: noses a little Scottish indeed. Some fat maltiness, sourdough, a touch of mineral sulphur (sulphur as in sulphur), some rather aromatic herbs, rubbed lovage, a touch of natural rubber, hints of tangerine… This one sure talks. Mouth: it talks indeed, and I like it quite a lot. An excellent surprise! Malt and oranges first, then cassata, orange cake, baklavas, a lot of custard this time, and an interesting lemony spiciness. Melissa water. Big mouth feel at just 40% vol. Finish: medium, very pleasantly honeyed this time. Some tar in the aftertaste. Comments: surprise surprise, while I wasn’t expecting much. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Okayama (40%, OB, Japan, Miyashita, single malt, +/-2017)

Okayama (40%, OB, Japan, Miyashita, single malt, +/-2017) Two stars and a half Miyashita are well-known sake makers, but they also have a small whisky production, that’s mainly distributed by Japanese general stores Isetan but you can find them in Europe too. It seems that they are/were very expensive. This one was matured for 3 years in brandy casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: now that I’ve written about sake, I’m finding sake. Am I dreaming? Some very fresh sweetish beer(ness) and honeysuckle, gooseberries, and guavas. Another one that seems to be very refreshing… Mouth: weiss beer, custard, a lot of white chocolate (really a lot, it’s almost Easter), and perhaps a little syrup. Rhubarb wine. Intriguing (as they say at Scotland Yard). Finish: medium, with some vanilla and coconut from the wood, as well as a touch of ginger. Comments: quite ‘different’, and quite to my liking, although it may need a little ice. SGP:551 - 79 points.

Akashi 5 yo ‘Cognac Cask’ (55%, OB, Japan, White Oak, single malt, 2017)

Akashi 5 yo ‘Cognac Cask’ (55%, OB, Japan, White Oak, single malt, 2017) Four stars and a half A new one from White Oak Distillery, matured in ex-Limousin oak (so French oak) Cognac casks. You may find it in Europe but it’s extremely expensive, north of 200€. Colour: gold. Nose: haven’t I mentioned Arran before? Vanilla, brioche, cakes, well a pastry shop early in the morning, when everything’s still warm. Some leaves as well, broken branches, a touch of humus… In short, all fine. With water: interesting, cut stems and leaves, green tea, caraway, dried rose petals… Mouth (neat): yeah, very very good. Gingerbread, muesli, mulled white wine, wholegrain bread, rye, dried apples (slices), touches of caraway, star anise, cinnamon… Love this. With water: love this even more. An utterly perfect breadiness. Finish: quite long, wonderfully bready and spicy. Comments: if you will, it’s going towards Westland, just across the ocean. While Westland, in my book… SGP:451 - 89 points.

Good, we’ve had a fair share, and will have many more in the very near future. But I’m asking you, could we end this little tour of new Japan without a Chichibu? And not just any Chichibu, mind you…

Chichibu 2009/2017 ‘Metropolis’ (61.4%, OB, Japan, single malt, for Zoetrope, bourbon barrel, 196 bottles)

Chichibu 2009/2017 ‘Metropolis’ (61.4%, OB, Japan, single malt, for Zoetrope Bar, bourbon barrel, 196 bottles) Five stars It seems that this is the oldest Chichibu to date! It was bottled this year for the famous Zoetrope bar in Shinjuku. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ouch, solvent! Let’s let it breathe a wee bit… zzz zzz… oh wow! Mandarine Impériale and citron liqueur, that’s quite something. And some rye, a touch of lavender essence, violets (not FWP, by Jove!), lemon/ginger tea, orange-flavoured custard… With water: that field of mature barley rippling under a light breeze while you hear a distant bagp… I mean koto. Mouth (neat): amazing, very thick and oily, ridden with all kinds of small citrus fruits (bergamots, kumquats (the Dutch’s favourite), clementines)… With water: the best part. Citrons! Finish: citrons for a long time, plus gingerbread and honeydew. Ginger, turmeric and ginseng in the aftertaste. Comments: there’s one aspect that always strikes me in any Chichibu, whether peated or not, it’s precision. Another luminous example… (and good to check, once again, that they got it right from the start). SGP:651 - 90 points.

(With herzlichen Dank to Chris at Sushi + Soul in Munich)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Japanese whiskies I've tasted so far






Whiskyfun's Home
Whiskyfun's Facebook page Whiskyfun's Twitter page Whiskyfun's RSS feed