Google Kanosuke and Shizuoka

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

February 28, 2023


New Japan in February, Kanosuke and Shizuoka


Shizuoka Distillery (photograph Shizuoka)


I think it is not exactly obvious that the Shizuoakas will crush the Kanosukes (the new darlings), not at all. Kanosuke was started in 2018 in Kagoshima, under the guidance of shochu (and sake I would believe) maker Komasa Jyozo. The better known Shizuoka Distillery was founded one year earlier and is located near the coast, somewhat between Tokyo and Nagoya. They're famous for their dazzling first new makes and for their main coup, which was to buy all three Karuizawa stills, even if only one was in working order.



Kanosuke 'Limited Edition 2022' (59%, OB, Japan, single malt)

Kanosuke 'Limited Edition 2022' (59%, OB, Japan, single malt) Four stars
We love this wee piece of advice, 'Enjoy the flavour as it lingers on your palate, like the sun setting slowly over the East China Sea'. We'll try! I'll add that we also loved 2021's First Edition BTW (WF 87). Colour: gold. Nose: rather on sour bread and walnuts at first, with unexpected notes of ripe strawberries in the background. Whiffs of old wine cellar (or a Jerezian bodega) and very fragrant lilies. It's a little restless and is moving rather a lot between those strawberries and old dunnage, let's add water. With water: very fermentary now. Artisan sour ale, fermenting fruits of all kinds (especially plums), more damp old wood, a touch of stewed bok choy, old mimolette cheese, leek, aniseed and caraway… This is almost more food than whisky (but whisky is food, S.!) Mouth (neat): pretty heavy, with a lot of marmalade and pickled ginger, fresh turmeric, peppered cranberry sauce (would you pass the grouse) and leather. With water: rather less leathery, and more on sweet oranges, orange drops, easy marmalade, allspice… Finish: rather long, and gentler and easier yet, which is exactly not what happens with most whiskies that are getting drier. Now the aftertaste is very peppery. Comments: rough, tough and extremely good. Rather a fighter. I'm having the brighter 2021 ex-bourbon on the side and first thought it was superior, but in the end, I find them similarly excellent.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Shizuoka 'Pot Still W 100% Imported Barley First Edition' (55.5%, OB, Japan, single malt, 5,000 bottles, 2022)

Shizuoka 'Pot Still W 100% Imported Barley First Edition' (55.5%, OB, Japan, single malt, 5,000 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
So not one of the 'Prologues' anymore. This one from the still that's direct-fired with wood. I like it that they would write about the origin of their barley, shouldn't the Scots do the same? Game? Colour: gold. Nose: starts with fresh paint, fresh putty and garden smoke, goes on with rather a lot of shoe and metal polishes. Lanolin, grapefruit zests, touches of sage, lovage and parsley, old-school embrocations, a feeling of UHU glue (our favourite brand), marzipan… With water: a pile of magazines. Lovely ink, carbolineum, new sweater (say Uniqlo while we're at it)… Mouth (neat): excellent, rather fat, much simpler on the palate, and yet no less good. Lemon, peat, glue. With water: the magic of good bourbon wood on good peat, which generates perfect citrus, as often seen on Islay. Perfect carving. Finish: long, a tad spicier. Excellent citrus once again, orange wine (I mean wine made out of oranges), tiny salty touch… Comments: a devilish malt, it's not often that this happens. Wonderful, pure simplicity.

SGP:666 - 89 points.

Back to Kanosuke…

Kanosuke 2019 'Sushi + Soul Owners Cask' (50%, OB, Japan, 2022)

Kanosuke 2019 'Sushi + Soul Owners Cask' (50%, OB, Japan, 2022) Four stars and a half
I would believe Sushi + Soul in Munich is the place in Europe where you could try the widest range of new J-whiskies. I haven't tasted their sushi yet (I'm not sure they would travel well, ha) but I will as soon as I can bring my Lederhosen back to lovely Munich. Oans, zwoa, drei… Colour: amber. Nose: hey hey, preserved peaches! And tarte tatin, all-flower honey, mango jam, the freshest nougat and many dried figs. Pure, integral pleasures on the nose, at times it reminds me of the best Amruts. With water: peaches in syrup, a little saffron, honeys, mirabelle jam… Mouth (neat): fab. Pinot Gris SGN (or Grauburgunder Trockenbeerenauslese), figs and raisins, dates, fudge and a very tiny amount of pencil shavings. With water: the cask was super, there's some wonderful cedarwood, a drop of raspberry liqueur, apricot liqueur, then some tighter citrus, blood oranges, a drop of first-class rum agricole (like Neisson)…  Finish: long, extremely well balanced. Honey and pepper. Comments: breaking news, the stunning Shizuoaka W did not crush it at all!
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Some peaters again, please…

Shizuoka 2020/2021 (61.3% OB, Japan, wooden fired still, for Kuma, No Whisky, cask #2020-647) Four stars
No picture that I could find. You're exactly right, this is not whisky, but at least it is (barely) one year old. Let's do this one quick. Colour: light gold. Nose: good fun, with litres of ammonia, acetone, black olives and fermenting bananas. An acetic side for sure. With water: yeast and glues, rotting oranges, cloves, mulled wine… Mouth (neat): acids, varnish, overripe fruits of all kinds, glue, varnish… With water: very sour, with a lot of lime juice and always a lot of varnish, paint, paraffin, rhubarb… Finish: long, very sour and full of smoke and good chemicals. See what I mean. Massive almonds and cherries in the aftertaste, amaretti... Comments: a spectacular JPS (do they use the wording Japanese Plain Spirit?) I could really sip this smoked and varnished Japanese mezcal. Was the very acetic profile caused by the use of Pinnacle yeast?
SGP:576 - 87 points.

Shizuoka 2018/2022 'Chagata Park' (64.8%, OB, Japan, peated cask, bourbon, cask #215)

Shizuoka 2018/2022 'Chagata Park' (64.8%, OB, Japan, peated cask, bourbon, cask #215) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: not much peat, rather some gentle yet firm bourbonness, with some vanilla, bananas, apples and acacia honey. Some kind of smoky pepper in the distance, but as soon as water will be added, I'm sure everything will change. With water: it's getting more acidic, with the usual lemons, kiwis, rhubarb and granny smith, but all that remains coated with some easier honey. Mouth (neat): ah good! But really too strong for me, I'll need my tastebuds again before the end of the year. With water: quality medium peat, as I understand it this is some unpeated malt matured in an ex-peater cask, so in-cask blending. Not sure anyone's done much rinsing out here. Finish: long, well balanced, good. Comments: surely, totally excellent, it's just that I find it a little tiring that so many new-cat Distilleries, all over the world, would make use of so many 'peated casks' these days. PX, STR, Peated. Easy.

SGP:565 - 87 points.

(Vielen Dank again, Chris at Sushi + Soul in Munich!)

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