Tag Archives: Japanese

Yamazaki Sherry Cask notes and review: Best whisky in the world? Really?

Tomorrow is the last day of 2014 and it will be the day of the year summary post so today, we’ll take a look at one semi-controversial whisky: Yamazaki Sherry Cask.

jm2015_smallWhy is it controversial? Because a guy with a panama hat selected the latest revision (2013) as the best whisky in the world in his best seller “Whisky Bible 2015” book.

Now, Mr. Murray isn’t a newcomer to controversial selections as many eyebrows were also raised upon his selections in the last 2 years with Glenmorangie Ealanta and Thomas H Handy Sazerac 2011.

So, as a whisky geek, I was very curious to taste this whisky (of course ) and see what’s all the fuss is about. Thanks to a friend (Thanks again Manny!), I managed to taste it along with Michael (See his review on Malt and Oak blog).

But before I diving into the tasting notes allow me to say that I’m a firm believer that whisky tastes and opinions are subjective. Each one has different taste buds, different set of senses, different past experience and you just cannot take ones selection and adopt it to yourself and not expect some fissures and disagreements between his notes and ranking and your own.

Frankly, my theory is that this selection was consciously done to provoke the public and to raise a discussion in the whisky community and the Scottish distilleries, and of course, to sell more books.

Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2009 (48%, NAS)

yamazaki sherry cask 2009Nose: Fresh wood polish and color with vinegary sherry and sour berries. Then comes huge sweet concentrated plums and hints of pepper and exotic spices. Continue reading


Whisky Review – Hibiki 17

It was a very embarrassing day in the BTC 2014 competition as I scored zero points, again… So I have the urge to run away from it to the other side of the world. too bad that I cannot do that so instead I’ll settle for reviewing something different. How about we review a Japanese whisky and not a single malt but a blend?

Hibiki 17 is the mid range expression in the Hibiki blends line up from Suntory which also produce Yamazaki and Hakushu whiskies.

Hibiki 17 (43%, £89 / €115)

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Whisky Review – SMWS 131.2 Magic Carpet in a Sweetie Shop (Hanyu)

This is the 2nd post with the tasting notes of The Hanyo SMWS 131.2 Magic Carpet in a Sweetie Shop. I’ve tasted it online in Tweet Tasting event with a group of friends who bought and shared a duo of excellent Japanese whiskies from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The story behind this one is detailed in the previous post on the SMWS 132.2 dram right here.

Hanyu SMWS 131.2 Magic Carpet in a Sweetie Shop (55.1%, 646 bottles, first fill ex-sherry)

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Whisky Review – SMWS 132.2 Stunning panorama of exotic fruits (Karuizawa)

It’s good to have friends who shares with you the same whisky passion as you do. A while ago, November 2013, the SMWS released a duo of rare Japanese whiskies from closed distilleries just in time for Christmas shopping rush:

132.2 (Karuizawa) – Stunning Panorama of Exotic Fruits.  22yo refill sherry, 335 bottles, 62.4% (!)

131.2 (Hanyu) – Magic Carpet in a Sweetie Shop.  13yo first fill sherry, 646 bottles, 55.1%

Continue reading

Whisky Review – Mars Maltage ‘KOMAGATAKE’ 22 yo

One of the popular posts so far on this blog is the one on Mars Maltage Komagatake 10. A while ago, Dave (of The Whisky Dramalista) who is a whisky friend of mine saw it and mentioned he has the Komagatake 22 yo, so of course I wanted to taste it and compare it head to head with the 10 yo I own, so a samples swap was executed. Thanks Dave!

Unlike the 10 yo which is an integral part of the distillery core offering, the Mars Komagatake 22yo is limited edition of 1359 bottles from a vatting of two American White Oak casks (#1042 and #1039), an ex-sherry cask (#384) and a refill (ex-Scotch) cask (#481).

So how is the 22 yo compares to the 10 yo? Continue reading

Whisky Review – Isawa 1983 Vintage

Like the 2 previous posts, we’re still in Japan, but this time, it’s from my tasting notes notebook.

Last summer I took part in the Dramming.com Freestyle Blind Tasting contest (which of course, I utterly failed and probably finished last :-\ ). This one was mark in blue and I guessed it to be the standard J&B…

but the correct answer was ‘Isawa 1983 Vintage’. Of course I never heard on this whisky (distillery and brand),  so I had to use Google here 🙂

Isawa is the name of the single malt produced at Monde Shuzo wine company at their Monde Shuzo distillery. This 1983 vintage is their first official bottling, although now they other bottlings available such as ‘Isawa Standard’ (NAS) and ‘Isawa 10yo’. and the bottle itself is a unusual 660ml sized bottle.

So what did I think of this one back then?

Isawa 1983 Vintage (NAS, 43% ABV, £85)

Isawa 1983 vintageNose: Unusual nose. mostly wet cardboard & wood, resin, vanilla is hiding there too, tobacco

Palate: Wet wood & cardboard, cigar smoke & ashes, bitter spices. Ugh.

Finish: Medium length, woody notes, bitter spices

Conclusion: Disliked it (and I’m gentle here…), coarse and not to my liking. some says this is special, but for me it was special bad. It was the least liked one in the blind tasting competition. It’s a one time experience and it should stay so.

Whisky Review – Ichiro’s Malt Wine Wood Reserve

We’re staying in Japan and move on to the next whisky I recently bought. This time we’re drinking Ichiro’s Malt Wine Wood Reserve.

This is a blend of pure malts from Hanyu distillery which were matured in french oak barrels that contained red wine, vatted and bottled in Chichibu distillery.

Ichiro’s Malt Wine Wood Reserve (NAS, 46% ABV, 5,680 yen – around $57)

Ichiro's Malt - Wine Wood ReserveNose: Starts with strong red wine notes, oak wood. Later more red fruits & berries then wine, dark chocolate. Later some orange flavours shows up. Very rich nose!

Palate: Tingling sensation at first, then wood, spicy with peppery edge, nuts, chocolate, red fruits. Not exactly wine influenced.

Finish: Quite long. Malty, stays hot spicy with peppers, bittersweet with long fading gentle wood notes.

Conclusion: The wine impact is very strong on the nose but it’s more of sherry notes on the palate. Overall, it’s a very nice whisky of high quality, fitting as end of dinner dram.

Whisky Review – Mars Maltage ‘KOMAGATAKE’ 10 yo

Seems like we’re going on a short world tour of Whisky. Last week I’ve tasted 3 Canadian whiskies and now we move on to Japan.

My parents went on a trip to Japan 2 months ago and I jumped all over this opportunity and with the help of Stefan from Tokyo Whisky Hub I’ve managed to purchase some bottles to be delivered to my parents in Tokyo (Thanks again Stefan!).

I’ll review this week 2 of those bottles and we’ll start with Mars Maltage ‘KOMAGATAKE’ 10 yo.

This whisky is produced in one the least-known single malt producer in japan – Mars distillery. The distillery is located at Miyata village in Nagano. The village resides 800m above sea level, and the water used to produce the whisky passes through granite rock and is high in natural minerals.

I’ve used this whisky as the blind dram I sent out in the #TheDramOGram twitter tasting event. Poor Danny didn’t have a chance 🙂

So how does it taste?

Mars Maltage ‘KOMAGATAKE’ (10 yo, 40% ABV, 4,500 yen – around $35)

Mars Maltage Komagatake 10 yoNose: Initial burst alcohol but then becomes gentle, strong fruity notes – pears, peach, apricots, red berries. Vanilla and some oak wood. It’s fruit sweet but also have a strong undercurrent of spices and weak metal note

Palate: Much less fruity and less gentle then the nose – it starts with strong wood, malt and slight vanilla notes, some of it dissipate and spices comes to the front. Barely fruits showing here and that’s a pity.

finish: Medium length. Malt and spices stays for quite a while.

Conclusion: Not a bad single malt. Too bad that’s the lovely fruity notes on the nose didn’t follow through to the palate but overall it’s nice evening dram on spring/autumn day.