Showing posts with label Japanese Single Malt Whisky Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese Single Malt Whisky Review. Show all posts

Miyagikyo 10 Years Review - Fujikai 10 Years Review


“Malts of the Rising Sun”

Whisky Review # 729

Country: Japan
Region: Sendai - Northern Japan
Brand: Miyagikyo
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 10 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45%
Maturation: Not Available. I would think a mix of Bourbon and Sherry casks.
Chill Filtration: Information Not Available. Probably: Yes
Price Range: US$ 150-200 (May 2018) - Discontinued in 2015
Buying Advice: 😃 Very nice Single Malt. 😡 Negative P/Q ratio.

Colour

Golden Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Based on the Nose, I suspect some Mizunara casks were used as well. They provide this extra element you only find in Japanese Whiskies. The Sherry Wood is noticeable as well. I find most Japanese Single Malts quite pleasant on the Nose and this Miyagikyo is no exception although it does show its relative youth. The Nose is Light, Sweet, Fruity and Floral. It's kinda like a Bourbon matured in Sherry casks. The Alcohol is nicely integrated.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butterkekse (German Butter Biscuits), Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Yeast, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Dates, Plum Jam, Apple, Banana, Pineapple, Peach, Blueberry Muffins, Orange and Lemon Peel, Nuts (Hazelnut, Cashew), Oak Char, Floral Soap and Cinnamon.      
      
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Grass, Hay, Caffe Latte, Milk Chocolate, Polished Leather, Dusty Road, Aniseed, Pepper, Wood Glue and Mint. 

Palate:

Bitter Sweet, a bit Sour, Herbal and Dry. A combination of Fruity, Floral, Herbal and Spicy Flavours.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit (Raisins and Prunes), Banana, Pear, Apple, Yeast, Sherry, Orange and Lemon Peel, Charred Oak, Grapes (Wine) Herbal Tea, Cinnamon, Pepper, Licorice and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Almonds, Honey, Milk Chocolate, Caffe Latte, Floral Soap, Dusty Road, Tobacco, Leather, Ginger, Blackberry Muffins and Coconut Milk.

Finish:

Middle-Long. Sweet and Sour. A certain Bitterness arrives towards the dry end. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Grass, Pineapple, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Apple, Pear, Grapes (Wine), Sherry, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Charred Oak, Honey, Dusty Road, Caffe Latte, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Aniseed, Licorice and Mint. A very faint hint of Smoke and a light Metallic note pop up after a few minutes.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample I only tasted this Miyagikyo neat. 

Rating: 85.5 

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21.5    

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Miyagikyo distillery (Nikka Group) was founded in 1969. In 2015 Nikka discontinued the entire Miyagikyo range (including the 10 Y). It was replaced by one new NAS Expression only.

It's a shame that a lot of Japanese whiskies have become a caricature of their former selves of late due to the high demand. The result: A tsunami of NAS Malts at an absurd price level. Because the Miyagikyo 10 Years shows that Japan can produce very nice Vintage Malts at reasonable prices. This specific Single Malt combines some Bourbon and Speyside elements and although the Malt could have done with a few extra years in the cask, the end result is quite pleasant, especially on the Nose. If this type of Japanese Single Malt would be priced at say 70 US Dollars, it would be a regular in my cabinet. As it stands I fear we have to wait until the hype is over and reason returns to the Malts of the Rising Sun.



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Whisky Review # 730

Country: Japan
Brand: Fujikai
Type: Single Malt Whisky 
Age: 10 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: Information not available. Probably Yes.  
Price Range: US$ 60-80 (May 2018)
Buying Advice: 😱😷😡 I'm not sure it's good enough to clean your toilet! 

Colour

Dark Gold/Copper (Probably Artificially Coloured).  

Nose:

Very different to say the least. My first, I admit strange, impression was walking into a bicycle repair shop. Sweaty Feet in new running shoes. Not your regular Single Malt Aromas! Quite Sweet and Dusty! This has little to do with Whisky I'm afraid.

Main Aromas:

Adhesive for Bicycle Tires, Glue, Plastic, Acetone, Sweat, Wet Paper, Buttered Toast, Yeast, Toasted Cereals, Plum Obstler (German Fruit Liqueur), Begonias or other House Plants, Dusty Straw and Mint.      

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Pine Needles, Gasoline/Diesel, Salted Caramel, Rotting Vegetables, Vanilla, Worn Leather, Dusty Cellar, Saw Dust, Sour/Rotten Apple, Lemon, Cheap Grappa, Coal Char and Iron.  

Palate:

The Nose was strange but the Palate is rather Nasty. Bitter-Sweet, Sour, Dusty, Musty, Harsh and Dry. 

Main Flavours:

Dirty Factory Smoke, Dirty Earth, Ashed, Rubber, Plastic, Gasoline/Diesel, Tar, Acetone, Cheap Grappa, Rusty Metal, Decomposing Plants/Vegetables, Salted Caramel, Burnt Herbs, Oak Char and Pepper.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Sour Apple, Walnuts, Nutshells, Vanilla, Lemon, Sugared Tea and perhaps a hint of Nutmeg.

Finish:

Nasty, Middle-Long, Sharp, Bitter-Sweet, Metallic and Dry. I find Dirty Factory Smoke, Diesel, Plastic, Rubber, Dirty Earth, Cheap Grappa, Pepper, Nutshells, Rotting Wood, Burnt Cereals, Licorice, Aniseed, Walnuts and a hint of Vanilla and Sour Apple.  

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and that is a slight improvement. Still I'm glad the Tasting Session is concluded. The remaining half of the sample will go to the kitchen sink I'm afraid. 

Rating: 56    

Nose: 15 - Taste: 14  - Finish: 13 - Overall: 14     

Drinking Experience:

Horrible! 

Conclusion:

The Monde Shuzo distillery was founded in 1952 in Fuefuki, close to Mount Fuji. It produces mostly wine but recently got into a bit of Whisky (Isawa) as well. Riding on the Wave without any doubt. The Fujikai 10 Years is a limited edition of around 8.800 bottles and is distributed by Whiskies du Monde from France. It is not known when this whisky has been distilled.

The bottle is nice. It doesn't look like a Whisky bottle though and that is telling! I must indeed conclude that this has nothing to do with Whisky. At best you could compare it with a very cheap Grappa or Plum Liqueur. Although the latter two might feel abused when I make the comparison. The Fujikai 10 Years is just a horrible excuse for a Whisky. The Nose was very different and in a strange way even remotely interesting. But Palate and Finish are a disaster. This is one of the 4 worst Whiskies I have ever tasted. It's also only the second time that I threw half of the sample in the sink. We can only hope and pray that excesses like this will in the end contribute to a better balance of supply and demand in the Japanese Whisky industry. Kanpai!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     May 14, 2018

Yamazaki Puncheon Review


“Rebel Rebel”

Country: Japan
Brand: Yamazaki Puncheon
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Bottled in 2013, the final year of the Cask Collection Series)
ABV: 48 % 
Chill-Filtration: No  

Colour: Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Edgy, Sweet, Floral and Fruity. The Alcohol is quite present. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Croissant, Breakfast Cereals, Wax, Heather-Honey, Grass, Straw, Vanilla, Assorted Fruit Flavoured Candies, Banana Ice Cream, Charred Oak, Plum - and Peach Marmalade, Lemon and Cinnamon. It's not bad but there's a slight Artificial feel to it. I also miss a bit of Balance. It's almost like Oak and Spirit are fighting each other in stead of living together in Harmony. 

Palate: Without any doubt the most Aggressive Palate of all the Japanese Single Malts I've tasted so far. The Alcohol, Oak and Spices are quite dominant. I also find Sweet Barley, Buttered Pastry, Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Plums, Citrus, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves and Ginger. Sour White Grapes towards the end. 

Finish: Medium-Long, Sweet and Spicy with a Sour, Medium Dry Finish. I find Sweet Barley, Milky Way Candy Bar, Vanilla, Ginger Ale, Butter, Apple Juice, Sour White Grapes, Alcohol, Lemon, Pepper, Cinnamon and Nutmeg. A light Metallic-like off-note after a while.

Even with added Water, the Alcohol on the Nose remains strong. More Floral - and Malty notes pop up. Closer to Speyside now. Palate and Finish do not benefit from the added Water. Especially the Finish becomes a little Rough, Bitter-Sweet and Sour. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 83

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5


General Remarks: The first malt whisky distillery in Japan was constructed by the Suntory Founder Shinjiro Torii in 1923 in the Yamazaki Valley close to the city of Kyoto. The place was chosen because its water, soil and climate were similar to Scotland. It was the first distillery of this kind outside Scotland and it used copper pot stills. Today the Suntory Yamazaki is the most popular Single Malt in Japan and it is exported to more than 25 countries. Since 1972 Suntory is importing its malted barley from Scotland and Australia. The spirit for this Yamazki Puncheon matures in Ex-Bourbon Puncheons of 480 litres made of American White Oak instead of the regular Hogsheads that contain 230 litres. 
As a result it matures slightly slower as there is less Wood contact. It's not cheap and its price varies between 125 and 300 US Dollars, depending on the location. The average price lies around 150 US Dollars (March 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: It's a very interesting Japanese Single Malt. There's little "Hibiki" or Harmony to be found here. It's a bit Edgy here and there but it certainly shows character. On the other hand it's not very complicated. Despite the fact that I get traces of various Aromas and Flavours, the Wood, Vanilla and Spices are the main Drivers of this Yamazaki accompanied by Floral and Fruity notes. On the Palate and in the Finish I find it slightly on the Sour side and that's not quite to my taste. It's a bit of a Rebel among the Japanese Single Malts and I like that! It's way too expensive though for what it offers. But so is all Japanese whisky at this point in time. Still, it's a pity that the Puncheon has been discontinued. It has guts! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                   March 31, 2016

Hakushu 12 Years Review


“A Walk in the Forest on a Foggy Day”

Country: Japan
Brand: Hakushu 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 43 %
Happy Hour Retirement Jan
Colour: Light Gold

Happy Hour Retirement Jan

Nose: Earthy, Floral, Malty and Mineral. The Alcohol is quite strong at first so you have to Nose your way around it carefully. In any case give it sufficient time in the glass. I find Sweet Barley, Fresh Cut Grass and Hay, Wax, Soap, Syrup, light Honey, Nougat, Plants, Nuts, Oak, Dried Fruits (Raisins), Orchard Fruit, Lemon, Margarine and light Pepper. The Nose is as Green as the Bottle. And underneath it all I find a light Medicinal Smoke. It's like taking a walk in a forest on a foggy day.

Happy Hour Retirement Jan

Palate: Bitter-Sweet, Young and slightly Edgy with Pear, Green Apple, Grass, Herbal Tea, Wax, Toast, Margarine, Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Lemon Zest, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Mint, light Honey, Floral tones, light Smoke, Oak, Grapes and Grappa.

Happy Hour Retirement Jan

Finish: Medium long, Bitter-Sweet and Dry with Ice Tea Lemon, Wax, Syrup, Pepper, Cardamom, Ginger, Oak, Mint, light Smoke and light Honey.

Happy Hour Retirement Jan

With added Water, the Nose gets more Lemon, Wax, Soap and Malt. On the Palate I find some Tropical Fruit like Pineapple and Kiwi. But the Finish becomes too Thin. Still, there's room to play with a couple of drops.

Rating: 82

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

The Hakushu Distillery, a Giant Hidden in the Forest!

General Remarks: The Hakushu Distillery was founded in 1973 and is located in a forest on the slopes of Mount Kaikoma in the Toribara district of the city of Hokuto, around 120 km west of Tokyo. The area is also known as Japan's Southern Alps. In 1981 a large expansion took place, now called Hakushu East while the original site is now known as Hakushu West. The Distillery has 8 pairs of Stills at the moment and is owned by the Suntory Group. Most of the Spirit production goes into the Suntory Blends. Four Single Malts are part of the core range as well, namely the NAS Distiller's Reserve, the 12 Years, the 18 Years and the 25 Years. The Hakushu 12 Years is made with both lightly peated and unpeated Malt and matures in Ex-Bourbon Casks (mostly Hogsheads) and some Ex-Sherry Casks. The 12 Years sells at an average 75 US Dollars. I received a bottle of the 12 Years as a Goodbye Present from my closest colleagues during a Happy Hour offered to me on account of my retirement. As you can see I have added a few pictures of the event. It was a great evening! In fact it was great working with this fantastic group of people for so many years. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for the great time we had together. We'll be in touch!

Some of the Stills at Hakushu

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: The Hakushu 12 Years Smells and Tastes much younger than its actual age. The high location of the Distillery will likely be responsible for that as Whisky matures slower in high altitudes and low temperatures. Unlike its big brother, the Yamazaki, the Hakushu only slightly resembles Scottish Single Malt. It really has its own characteristics. It's Fresh, Light, Clean and very Floral. The Smoke is Ultra-Light but nevertheless forms an important part of the Flavour Profile. If you are a regular Scotch drinker I would advise you to try a sample first before deciding to buy a full bottle. Personally i found that the Hakushu 12 Years grew on me over the last few days. Once I got familiar with the Aromas and Flavours I found myself wanting to take another sip. The Hakusku 12 may not be the preferred Single Malt for everybody but it certainly stands out as remarkable in the Forest of Whiskies that's out there today. 

Jan van den Ende                                                          December 17, 2014

Happy Hour Retirement Jan