You know when you have become a true anorak when you find yourself chortling loudly over a design of a Taiwanese whisky bottle.
This morning I skipped over to Whiskyfun.com for my daily Scottish to find a distinctly Nonjattaish Japanese character staring right back at me. To be more precise, the character for war! Ikusa!
Now, that is intriguing. Well, intriguing if you have become an incurable Japanese whisky dweeb anyway! Because that bottle is clearly a kakubin, Suntory's iconic turtle shell patterned blended whisky bottle:
The writing on the Ikusa label is in Japanese. The main Ikusa character could well be the same in Chinese, but the writing above it spelling out "Ikusa Whisky" is in hiragana, which is only used in Japanese. All of which sent me into a fit of dorky delight: a Taiwanese whisky called "War" which is apparently playing off the prestige of a famous Japanese brand which traces its history and iconic design back to the immediate pre-war period.
The bellicose name is, incidentally, not something any Japanese company would even think of calling its drink. Evidently, it is something some Taiwanese people, who were a colony of Japan's until 1945, find surprisingly congenial (maybe a bit like a British company selling "Blitz tea" or an Indian "Raj" gin or something?) Ignoring the war reference, there is a beautiful symmetry to all this. Japanese whisky makers were once inveterate and none too scrupulous copiers of other country's brands. What goes around, comes around, don't they say?
Anyway, I contacted Jeffrey Tan of the makers Universal Distiller Product Company. He explained: "We used to cooperate with OKINAWA small distilleries, so the tastes on based on Japanese like, so it show Japanese wards on label, as for the bottle, we tool it our own and based on KAKUBIN, but we adding a handle bar on it, so its totally different with the Suntory. Thanks. Is there anyone interesting in import it ? Feel free to let us know."
IkusaTaiwanese blended whisky
40 Per cent (abv)