Thursday, April 28, 2011

Distilleries reopen for visitors

Just a brief note to say that Miyagikyo Distillery, which was in the area hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, reopened to visitors on 27th April. Suntory, which runs the Hakushu and Yamazaki distilleries, has also resumed its distillery tours, which had been suspended after the quake (sorry for not informing readers about that). While we are on resurgent distiller news, it is also worth noting the Hakushu in the Park event at Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi between April 29 and May 15.
Doff of the cap to Nicholas Coldicott on Twitter for the news about the Suntory tours

Saturday, April 23, 2011

White Oak Crown Blended Whisky

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:
White Oak Crown Blended Whisky (from Eigashima.) 43 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Honey, toffee apple, fresh orange peel, malt, some grassyness and a little oak
Palate: Smooth and creamy, more malty than the nose, hints of chocolate, lemongrass, red grape, honey and some bitterness playing against the sweetness of the honey and chocolate
Finish: Short-medium, with bitter chocolate, red grape, honey and malt dominating.
General comment: Smooth and easy to drink. Well balanced overall.

Genshu Single Cask Yoichi 20-year-old. Cask no. 121940

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:
Genshu Single Cask Yoichi 20-year-old. Cask #121940. 56 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Rich. Lovely toffee/caramel popcorn, Chicos candy, malt, sweet apricots, white chocolate, marshmallows. Then, sweet tobacco and a hint of brine.
Palate: Creamy, chewy toffee, marshmallows, fruit tingles without the tingle. Some ashy dryness in the middle. Then, the white chocolate and sweet tobacco makes a return. Very smooth for 56 per cent.
Finish: Medium length, with a sweet/dry combo of the flavours of the palate. Very nice indeed.

Nikka Pure Malt Tarudashi Whisky Genshu.

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:
Nikka Pure Malt tarudashi whisky genshu. 55.1 per cent alcohol
Nose: Fairly acetone at first, then becomes a little floral. Some pear, soap flakes. There is not a lot going on and what there isn't very pleasing.
Palate: Varnish, red grape, some nuttiness. Quite bitter. Adding water just flattens this further.
Finish: Bitter, a little perfumey. I think this one has OD'd on E-150.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chichibu and Karuizawa distilleries unaffected by Fukushima situation

Further to the couple of posts I have put up trying to address concerns about the affect of the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power (1,2) on Japanese Whisky, No. 1 drinks has done voluntary testing to clear up some facts about the whisky they are importing. In summary, there was no trace of radioactive material in whiskies stored at Chichibu or Karuizawa. I have posted No. 1's press release below. It offers exactly what we need now: facts.



The ongoing situation at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear facility in north-eastern Japan has resulted in confusion regarding the status of Japanese products destined for export to overseas markets. Some countries have temporarily introduced partial bans on the importation of Japanese products, whilst others (including the EU) have brought in the need for testing and certification prior to export.

The situation in Japan remains unclear with the prefectural authorities tasked to issue the required certification not yet fully briefed by central government. To provide reassurance to customers as swiftly as possible, Number One Drinks Company has therefore elected voluntarily to submit samples to a Government-approved testing centre in Japan. Whisky has been taken from each warehouse at every distillery for which Number One Drinks holds exclusive export rights.

Samples were drawn at the beginning of April 2011 and tested over the following few days. The results shown below indicate conclusively that these products have been unaffected by the three radio-nuclides concerned (Iodine 131, Caesium 134 & Caesium 137):

[Distillery - Sample Location - results of tests]

Chichibu - Cask #26 distilled 2008 Chichibu - No radio-nuclides detected (see above)
Hanyu - Cask #1305 2000 Chichibu - No radio-nuclides detected
Karuizawa - Cask #5173 2000 Karuizawa w/house 1 - No radio-nuclides detected
Karuizawa - Cask #7914 1984 Karuizawa w/house 4 - No radio-nuclides detected
Karuizawa - Cask #3653 1984 Karuizawa w/house 8 - No radio-nuclides detected
Kawasaki - Cask #G7451 1982 Chichibu - No radio-nuclides detected

Both Karuizawa and Chichibu distilleries (where stocks of Hanyu and Kawasaki are also stored) are located more than 250 kilometres from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear facility.

David Croll, Tokyo-based Managing Director of Number One Drinks Company (Japan), states: “I hope these test results will go some way to clarifying the situation. We continue to monitor the situation carefully and will work together with the Japanese authorities to facilitate export of these whiskies as the necessary documentation becomes available.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shinshu celebrates resuming distilling

In the midst of the earthquake news, Shinshu distillery appears to have quietly delivered on its promise to resume distilling (previously reported by Nonjatta here).

The Nagano area is a good distance from the main areas hit by the quake, but there has nevertheless been continuous shaking in the Prefecture (as there has been in the Tokyo area, where I live). It seems the staff and their families are OK, and I think production is underway for the first time in years. Good luck to them!

Meanwhile, they are selling a vatted whisky made with spirits from the old Kagoshima distillery and I think at a previous operation in Yamanashi Prefecture . They are calling it "Mars Maltage 3+25." My reading of the information is that the whisky was distilled in Kagoshima and Yamanashi and then matured at the current site in Nagano for 25 years.

The Spirit of Unity

Rarely has a whisky been so well named. "Spirit of Unity" is a blended malt whisky from seven independent Scottish distilleries being sold in support of Japan earthquake relief. At times in recent weeks, the situation over here has felt very dark indeed. Gestures like this from half way around the world have a emotional value in additional to the practical support they will lend the relief effort.

The seven distilleries involved are Arran, BenRiach, Bladnoch, GlenDronach, Mitchell’s Glengyle, Kilchoman and Springbank.

The whisky has not yet been bottled but is on pre-order because the people behind the project want to get money to Japan as soon as possible. In total, there will be 2,000 bottles. 1,200 will be sold in the UK, 600 will go to Japan, and 120 will also be on sale in New Zealand to generate funds for Christchurch earthquake relief. What a wonderfully inspiring gesture!

£59 a bottle.

Available from Royal Mile Whiskies and Loch Fyne Whiskies.
In Japan, I have seen it at these Rakuten stores: Shinanoya (sold out but may be available at branches) and Kawachi.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ichiro's Malt Single Cask #6080 2000

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:
Ichiro's Malt Single Cask #6080 2000 10-year-old. 61 per cent alcohol
Nose: Lovely creaminess. Grand Marnier chocolate liqueur. Smooth beautifully integrated oak. A little walnut and dried pineapple. Exotic incense, teak, the inside of a cigar shop, malt. Then, lots of vanilla, especially when water is added.
Palate: Creamy, nutty, sweet spices, oranges, pine-lime splice (an ice-cream we get in Australia). Water adds a little smoothness and brings the vanilla and malt to the fore, along with fermenting strawberries.
Finish: Long, warming and mouth coating. Lots of sweet wood spices, vanilla and strawberry dough.
Comment: Excellent stuff.

Ichiro's Malt Single Cask #493 1991

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:
Ichiro's Malt Single Cask #493 1991 18-year-old for Takashimaya. 46.5 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Orange infused oak. Lemon. Tinned peaches with chocolate custard. Pine, licorice, devilled eggs, camomile tea. Becomes more fresh and grassy with water.
Palate: Milk chocolate, malted shake, grilled red peppers, hint of coal fire. Water accentuates the maltyness.
Finish: Some bitterness playing against the malty sweetness, along with pine, black pepper and ash.
General comment: Another solid Ichiro's.