Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fuji Gotemba Small Batch Releases: 17yo Malt & 25yo Grain

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo
Fuji Gotemba Distillery seems to have shifted gears as far as new releases is concerned. Fresh on the heels of its Blender’s Choice pair – the grain release of which was awarded Best Japanese Grain Whisky in the World Whiskies Awards 2015 – they are releasing another malt/grain pair. The new release comes in the usual 700ml bottles, but it is significantly more ‘premium’, at least in price. The 17yo Small Batch Malt is priced at 20,000 yen (plus tax); the 25yo Small Batch Grain will go for 30,000 (plus tax).

Bottled at 46% (not vatting strength, unfortunately), this continues the recent allergy to single cask releases among Japanese whisky producers. Whereas, as recently as two years ago, you could purchase a single cask Japanese whisky any day of the week pretty much anywhere in the country, the big boys (Suntory, Nikka and Kirin) seem to have made up their mind that single casks are not worth the hassle and that the smallest they will do is a ‘small batch’ release (vague as that descriptor is). The immediate reaction today of whisky fans in Japan was that both of these Small Batch releases are priced way too high. FB was buzzing with complaints that it is no longer feasible for the average Japanese whisky fan to buy Japanese whiskies.

We’ll evaluate these new whiskies shortly. Here’s hoping the contents merit the hefty price tags!

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