Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mizuwari Death Match

The Mizuwari Death Match is a no-holds-barred, mano-a-mano challenge contest to decide the best mizuwari whisky in Japan. Basically, it is intended as a bit of light relief from my pretentious write-ups of expensive single malts. A lot of the cheap Japanese whiskies are intended to be drunk in mizuwaris, so why not find out which ones taste best?

To qualify to challenge the current champion, a whisky must cost no more than Suntory`s standard yellow label Kakubin blend, currently 1359 yen for 700 ml. As I say, it is no holds barred, so all manner of dastardly moves will decide the winner: taste, smell, look, price, "coolness factor" etc.. The winner becomes the new champion and must defend his crown, or rather his boater, against all-comers.

Match recordMay 17, 2007: Torys (inaugural champion) vs. Yellow Label Kakubin (challenger). Torys wins.
May 27, 2007: Torys (champion) vs. Red Suntory Whisky (challenger). Torys wins.
July 25, 2007: Torys (champion) vs. Nikka Black (challenger). Black takes it.
October 14, 2007: Nikka Black (champion) vs. Nikka Black mizuwari in a can (challenger). Nikka Black retains the boater.

Choice of the boater
I had thought of making the Mizuwari "crown" an old Japanese kabuto (warrior`s helmet) like this one. It seemed to have a suitably traditional Japanese, death matchy quality, but then my over literalness got the better of me and I got to thinking that, if "traditional" was what was needed, then surely it should have some relevance to Japanese whisky history. At the dawn of Japanese whisky drinking, at the start of the 20th century, nobody but museum exhibits was wearing kabuto in Japan. The men were all wearing boaters or fedora or bowler hats:

Crowds at Shinagawa station escaping the Kanto earthquake, 1923
(the year that Yamazaki, Japan's first whisky distillery, was started).

They fight for the Mizuwari Death Match Boater.

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