Sunday, September 30, 2007

Triple Cask Satsuma 1984 - "Airfix modeling"

Update: New review by Nonjatta contributor Serge Valentin added. Scroll below my review.

Ah, the glue, the glue! One whiff of this whisky sent me right back to my childhood days making Airfix kits of Hurricanes and Spitfires in the tiny top room of our house. Airfix modeling was kind of like the good boy's glue sniffing in those days. I used to squeeze way too much of the solvent based adhesive onto the models, so that it actually melted the wings. The smell in that room with door closed was powerful. I used to come out high.

Once back in the old glue room, I also detected a mown field, greengage plums, a box of travel sweets on this 1984 Satsuma but that may have just been the high. In the mouth, it was predictably boisterous but there was an organised core to the flavour - a well rounded brandy - that made it quite drinkable. Then the solvents kicked back in, like I had licked that glue covered cockpit. Not for the faint hearted but then neither was Airfix modeling.

The 1984 Satsuma is from three casks distilled at Hombo's old Kagoshima distillery in the early 1980s, aged for 20 years in sherry casks and bottled in 2004. As I explain on the Kagoshima page, it is a bit of an oddity and for that reason alone has a certain appeal. In my opinion, it is priced well above its taste bracket but it is definitely worth a tipple if you get the chance.

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Serge Valentin

Visit Serge`s website, the definitive

"Satsuma 20 yo 1984/2004 ‘triple cask’ (55%, OB, casks #1683-1684-1691, 1,752 bottles)
From Kagoshima Distillery, where the last malt was distilled in 1984. Will that be enough to make this one an historical bottling?
Colour: Gold.
Nose: Rather discreet attack on the nose, with a little colza oil, turpentine and whiffs of marzipan plus hints of peat and wood smoke. It gets then seriously grassy (newly cut grass, apple peelings,) and almondy, with just a little pepper in the background. Faint whiffs of camphor. Let’s see what happens with water (reduced to roughly 45% as usual): it got much ashier but the grassiness is still bold. Hints of ‘true’ porridge.
Mouth (neat): a punchy, rawish, fruity and peppery attack but a much weaker middle, which is very strange. Only the pepper and quite a grassiness do remain on your palate. Sometimes a whisky takes off again at the finish but it’s not the case here, as there’s only bitterness left. Maybe water will help: well, not really, it’s still very short – even shorter than a Britney Spears marriage – but the finish is better, with a little salt, lemon and tequila. Not too bad but certainly not first choice if you want to delve into Japanese whisky I think. Japan’s Ladyburn? 73 points." (Serge`s scoring system is explained on this page.)

Reviews by others
Ichiro Akuto reviews this one in Japanese on his blog. He says the nose is marked by a sulphurous, match striking stench. Bakery sweetness and grassy notes on the palate and a powerful burnt barrel finish. He says it is a "crispy malt", using the transliteration from English, but I am not sure precisely what that means in Japanese.

55 per cent
Price (April 2007)
720 ml - 10,000 yen
1,752 bottles
On sale here.
Hombo product page.

(Please note the dates on reviews if they are provided. There may be significant variation between different years of a single malt brand)
The photograph of the Airfix kit comes, with permission, from this web page.


Daniel Mick said...

This is an amazing blog. You have created the definitive English language survey for all things Japanese whisky. I'm amazed at the volume of your material in such a short time and the extent of your research, which is far beyond the cut-and-paste blogging of most.

I couldn't find your email on the page, but I'd love to talk more. I myself am on a whisky exploration, trying a different single malt every week. I teach in Gifu in central Japan. I've been here 2 years.

Btw, Liquor Mountain hands down has the best single malt selection of any non-specialty shop. My local branch has 65+ single malts, though only ~10 are Japanese.


danieljmick @ yahoo dot com

Japanesewhisky said...

Thanks for the kind comments about my blog. I will try out the shop you mentioned. By the way, if you ever try out a Japanese single malt, it would be great if you would add your input to the blog. I would love to make the blog into less of a monologue.

I know Gifu well. A long long time ago, before a 12 year stint as a journalist in England, I did two years teaching in Takayama and used to come down to Gifu almost every weekend.

I have sent you an email but the email is at the bottom of the left hand column, I think.