Sunday, June 20, 2010

White Oak Akashi Single Malt Aged 5 years

Akashi 5yo (right), with Akashi 8yo (centre) and Zoetrope Akashi (left)

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic
White Oak Distillery SM Aged 5 Years. 45 per cent alcohol.
Nose: The colour is honey and the nose follows suit. Is this only 5 years old? No roughness at all! Also soft oak, tinned apricots, pear, treacle and fresh dough. Smooth and balanced.
Palate: Honey and treacle on crumpets, soft oak, pear, dough, nutmeg and ginger.
Finish: Nicely spicy, yet also creamy, with good length. Some mineral-like qualities and lingering.........lingering smoke. Where did that come from?
General Comment: Really fantastic for the age. This is a working distillery so I wish these guys all the best. From what I've tasted they have a big future if they can get their product out and don't go the way of the Dodo.
Extra note: I've had this bottle open now for a few days since writing this review and the smoke that revealed itself on the finish is now starting to on the nose as well. Shared this with my father in law, he wants a bottle next time I order from Japan!

Nonjatta note: Over the next few days I will update the page on the 2007 8-year-old bottling. The 8yo represented the start of Akashi's journey into premium single malts and I understand this 5-year-old will be the standard bottling from the distillery for the next few years, as they try to build up a older stock of whiskies (their previous focus on young whisky for cheaper blends means they do not have a large amount of older matured whisky). The other significant bottling from Akashi at the moment is the Zoetrope independent bottling, which I reviewed a few days ago. As Dramtastic indicates there is also an older bottling expected later this year, but that will be very limited.


Rex said...

Wow what a colour! and for only 5 years.

I dont believe i am familliar with this brand but the design and colour have sold me, this will have to be my next purchase. And always good to support the smaller makers.

I just checked the prices on their website and for 2000Y its very reasonable.

Nonjatta said...

Be careful of judging the colour from the photos. Not sure what light I took that photo in. Looking at it now, it is a straw colour. Also, the packaging does not say anything about being non-coloured (which does not mean it is).

Niels V said...

I just bought a 12 year old Akashi at the Hanshin department store in Umeda, Osaka.

Taking it home to holland with me next week. I'll let you know what I think about it once I'm opening it :)

Nonjatta said...

Look forward to it.

Niels V said...

OK, yesterday I went to the Eigoshima distillery, which produces White Oak and Akashi whiskeys.
The total distillery/brewery is run by about 40 people.

3 of these kind people showed us around most of the complex.
The company works as follows:
In Winter and spring, they make Nihonchu (Sake) and Souchu, in Summer they make Whiskey and some liqueurs. In Autumn they bottle the wine from their Yamanashi wineries.

They have been around since 1898 and have had a distillery license for Whiskey since 1919.
Their actual Whiskey production started only in 1989. They used rather old stills at first, which have, 15 years ago been replaced by 2 nice straight stills.

The Holy Whisky you referred to on the Distillery place is no longer a brand of theirs and was one of the Whiskeys they imported instead of made themselves.

You can clearly see that the people involved with this company love their work, it comes back in all their spirits (At least the ones we go to taste).

Their Kami Take Daigino Nihonchu is great and smooth with a crisp and short finish. Their Mugi Souchu is of the same style.

But on to the important bit...
We got to taste their 5 year old and 12 year old as well as the directly distilled pre-cask whiskey.

The pre-cask stuff, 70% alcohol by volume strong (actually illegal in Japan, as the alcohol content may not be higher then 60%, but this bit of Whiskey was drained for test purposes) was rather dull, tasteless and tacky.
They just wanted us to taste it so we could taste the difference with their 5 and 12 year old malts.

I agree with dramtastic about the 5 year old. For me the finish was nice and short, which I like tremendously, as I tend to want to eat or drink other things after my Whiskey.

The 12 year old... well...
PEAT, SMOKE! But not like a Ardbeg. It's more gentle, more balanced and then there is dark but creamy chocolate, the honey is still there to make it smooth, there is woodyness, of course, but also the sherry sweetness and still a touch of saltiness as well.

This should be no surprise as Eigashima is close to the Japanese coast. You can see the sea from the distillery.

They now export Akashi in small amounts to France and the UK.
If you are lucky enough to find a bottle, their 12 year old 0.5 litre bottle is a steal at 5250 yen.

Akashi 12 years old is now my new favourite Whiskey.

My only regret is that I can not take home more bottles due to customs regulations :(

To Dramtastic: Make sure you get a bottle of this awesome stuff.

Nonjatta said...

Thanks for the really detailed comment, Niels V. Fascinating stuff!

Anonymous said...

I also tried their 12 year old single malt and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It’s a most remarkable whisky, I had to apply some serious self control so as not to over do it and drink too much. I ordered the 5 year old single malt from the White Oak website and it was delivered late last night. I’ll give it a shot after work today. By-the-way, their blended whisky priced at 1,050 yen (500 ml) is also excellent (IMHO).

If the links work, here are a couple of snapshots of my bottle of 12 year old.

Best regards,

Yokosuka, Japan