Sunday, October 14, 2012

A new Isetan-exclusive Hanyu

Post by Stefan of Tokyo Whisky Hub.

Isetan in Shinjuku is fast becoming one of my favourite whisky spots in Tokyo: they have an excellent selection of both Japanese and Scotch whisky, you can properly sample many of the whiskies there before you buy, the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and they have a handful of store-exclusives at any given time. At the moment, you can choose from no fewer than 5 Isetan-exclusive bottlings, all from different Japanese distilleries. The other thing I love about Isetan is that these store-exclusives are for the most part... well, available only at the store, which means they don't sell out in a flash over the internet as is often the case with other store-exclusives in Japan. The Isetan-exclusives are a bit like a well-kept secret - something for people in the know, and well... now you know!
The latest store-exclusive to join the ranks at Isetan (hinted at in one of my previous posts) is a Mizunara Heads offering from Ichiro's Malt. Uncharacteristically, there's not much information on the label. It is, in fact, a single cask hogshead from the last vintage of Hanyu (2000, that is) that was refitted with mizunara heads (as explained in another one of my previous posts). It's bottled at 59.2%abv and comes in two sizes: a 700ml bottle priced at 12,600 yen and a 200ml bottle for 5,250 yen, which is a bit on the expensive side - it has to be said - but then again, the Hanyu juice is becoming scarcer by the year and there is, of course, the "mizunara factor", which always adds a bit of a premium to Japanese whiskies. I had a chance to try it a few days ago and it is really exceptional. I didn't have time to take detailed notes - in fact, I tried it during a quick stopover between two jobs (don't tell my boss!) - but it reminded me quite a bit of the 1st edition of The Game. It was just incredibly elegant with those lovely mizunara notes (incense, sandalwood, ...) gently caressing the palate for what seemed like an eternity. For those who are suspicious of the incremental price hikes that have taken over the Japanese whisky industry, this is one bottling where the liquid really does justify the price. Get it while you can.

1 comment:

Alan Messini said...

Thanks for the tip Stefan!
I'm in Japan on holiday, so I went to Isetan & tasted the Mizunara Head, as well as a 12yo Karuizawa sherry cask, a single cask Hakushu & a single cask Yamazaki sherry (all Isetan exclusives & all impressive)
I really liked the Mizunara Head so I bought 2 as well as a bottle of the Karuizawa.
The Mizunara Head is very elegant & fragrant & you really don't notice the alcohol level at all.
Plus it's half the price of the Yamazaki Mizunara that I understand was all pre-sold before the actual release date.
These are all becoming hard to find & I wouldn't have had the chance to get them at all otherwise!