Sunday, April 21, 2013

TIBS/Whisky Live Day 2: Highlights

Post by Stefan of Tokyo Whisky Hub
Whisky/drinks enthusiasts here in Japan will have to wait another year to be spoiled like they were over the past weekend, but that’s life. There’s nothing quite like TIBS/Whisky Live Tokyo and it’s sad that it’s over but we’ve been able to take so much in and so much home – not just literally, but also in terms of newly discovered drams and preferences, cocktail styles and techniques, newly gained insights, and probably some newly made friends, too – that we have enough to keep us going until the next edition. Then again, enough is never really enough when things are this good.

One of the highlights of the second day was the inaugural “Nadeshiko Bartending Challenge”, a competition for up-and-coming lady bartenders in which they were judged on both a free and a compulsory cocktail by the head honchos of the NBA and guest bartenders Peter Dorelli and Jim Meehan. Misu Mariyah of Bar Hakuchoukan took the top prize, so next time you’re in Toyama-prefecture, it may be worth seeking out her bar.

The absolute highlight of the weekend was the unveiling of the oldest single cask Japanese whisky ever bottled: the Karuizawa 1960 (cask#5627), distilled on 1 February 1960 and bottled on 1 January 2013. Marcin Miller of No.1 Drinks, Matt Chapman of Contagious, the company who took care of the design, and Dave Broom, who penned the accompanying booklet, paid tribute to this extraordinary whisky and although it was impossible for them to offer a sample of the 1960 to the people who were invited to the event (there are only 41 bottles of it, and opening one would have set them back 2,000,000 yen), we were incredibly privileged to be offered a dram of the second oldest cask, a 1963. We spoke at length with Marcin Miller and Matt Chapman and will bring you the full story later this week.

Speaking of Karuizawa, a revamped Asama (a vatting of the 1999/2000 vintages) bottled at 50.5%abv will be released soon. In case you’re wondering – as many people have asked me – this is not cask-strength, or more accurately ‘vatting strength’, but the abv that the blender considered perfect for the liquid. Of the other Karuizawas at the show, I thought the 1970/2012 (cask#6177) for LMdW was a real star. If you come across a bottle of this, do what you have to do to make it yours!

Nikka had brought two new single casks to the show: a 1988 Yoichi (cask#100212) and a 2001 Miyagikyo (cask#120449).

The Yoichi was drawn from a virgin American white oak cask and is classic old Yoichi: smoky and dirty (in the good sense!), with hints of smoked ham and nuts and with an extraordinarily long finish (overripe melon, ham again – prosciutto this time – and much more). The Miyagikyo – drawn from an ex-sherry cask – was rather unusual. I, personally, prefer my Miyagikyo from less active casks – casks that allow the character of the spirit to shine through – but will be revisiting this and the Yoichi single cask in the days to come! Both will go on sale the day after tomorrow, but if you missed them at the show and you still happen to be in Tokyo (or lucky enough to be living here!), there’s a special event at the Blender’s Bar on Wednesday (April 24th). We’ll be there, as always, and will get back to you with more news then.

The show is over but Nonjatta will be keeping the vibe alive over the next few days with exclusive interviews with some of the distillers who brought special bottlings to the show and, as said, in-depth coverage of the Karuizawa 1960 launch. Watch this space.

Thanks to our friends over at the amazing Edinburgh Whisky Blog for their plug of Nonjatta’s TIBS/Whisky Live coverage.

Thanks also to our Hong Kong friends for help with some of the photography for the forthcoming Karuizawa 1960 post and for the pleasure of their company all weekend long.


Aaron said...

Hi, is the revamped Asama from the original seventy-something casks? Or they are using more of their remaining casks? I must say the bottles looks extremely attractive.

I also LOVE the 2001 Miyagikyo single cask. It is not common to have a Miyagikyo matured in Sherry cask, this is gonna be my new favorite.

Stefan said...

Hi Aaron,

Yes, the Asama is from the original 77-cask vatting. Just a different abv.The bottles look really nice. I agree. I hope I can get my hands on a few.

True, the Miyagikyo is very unusual - so unusual it took a bit of getting used to for me. It's available for purchase since yesterday... and very cheap, unlike the Yoichi (which is over 30,000 yen).



Andy said...

How much would I expect to pay for the miyagikyo?

Andy said...

How much would I expect to pay for the miyagikyo?