When we were last at Eigashima (White Oak) distillery, the people there told us they were contemplating releasing a new 5-year old and they had their sights set on a couple of sherry casks - some of the oldest stock maturing in their warehouse near the Inland Sea. It seems like it was more than just a vague idea, because they have just released a sherried 5-year old drawn from a single Spanish oak butt (#5117). It’s bottled at 50%abv - a pity they dropped the abv a bit for this release - and comes in their usual apothecary-style 500ml bottle with the usual no-nonsense label. Limited to 1,000 bottles, it’s priced at a little under 3,000 yen, which is very cheap indeed.
We’ve already written about Fuji-Gotemba’s 40th anniversary this year. Like many, we were wondering if any other special release would see the light of day - other than the high-priced celebratory release we wrote about a few months ago, that is. With the year approaching its end, we were about to give up hope but a few days ago – almost exactly 40 years after they fired up the stills there (Nov 27, 1973) – Kirin announced details of a new, exciting and much more reasonably priced anniversary release.
Just like its high-end sibling, this is a single grain – distilled from corn and rye, mostly, with some other grain sorts thrown in the mix – but it’s a no-age-statement release. It’s bottled at 46%abv and will only be available at the distillery itself, where they will start selling it from December 12 (priced at 10,500 yen). There are only 500 bottles and Nonjatta is not taking any risks, so it’s the perfect excuse for another little trip to the foot of Mt Fuji. Check back with us for tasting notes and further information in a few weeks’ time.
A couple of years ago, Whisky Shop W. started releasing 300ml bottles with specially vatted malt or grain from their distilleries. They were ideal gifts – interesting for novices (who didn’t want to splash out on full-sized bottles yet) and seasoned whisky drinkers (who are always keen to try different expressions) alike – and became very popular. Today, Whisky Shop W. are starting to sell their fifth release. This time it is a 10-year old Yamazaki that has been finished for 2 years in red-wine casks. This is further proof of a relatively recent trend towards wine-finishing in Japanese whisky (after Mars' wine-finished Iwai Tradition and 10yo, and Suntory’s Hibiki Deep Harmony). [For more information see my contribution to the next issue of Whisky Magazine.]
It is bottled at 43% abv and although the reported outturn is 1,500, Whisky Shop W. have informed us that (initially) 600 of these will be offered for sale in their online shop. Sounds like the perfect Christmas gift… but I wouldn’t wait for someone else to realize that. Grab one while you can!
Hop Revolution, the celebration of international craft beer in the heart of Tokyo, is back and how. The inaugural event, held almost exactly one year ago, was such a big success that the organizers had to look for a more spacious venue. They were also keen to make this a total experience so instead of having it in a boring event hall or at a hotel, they looked around for a more appropriate and fun environment. They found a night club near Yurakucho with a capacity of 1,000 and that’s where Hop Revolution Vol.2 will be held: at Club Diana, on Saturday, December 7th from 12:00 to 17:00. DJ Guy Perryman of Inter-FM and a VJ will be on hand to add to the party mood and it promises to be quite the party…
More than two dozen brewers – from all corners of the world, including the home front – will be in attendance. Some breweries’ products will be available in Japan for the first time. A case in point is 8Wired, the New Zealand brewery, whose stock is literally clearing customs at the moment. There will also be 7 seminars with beers exclusively available in the seminar (these can booked on the Malt City site) and much else.
Advance tickets are sold-out but there will be about 400 on-the-day tickets, sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Entrance is 5,500 yen and that includes 8 beer vouchers and a special IPA glass. For more information, check the Hop Revolution site. See you there – that is, if you’re lucky enough to be able to get in!
Today, people attending the 20th Anniversary Party of the Japan chapter of the SMWS had the first chance to try the fourth and final bottling in the series of single casks exclusively bottled to celebrate the Society’s two decades in Japan. For the winter edition – ‘Relaxation in a glass’ – the good folk at the Society here selected a 31yo Miltonduff drawn from a refill hogshead.
No point in beating around the bush: the nose is sublime. You get small cakes (madeleines with lemon, financier), assorted sweets (guimauves, candied apples, hokey pokey ice cream, soft [生] caramel, honey-drizzled apple beignets) and some cashew nuts. In the background, there’s freshly cut grass and fresh oak. Then, after a while, you get some oregano scones. If you give it some more time, it develops towards honey-lemon tea (with a tiny bit of mint) and if you wait 15-20 minutes, it transforms into peach yoghurt… or rather, peach calpis. Water dials up the fruit a bit and brings out a certain herbaceousness, which is nice if you want to approach this dram from a slightly different angle.
The palate develops the initial impressions on the nose. There’s a soft, sweet citrus element (lemon sorbet, candied lemon peel) and assorted Danish pastries. It’s got a nice, creamy mouthfeel (honey-glazed doughnuts) and there’s a bit of pommeau (of the Domfrontais variety). A Scotch whisky that dreams of France, it seems… The finish is medium-long on Gala apple peel, yokan and vanilla (but nothing excessive).
There’s just one thing we can say: the people at the Society here in Japan have kept the best for last. This really is the pick of the bunch.