Distillery: Mars Shinshu
Bottler: bottled for LMDW
Age: ca. 4 years
Casks: American white oak puncheon 1555
Time for a new whisky from a new (to me) Japanese distillery. Japanese whisky is all the craze – let’s see how well this malt, which was bottled for La Maison Du Whisky’s 60th anniversary, fares!
Colour: dark gold
The nose doesn’t hide the fact that this is a young whisky. Alcohol up front with a hint of glue which almost immediately turns into a mixture of citrus, citrus blossom, cherry blossom and orange gummy bears. Forgive the obvious cliche, but this noses like a light whisky enjoyed in the midst of the Japanese cherry blossom season on a tranquil spring day. Give it a few minutes and notes of honey, slightly burnt vanilla pudding, brown sugar and sweet citrus cake appear. Light and young like a delicate Japanese Geisha.
The palate (neat) also has quite a lot of alcohol up front which takes quite a lot of time to fade. When it finally does, we’ve got a somewhat simple, dry, yet mouth-coating profile: A green, almost grassy component (including slightly bitter woodruff) meets citrus flowers, barley, green apples and pears. With a teaspoonful of water, the initial harshness is greatly reduced and a few sweeter barley malt, citrus cake and almost honey-like flavours with a hint of vanilla appear, which are very welcome and greatly improve the overall impression. The medium-long finish is not without a noticeable alcohol impact upon swallowing, on the green side again with green apples and pears, woodruff a hint of vanilla and slight spices.
Nosing and tasting a whisky with such a profile I can’t stop thinking “what a shame they yanked it from the cask so soon”. Obviously very good distillate (or it would be much rougher at that age) meets a good cask making for a very pleasant, fresh, springtime whisky (especially with a good amount of water) but there would have been potential for much better, greater things. However, the distillery was restarted in 2011, operating again for a few months a year after a time of mothballing since 1992, so they have very little but young whisky to sell. If this ca. 4 yo. is anything to go by, there will be great drams ahead in the future! What does shock me, however, is the crazy price at just under 200€ – but then again it seems anything Japanese just flies off the shelves these days no matter the price…
(Nose: 83 Palate: 80 Finish: 80)
Thanks a bunch to Keith’s dregs for the sample!