November 2016: Japanese Blended Whiskies

by Philip Butler

Japanese whiskies are most often compared to Scotch whiskeys. They are unique because unlike Scotch whiskeys Japanese whiskies are not generally blended from whiskies outside of a single distiller. None of the whiskies listed below contain sourced whisky made outside their company.

Cocktail:

  • Name: Black Ship
  • Ingredients: 5 oz blended Japanese Whisky, 1 oz Pomegranate juice, .25 oz Port, 1 tsp Lemon juice
  • Recipe: Add all the ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled Martini glass.

Bottle 1:  12 year    

  • Distillery: Chugoku Jozo
  • Proof: 80
  • Price: $63
  • Purchase location: thewhiskyexchange.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: green apples drizzled with lemon juice, oroblanco (green grapefruit), lime zest, buffalo mozzarella cannoli, a whisp of smoke and a tiny hint of peat
    • Palate: orchard fruits (green apples, most prominently), citrus accents (lemon meringue pie, candied lemon peel) and baked goods, marzipan, all-spice and delicate herbal notes
    • Finish: medium-long with a light, lingering sweetness (coconut scones)
  • Why this bottle is featured: Reviewed well but brand is completely unknown to me prior now. Often compared to the Hibiki.

Bottle 2: Togoughi 18 year

  • Distillery: Chugoku Jozo
  • Proof: 88
  • Price: $102
  • Purchase location: thewhiskyexchange.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: damp soil, wet leaves, grandma’s wardrobe, tinned peaches, pear drops and honeydew melon
    • Palate: sappiness from the wood, cereal notes, old bread, Danish pastries, salted caramel mousse, chili peppers and a distinct earthiness
    • Finish: long and drying on pine nuts and sunflower seeds
  • Why this bottle is featured: Reviewed well but brand is completely unknown to me prior now. Often compared to the Hibiki.

Bottle 3: Nikka 12 Year

  • Distillery: Yoichi and Miyagikyo
  • Proof:86
  • Price: $90
  • Purchase location: thewhiskyexchange.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: fruits, malted barley, beeswax and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg)
    • Palate: Dark chocolate, malted barley, fresh fruits (apple, prunes, mirabelle and greengage plums, pear), honeyed and floral notes (lilac, lilly of the valley)
    • Finish: coconut milk and red berries (strawberry, raspberry), candied fruit (pineapple, clementine), tobacco and liquorice
  • Why this bottle is featured: This bottle is highly reviewed and is natural competitor to the Hibiki bottles.

Bottle 4: Hibiki Harmony 

  • Distillery Suntory
  • Proof 86
  • Price $50
  • Purchase location: Jacobs Liquor
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: rose, lychee, hint of rosemary, mature woodiness, sandalwood
    • Palate: honeylike sweetness, candied orange peel, white chocolate
    • Finish: subtle, tender long finish, with hint of Mizunara (Japanese oak)
  • Why this bottle is featured: I picked this bottle up randomly at Jacobs several months ago and it was the starting point for the rest of the bottles. It does have good reviews but I was just looking for something new.

Bottle 5: Hibiki 17 year

  • Distillery Suntory
  • Proof 86
  • Price $219
  • Purchase location winebazaar.com via www.wine-searcher.com
  • Tasting Notes:
    • Nose: peach, apricot, melon, rose, lily, lemon leaf
    • Palate: toffee, black cherry, vanilla, and Mizunara (Japanese oak)
    • Finish: sweet, fruity, with lychee aftertaste
  • Why this bottle is featured: This bottle is the highest awarded bottle of the bunch. A supply of this bottle is rapidly becoming difficult to find due to demand.
Gentlemen devoted to the finest.

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