Today, 1 February, is the Lunar New Year. Growing up this was often referred to a the Chinese New Year. Having lived in Japan several times I am now wise enough to call it the Lunar New Year. This is due to the multiple Japanese people who have corrected me that it is not only the Chinese that celebrate New Years today. To ring in the New Year I am tasting three whiskys from a Flaviar sample. Whisky has been made commercially in Japan for nearly 100 years. Only recently it has become wildly popular and this has caused prices to increase rapidly in the last few years.
Kujira Ryukyu; Japanese Whisky, 40% ABV The alchol aroma is much stronger on this sample compared to the other two. This I perceived similar to fingernail polish remover. There is a slight oakiness to the aroma as well. A caramel aroma develops after the drink has sat awhile. The flavor is very mellow. The taste comes across as a toffee flavors with vanilla undertones. The aftertaste has a jasmine lingerning in the mouth and nasal cavity. The whisky is a golden color with medium legs that are unevenly space apart. This would be a great utility whisky. It can hold its own as a straight sipper or would go well in a cocktail. I would keep my eye out for this whisky on the island.
Ichiro’s Malt; Blended Japanese Whisky, 46.5% ABV There is a fruity smell on the nose. The aroma is similar to apple sweetness. The color is straw with medium sized legs that are slow to develop and mediumly spaced. The whisky has a smooth mouthfeel with no real burn on the taste or swallow. Clean aftertaste with no lingering flavors or aromas. I would not waste this in the Japanese popular high ball drink. I would use this whisky in a spirit forward cocktail such as a old fashioned.
Akashi:, Single Malt Japanese Whisky, 46% ABV This whisky has a phenolic (strong smoke) aroma to the nose. Also a spicy tingling on the inside of the nose appears when a deep whiff if taken. The color is amber and very clear. Stout legs are very closely spaced around the glass. Smooth mouthfeel almost a creaminess on the front of the tongue. Light burn on the back of the tongue and mouth. The aftertaste has a smokiness that comes up from the back of the nasal passage. It appears that the smokiness came more from the phenols from fermentation rather than any smoking of the malt. If you like Islay whiskys and their smokiness you will appreciate this even more. For those that do not enjoy the smoky and phenolic flavors I would stay away from this one.