Archives for posts with tag: Nikka

I always say I never tasted a bad Japanese Whisky. That´s not entirely true ……

yamzakiBut let’s start from the beginning. Yamazaki 12 from the biggest JapaneseWhisky company – Suntory – was my first Japanese dram. I don’t know when or where but suddenly I and Mr.Wolfmoon had a bottle of it. Very exotic. And good as well. One of the best whiskies we had tasted at that time. We also got our hands on a Yamazaki sherrycask. Many years ago. Probably in Copenhagen, Denmark at Juuls Vinhandel. So we got interested in world whiskies and tried some 12 yo Hakushu also from Suntory the most famous Whisky Company in Japan.

All Japanese whisky we tried was good ….until ISAWA 10 yo single malt. But how bad it IMG_1987 - Kopiais? Well this opinion is divided….. Some say horrible (I saw many twisted faces at www.maltstock.com –  experiencing this single malt) and some say strange, some say interesting. The ladies seems to be more tolerant to it. Me myself am a little of all of the above! Mostly it tastes like leather. Not a little leather. Just leather. Or as Mr. Wolfmoon said: Isawa – freshly pressed cowboy hat-juice !

Anyhow, this fascination of world whisky made me want to taste more Asian whisky. Kavalan and Amrut. More of The Suntory range. And I also had the opportunity to try a lot and work with the Nikka range when educating myself to Tutor of Fine Spirits.

The European interest in Japanese whisky has made it easier to get our hands on more Japanese Whisky. And of course Suntorys interest and investments in France (Wine and Cognac) and in the drink business worldwide in general, has a lot to do with Japanese Whisky coming to Europe. Unfortunately it often comes in limited releases and then you can only get it in auctions for a lot more than what it was sold originally. But keep it coming Japan! We want your whisky!

I got my hands on some Akashi samples. The whisky comes from Eigashima Shuzo/White oak distillery. It was actually the first distillery to get license to distill whisky 1919, but they only started to do it in the 60`s. Suntorys`s Yamazaki was the first distillery to make Whisky in Japan and they started running 1923.

White Oak Distillery is a true micro distillery with it´s capacity of 60,000 liters compared to Yamazaki´s undisclosed but estimated capacity of 6,000,000 liters. The company has a history of making shochu and other distilled spirits and it is in that “spirit” they make their Single malt as well. The only single malt whisky they will have in their standard range is the NAS. Most of their malt goes into blends.

The Akashi Line Up:

 

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NAS , 5yo, 12yo, 14yo, 15yo.

The colours varies from light gold to darkest red/brown sirup.

The nose is as varied as well. From butter fudge in the NAS and 5yo through bourbon notes and glue in the 12yo to the touch of good sherry casks in the 14yo and spices and glue again in the 15yo.

The peat smoke goes through the whole palette. It is strange that it is so present in the taste when it wasn´t there in the nose.

The two closes to each other is the NAS and the 5yo with their sweetness and being very easy to drink …….. A bit wimpy…..

Then the 12yo is just something different. It is a wildly shooting Cowboy in an inflatable boat. You have rubber, leather, oil and smoke in a dry finish. Sulfur, gunpowder and fireworks. Good? Hmmm Interesting……..

The 14yo is so beautiful. Dark reddish brown. And the nose of sherrycasks is promising. But something went…well wrong. There is rubber again, peat and rancio. Stuff is definitely going on. In every direction.

The 15yo goes back to the smell of “young spirit” . Its quite flat with some peat, bitterness and surprisingly saffron. I just stand without describing words……..

Just to mention, we had the Yoich 10yo from Nikka as a flavor reference and it is so well balanced and yet nuanced so it plays in another league.

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The conclusion is that they were almost more interesting to smell ….. but when you drink them you want to try them all –  they are “incomplete” singly.

Yamazaki is an easy whisky. Akashi is a dodgy one because it changes all the time. Maybe it is so simple that it is hard to make a consistent whisky? And a distillery as Eigashima with it´s focus on other spirits don´t have that constistancy?

Well Japanese whisky making is dodgy if you stray from the Suntory Boulevard or the Nikka Street. But you will find interesting whiskies to be surprised by, be horrified by and hopefully enjoy, if you dare to take a stroll down Eigashima Lane, Shinshu Alleyway or any other obscure walkingpath in the Land of the rising sun! So put on your sunglasses and go Japanese!

Whiskyfairs in Swedenimages has popped up like mushrooms the last few years.

Beside the biggest one – Stockholm Beer and WhiskyFestival – we have the big but maybe a bit more manageable Malmö Beer and Whiskyfestival, Gothenburg Whiskyfair and Linköping WhiskyExpo. There are also lots of small and medium fairs which are cosy and more intimate.

We had not planned to go to Linköping WhiskyExpo which is one of the most reputational fairs, but sad circumstances sent us up north and with only 2 hours drive we thought a visit to the fair was a good send off for a friend we will meet again on the other side! For us it was balm for the soul.

We acted quite cool I must say since it was a secret we would show up. So we sneaked up behind the stand of Svenska Eldvatten IMG_1901where Tommy and Peter had a helping hand from Patrik, Bengt, Tommy from Calner Whisky and Alexander from AZ Spirits. Lots of hugs and a taste of Svenska Eldvattens Vintage 1994 singel cask blended malt and Vintage 1979 singel cask blended scotch! They are blended at birth. It means that rawspirit from different distilleries (malt and malt & grain in the 1979) has been blended together and matured in the cask togheter all the time insted of blending the already matured whisky just before bottling. They are both SherryCask´s and my first opinion is that it was a bit too much sherry in 1979 and the 1994 felt more  fresh. A second try is needed!

Picture taken at closingtime just before Mr & Mrs Wolfmoon was politely but firmly told to get out of the building!

Meeting some frienIMG_1879ds was just what we needed so when we went into the worldwhisky Section it was fun to meet Lennart and Ingela at the Nikka stand. And with their knowledge they got us some lovely Single Cask Yoichi,  Miyagikyo 15 and a Taketsuru 21.

The Taketsuru 21 is a great blended malt but I must say that the single cask Yoichi and if you can get your hand on the Single Cask Miyagikyo are fantastic!

We strolled over to Amrut – the indian whisky and Mr Ashok Choklingam IMG_0812himself was at the stand. He greeted us as old friends (thank you!!!!). We spent the weekend together at Maltstock -the relaxed whisky weekend in the Netherlands last september. http://www.maltstock.com   We tried some Single cask Amrut and the Portonova. We also talked about that we had the opportunity to try Amrut Greedy Angels at Maltsock. When I told Ashok that when some people asked me how it tasted I had to say that -I haven´t got a clue. I was so amazed to try it that I cant remember! (He wispered -“its a lot of fruit, tropical fruit!” And then he laughed. He is a man who laughs a lot and I like that!)

Picture taken at the Amrut tasting at Maltstock – the relaxed whisky weekend!

Amrut is sold in Sweden by Clydesdale. And Clydesdale has a affliated company called IMG_1902World Wide Brands managed by Stefan Jansson. We met him and his lovely wife Gun. They are both passionate and knowledgeable people. Among other brands they import bottles from the independent bottler Samaroli from Italy and Millstone from Zuidam distillers in The Netherlands. Millstone is close to our heart since we have a share in sherry cask from Millstone. We got to taste a Millstone Px cask bottled just the day before by Patrick van Zuidam who was at the fair. It was….interesting!!! Not the nicest Millstone we tried but interesting is better than plain isn´t it?? Except from talking to Stefan and Gun the biggest experience was to taste the 20 yo  Glen Grant from Samaroli. We got the dram poured int our porto-glass but then we got another glass to try it in. We were told to puor half the dram into the strange glass and then smell the whisky. I have always said that porto is the best nosing glass for whisky but this glass… this coupe glass was fantastic. I say I need at least 12 of them so we – mr Wolfmoon and myself – can have a tasting with 6 different whiskys in those glasses! Try and buy! Not on the market in sweden yet but soon I hope!

We had the hopes up for some Yamazaki Mizunara when we saw Mr Tatsuya Minagawa at the Suntory stand. He greeted us as well since he recognised Mr Wolfmoon who with his fascination of Japanese whisky has been pestering this poor bloke the last 2 Maltstocks and of course at the whiskyfairs he visits as well………

No danger though! Tatsuya is a nice guy but he didn´t have any Sherrycasks or Mizunara cask with him. So we tried the Hakushu 18 instead. And it´s not Yamzaki 18 …….. But nice!

IMG_1892After that we had to hurry up a bit! We jogged into the swedish section where we wanIMG_1899ted to surprise my friend Mattias from Sirholmen Spirits but he had heard the rumours and sneaked up on us instead. He was working with Pär Caldenby from Smögen Whisky and I was excited to meet Pär for the first time and equally excited to try his 3 year old Singlemalt Primör. And my tastenote for Primör was a bit simplified – it tastes whisky! By that I mean it taste like original whisky. I try to find the tastenotes and stop at malty with some fuseloil and that it feels round bodied. For me it needs a few more years in the cask. I willIMG_1900 follow it´s progress with interest.

But then Mattias and Pär knocked my hat off with something different – Gin.I don´t like Gin. Well, I do now…… (another world to explore). Strane is a smoth and well tasting Gin that I wish everyone who is interested in destillates should try. Amazing! Thank you for inviting me to the world of Gin!

The last Whisky we tried was a Mackmyra Elegant Sherry Reserve Cask – a favourite when the cask does what it should. But we wanted to try it against the Box Distillerys non peated sherry. But since its only a pre-taste of what is going to be, the competition isn`t fair. We thought that Box would be equally good since we adore the Box Rawspirit and our private peated casks is soo coming on. BUT the Mackmyra took the gold medal this night with Box actually a horselenght after. Strange!!!!! Will keep an eye on this progress as well. And I might buy a cask of Elegant Sherry from Mackmyra – want to join??

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 We finished the Expo with some 25 yr old rye and two Rum from Svenska Elvatten. Caroni and Guyana. But don´t ask about tastenotes……. we got half thrown out after that. But just because it was closing time …we werent ´drunk, rude or anything…I hope …………..

Just to mention we tried some grain from Scott´s selection (nope…didn´t do the trick tonight…) and som bottlings from Cadenhead. Our own choices wasn´t so good but Magnus from Magnus Whisky told us to try the 24 yrs old small batch Cragganmore…….and Yes! Soo good!

Whiskytaste SwedenIMG_1866 has some interesting bottlings as well. Jonas and Gabriella made us feel very welcome and we could have been standing there all night. It was good they had a tasting to host so we could see more of the fair. We were treated a 25 yrs old Tamdhu, a bottling from Whiskyfässle provided more citrus than any other dram I´ve tasted. Paul John is another interesting Indian whisky and Whiskytaste Sweden give us the opportunity to taste  Leviathan II that holds the bronze medal in Worlds Worst Whisky. That is interesting. I don´t find it as bad as my male companions……. Lots of leather and …well other stuff. Have tasted worse and since there is a silver and a gold medal as well, that might be true!!!

Next fair to visit is the floating Cinderella Whisky Fair in march – but before that Mrs.Wolfmoon shall be hosting some tastings! Taste Events by Wolfmoon is actually getting some work done!

Join me at  https://www.facebook.com/TasteEventsByWolfmoon

and find more information about tastings in Kristianstad Sweden at http://www.tasteeventsbywolfmoon.n.nu/