Yamazaki 12 Year
Single Malt — Honshu, JapanTastedCaveat: May have COVID Nose: Honeydew, pear. Full, florists’ shop floral note. A little solvent. Maybe a little coconut? Palate: Very smooth, round. Orchard fruits, honey and malt at the back of the palate. Some clove as it opens up, and it becomes a little more buttery. Finish: Dry, with a bit of the sweetness lingering. A little resinous? Spruce? Overall: found this really hard to pick apart after tasting the distiller’s reserve. May have to revisit it one day, but not at over 100 pounds a bottle! Standout notes were the soft, round, sweet ones, but nothing jumped out as a distinct flavour to me. May be the effects of the virus!
Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve
Peated Single Malt — JapanTastedCaveat: May have COVID Nose: jam, some apple, malt. Some light vanilla and honey, a bit of that milk chocolate wafer smell. Strawberry note I’ve heard about becomes more apparent after a few sips. Palate: Malty, a little spicy. Oak notes, fruit notes are pretty juicy whatever they are. Can see the fresh berry and white peach notes more and more as it opens. Lychee. Finish: Spicy, like a red hot. Sweet note underneath it. Overall: nice blend of fruit and cinnamon spice. I had to lean on MoM notes and others to guide this tasting because my taste and smell are a bit whacked, but only noted the things I could actually pick up with their help. Feels like a juicy, generous dram that would be great in summer. Could be a higher rating if my senses turn out to have been impaired.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony
Blended — JapanTastedNose: Solvent, oranges and orange oil or zest. A bit metallic. Vanilla, sharp leather or resin, maybe some green apple. Palate: Grainy, malty and sweet up front in a nice balance, and a little spicy. Hollows out in the middle but has nice orangey flavour on the back of the palate. Vanilla and light honey too. Slightly smoky? There’s a very faint earthy smoke to it that fleshes it out and is really nice. Some nuttiness now and again, almost a sherry note. Brown sugar. Melted butter note from MoM is definitely there. Finish: Caramel, a little nutty and oaky. Brown sugar. Overall: very nice, has that baking cupboard smell and taste to it that I really like. Feels very well balanced after it’s opened up a bit - not too heavy on the vanilla and sugar notes, has enough spice, zest and herbal notes in it to lift it up and stop it from getting cloying. 3.75/4
Mars Maltage "Cosmo"
Blended Malt — Multiple CountriesTastedNose: chocolatey and nutty. dates, raisins. Not a heavy nose despite those notes - they’re there but in quite a light way. Maybe a bit of clove, some very subtle honey and molasses. Palate: Sherried flavours, no surprises coming off the nose. Sarsaparilla, vanilla, a bit of a toasted note. Reminds me of that chocolate with pretzel bits in it that I had the other day. Finish: biscuity, grainy and a little like play doh. Overall: fun to try a whisky with such a big sherry influence that isn’t ‘heavy’. This was nice and middling - not too light either. Well balanced but with a good punch to it.
Hakushu Distiller's Reserve
Peated Single Malt — JapanTastedNose: Apple (raeburn, if I may be so bold), grass, citrus zest, a little sandy. After a while some burnt leaves, plastic bucket, fresh cooking herbs like parsley. Some mineral chalky notes. Cucumber and melon note from MoM is on the money. Palate: Great first impression - hit of honey that’s backed up by this really nice earthiness and mossy note. Vegetal more than it is sweet, herbs again. Mint, but that full kind of minty taste you get in Moroccan tea. Not damp like a Ben Nevis, but warm kind of earthiness. Some peppery spice, a little vanilla and light, fresh smoke. Humbugs. More and more bright mint as it goes on. Becomes almost like a fernet branca taste. Finish: Bracing, fresh and menthol. Overall: delicate notes, but quite full on in the mint department. Sweetness alongside that fernet note is really cool. Slightly bitter one that makes me want to try more Hakushu whisky! Almost gets a 4 because it’s not boring.
Nikka Pure Malt Red Whisky
Blended Malt — JapanTastedNose: Sweet apples, grapes, a little soft citrus. Fruit salad? Candied ginger, a little floral. Peanut butter - agree with the MoM pb&j note. Cut grass. Palate: fruity, quite a lot of malt too. Slightest bit of smoke maybe. Herbal and a little minty, with honey too. Almost get the rosemary/thyme/sage herb combo, but that might be a stretch. Certainly thyme if any of the three. Creamy. Butterscotch. Almost reminds me of something like a lighter Clynelish at times, or like the guava side of a Springbank. Finish: More of the fruity, herbal stuff. Overall: Nose was so fruity, the little hint of cut grass really came through on the palate. Herbal notes are really nice and ride along with the fruit in a great way. Could see this being a great one for spring - light and refreshing, but interesting and well balanced. Might enjoy it at a slightly higher ABV, but 43 is okay.
Suntory The Chita Single Grain
Single Grain — JapanTastedNose: A lot of dried fruit, a bit pruney with a solvent edge. A little nutty, some sulphury firework notes that I quite like. A little bit of that slightly burnt out scalextric smell. Toasted coconut and pina colada as it opens, becomes very tropical. Palate: Nice full, oaky, malty flavours. Vanilla, caramel, custard. Clementine, dried apricot and a little peach. Some sherried notes too - hazelnuts. Grain comes through now and again. Wafts of very light smoke? Finish: sherry notes linger for me, as does a little bit of that custardy vanilla. Overall: One that I’d call quite round that doesn’t go too far and become flabby. Just enough tang/bite to balance it out. Very forward with the creme caramel vanilla stuff and I liked the tropical notes on the nose a lot. Pretty rich! Could see it being really good in September, but might be a bit too one-note for year round drinking. Could be a 4.
White Oak Akashi Single Malt
Peated Single Malt — JapanTastedNose: Battenberg cake, strawberry pencils, something herbal and savoury I can’t really figure out that sits right below the surface and hits right at the back of the nose, almost like those plastic-y paper tablecloths at Imperial Palace or the smell of the grocery store below it. A bit of jasmine to it, fennel, paint. Palate: smokier than expected, like lapsang. Definitely savoury on the first few sips, a little bit of smoked meat but more of an ashy spent bonfire smoke. Tastes very earthy and organic, mossy. Bit of a butterscotch roundness in the background, but more about the savoury notes for me. Slight bit of coffee maybe? Milk bottle candies. Drying. Finish: dark to milk chocolate with that wafting earthy smoke, maybe a bit of cooked apple. Overall: really interesting and unusual one for me, loved those earthy smoky notes on the palate that I wasn’t expecting. The weird, slightly sickly nose threw me for a loop - had elements of Springbank funk to it at times, and that’s the closest comparison I can think of. Slightly sweet pukey note you get on a springbank, like someone’s eaten Battenberg cake and tossed it back up.
Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt
Single Malt — JapanTastedNose: dried apricot, lemongrass or lemon verbena, ginger, tangerine. A bit of malt. Palate: nice and full, malty sweetness that reminds me a bit of arran with a zestier edge. A bit drying, oaky, a little winey even. Richer and more chocolatey as it opens - super nice. Finish: dark salted chocolate, sherry nuttiness, hazelnuts, oak. Overall: really nice delicate amount of sherry notes in this that’s leveled out with the lighter, zestier moments. Richer than I expected. Really reminds me of something Arran might do at times. Very, very well balanced for my taste, not in your face incredible but subtly lovely.
Tenjaku Japanese Whisky
Blended — JapanTastedNose: Raincoat plastic, linen, a little rubbery, some leafy/grassy notes, unripe pear, maybe a tiny bit of that laphroaig band-aid smell. Some soft green grapey notes. Palate: sweeter than expected, quite round. Agree with banana bread note from MoM, pretty creamy as well. Slightest bit of pepper. Finish: Have to hand it to MoM, they nailed it with the ‘creamy oak spice and floral elderflower’ description of the finish. Overall: why are people shitting on this online? I think it’s pretty alright! I don’t mind the rubbery nose at all, and think the palate’s nice if you’re in the mood for something on its way to being sweet without being cloying. Another nice surprise, would be cool to taste this at a higher ABV. It might be a little thin, but I’d drink it again! Had this after the Hatozaki Pure Malt and it was a nice sweet antidote to the pepper.