Bruichladdich Black Art 1992 05.1 Edition 24 Year
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTastedAlmost worth the price of admission alone for the gorgeous bottle and tin. What’s inside is pretty damn good too. 24 year old Laddie wearing various winey and fruity layers at a shade under 100 proof (48.4% alcohol). Not the cheapest whisky you’ll buy at ¥35,000 yen a bottle (£260/$322), but once it’s gone it’s gone. It ain’t going to be getting any cheaper. A labyrinthine flavour exploration and a must for any Bruichladdich fan. Lovely!
Suntory The Chita Single Grain
Single Grain — JapanTastedThe Chita is Suntory’s single grain offering. This is part of the trilogy of Yamazaki, Hakushu & Chita that are the primary components of almost all Suntory blends, minus what they buy in from abroad - yes they do - it only has to be landed here for a while for it to be called “Japanese whisky”, so caveat emptor where “new” Japanese whiskies, and my goodness there have been a few recently, are concerned. The Chita is sweet and simple, a lovely grain (corn) whisky with vanilla, some floral notes, sandalwood and some tannins from the wood. Delicious, and the only one of the trilogy still readily available here in Japan since the world went ape**** for Japanese whisky. Bastards, so you are! Good job I have a stash of 12YOs in the cellar.
Johnnie Walker 18 Year
Peated Blend — ScotlandTastedFabulous blend. Yes, it’s smooth, but my goodness it’s got plenty of character too. Not surprising really if it has whiskies from 18 distilleries. Then again, I guess you could create pretty much any flavour profile you wanted with a palette like that. Nice dried fruit notes, spice and honey, grassy hint, with the signature Walker peaty note well to the fore. Good value too at around ¥7,000 / $65 / £50.
Octomore 06.3/258 Islay Barley
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTastedIn some respects my critical faculties fail me when I taste Octomore. This is my favourite type of whisky, heavily peated Islay, at a ridiculous 258 ppm (remember Ardbeg is 55 ppm) and it tastes sublime. What’s not to like? And, shit, yes I’ll buy into the fact that terroir matters. Isla barley from Lorgba Field, Octomore Farm. Count me in. It don’t get much better than this. This one goes up to eleven, trust me,if you can find it.
Nikka Miyagikyo Single Malt
Single Malt — JapanTastedAnother class act from probably the most consistent distillery here in Japan. The age statement versions are now impossible to find. Even the nas version takes some serious hunting down. Miyagikyo is deep, lush, rich, with hints of tropical fruit, dried fruit, a touch grassy, an almond, hazelnut and herbal note, and a decent touch of peat. Lovely stuff.
Nikka Whisky From the Barrel
Blended — JapanTastedIt’s okay, but the Nikka Black and Nikka White are way better. I like the fact that it pushes the envelope by mixing Coffey Malt and Coffey Grain whiskies, but, considering the raw materials Nikka has at their disposal, this could be phenomenal, an yet, is merely “meh”. Sorry guys, but that’s my take on it here as an Englishman and lover of the drink living here in Japan.
Nikka Yoichi Single Malt
Peated Single Malt — JapanTastedAfter Hakushu, Yoichi, for my money, makes the best single malt whisky in Japan. The distillery itself is a delight, and well worth a visit. Hokkaido in many ways reminds me of Scotland. This particular expression, at least the bottle I picked last week, is decidedly peaty, young but feisty, and compares well to offerings from Wolfburn and Kilchoman. Some of the 15 year old cask strength Yoichis I’ve had rank up there with my favourites of all time. But with age statement Japanese whisky being increasingly hard to find, even here in Japan, I’ll take this till the next time I’m up in Hokkaido and can get to the distillery itself. Don’t pay attention to the naysayers, this is quality distillate, offered by people who really know their stuff.
Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year
Peated Blended Malt — ScotlandTastedLove it. One of the best vatted malts / pure malts on the market. No wonder they brought it back. The expert notes are spot on. Complex to a T. Every time I find something new. And at around $40 here in Japan, outstanding value for money.
Eagle Rare 10 Year Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedI was expecting to be wowed by this. And wasn't. It's good, really good, but being a fan of Blanton's, and to a lesser degree Buffalo Trace & Ancient Ancient Age, I was hoping for something spectacular. It's smooth, sensual, nice dark fruit, dried berry and old leather notes, but I can't help feeling it's a bit too sweet, syrupy and well-behaved. And it ain't cheap, at least here in Japan at $40 or so. Ah, well, back to my Evan Williams 12!
Johnnie Walker Pure Malt 15 Year
Blended Malt — ScotlandTastedFabulous whisky and an excellent example of a vatted malt (SWS please note) where the sum is greater than the parts. All of the component malts are worthy of your attention, but the blenders at JW have really created something special here. I was genuinely blown away by how good this is.