Thursday, April 27, 2000

Hakushu 18 years




Reviews and comments by others
Robert Karlsson, Malt Maniacs 101, February 2007 gave 87/100 ("highly recommendable") to a 2006 bottling. He said it was "very drinkable". There were fruit flavours on the nose - "papaya, passion fruit, also citrus and lemon grass" - and also a very slight touch of smoke. He found the palate refreshing: "the slight traces of smoke returns. Lime. Wood derived spices." He found it slightly bitter at the end with leather tastes developing.
Serge Valentin on Whiskyfun.com was also impressed, scoring the same 2006 bottling at 80/100 ("recommendable") and describing it as a "good, rather unusual whisky". He found the nose started on "bananas, papayas and elegant oaky tones". The oak built "with quite some vanilla, a little varnish, brand new wooden cupboard" and then switched to "ginger ale and pear eau-de-vie after a moment, canned pineapples... huge notes of nutmeg appearing after a while." In the mouth, the first taste was woody and tanniny: "Slightly astringent but there’s also the same very nice fruitiness as on the nose, with lots of bananas again, dried lychees, walnut skin, almonds, cider apple." There was a long tanniny finish.
Out of 13 reviewers on the Maltmaniacs.org website, the 2006 bottle scored an average of 83/100 ("recommendable").
Martine Nouet and Dave Broom tasted the same bottling in the June 2006 issue of the Whisky Magazine. They gave identical 7.25/10 scores in their reviews. Both commented on the intensity and fruit notes of the nose. Nouet found the palate "smooth at start then becoming sherbety. Cooked fruit (apples and pears) soon covered by dry oakiness." Broom described it thus: "Direct with decent grip. Finer in character than the 12 with similar levels of sweetness but this has more toastiness and better length. Silky." Both reviewers found it better neat. Broom liked its "clean progression of flavours" while Nouet criticised a lack of balance.
(Please note the dates on reviews if they are provided. There may be significant variation between different years of a single malt brand)

Alcohol
43 per cent
Price (April 2007)
700 ml - 21,000 yen

Saturday, April 22, 2000

Yamazaki 18 years




Reviews and comments by others
The 2006 bottling got an average rating of 84/100 points ("recommendable") from 14 reviewers on the Maltmaniacs.org website. The 2004 bottling obtained an average of 87/100 ("highly recommendable") from five reviewers.Luca Chichizola, Malt Maniacs 101, February 2007. 2006 bottling. 86/100 (highly recommendable). Luca detected from the nose that it was Sherry matured and preferred it to the Yamazaki 12: "Although there is still that initial strong impression of wood varnish… and even glue! Nutty, but also drier and more winey than the younger version." He found the palate "rich and luscious, soft but intense". It was malty, but also with "many fruity notes: oranges, apples, apricots. The oak is less astringent, acidic and sharp than in the 12yo. Belgian double malt ale (Chimay?), English bitter, nuts." He said it got increasingly spicy at the finish. Overall, the age and stronger sherry input marked it out from the Yamazaki 12: "A rich after-dinner malt, but not too heavy or extreme to scare away lovers of delicate whiskies".
Serge Valentin, Whiskyfun.com, March 19, 2005. 90/100 points (excellent). "This one was matured in sherry casks. The nose is very woody, in a nice way, with some varnish, turpentine. A beautiful balance. Some very soft tannins… Extremely oaky but masterfully crafted. The mouth is superbly balanced, with lots of orange juice and spices. Creamy yet nervous, with all sorts of fruit syrups and jams. Besides, the finish is very long. I loved this one."
Michael Jackson, Whisky Magazine, 26,16/10/2002. 8/10. "Nose: Cream. Toffee. Palate: Spicy. Complex. Maple syrup. Fruity, cinnamon. Brown sugar, baclava pastry. Finish: Balancing dryness. Very slight woodiness. Firm, gripping."
Dave Broom, Whisky Magazine, 26,16/10/2002. 8/10. "Rounded and soft with a burst of spiciness mid-palate. There’s some smoke as well. Complex and soft with excellent balance. Finish: Dry, a little short? " Overall, he praised the balance "between those spicy high tones and a sweet but nutty palate" but found it "a little slick."
This Japanese language blog entry recounts a tasting of some Yamazaki with various foods: duck with a mustard and miso sauce, haggis and mashed potato, herring and marinaded salmon with roe. They found Yamazaki 18's strong well sherried character went well best with the Haggis and mashed potato! Suntory spends millions saying its malts are specially designed to suit Japanese food and they end up sitting beside plates of haggis!

Alcohol
43 per cent
Price (April 2007)
700 ml - 21,000 yen

(Please note the dates on reviews if they are provided. There may be significant variation between different years of a single malt brand)

Friday, April 21, 2000

Fuji Gotemba 18 Years




Reviews by more reliable types
Martine Nouet, Whisky Magazine, 40,4/6/2004. 8/10. Nouet praised the mellow nuttiness of the nose. The palate exhibited a nice balance between sweetness and sourness, she said: "Smooth. Velvety... Toasted cereal". The finish was "whispering, soothing, nutty. Licorice. Some dry oak on the sides."
Dave Broom Whisky Magazine, 40,4/6/2004. 7.25/10. Broom's overall impression was of oak. He felt the nose was light and biscuity at first, with leather, deck oil, "hot fences in the summer sun" , and pear then emerging. In the mouth, he said it was very dry and tannic, with a digestive biscuit flavour, a little tobacco and nuts. The finish was "tight, oaky, bitter almond."

(Please note the dates on reviews if they are provided. There may be significant variation between different years of a single malt brand)

Alcohol
43 per cent
Price (April 2007)
700 ml - 8,392 yen

Tuesday, April 11, 2000

Not seeing Japanese characters?

If you can't see characters written in Japanese, you haven't got the right character encoding switched on in your browser. Right click and "encoding" in Explorer or "View"=>"character encoding" in Firefox or "View"=>"Encoding" in Opera. Then select one of the Japanese ones. If you still cannot see them, you do not have the relevant language pack installed on the computer. This page tells you more.

Saturday, April 8, 2000

Whisky categories

For those not familiar with the distinctions of the whisky world, a single malt whisky contains only malt whisky from a single distillery. A blended whisky such as Johnnie Walker or Bell's contains a mixture of malt and grain whiskies from a range of distilleries. "Pure malts" - or as some fundamentalist single malt buffs somewhat hopefully want them to be called, "vatted malts" - sit somewhere in between the two: containing only malt whisky but from more than one distillery.

Two more peripheral categories: a single cask whisky is a single malt that not only comes from only one distillery but one cask. You can also get single grain whiskies, taking the grain whisky usually used in blends and issuing it on its own. These last are rare and I have never tried one. People say they are not inferior.

These are the main categories that concern whisky distilled in the Scottish tradition, of which Japanese whisky is broadly part. There are others for Irish and US whiskey.