On October 1, Mars Whisky released the Single Malt Komagatake Limited Edition 2018. Suntory may have failed to release the Yamazaki Limited Edition 2018, so here's Mars Whisky to wear those pants instead. Limited to 10,000 bottles, it's at 48% abv.
This new Limited Edition 2018 joins Mars Shinshu Distillery's lineup of Single Malt Komagatake releases that use solely the post-restart (in 2011) whisky stocks. Doing so, it joins the likes of Double Cellars, Yakushima Aging, and the single cask Le Papillon series. The Nature of Shinshu series, on the other hand, brings together both post-restart and pre-shutdown (in 1992) stocks. Then, confusingly, there's the pre-shutdown Single Malt Komagatake releases, like that 27 year old we saw earlier this year. But they're basically out of pre-shutdown whisky anyway, so I don't expect any new releases with that old stuff! Of course, that's only the single malt lineup -- when you consider blends like the Lucky Cats and Saigo Don, it's even more complicated. Needless to say, if you're concerned about when and where your Mars Whisky was made, definitely have a look at the product details.
Single Malt Komagatake Limited Edition 2018 is a blend of "nicely aged" whiskies that have spent at least 3 years in either a Bourbon cask or an American White Oak cask. Unlike the Double Cellars and Yakushima Aging releases, the Limited Edition 2018 is aged entirely in Shinshu. But don't be fooled by the young age. Not only is the Shinshu Distillery the highest in Japan in terms of elevation, the temperature difference of the region is absolutely noticeable. In other words, this release is an early version of what we can expect from the plain, post-restart, non-single cask "Single Malt Komagatake" once it joins the lineup in 20XX.
Of course it's easy to complain about the price point. At the end of the day it's a NAS--3 year old, even if we split hairs--single malt Japanese whisky. That puts it in the same category as your NAS Yamazaki, Yoichi, whatever. While age statement single malt Japanese whiskies have become quite difficult to come by, the NAS ones are still popping up pretty often. So how does the Single Malt Komagatake Limited Edition 2018 stack up?
Nose: Begins warm fruity with toasted banana, pear, and apricot. Past a rather floral hint of licorice and marshmallow, I get feints of a freshly opened pack of plastic playing cards. Medium peat.
Palate: Off the starting line we get cinnamon and allspice, moving into ripened plum. Cashews lurking in the background. Thick on the tongue, it heats up towards the end with some nice vanilla cookies. The plastic feints are calmed right down with a few drops of water.
Finish: Peat smoke fills the mouth as the last of the whisky begins to clear out. Just then, a path through a peppermint forest leads us right down to the seashore.
Price Paid: 8,320 yen
An enjoyable whisky with that's approachable for an entry-level whisky drinker, but still has enough going on to keep everyone entertained. The peat level is right where it needed to be for me. It's absolutely not a mellow whisky though. Highball time! Hopefully more time in the casks will help.
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.