Review: Mars Komagatake, Yakushima Aging Cellar, d.2014, 1,140 bottles, 59% abv.

Mars, perhaps the third largest whisky distiller in Japan, has its history in Kagoshima as a Japanese shochu maker, Hombo Shuzo (shuzo = sake brewery/shochu distillery). Hombo Shuzo essentially restarted whisky-making operations in Nagano with the Shinshu distillery. To help restart, their pot stills from an old plant in Yamanashi were moved to Shinshu. These stills have an indirect history link with Masataka Taketsuru and have been slightly upgraded to improve production. Several years ago, Mars introduced the premium Komagatake product line, generally consisting of young whiskies and older 20+ year whiskies in their single malts and single casks. Komagatake is the name of a mountain near their Shinshu site. This bottling was was distilled at Shinshu Mars and then transported to a Mars warehouse in Yakushima, off the coast of Kyushu, for a maturation period of 3 years.

Nose: smooth light honey, some grapes, wood, dried apricots, smaller melons (that Korean yellow one). After awhile I smell hints of lime juice infused American BBQ sauce and steamed vegetables. Can sense that abv.

Palate: honey upfront which significantly intensifies on the back palate, a little spicy and peppery, dry.

Finish: moderate to long, slightly spicy, sweet.

Generally sweet honey on top of wood, but unlike a bourbon (which is basically liquid honey), it has an offsetting wood and vegetative element to it. For a 3-3.5 year old Japanese whisky, it tastes more mature and slightly complex with a lot going on. Extremely delicious.

Grade: B+

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