Review: Akkeshi New Born Foundations 3

Akkeshi New Born Foundations 3 is one of this quarter’s most highly anticipated Japanese whiskies. Many in the community are viewing Akkeshi’s dedication to sticking with the Islay Scotch style and methods as one of the few rays of light within the doom and gloom of a Japanese whisky industry struggling to stay relevant on the world stage.

New Born Foundations 3 was aged in Hokkaido Mizunara casks for 8-23 months. That’s important since it seems Hokkaido Mizunara is becoming increasingly difficult to come by these days — Akkeshi themselves apparently busted their ass to make this happen. It’s also a non-peated release, while Foundations 2 was a peated.

As you may remember I was not blown away by New Born Foundations 1. At the time I mentioned that with max maturity of 14 months, Foundations 1 was indeed quite young and unsurprisingly still needed time to settle down.

We are still dealing with a New Born, of course. With another 11 months under its belt, how does Foundations 3 compare? Is Hokkaido Mizunara worth all of the hubbub? Let’s try it and find out.

Review: Akkeshi New Born Foundations 3

Nose: Buttered honey almonds, apple, roasted cinnamon banana, and slight coconut

Palate: Oily chocolate-covered orange peel builds up to incense, spice, served over a slice of ginger

Finish: Excellent balance of malt and woodiness, there’s that sandalwood. More nutty banana bread at the end

Score: B+

Price paid: 6452 yen, 55% abv, 200ml

Let’s not mince words here: this whisky is really expensive! I’ll chalk it up to supporting Hokkaido’s economy or something. While we lost some of the seaspray we had with Foundations 1, in exchange we get a more woody and cereal-forward newborn. And what a difference nine months can make. The jury is still out on what the peating level of the standard Single Malt Akkeshi will be for its 2020 release, but if Akkeshi can strike the right balance like they’ve done here, they’ll have a winner.

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