Review: Kirin Whisky Oak Master Taru Kaoru

Stocks of decently aged Japanese whiskies continue to run low. Last year, Kirin announced the demise of Fuji Sanroku Tarujuku 50°. This left something of a gap in Kirin's whisky offerings, Enter Kirin Oak Master.

OK, that's a bit disingenuous. Kirin Oak Master Taru Kaoru has actually been around for a few years already. With the recent discontinuation of Fuji Sanroku Tarujuku 50°, the company must have been looking for a way to stay in the 1000 yen whisky market. Everyman's whisky.

Kirin Oak Master stepped up the plate for a renewal! It is now two separate products: Kirin Oak Master Mori Kaoru ("forest fragrance") and Kirin Oak Master Taru Kaoru ("cask fragrance").

Part of the renewal is a new blend for what is now a "whisky." Yeah, I put it in quotes because it now unfortunately contains neutral grain spirit! As we've said time and time again, Japanese law still lets you call blended stuff like this whisky, even if they contain neutral grain spirit. Illegal in many countries, but not this one.

But it's not like it's toxic. Perhaps even potable. Let's find out.

Review: Kirin Whisky Oak Master Taru Kaoru

Nose: Sour oak, heavy vanilla, plasticy malt

Palate: Fiery barley shochu with a caramel accent

Finish: Initially rubbery at first, then quickly heating up to a hot candy cinnamon

Score: D+

Price paid: 1069 yen, 40% abv, 640ml

I must admit, I went into this expecting it to be utterly terrible. Sure it's not good, but at the same time, I finished the dram you see pictured. Unfortunately, even at the low 1000 yen price point, there are still plenty of far better (actual) Japanese whiskies out there!

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