Review: Mars Shinshu Komagatake 2012, 7yo, Whisky Festival in Tokyo 2019

A few weeks back I attended the Whisky Festival in Tokyo 2019. As luck would have it, I managed to snag one of the festival bottles: that Komagatake 2012 from Mars Whisky’s Shinshu Distillery.

There isn’t much to say here that wasn’t already said back when I first talked about this bottle. To summarize:

  • Distilled at the Mars Shinshu Distillery in March 2012
  • 50ppm peating, so pretty heavy
  • Spent 7.5 years in an American White Oak Hogshead. Specifically, a heavily-toasted virgin Hogshead, cask #1578
  • Bottled September 2019

At 7.5 years, it’s the oldest post-revival Mars Shinshu single malt out in the wild right now. Given the Mars Shinshu Distillery was not making whisky from 1992 to January 2011, that’s right up there! It wouldn’t surprise me if the next Le Papillon release is an 8-year.

Anyway, let’s get dig in.

Review: Mars Shinshu Komagatake 2012, 7yo, Whisky Festival in Tokyo 2019

Nose: Cinnamon sprinkled on oranges with a malty, leathery peat. Spices and wet moss

Palate: Bitter chocolate and licorice, with a wonderful vanilla maltiness

Finish: Lasting oak with light smoke alongside dark chocolate and butterscotch

Score: A

Price paid: 13000 yen, 700ml, 60% abv

I am normally not a huge fan of heavily peated whiskies, but I found this whisky offered an excellent malt backstop that prevents the peat from being overpowering. Although both were matured in American white oak casks, it’s on an entirely different wavelength from the L. japonica Le Papillon from earlier this year, highlighting the variety of casks the Mars blenders have to play with going forward.


  1. Thomas

    Hi Richard,

    How does it put up against the 2019 Komagatake Limited Edition or the Tsunuki aging 4yo?
    I bought the first one 2 weeks ago in Tokyo and it‘s ok, but its young age is obvious.
    Sadly affordable japanese Whiskies nowadays are not worth it in my opinion. You can get much better bang for the buck in Scotland.

    1. Whiskey Richard

      Hi Thomas, the Komagatake Limited Edition is an entirely different class of whisky, in my opinion. And Tsunuki is literally young! See my review of the 2018 Komagatake Limited Edition here:
      These days you do need to get quite lucky to get a proper cost/performance ratio out of Japanese whisky. Look out for Nikka From the Barrel, it’s readily available worldwide and at a decent price point.

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