Review: Ghost Series #15, Akashi Tawny Port Cask Aged 4 Years

Tonight we drink from the latest in Japanese whisky godfather Stefan van Eycken‘s Ghost Series. #15 is a 4-year Akashi whisky, where the 4 years is a 1-year marriage of 3-year ex-shochu whisky with 3-year Bourbon barrel whisky. Thanks to Mel of’s facebook community for providing the sample. 

Many readers of are probably already familiar with Stefan van Eycken via Whisky Rising: The Definitive Guide to the Finest Whiskies and Distillers of Japan, and/or his work at (the now domain-squatted) As an OG of Japanese whisky, Stefan’s Ghost Series is of course highly sought after in both primary and secondary markets. I hear this particular Ghost sold out in like, 3 minutes. Umm, welcome to Japanese whisky in 2021.

#15 shows, as Stefan himself says, one of the quirkier sides of Japanese whisky. It partially uses ex-shochu cask whisky. Shochu is a gigantic market in Japan domestically, with high hopes for the export market. In the craft whisky scene, Kanosuke Distillery uses re-charred ex-shochu casks, themselves famously pioneered by current president Yoshitsugu Komasa’s grandfather.

But we’re talking about Eigashima Shuzo White Oak Distillery’s Akashi here. Akashi is no stranger to out-of-the-ordinary casks. The Ghost Series #9 used whisky aged in ex-sake casks from the same distillery. #15 hopefully combines the best from sherry cask aged whisky with imo shochu aged whisky. The ratio is 6:4, meaning we get 60% of the former and 40% of the latter married in a Tawny port cask for a year.

Let’s get involved.

Review: Ghost Series #15: Akashi Tawny Port Cask, Aged 4 Years

Nose: Highly sweet but it’s a tad dreary. Prunes, dried leaves, and tiny bit of spiciness. I guess they call them dark fruits for a reason. Digging deeper, there’s that sweet potato tanginess if you look for it.

Palate: Deep, dark sherry that stuck around after last call. Water brings out dark chocolate.

Finish: Great tannins and nuttiness, A slight tinge of bitterness alongside mint and cinnamon. Shochu sticks around.

Score: A

Price paid: 0 yen, thanks to Mel for providing the sample. 61.5% abv.

Another wonderful entry in the Ghost series. Tawny means “orange-brown or yellowish-brown colour.” Yes I had to look the word up. That definition matches this profile quite well: the sherry here shows through but it’s taken on a slightly darker, more ominous role. Japanese whisky gets its share of fortified wine cask aging, but this character certainly isn’t found anywhere else. Perhaps that’s the shochu speaking?

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